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Refer to Julius Caesar Act 1 Scene 2, Act 2 Scene 1 and Act 4 Scene 3

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Julius Caesar was one of the most influential political and military leaders in history, and helped establish the vast Roman empire. Caesar’s triumph in a civil war amongst others made him the absolute ruler of Rome, but political jealousies and fears that he would become king among his opponents led to his assassination. In 59 BC the Senate decided on a Triumvirate to lead them rather than electing two consuls. The three men were Julius Caesar, Pompey the Great and Marcus Licinius Crassus. When Caesar returned to Rome in 60 BC after a year as governor of Spain, he joined forces with Crassus and Pompey to form the First Triumvirate. Caesar was then elected consul for 59 BC despite hostility, and in 58 BC he was appointed governor of Roman Gaul.

For the next seven years he led the campaigns known as the Gallic Wars at the end of which Roman rule was established over central and northern Europe west of the River Rhine. After the death of Crassus, there was a power struggle between Pompey and Caesar, but after Pompey was assassinated by one of his own soldiers in 48 BC, Caesar was appointed as Emperor. In 44 BC, a group of senators, including Caius Cassius and Marcus Junius Brutus, plotted his assassination. On the Ides (15th) of March 44 BC, when Caesar entered the Senate house, the group killed him.

In Act 1 Scene 2 we see that Cassius is trying to persuade and manipulate Brutus into thinking that Julius Caesar is becoming too powerful and that he needs to be stopped before it is too late. He does this using many different techniques.

Cassius is able to make Brutus feel guilty towards him and make him feel as though he has done something wrong even though he hasn’t: “I have not from your eyes that gentlenessAnd show of love as I was wont to have.” Cassius wants to make Brutus feel guilty so that he will open up to him and give him a chance to start speaking about Caesar and his plans to murder him. At this point the audience may feel sorry for Cassius as they think that he has been ignored and they may think Brutus is unappreciative of his friends.

Cassius is very articulate and able to manipulate Brutus into thinking what he wants: “you have no such mirrors as will turnYour hidden worthiness into your eye.” Here we see that Cassius persuades Brutus into thinking that he is very important and worthy; he does this so that Brutus believes that he is creditable enough to get rid of Caesar. Cassius is again manipulating Brutus.

Cassius uses another technique to make Brutus feel he is stronger than Caesar: he tells Brutus a story about Caesar and himself. Caesar challenged him to a swimming race but wasn’t strong enough to finish the race: “Caesar cried, ‘Help me Cassius or I sink.'” He makes Caesar seem foolish because he challenged Cassius to a race and then had to be saved from drowning. This makes Brutus feel stronger than Caesar.

Cassius is very crafty and expertly slips in phrases about Caesar when he is talking to Brutus; an example of this is when Cassius tells Brutus that he is highly respected amongst the most respected citizens in Rome except for ‘immortal’ Caesar. This would make Brutus feel angry towards Caesar because he isn’t respected by him (they were meant to be friends). This may add to his growing resentment of Caesar.

Cassius also makes Brutus feel ashamed of himself and also guilty that he has let his ancestors down:

“There was a Brutus once that would have brook’d

Th’ eternal devil to keep his state in Rome

As easily as a king.”

Cassius reminds Brutus that it was his ancestor (also called Brutus) who got rid of the tyrannical Tarquin royal family and now Brutus is allowing Caesar to gain so much power and allow him to be so close to becoming king. Cassius is again manipulating Caesar this time by making his point a personal one.

Cassius is very determined to get what he wants; in this case he is determined to get Brutus on his side. In his soliloquy he says that he will forge letters from Roman citizens declaring their support for Brutus and their fear of Caesar’s ascent to power and then put them in Brutus’ house. When Brutus sees these letters he will start to think that Caesar is becoming a problem because now other people have started worry that Caesar is becoming to powerful and it is not just Cassius who thinks this. Here we see that Cassius is willing to go to extremes in order to get Brutus on his side.

In his soliloquy Cassius regards himself as being cleverer than Brutus: “If I were Brutus and he were CassiusHe would not humour me.” Here Cassius is saying that if he swapped positions with Brutus, he would find it hard to believe Cassius and wouldn’t listen to him. This is because Caesar has always preferred Brutus and considers him as a friend. Brutus is in a good position with Caesar and wouldn’t want to kill him.

Cassius is also power hungry and never happy with what he has already got. Caesar described him as having a “lean and hungry look”. Caesar’s comment on Cassius is correct because the only reason that he wants to kill Caesar is for his own good, whereas Brutus wants to stop Caesar for the sake of Rome and not for himself.

In Act 1 Scene 2 Brutus comes across as being indecisive and unsure about his actions and what he is going to say to Cassius when asked questions. Brutus is also in a troubled state of mind and this makes it easy for Cassius to take advantage; he is vulnerable.

Brutus is altruistic and noble. Brutus says to Cassius:

“If it be aught toward the general good,

Set honour in one eye and death i’ the’ other,

And I will look on both indifferently.”

Here Brutus basically tells Cassius that if killing Caesar is the right thing to do for the good of most people then he will do it. Here we see the differences in the reasons for the two men killing Caesar: Brutus does it for the good of Rome and Cassius does it for himself.

Throughout the scene we see that Brutus is very unsure and hesitant about what Cassius’ intentions are. Brutus asks:

“Into what dangers would you lead me Cassius

That you would have me seek into myself

For that which is not in me?”

Here we see that Brutus is asking Cassius what he wants him to do because he has no intention of becoming king, he wants to keep Rome as a republic.

Brutus lets slip his true feelings about Caesar whilst in conversation with Cassius. He says: “I do fear the peopleChoose Caesar for their king.” Cassius sees this opportunity and pounces on it and replies by saying, “Ay, do you fear it?Then must I think you would not have it so.” Now that Brutus has revealed his true feelings, Cassius can use them to his advantage when attempting to manipulate Brutus.

Towards the end of the scene we see that Brutus has more or less made up his mind that he wants to join the conspiracy against Caesar:

“Tomorrow if you please to speak with me,

I will come home to you; or, if you will,

Come home to me, and I will wait for you.”

Brutus invites Cassius to his house and suggests that if that is not possible then he will go to his house. It is clear that Brutus has made up his mind and wants to discuss the matter further and another time.

In Act 2 Scene 1 we see a reversal in the roles of the two characters. Now that Brutus has decided to join the conspiracy we see his true character. We see he is extremely authoritative, and this is a complete contrast to Act 1 Scene 2. Cassius who seemed very cunning and sly in Act 1 Scene 2 has now been put back in his place in relation to Brutus and has a much weaker role in the conspiracy. Once Brutus decides to join the conspiracy, we see his true character and we find that he has a very dominant and charismatic character. He is no longer hesitant and tentative as in Act 1 Scene 2.

Brutus decides to take control of the conspiracy (formed by Cassius), and now Brutus has taken this role he makes available his own house and garden as a meeting place. He wants to send out a message to the conspirators that now he is going to be in charge and he is going to be the leader of the conspiracy. We see that Brutus now seems like a very strong figure and this is in a complete contrast to what was seen in Act 2 Scene 1.

Any suggestions given by Cassius are immediately dismissed by Brutus. When Cassius suggests that the conspirators should take an oath Brutus replies, “No, not an oath.” We see that Brutus is very direct and disregards any idea of an oath because their cause is a noble one and in a noble cause one has no need to swear an oath to others:

“Do not stainThe even virtue of our enterprise,

Nor th’insuppressive mettle of our spirits,

To think that or our cause or our performance

Did need an oath”.

In the opinion of Brutus men should only take oaths when they doubt each other, but in a noble cause there should be no reason to doubt any of the conspirators’ reasons for killing Caesar. Another idea dismissed by Brutus is when Cassius suggests that they assassinate Antony along with Caesar, but Brutus doesn’t believe that it is necessary to kill him. It is noble to kill Caesar as they have a good reason but there is no good reason to kill Antony. As a result of this we are again reminded of the reasons for killing Caesar, Brutus’ for the good of Rome and Cassius’ to gain power for himself.

We see that Brutus is thinking carefully over his decision to join the Caesar, even though he and Caesar have a strong relationship and have respect for one another he still needs to do what is right for Rome:

“I know no personal cause to spurn at him,

But for the general. He would be crowned.

How that might change his nature, there’s the


Here Brutus is explaining that there is no personal reason to kill Caesar, but if he becomes king he cannot be sure whether that power will be used in the right manner or whether Caesar will abuse the power.

In Act 2 Scene 1 we see a much weaker role by Cassius. His suggestions are ignored by Brutus but he is nonchalant and just lets Brutus take charge of the conspiracy (even though he started it).

Cassius is losing his commanding position within the conspiracy and can no longer control and manipulate Brutus as in Act 1 Scene 2. Cassius suggests that they call on Cicero to join the conspiracy, Brutus replies,: “O name him not; let us not break with him;”. After this we see that Cassius simply accepts this decision and just agrees with Brutus, “Then leave him out.” Cassius is passive. This is surprising because it not just one suggestion that is rejected but three or four, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he felt as though he was not wanted within the conspiracy.

In Act 4 Scene 3 there is no reversal of roles as in the previous two scenes. We do however discover some further characteristics of the two characters which hadn’t been revealed to us in the previous scenes.

Now we see that Brutus has realised Cassius’ true intentions (he didn’t kill Caesar for the good of Rome, but for himself), Brutus has become disenchanted with Cassius and no longer trusts him as he once did. We know that Brutus is honourable and courageous however he isn’t very perceptive as it took him a long time to realise the intention of Cassius.

Brutus accuses Cassius of corruption and bribery. He says that Cassius only promotes his soldiers to higher ranks if they give him money:

“Let me tell you Cassius, you yourself

Are much condemned to have an itching palm,

To sell and mart your offices for gold

To underservers.”

For Brutus to say such a thing is very out of character and he didn’t say anything like this before, but now he has realised Cassius’ true intentions he is started to realise other things as well.

Brutus is hypocritical when he asks Cassius for money:

“I did send to you

For certain sums of gold, which you denied me;

For I can raise no money by vile means.”

He tells Cassius that he denied him gold to pay for his army (Brutus didn’t have any money), but the money that Cassius has is money he has gained by ‘vile’ means. Brutus has just said that Cassius was wrong to take the money but he is asking Cassius to give that money to him!

Brutus is arrogant and self righteous he says to Cassius:

“There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats;

For I am armed so strong honesty

That they pass me by as the idle wind,

Which I respect not.”

Brutus thinks he is so noble that any threat made by Cassius means nothing to him (he thinks he is ‘untouchable’).

We see that Brutus can be very mocking of Cassius as well as insulting him. After Cassius threatens Brutus, he simply says: “Away slight man.” Not only does he insult Cassius but ignores his threats; Cassius is seen as a noble and important Roman by many but he is being mocked and made felt insignificant. Brutus again insults Cassius and says that his faults (bad characteristics) are as high as mount Olympus (the highest mountain in Greece and where the gods supposedly live). We see none of this in the previous scenes, although we did see some mocking from Cassius.

Brutus is angry and gets worked up. In an argument with Cassius, Brutus says: “Go show your slaves how choleric you are,And make bondmen tremble.” This is not what we have seen before as usually he is very calm and collected.

Cassius is accused by Brutus and also comes under scrutiny by him in Act 4 Scene 3, for once we see Cassius being attacked and criticised when usually he is the man criticising others (such as Caesar). He tries to defend himself and gain Brutus’ sympathy again.

We see a weakness in Cassius. When Brutus doesn’t withdraw his accusations and continues to be hostile and judge him, Cassius becomes self-pitying and asks to be killed: “There is my dagger,And here my naked breast;”. He can’t bear to be heavily criticised and he allows his emotions to run away with him, he lacks self control.

Cassius gets angry at Brutus for the first time and also threatens him: “Do not presume too much upon my love;I may do that I shall be sorry for.” We have seen Cassius get angry before at other people but never towards Brutus. This may be because he lacks self control when being criticised or simply because he is being accused by Brutus. We also earlier saw Brutus become angry for the first time at Cassius and this could again be another reason why Cassius threatened Brutus. He threatens Brutus more than once: “Urge me no more, I shall forget myself;Have mind upon your health; tempt me no farther.” Earlier in the play we saw Cassius trying to get Brutus on his side, but now Caesar has been dealt with, Cassius shows a powerful feeling of anger and feels that he can threaten Brutus.

In Act 2 Scene 1 we saw that many if not all of Cassius’ suggestions were immediately dismissed by Brutus, Cassius was very passive about this and let Brutus take charge of the conspiracy, but now he is no longer calm and accepting of Brutus’ actions and wants to rebel. Examples of these rebellions are the threats (as stated above) and Cassius becoming angry towards Brutus.

Throughout the three scenes we see many powerful and effective uses of language used by Shakespeare:

The first of these sentences is said by Cassius:

“Men at some time are masters of their fates:

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”

The words used are inspiring. Cassius is basically saying if you want anything to be done you can’t just stand around and wait for it to happen, you have to get involved and make it happen. The use of the word underlings is very effective because he is telling Brutus that Caesar thinks that he is an underling; this is a massive insult to Brutus who is meant to be a highly respected noble Roman citizen.

Another effective passage is:

“I know no personal cause to spurn at him,

But for the general.

He would be crowned.

How that might change his nature, there’s the question.”

This sentence was good because it shows us how honourable Brutus really was, he was willing to kill a good friend of his and one of the greatest Romans ever for the sake of the country. It also revealed how the public viewed Brutus, they also knew he was noble and anything he did was for the good of the country. What Brutus says about Caesar really gives the reader

A further sentence is:

“There was a Brutus once that would have brooked

Th’eternal devil to keep his state in Rome

As easily as a king.”

I thought this was very powerful because it shows that Brutus may have a personal reason to join the conspiracy. It also tells us that how aware Cassius is of facts such as these. What made it even more striking was the fact the ancestor of Brutus who established the Republic in Rome also had the name Brutus. The use of the word devil is also very strong as usually anything linked with the devil is evil. Here he could be trying to say that Caesar is the devil or that Brutus’ ancestor would have done anything to keep Rome as a republic (even if the devil wanted to become king) and Brutus is just going to allow Caesar to become king without taking any action.

The final sentence is:

“Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look;

He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.”

Here we see how clever Caesar is and how aware he is of the people around him. He was completely correct with his judgement of Cassius. It gives us the impression that Cassius is like a predator just waiting to pounce on any opportunity to gain more power.

In conclusion in Act 1 Scene 2, we see that Cassius is very cunning, determined and intelligent and we see examples of this when he is attempting to manipulate Brutus to join the conspiracy. Brutus gives us the impression that he is very indecisive and hesitant; we also see that he is very quiet and that Cassius overrules him in the conversation; we do however go on to find out that Brutus isn’t really like this.

In Act 2 Scene 1, we see Brutus’ true characteristics; he takes charge of the conspiracy and he is very commanding; Cassius steps down. Cassius is overwhelmed by Brutus’ character and has to let Brutus take over. In Act 4 Scene 3 we see some negative characteristics of Brutus, he gets worked up and angry towards Cassius, he is self-righteous and can be somewhat hypocritical. We also see that Cassius cannot control his emotions (at one point he asks to be killed), we also see that he can become angry towards Brutus.

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