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Analyzing Brutuss Ultimate Downfall in Julius Caesar By Briana Rutland There are many strong and notable elements

of the character Marcus Brutus in the play Julius Caesar, but have you considered his flaws? Yes, he was given the chance to make a difference for the future of Rome, but if he had handled situations differently, he could have lived to see them through versus facing his end to the blade of his sword. He could have faced a completely different path if he just been more skeptical of some people. He could have gotten away with murdering Caesar if he had been more cautious of certain intentions. He could still have his family if he hadnt been so hasty with his choices. In Julius Caesar Brutuss poor judgment of character becomes his biggest flaw which leads to his ultimate downfall. Brutuss biggest mistake in the play all started with his poor decision to trust Cassius. This led to Brutus killing Caesar, a friend and a leader to the people of Rome. Brutus begins the play in Act One falling into the traps of which Cassius sets up. In Roben E. Knolls interpretation of Julius Caesar he notes that Cassius easily matches his words to their feelings (Knoll 2) showing how Cassius rounded up the conspirators together with Brutus being the ultimate piece to the puzzle. Brutus uses his bad judgment in trusting that Cassius is truly looking out for the best interest of Rome versus his true selfish intentions. Cassius makes sure not withhold any flattery when speaking with Brutus:
And it is very much lamented, Brutus, That you have no such mirrors as will turn You hidden worthiness into your eye,

That you might see your shadow. I have heard Where many of the best respect in Rome (Except immortal Caesar), speaking of Brutus And groaning underneath this age's yoke, Having wished that noble Brutus had his eyes. (1.2. 60-7)

Here Cassius is capturing Brutus's ego by telling him of how high he is respected, but he also notes how Brutus does not act upon the influence he has. He is telling Brutus that he hasn't lived up to his exceedingly high potential. In the play when Cassius begins his persuasion, he addresses what he knows will intrigue Brutus first, so when Brutus begins to become distracted and stops really paying attention to the rambling of the Cassius, he misses the hints at Cassius being jealous of the righteously conceited Caesar. This is why Brutus continuously believes that Caesar's death is out of the best intentions for all of the conspirators. This is why he never catches on to the real meaning behind the conspiracy. Caesar was right in being suspicious of Cassius which is shown when he says, He thinks too much, such men are dangerous (1.2.202), but he was not the only man to be skeptical of Cassius. It is not just known by Caesar that Cassius should not be trusted, it is known by everyone including Brutus. It was a misjudgment on Brutuss part to actually believe that the notoriously scheming Cassis had no other intentions for the desire of Caesars death. It was foolish on his part to trust that Cassius had no other reasons for wanting Caesar dead other than the betterment of Rome. Because of this misjudgment, Brutus allowed himself to be fooled into thinking civilians in Rome actually wrote him letters in disapproval of Caesar. He allowed for Cassius to trick him. It was this misjudgment that led to Romes hero being killed. It was this misjudgment that led to the

conspirators murders. It was this decision that led to the suicide of Portia. It was this mistake that led to Brutuss suicide death. Brutuss first mistake was developing a sense of trust in Cassius who, up until the last act, was constantly scheming. This shows just one example of the misjudging of character that led to Brutuss eventual downfall. Underlying every one of Brutuss decisions in the play was his false judgment of the people of Rome and their potential ruler, Julius Caesar. Caesars power over the people was something that Brutus misunderstood. The people of Rome loved Caesar, but it was the way that Caesar made them feel safe that caused the Romans to honor him in the fashion that they did. He was their knight in shining armor. From Brutuss perspective, the displays of Caesar are interpreted all incorrectly. Yes he is conceited, but he was just accepting the crown he was being given. But Brutus is not young, and by this time he should have learned to respect the judgments of men in the world. Instead he is ignorant of general human nature, so secluded by his class has he been from the general run of men (Knoll 6). He feels as if the Romans all feel the way he does, when he never truly makes any effort to put himself in their shoes. It never occurs to Brutus that he may be wrong in his assumptions of Caesars power. He never shows any real doubt in the conspiracy being for a good reason, though it was not. The only thing that held Brutus back from killing Caesar was the idea of murdering a friend and building up the courage to follow through with a life changing event. Once, Brutus decided on his fate based his deceiving judge of character he feels as if Rome is finally free of a potential king, but Shakespeare makes it so that we are not allowed to forget Julius Caesar (Knoll 8). There is reason why Brutus sees Caesars ghost literally and theoretically later on in the play. The constant reminder of Caesar to Brutus and the audience constantly reminds them of the wrong move that Brutus played against himself. Caesar should not have been killed. The people did not

want that for their world, and Brutus and the conspirators had no right to force them into the corner in which they did. The real cause of the defeat of Brutus lies in the fact that the murder of Caesar is an act of evil, an act of horror that has to be expiated (Shalvi 170). If only Brutus had been keen to this earlier on in the play, Caesars death would have been stopped and Brutus would have lived on instead of murdering himself. This, once again, shows the weight of Brutuss poor judge of character on himself, and how it led him down the wrong road. One of the main reasons that led to the death of all conspirators was the underestimation of Mark Antony by Brutus. Mark Antony was the person closest to Caesar and someone who Cassius was suspicious of with good reason. If it were not for Brutus seeing Antonys death as unnecessary, the play could have ended in a completely different, but favorable, way for Brutus and his fellow conspirators. Brutus should have found it at least slightly suspicious that Antony was so calm with the murderers of his best friend and hero. This led to another misjudgment. Letting Antony speak at the funeral of Caesar should have showed itself as more of a threat to Brutus. Instead, going into the situation, he was overly confident:
Our reasons are so full of good regard That were you, Antony, the son of Caesar, You should be satisfied. (3.1.239-41)

Marcus Brutus does not realize that his logos will not stand next to Antonys pathos. Caesar was an idol to Rome, and now he was dead against Romes wishes. There was no way that Brutus could get away with the murder by letting Antony speak. On top of everything, he let Caesars revenger speak last, and, by doing this, he let Antony have the last and most memorable word. What happened after Antonys speech was something everyone except Brutus saw coming a mile

away. His pride, though it is disguised by kind honorability, got the best of him and led to his death. Moreover, Brutus is so high-minded that his vision is distorted (Knoll 6). Brutuss poor judgment comes from him being too prideful. He fears nothing can hurt him. It is ironical that the conspirators needed Brutus and that he is also the cause of their failure (Knoll 5). Knoll was completely justified in claiming this for Brutuss misjudgment led the death of all. By letting Antony live and speak, not only did he give Antony unremarkable power, but he gave him the lives of all conspirators. Marcus Brutus in the Shakespeare written play Julius Caesar is truly a tragic hero. The entire play he spends his time trying to make the right decisions for the betterment of the people of Rome, but his decisions all turn Rome further and further against him. Of course, Brutuss decisions were all influenced by people he had misjudged. As said well by Alice Shalvi, Courage and endurance are the two important qualities which Brutus proves himself to possess (Shalvi 176), but accurate judgment is left out for a reason. During the course of the play, there were some people he trusted too much, others he didnt trust enough, and then there were those that he completely overlooked when he should have been the most skeptical. In Julius Caesar Brutuss poor judgment of character becomes his biggest flaw which leads to his ultimate downfall.

Works Cited Roben E. Knoll, "The Organization of the Play, in The Shakespeare Plays: A Study Guide, The University if California, 1978, pp. 4-19.

Alice Shalvi, "Shakespeare's 'High Roman Fashion: Julius Caesar," in The World & Art of Shakespeare by A A. Mendilow and Alice Shalvi, Israel University Press, 1967, pp. 169-78.