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Amelia Filipcic

Ms. Ham


June 16, 2020

The Villain: Marcus Brutus

A hero is a figure who brings justice to people, is idealized by their noble attributes, and

overall benefits individuals, communities or society as a whole. Marcus Brutus possess none of

these qualities. He is known to be honorable yet he brought nothing but war, violence and death

to the streets of Rome. Marcus Brutus’ ‘heroic’ attributes lead to his role in behaving as the

villain in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Brutus’ true love for Rome and its citizens, lead

to the republic’s downfall. He had far too much trust in Mark Antony, underestimating his power

and influence in Rome. Brutus made poor decisions and mis-judged many situations. The actions

completed by Marcus Brutus guide him down the villainous path in William Shakespeare’s

Julius Caesar.

Firstly, one of the flawed measures completed by Brutus, that leads him down the villain

path is his love for Rome. Brutus’ deep love for the city, is the cause of its downfall and

destruction. Brutus’ love for Julius Caesar was unquestionally appareant, however, his love for

Rome was much greater. It was believed that Caesar was a threat to the Roman Republic,

therefore, Brutus murdered Caesar without thinking of any further possible consequences. He felt

that Rome would ultimately become better “by [Caesar’s] death” and that he had “no personal

cause to spurn at him but for the general” (II.i.10-12). Brutus wrongly assumed that the Roman

citizens would be at peace with Caesar’s assassination. Instead, they seeked vengence on Brutus

and the conspirators after Mark Antony’s speech at Caesar’s funeral. This caused for the rise of
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gangs and rivalries in the once harminous Rome. The people chanted for Cinna the poet to be

torn “to pieces [as] he’s a conspriator” though he was truly an innocent man just mistaken for

Cinna the conspriator (III.iii.27). This truly shows how furious the citizens of Rome were at the

conspirators. Following Caesar’s death for years to come, was a great amount of violence and

conflict in Rome. A series of civil wars broke out after his death, destroying the Roman Republic

by the end of them. Mark Antony predicted after Caesar’s assasination, that “domestic fury and

fierce civil strife shall cumber all the parts of Italy. Blood and destruction shall be so in use, and

dreadful objects so familiar, that mothers shall but smile when they behold their infants quartered

with the hands of war” and he was not wrong (III.i.278-284). These acts completed out of love

for Rome leads Brutus down the path of playing the villain in Julius Caesar.

Secondly, Brutus is directed down the villain path when he decides to trust Mark Antony,

understimating his power and influence. Brutus made the mistake of trusting one of Caesar’s

loyalist friends, Mark Antony rather than taking advice from the fellow conspirator plotting

alongside him. When plotting Caesar’s assasination, Brutus told Cassius as well as the other

conspirators, that Antony would have no power once Caesar was gone. Brutus believed Antony

would “do no more than Caesar’s arm when Caesar’s head is off” (II.i.189-190). Brutus

misjudged the influence Mark Antony’s words had on the citizens of Rome. At Caesar’s funeral,

Brutus made the mistake of letting Mark Antony speak, as his words had a great reach on the

Rome citizens. Antony undermined Brutus’ honorability by speaking at Caesar’s funeral after

Brutus, testing and reversing the words in Brutus’ speech. Brutus proved himself to be “an

honorable man” in his speech, but Antony used that against him, turning the citizens on the

conspirators (III.ii). Mark Antony and Octavius, Caesar’s great-nephew, rose to power after

Caesar’s death, becoming a major opponent to the Senate that included Brutus. When the civil
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wars in Rome broke out, Octavius and Antony’s army brought death to many of the Senate’s

supporters. Brutus knew he had been defeated when he realized his “enemies [had] beat [him] to

the pit” (V.v.26-27). Brutus’ trust and misjudgement of Antony’s power, leads him to playing the

villain in Julius Caesar.

Thirdly, Brutus’ poor decisions and many mis-judged situations, guide him to playing the

villian in Julius Caesar. Brutus’ first mistake was staying away from his loving wife Portia for a

very long time. The long seperation from Brutus, causes Portia to worry and eventually she takes

her own life as she has become so distraught over his departure. Brutus explained that Portia

grew “impatient of [his] absence, and grief that young Octavius with Mark Antony have made

themselves so strong—for with her death that tidings came—with this she fell distract and, her

attendants absent, swallowed fire” (V.iii.156-160). Brutus greatly misjudeged how the citizens of

Rome would react to the assassination of their beloved leader Caesar. He believed the Romans

would accept the fact that he killed Caesar, once they heard his reasons for doing so in his speech

at Caesar’s funeral. Brutus felt that if he said a few words to the public such as “Hear me for my

cause, and be silent that you may hear. Believe me for mine honor, and have respect to mine

honor that you may believe”, that he could prove his honorablity and the public would respect

his reasons for assasinating Caesar (III.ii). Brutus made the poor decision of trusting Cassius and

the other conspirators’ reasons for killing Caesar. The conspirators made Brutus believe they

were assassinating Caesar for the good of Rome but, they truly had evil intentions and wished to

kill him out of spite and jealousy. Antony had even stated publicly that “all the conspirators save

only he did that they did in envy of great Caesar” (V.v.74-75). Brutus’ misjudgement and poor

decision-making skills lead him to playing the villain in Julius Caesar.

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Marcus Brutus’ so called ‘heroic’ attributes lead him to playing the role of the villain in

William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The first attribute that leads Brutus to playing the villain is

his love for Rome that eventually contributes to the city’s downfall. The second action is that he

had far too much trust is Mark Antony, underestimating his power and influence. The final

attribute that leads Brutus to playing the villian is his poor decision making skills and

misjudgement of many situations. With supporting evidence from the play, Marcus Brutus

proves he is the villain in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.

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Works Cited

SparkNotes Editors. “Julius Caesar No Fear.” SparkNotes.com, SparkNotes LLC, 2005, URL.