Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Brutus: Does The End Justify The Means


Patrick Wilson



Ms. Snively

Brutus: Does The Ends Justify The Means

“It must be by his death; and for my part I know no personal cause to spurn at him” (act 2 scene 1 lines: 10-12), this quotation by Brutus, in the play piece: Julius Caesar, clearly tells us about Brutus’s self conflict to kill Caesar. Brutus, throughout the play: Julius Caesar, has always had sparks of his characterization showing his devotion for Rome and his own self-honor. These two traits motivated him to feel the need to publically assassinate Julius Caesar before he could rule Rome and possible destroy it.

Brutus is always aware of the needs/requirements of Rome and its protection in this way Brutus is devoted. When Caesar was on the verge of becoming ruler of Rome, he felt that if Caesar did become king his nature would change and this would lead him to abusing his power as king of Rome. Brutus did love Caesar as a great friend but was more scared of what Caesar would do to Rome. This pushed him and provoked him to join the Conspirators (with some manipulation from Cassius), who together publically assassinated Caesar. After Brutus had just talked to Cassius about how they both don’t want Caesar as a king, Brutus go’s home to his orchards and says a soliloquy. Brutus plainly shows us that he was terribly scared of what would happen to Rome if Caesar became King and how he might change, from this from this quote: “But for the general. He would be crowne’d: How that might change his nature, there’s the question. It is the bright day that brings forth the adder, and that craves wary walking. Crown him? – That? And then I grant we put a sting in him, that at his will he may do danger with. Th’ abuse of greatness is when it disjoins Remorse from power; and to speak truth of Caesar, I have not known when his affections sway’d”(act 2 scene 1 line 12-20). This shows Brutus’s driving force to kill Caesar because his nature might change and he will abuse his power/greatness. Brutus also tells us about how he loves Caesar as well but how he felt that Rome was of more importance in his heart. Following the assassination of Julius Caesar Brutus tells the people of Rome why he felt the urge to kill Caesar. This quote demonstrates this: “ Caesar, this is my answer: Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more. Had you rather Caesar were living and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men?” (act 3 scene 2 lines 20-23). This quote describes how Brutus loved Caesar but Brutus had more love for Rome, yet it also shows further signs of Brutus believing Caesars nature to change if he became king. Brutus felt that by killing Caesar he was saving Rome, this made him kill Caesar out of fear of losing Rome.

Brutus is one of the noblest characters in the whole play yet his self-honor was both a positive trait and his downfall. Brutus’s ancestors were several of the noble people who droved the bad kings from Rome, so for this reason Brutus feels that he must maintain a sense of pride and honor for himself and Rome. Brutus, because of his honor he also (like his devotion) found the need to assassinate Caesar. Honor was also what killed him; he took his own life because he had lost the battle against Antony and Octavius. When Cassius is trying to make Brutus join the conspirators Brutus explains to the audience/reader his feelings about honor: “Till then, my noble friend, chew upon this: Brutus had rather be a villager Than to repute himself a son of Rome under these hard conditions as this time Is like to lay upon us.”(act 1 scene 2 line 169- 173). This tells us that Brutus feels no honor in having Caesar rule Rome or about to rule Rome. Brutus’s downfall unfortunately was also caused because of his honor. When Brutus has lost the battle against Antony and Octavius he feels that he must commit suicide to keep some of his honor instead of being killed by Antony and Octavius (although they secretly respected Brutus greatly and wouldn’t kill him) this quote shows us this: “Farewell, good Strato. Caesar, now be still; I kill’d thee with half so good a will (Brutus kills himself)”(final act final scene Brutus’s last lines). Brutus had so many honors for both himself and for Rome that he would go o any length to maintain it, which caused him to kill Caesar and himself.

Brutus was in a lot of self-conflict throughout this play and it was the choice to kill Caesar or not that was the conflict. Brutus was strongly powered by Honor and Devotion, which were the reasons for why he must kill Caesar. These motivators made Brutus kill Caesar and Brutus kill himself at the battle of Philippi. I believe that the end didn’t justify the means because after Brutus is killed Octavius becomes King Of Rome so it didn’t really have much point to kill Caesar ( although we know Brutus felt that his personality might change against the commoners of Rome if he became king) so possible Octavius was a much better king than Caesar would of been. I also think Brutus and the conspirators were slightly reckless, they killed Caesar before he was king (and before they knew for sure his personality would change). I would say that the conspirator’s goal was not noble because they killed Caesar out of envy and jealousy. While I think Brutus’s goal was very noble because he sacrificed everything for his honor and the safety/glory of Rome.

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