“He who will not reason is a bigot; he who cannot is a fool; and he who dares not, is a slave.” – Sir William Drumman All men have the power to reason. Some men can reason better, and more thorough than others. Yet nonetheless, all men can reason. In order to reason, one must clear his mind, be completely impartial, and understand the situation to the best of his ability.
The play Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare, is the story of a man trying his best to make reasonable, rational decisions. Marcus Brutus is this struggling character who evades constant pressure from all sides to gloriously pull through, yet dies at play’s end. Undoubtedly, Brutus is the main character, and driving force of the play, despite the misleading title of Julius Caesar. Three separate, critical aspects help to show the reader how unimportant Julius Caesar is to the play.
Caesar appears, in dreams, and thoughts of multiple people, giving warnings and special messages. Nobody seems to pay attention to him. Another example is illustrated by the way that Brutus seems to dominate his own actions, whatever he is thinking. Also, Antony declares war on Brutus, but not out of love for Caesar, but anger toward the conspirators. As these aspects are explained in further detail one will be sure of the fact that Brutus, without question, clearly dominates the play as a whole.
Caesar warns numerous people of ensuing tragedies multiple times, and not once is he listened to. Calpurnia cries out terrified three times during the night, “Help ho – they murder Caesar!” The reader soon learns of a dream in which Caesar’s wife visualizes her husband’s death. She begs and pleads Caesar to stay home that day, however, nobody ever pays any attention to her dream. In this instance, Caesar has no influence on the outcome of the play. Again, when Brutus sees the likeness of Caesar in a dream, Caesar gives an ominous message implying to Brutus not to go to Philipi. “. . . thou shalt see me at Philipi.” The ghost of Caesar, unimportant and unbelieved is perceived as a “day dream.” Brutus, not paying any attention to the dead and gone Caesar, does not listen. In this sense, Caesar does not make a strong enough impression upon other characters in the play to be taken seriously. In the battles between Antony and Brutus, Caesar is often mentioned in their dying words. “Caesar, thou art revenged, even with the sword that killed thee.” These are Cassius’ dying words. Brutus’s final words are somewhat similar, “Caesar, now be still; I killed not thee with half so good a will.” Their words represent that although final thoughts consisted of the evil crime they had committed, Caesar had nothing to do with their deaths. Caesar, although a highly respectable man, had no more influence on the outcome of the play than did any character. Brutus dominates his own actions throughout the story. When the reader discovers the news of Calpurnia’s death, “No man bears a better sorrow. Portia is dead,” they realize what must be cluttering Brutus’ (usually clear) mind. However, nobody is able to discover if this tragedy is affecting his thoughts. Along with Portia, Caesar is another thought in his mind. Nothing more. Stoicism teaches one to master his emotions. Brutus is a model stoic. As Cassius wants to talk and mourn for her, Brutus moves on “Speak no more of her. Give me a bowl of wine. In this I bury all unkindness.” At this point, Caesar has obviously buried all thoughts of Caesar as he was able to do with Portia. Brutus however, is only human, and at play’s end, he commits suicide. This action may represent a number of unrecognized, painful emotions that resurfaced in Brutus’ heart. There is no doubt that Caesar was only one of these thoughts, if that. He became unfocused due to his wife’s tragedy. Caesar, although in his dying words, was not a main factor in Brutus’ suicide – only an unresolved conflict. Marcus Antonius’ war waged against Brutus was done so more out of anger towards Brutus, than out of grief or love for Caesar. If it were Antony’s mother, Mrs. Antonius who were killed, he would have done the same to her murders, without hesitation. “These many men shall die; their names are pricked.” His tablet of death, containing all the people who contributed to, or were involved in the conspiracy, shows his irrational anger towards the conspirators, not love for Caesar. The anger is evident as fickle Plebeians declare “We’ll burn his body in the holy place, And with the brands fire the traitors’ houses.” The town people are so intent on capturing the emotions of the moment, that they have basically forgotten Caesar, Brutus, and even Antony in their rage. During the battles between the Conspirators and Antony, Brutus has the audience’s sympathy. Once again, Caesar is at the back of their thoughts, and unimportant in the unfolding of events. Marcus Brutus is the protagonist of the play. He is the character that the reader feels for, wants to win, and pities. When one realizes Caesar’s pompous, classless attitude, he is labeled the antagonist, and is wanted dead. In every aspect of the play earlier mentioned, Brutus is the driving force of nearly everything that occurs. Caesar is but an after-thought of the reader, and is realized as the inciting action, and nothing more. Brutus is, by all means, the dominating force in the play.