Julius Caesar and Brutus

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Most of the western world today has some form of idealism incorporated into it today. In America, it is in the form of the pursuit of happiness and the American dream. In many ways, idealism can be great for our world as well, but idealism has its inherent flaws that are tied to the very principles it is based upon. In The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare uses rhetoric, dramatic irony, and the characters of Cassius and Brutus to reveal with vivid strokes how idealism undermines our capacity to comprehend different outcomes and forces us down a path of societal distress.

Idealism limits our capability to think and therefore lowers our potential as human beings. Shakespeare effectively shows this through conversations between Cassius and Brutus. Brutus is the embodiment of idealism because of his patriotism for Rome and his belief in Rome and its people. Cassius, on the other hand, is cunning and is able to use this patriotism in that is in Brutus to further his own agenda and specific goals. “Men at some time are masters of their fates. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves” (21). This illustrates how simple it was to convince Brutus to kill Caesar. All Cassius needed to do was touch upon Brutus’ ego every so slightly in order to promote thought that showed him a picture of a world where he, Brutus, was the ruler and how amazing that world could be for Rome. Cassius also cunningly puts forth the idea that we have control over our own fate, and if we want something we need to accomplish it ourselves. The fault is not in our stars, suggests that no one is born to rule, we need to earn that right which Caesar has not.

Brutus now could not look past this ideal world that he had created in his head and kept comparing it to the one with Caesar. He was debating whether or not to kill Caesar but not once did he reevaluate his position with Cassius that Caesar was ambitious. His ideal world limited the scope of his thinking an ultimately lead him to the killing of Caesar. “Like wrath in death and envy afterwards… Let us be sacrificers but not butchers, Caius.” (61) Brutus’ limited thought process is explicitly shown here as well, he is not able to see beyond the point that it would be wrong to kill Marc Antony simply because he was a close friend of Caesar. He saw that in his ideal world Marc Antony would not have to be killed, instead, Antony could play an instrumental part in convincing the Roman people that the killing of Caesar was necessary. But in reality, Brutus had been warned multiple times by Cassius that Marc Antony should be killed or at least not allowed to speak. Cassius tried to explain to Brutus that Marc Antony if allowed to speak to the Roman public, could wreak havoc to an already volatile situation but because of his strong ideals and beliefs,

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