Is Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar noble or not?

Essay by PortCreditHigh School, 10th grade December 2012

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A Matter of Nobility

What is it that makes a man noble? What makes a Roman noble? True nobility is based on one's actions, not their social or political status. In the play Julius Caesar, Brutus's hypocrisy, false justifications, naivety and lack of foresight throughout the play, leave one questioning whether he really is "the noblest Roman of them all."

First of all Brutus is a hypocrite. When the conspirators are talking about how to deal with Cassius and Caesar, Brutus suggests that they should kill Caesar "boldly, but not wrathfully" (II.i.172) because he wants "to be sacrifices, but not butchers."(II.i.166) However, after saying this, they kill Caesar by stabbing him multiple times the next day. Is that not considered killing wrathfully? Also, when Brutus is talking about Cato's suicide, he says that he finds suicide is "cowardly and vile…The time life."(V.i.103-105) Brutus is calling Cato a coward for committing suicide, but then he commits suicide as well.

In addition to these two situations Brutus criticizes Cassius for having "an itching palm." (IV.iii.10) He thinks that Cassius only is interested in obtaining money. However, later on in the play, Brutus says that Cassius owes him money and becomes angry with Cassius because he "[sends]/To [Cassius] for gold to pay [his] legions, /Which [he denies him]." (IV.iii.75-77) Brutus did not approve of how Cassius obtains the money and yet he still becomes angry with Cassius for not giving him some of that money. Due to Brutus' actions during these situations, Brutus's hypocrisy is obvious.

In addition to being a hypocrite, Brutus tries to justify his mistakes by looking for a variety of ways to make his actions seem noble. Following the death of Caesar, when Anthony enters, Brutus explains to Anthony why they, the conspirators, killed Caesar. Brutus says to...