How Brutus' Three Mistakes affected the Outcome of his life - "Julius Caesar" by William Shakespeare

Essay by elusive_butterflyHigh School, 10th grade June 2007

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Everyday people make decisions that may or may not determine the outcomes of their lives. It took only three wrong choices to bring calamity upon Marcus Brutus. First, he refused to agree to the death of Marc Antony, second, he allowed Marc Antony to speak at Caesar’s funeral and third, he decided to risk all in one battle at Philippi. In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Brutus makes three big mistakes that bring him to his end.

Brutus brought his own death upon him by refusing to agree to the death of Marc Antony. As Cassius had said “we shall find him a shrewd contriver, and…his means…may well stretch so far as to annoy us all,” arguing that Antony should also be killed at the conference. Brutus immediately forbade such a thing and said “think not of him; for he can do no more than Caesar’s arm when his head is off.”

Allowing Caesar’s “limb” to live turned out to be on of the biggest mistakes Brutus ever made. It was the same Antony whom Brutus thought would be no danger to them that destroyed him.

Allowing Marc Antony not only to speak at Caesar’s funeral but also to speak last was another mistake Brutus made that brought about his end. “Do not consent that Antony speaks in his [Julius Caesar’s] funeral: know you how much the people may be moved by that which he will utter?” Cassius, his friend, had advised Brutus not to let Antony speak at the funeral. Brutus, stupidly, refused to acknowledge that fact and said “I will myself into the pulpit first and show the reason of our Caesar’s death…it shall advantage more than do us wrong.” Brutus was under the misconception that he was a better orator than Antony and so he went first. This allowed Antony to listen to whatever Brutus had said and use it against him to sway the crowd in a different direction. Antony convinced the crowd that the conspirators were not honourable and thus turned them against Brutus and his fellow conspirators.

The last mistake Brutus made that brought him to his end was deciding to risk all in one battle at Philippi. Antony had declared war on Brutus and the other conspirators and on the eve of battle, Cassius once again wisely advised Brutus saying: “tis better that the enemy seek us: so shall he waste his means, weary his soldiers, doing himself offence.” Once again, Brutus thought he had a better idea and replied: “good reasons must of force give place to better…there is a tide in the affairs of men which taken at the flood leads on to fortune…and we must take the current when it serves or lose our ventures.” Brutus clearly recognizes the logic of Cassius’ plan but believes that his plan is much better. Because of this mistake, the battle takes a turn for the worst and carries Antony into the path of victory.

It is these three mistakes that Brutus makes that lead to his demise and Antony’s triumph. The biggest mistake was his refusal to kill Marc Antony, which could possibly have prevented the other two mistakes from happening. The second mistake Brutus made was allowing Marc Antony to speak at Caesar’s funeral and thus allowing Antony to sway the crowd against the conspirators. Then, rushing full force into a war that he was clearly unprepared for was another mistake that Brutus committed. Making these three mistakes, Brutus was slowly digging himself his own grave and walking into his own death.