Is Brutus a Betrayer or a Patriot in Shakespeare’s Play?

It is impossible to agree on whether Brutus was a betrayer or a patriot since everyone’s opinions and minds are different. He did betray and murder his close friend Caesar in cold blood. Nevertheless, he was well aware that assassinating Caesar was the only way to keep Rome from enslaving itself. So, should we regard Brutus as a betrayer or a patriot? The answer would have to be a patriot since he did it solely for the benefit of Rome. When Cassius offers him the chance to participate in the plot, he declines since he understands Caesar does not deserve such a harsh punishment. After Cassius planted the fake notes from Rome, Brutus chooses to kill Caesar because he would not want the citizens to become Caesar’s slaves. Rather than killing Caesar out of vindictiveness, as Cassius intended, he wanted to stop him from oppressing the Romans. However, Brutus may also appear to be a traitor to Caesar since he joined forces with those who loathed him to assassinate him. This essay will present an argument for Brutus being a patriot through his various acts in William Shakespeare’s play.

To begin with, Brutus betrayed his best friend. However, he only did it to protect the country from Caesar’s unpredictability. Brutus tells Lucius in the play that “… I know no personal cause to spurn at him, But for the general. He would be crowned” (Shakespeare 22, Act II). Brutus says that Caesar would be crowned: The question is “how that might change his nature” (22). He did it because Caesar was on the verge of becoming tyrannical and insane with power. Brutus could have quickly discovered that Cassius was lying about Caesar’s unpredictability. The problem was that Brutus had no reason to distrust Cassius, a man he had worked with for many years. Cassius even says, “Men at some time are masters of their fates: The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings” (Shakespeare 22, Act I). Brutus and Cassius were in-laws and close friends who even worked together. Any individual, even a good person like Brutus, could have faith in this man.

Next, Brutus is a patriot because he puts Rome’s future before his friendship with Caesar. In the play, Brutus inquires, “Shall Rome stand under one man’s awe? What, Rome? My ancestors did from the streets of Rome: The Tarquin drive, when he was called a king” (Shakespeare 24, Act II). Like his forefathers, Brutus attempted to express that he would not accept a king or dictator ruling over free Rome. This demonstrates that he was genuinely concerned about the safety of Rome.

Brutus was also proclaimed the most honorable man in Rome by Antony, his adversary, after he killed himself. In the play, Antony reveals, “This was the noblest Roman of them all… His life was gentle, and the elements So mixed in him that Nature might stand up: And say to all the world” (Shakespeare 102, Act V, Scene V). The turn means that he acted in Rome’s best interests and loved Rome until the end. At this point, Brutus kept his word when he said he would die for Rome if necessary. When Antony and Octavius discovered Brutus’s death, they described him as a nobleman.

Another reason to believe Brutus is a patriotic citizen is that all of Rome’s citizens adored him. They adored him before Julius Caesar’s death, and they loved him much more after he killed Caesar. After killing Caesar, Brutus stood to address the crowd when a citizen told others to remain silent as the nobleman had ascended. Afterward, Brutus addressed the citizens by telling them that “If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar’s, to him I say, that Brutus’ love to Caesar was no less than his … If any, speak; for him have I offended. I pause for a reply” (Shakespeare 55). But all the citizens in the crowd that Brutus was addressing responded to him, saying, “None, Brutus, none” (55), which means that they concurred with him about killing Caesar for the good of Rome. All these activities from Brutus’ address to the citizens, show that he was a noble and patriotic man.

In addition, Brutus was a patriot because he was ready to die if it meant that it would save the citizens of Rome. In act 3, scene III, Brutus says, “With is I depart, –that, as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome” (Shakespeare 56). He said he had the same blade for himself, which he would use if his country needed it. Dying for one’s country is the most incredible sense of patriotism that one can show as a sign of pure intentions.

However, Brutus may be seen as a betrayer because he did not even give Caesar a chance to explain his leadership aspirations. No one knew whether Caesar would aid Rome or in Rome’s demise. Caesar had the potential to be a great leader. He put his faith in the people of Rome over his well-being; he was not a driven individual. When Brutus assassinated Caesar, he assassinated a leader, someone’s husband, and a friend. Caesar’s last words were, “Et tu, Brute! Then fall, Caesar” (Shakespeare 46, Act III, Scene I). As Brutus stabbed him, Caesar turned at him and shouted, “You too, Brutus!” (46): Brutus was a close friend to Caesar. When Brutus, like the others, stabbed Caesar in the Senate, he betrayed Caesar. In act four of the play, Brutus says to Caesar’s ghost, “I think the weakness of mine eyes shapes this monstrous apparition … That makest my blood cold and my hair to stare? Speak to me what thou art” (Shakespeare 84). Brutus encounters Caesar’s spirit and strikes up a dialogue with him. Brutus seemed to be remorseful for betraying him.

Despite how he demonstrated it, Brutus was honorable and a patriot. He plotted to assassinate Caesar behind Caesar’s back. However, he did it to preserve Rome’s liberty and prevent a dictator from ruling over free Rome, as his forefathers had done. Brutus was willing to kill his best friend and commit political and social suicide to save his country. He was a faithful Roman hero and, as Antony put it, “the noblest of all Romans.” Brutus was a patriot because he was willing to die to save the people of Rome. Dying for one’s country is the greatest act of patriotism one can demonstrate to demonstrate good intentions. On the other hand, Brutus may be considered a traitor because he refused to allow Caesar to explain his leadership ambitions.

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Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. Standard E-books, 2020.

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StudyStroll. "Is Brutus a Betrayer or a Patriot in Shakespeare's Play?" March 29, 2023.


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