Theme in Julius Caesar


In the tragedy, Brutus uses manipulation to convince himself that it is right to kill Caesar. In the beginning of his soliloquy, Brutus describes how great of a man Caesar is: “And, to speak truth of Caesar, I have not known when his affections swayed more than his reason” (Act II, sc i, 19-21). However, Brutus comes to the realization that Caesar like every other individual would lose his humility and become an uncontrollable ruler if given too much power: “That lowliness is young ambition’s ladder, whereto the climber upward turns his face. But when he once attains the upmost round, he then unto the ladder turns his back” (Act II, sc i, 22-25). In conclusion, Brutus reaches the realization that he must kill Caesar, this man he held a personal relationship with and revered, in order to stop what he thinks would be a corruption of power: “And therefore think him as a serpent’s egg – which hatched, would as his kind grow mischievous – and kill him in the shell” (Act II, sc i, 32-34). This whole speech is Brutus talking to himself and slowly manipulating himself into thinking that killing Caesar is the right thing to do. If Brutus does not kill Caesar, then he believes that Caesar will gain too much power, and the other elites would lose their influence.


Antony, Caesar’s loyal general, uses rhetorical devices in the form of propaganda to convince the people of Rome that Caesar’s death was a huge crime, and that the guilty elites need to be hunted down and reprimanded for their deeds. Antony shows the people of Rome Caesar’s cloak and where each knife had penetrated into Caesar. He names certain people and points to where they stabbed Caesar to promote hatred against those certain elites: “Look, in this place ran Cassius’ dagger through. See what a rent the envious Casca made” (Act III, sc ii, 168-169). Antony even talks about Brutus’ personal relationship with Caesar and how Brutus’ stab was the most unjust and impacting: “For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar’s angel. Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him! This was the most unkindest cut of all” (Act III, sc ii, 175-177). Lastly, Antony describes the elites as traitors who committed an act of treason against the empire as a whole and calls upon the emotions of the people: “Whilst bloody treason flourished over us. Oh, now you weep, and, I perceive, you feel the dint of pity. These are gracious drops” (Act III, sc ii, 186-188). By drawing upon the morals of the people and talking about the wrongs of society that were performed by the corrupted elites, Antony rallies up the people against the traitors through the use of Caesar’s cloak as a source of propaganda for manipulation.