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Analysis of William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

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From the absolute power of ancient kings and medieval monarchs to the tyrannical dictators of today, political corruption has been a persistent aspect of governed societies since their emergence early in human existence. In the quest for power, individuals create furtive conspiracies to overthrow governments and destroy policies. The presence of political corruption and conspiracy in Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is prominent, as Brutus and Mark Antony conduct opposing conspiracies in relation to corruption in the Roman government. Shakespeare depicts Antony’s emotional drive, ability to set aside honor, and capacity to use manipulative language as additive to the strength of his conspiracy. These qualities allow his conspiracy to undermine Brutus and, in doing so, emphasize Brutus’ flaws of uncertainty, excessive accentuation of honor, and naïveté.

Brutus is primarily motivated by his utilitarian ideals, causing him to have a weak, uncertain approach relative to Antony. Antony’s counter-conspiracy is driven by his emotional attachment to Caesar and desire to avenge him, giving him a powerful, instinctual base to operate from. As Brutus is considering an assassination of Caesar, he states, “It must be by his death; and for my part,/ I know no personal cause to spurn at him,/ But for the general” (Shakespeare II.i.10-12). By considering the absence of personal incentives for the planned attack on Caesar, Brutus reveals fickleness in his motives by giving himself a second option. He is inspired to participate in the conspiracy by his utilitarian ideals, while concurrently, he doubts himself by considering his lack of personal conflict with Caesar. This weakness is further exposed following the planning of Caesar’s as...

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...oblest Roman of them all”, even after he proclaims his rigid opinion of Caesar (V.v.68). Although the nobility of Brutus is admirable, the application of his honor in the slimy, sordid realm of politics is in an atmosphere where it can easily be exploited. Similarly, in today’s world corrupted politicians’ shady dealings and backhanded methods create an environment that makes it difficult for those honest politicians to function unhampered. In regards to the upcoming elections, the relevance of this is important to recognize. People must be use proper judgment to discern those who are honest from those who are corrupt in order to ensure a loyal government.

Works Cited

Feldman, Kevin, Kevin Feldman, Sharon Vaughan, and Kate Kinsella. The Tragedy of Julius Caesar. Prentice Hall Literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall, 2007. 824-923. Print.
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