Essay about Suicide in Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare

Essay about Suicide in Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare

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Suicide has always been a common alternative action to get away from one’s problems in human history. Sometimes however, it is at times hard to decipher whether or not one’s suicide may be heroic or weak. In Ancient Rome, suicide was often considered an honorable and praiseworthy way to die, it was not until long after this time period that organized religions started considering suicide as a sin rather than an act of heroism. In the brilliant Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, many characters in the play take their own lives, this throws us into the dark as to whether or not their acts of suicide are heroic or weak.
As described in Julius Caesar the play, Brutus is a man driven by will and pride. Honor is also a very vibrant underlying foundation of Brutus’ character. After the suspenseful assassination of Caesar, specifically during his funeral speech, Brutus inquires the people of Rome, “Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If any, speak; for him I have offended” (3.2.29-32). Brutus is proving to the people of Rome that he is the noblest Roman of them all. However, on the eve of his shocking defeat by Antony, Brutus runs onto his sword preserving his undeniable honor as a noble Roman citizen. Brutus’ decision to kill himself comes after he escapes the end of battle against Antony and Octavius, when his army is captured. As enemies are approaching, Brutus says his final farewell’s to his friends explaining that, “The ghost of Caesar hath appeared to me, two several times by night: at Sardis once, and this last night in Philippi fields. I know my hour is come” (5.5.18-21). Brutus then goes on demanding for Strato, his servant, to hold up his sword for him to run upon saying that, “Thy life ...

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...lled herself by “[swallowing] fire” (4.3.156). Portia could no longer live with honor in Rome; she couldn’t live with all of Brutus’ consequences hanging over her.
Every characters suicide in this novel was weak. The reason for this being that no suicide is ever considered heroic. In most ancient cultures, people’s reputation meant everything to them. If they had been betrayed or disgraced in some way, suicide was a way of claiming their honor back. In modern times people commit suicide for far different reasons than people did in ancient times. Portia, Brutus, and Cassius all were grieving over something and they all figured that they didn’t have anything to live for anymore, so they took their lives.

Works Cited

Shakespeare, William. “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.” Elements of Literature: Kylene Beers. Austin: Holt, 2009. 842-963. Print.

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