Self-Deluded Characters in Julius Caesar
The main characters in Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Julius Caesar have distorted self-perception, showing throughout the play that they see themselves as actors in a great historical play rather than actual people (Van Laan 139). Brutus, Antony, Cassius, and Caesar all overact in a sense and attempt to appear mightier than they actually are. The only character who does not “role play” is Octavius, who “remains exempt from the ironic contrast between dream and reality because he has no imagined concept of himself which the reality of history can mock" (Van Laan 148). This paper reviews the ways the characters play their roles (or do not, in Octavius’s case) and how the audience views them.
Brutus plays the role of an honorable man, trying so hard to prove he is honorable that he even convinces himself. He says he loves the name of honor more than he loves death (1.2.88-89) and that as an honorable man, all his actions – even the murder of Julius Caesar – must be too: "With this is depart, that, as I / Slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the/ Same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country/ To need my death" (3.2.45-48). Brutus thereby justifies his reasoning and that of his co-conspirators.
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