Julius Caesar Importance Of Self Knowledge

1331 words - 5 pages

"Behind every event is a reason; at the forefront of every reason is man (Aristotle, 384 - 322 BC)" In Julius Caesar, Shakespeare supports this notion; the most notable events - namely, the murder of Caesar, the civil war, and the deaths of other key characters - result from two character flaws. One is the inability of some characters to construct a realistic image of themselves, and understand their weaknesses. The fact that the characters are so easily manipulated also results in a number of unfavourable events. First, Cassius is able to persuade Brutus to kill Caesar. Without such support, the assassination is unlikely to occur. Caesar's false sense of infallibility and his susceptibility to Decius' flattery also causes his ruin. Following Caesar's murder, an uprising results from Antony's manipulation of the Roman citizens. Then, the subplot ends with Brutus' suicide, because he is horrified that he lacked the knowledge to see his true self.Cassius wants to murder Caesar to seize more power for himself. To accomplish his cause, he manipulates the simplicity of others to assemble a group of conspirators. Brutus is motivated by loyalty to the state rather than by personal relationships. Seeing that Brutus might be open to what he has to say, Cassius tries to persuade Brutus to help murder Caesar. Cassius recognizes that the only way to get Brutus to kill his friend is to convince him (Brutus) that it would be for the good of Rome. So, Cassius writes some false letters, stating the fear of citizen's about Caesar's leadership. Brutus receives the warnings in the letters and subsequently decides that Caesar must be killed. That Brutus is so easily swayed is exemplified by Cassius' confidence that Brutus will join the plot. As Cassius asserts, "three parts of him/Is ours already, and the man entire/Upon our next encounter yields him ours." Cassius also uses his ability to understand his fellow man to persuade others, such as Casca and Cicero, to become conspirators. There is no doubt that without the support of these characters, Cassius will terminate his plans to murder Caesar. They not only assist with implementation of the murder (E.g. by distracting people such as Antony); men like Brutus, who are valued by the citizens of Rome, give respectability to an otherwise treacherous act of murder.Even with Cassius' 'support group', the murder of Caesar is still preventable. The only problem is that Caesar is also easily manipulated, and is oblivious to his own weaknesses. The soothsayer calls out to him "Beware the Ides of March," Calphurnia has a prophetic nightmare, and the priests advise him to stay home. Many times, Caesar is nearly saved by omens and warnings, but his sense of infallibility makes him ignore them. He has constructed a faulty self-image and falls prey to it - that is, Caesar does not believe he could possibly have an enemy in the world; he is too full of himself to see any of his weaknesses or impending danger. He even goes so far...

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