Could a murderer ever be considered “honorable”? Or would their reputation be tarnished forever by that one act? In the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Marcus Brutus is considered one of the most “honorable” men in Rome. When asked by Caius Cassius to join the conspiracy to assassinate the war hero, Julius Caesar, after some deliberation, Brutus agrees. Once they murder Caesar, it causes great confusion and sadness amongst the Roman people, especially in Mark Antony, Caesar’s right hand man, who ends up causing even more chaos with his speech at Caesar’s funeral. This causes a civil war to ensue, splitting Rome in half, in which both Cassius and Brutus kill themselves. Brutus was not an honorable man because he displayed many unacceptable characteristics throughout the play.
To begin with, Brutus acted hypocritically more than once throughout the play. Brutus announces his strong feelings about the death of Cato: “By which I did blame Cato for the death / Which he did give himself; I know not how, / But I do find it cowardly and vile” (V.2.101-103). In this statement, Brutus clearly displays disapproval towards the act of suicide, yet he decides to commit suicide in the end. This shows how he chooses to kill himself, despite knowing that he believes it is not a noble way to die. In addition, he complains to Cassius about funding for their army saying: “I did send to you / For certain sums of gold, which you denied me; / For I can raise no money by vile means” (IV.3.69-71). He is angry with Cassius for not lending him money to strengthen their army, while he is also lecturing him on being dishonorable for obtaining money through illegal methods. His actions display hypocrisy because he is getting so desperate for money for their army, that he is turning to illegal methods to earn some, while simultaneously attempting to maintain his “pure” and “honorable” image. Even though Brutus was a hypocrite, his cockiness was an even greater flaw.
Secondly, Brutus behaves and acts in an over confident manner. “There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats; / For I am armed so strong in honesty / That they pass by me as the idle wind / which I respect not,” Brutus declares to Cassius during one of their numerous fights (IV.3.66-69). Brutus believes that he is practically untouchable since he has so few flaws, and acts as though he is perfect. He is so confident in his honesty that he thinks anything under him is less important and less powerful. Also, Brutus tells Cassius before the two exchange their final goodbyes at Philippi: “Think not, thou noble Roman, / That ever Brutus will go bound to Rome; / He bears too great a mind” (V.2.110-112). Once again, Brutus demonstrates his pride by saying he is such a great and valuable person. Brutus believes he is above being held as a prisoner of war and that Cassius should not even think of being captured by the enemy as an option. His cocky attitude contributed to thinking he was always right.
Lastly, Brutus possesses poor decision making skills. After reading letters from the “people” of Rome, Brutus replies: “If the redress will follow, thou receivst / Thy full petition at the hand of Brutus!” (II.1.57-58). This encourages Brutus to join the conspiracy, even though the letters were actually made by Cassius in order to sway Brutus into joining their group, and were therefore all phony. Brutus made a poor choice to kill his friend, Caesar, over some fake letters, showing that Brutus cans also be easily manipulated, and should not be allowed to make such important decisions. To add to that, Brutus allows Antony to speak at Caesar’s funeral, explaining: “I will myself into the pulpit first, / And show the reason of our Caesar’s death. / What Antony shall speak, I will protest” (III.1.236-238). It is sheer stupidity to let Caesar’s angry and fiercely loyal advisor speak at Caesar’s funeral, especially since it is common sense to have let Antony calm down more after the death before letting him have such a necessary role in the conspirator’s plan to convince the public that Caesar’s death was needed. It is even worse that Brutus shot down Cassius’s advice to not let Antony speak, since it was more logical than Brutus’s plan. Brutus’s poor decision making was only one of many factors that led to his downfall.
Overall, Brutus is not an honorable man because he displayed many poor characteristics throughout the play that also contributed to his demise as well. Even though honorable does not mean perfect, it still means that a person must have a noble and just reputation in order to deserve that title. Brutus did possess good qualities that could have helped him to achieve the “honorable” status; however, his negative qualities outweighed the good ones. This should help people understand that it is alright to make mistakes, since the world we live in is far from perfect, yet they should also strive to do what is right for their community, world, and most importantly, themselves.