Julius Caesar

by: William Shakespeare

Identity

Quotes Identity
I would not, Cassius. Yet I love him well. … If it be aught toward the general good, Set honor in one eye and death i' th' other, And I will look on both indifferently, For let the gods so speed me as I love The name of honor more than I fear death. (1.2.84-91)

Here in Act I, Brutus responds to Cassius’s question of whether Brutus wants Caesar to be king or not. Brutus reveals the conflict he faces between his public and private identities. Personally, Brutus loves Caesar, but he admits here that his loyalty is to the Roman public. Brutus declares that this public love will come before his love for Caesar. Brutus strengthens this declaration by saying that he fears losing his honor more than death.

It must be by his death, and for my part I know no personal cause to spurn at him But for the general. He would be crowned. How that might change his nature, there’s the question. … Crown him that, And then I grant we put a sting in him That at his will he may do danger with. (2.1.10-17)

In Act II, Brutus continues to reveal his inner struggle between his personal feelings for Caesar and his feelings towards protecting his public. Brutus admits that he has no personal anger towards Caesar but would go against him for the good of Rome. He also speaks of Caesar’s identity struggle between the harmless, good-natured man that he is and the dangerous man he could become with new power. The audience can see how both Brutus and Caesar fail to honor their personal identities by making all decisions based on their public loyalties and image.

We all stand up against the spirit of Caesar, And in the spirit of men there is no blood. Oh, that we then could come by Caesar’s spirit And not dismember Caesar! But, alas, Caesar must bleed for it. (2.1.174-178)

In this scene of Act II, Brutus discusses the plot to kill Caesar with the other conspirators. He explains his choice to focus on his public identity and doing what he believes is best for Rome. Brutus states that while he would rather not kill Caesar, Caesar’s death is the only way to ensure the well-being of Rome. Brutus has fully chosen his public loyalty over any personal loyalties he may have had for Caesar. One may equate this identity struggle with a more modern-day societal theme of finding a work-life balance.