Character Analysis of Julius Caesar
Use this description and anlysis of the characters to keep everyone straight when sudying the play. We’ll start with the big cheese:
Julius Caesar – Despite the play being named after him, Julius Caesar dies in the opening scene of Act III. What glimpse we get of Caesar shows him to be proud and power hungry.
As the play opens, the commoners are celebrating his victory over Pompei and it is the commoners who have helped Caesar’s rise to power. Senators and other nobility fear Caesar desires to become king and will become tyrranical. This pride of Caesar manifests itself as he refuses to lidten to advice or warnings from others. Numerous devotees of Caesar try to sway him from going to the Capitol on the Ides of March. They fail.
Brutus – A more accurate title to the play would be Brutus. Of all the conspirators, as Marc Antony mentions in Act V, Brutus is the only conspirator who acted out of love for Rome. As the play opens, Cassius attempts to persuade Brutus to join the conspiracy through flattery and subterfuge. Brutus, despite being friends with Caesar, joins the conspirators, who realize Brutus’ good name will bring them honor. Ironically, it is Brutus’ poor decisions that doom them:
(1) Brutus argues in favor of Antony, that he not be killed with Caesar;
(2) Brutus allows Antony to speak at Caesar’s funeral despite Cassisu’ protestations;
(3) Brutus persuades Cassius to meet Antony’s and Octavius’ army at Philippi where the conspirators are finally defeated.
Cassius – Cassius was motivated primarily by jealousy. He is the true mastermind of the conspiracy. He flatters Brutus. He sends “anonymous” letters to Brutus that appear to be from Roman citizens. His shortcomings, however, doom the conspirators. He has neither the influence nor a good name and must defer to Brutus’ wishes.
Casca – Casca appears early in the play and relates to Brutus and Cassius (and the audience) what transpires at the Feast of Lupercal in Act I. He is the first to stab Caesar.
Decius Brutus – His most important function is to flatter Caesar and makes sure he goes to the Capitol on March 15.
Trebonius, Ligarius, Metellus Cimber, Cinna – The remaining conspirators who take part in the assassination.
Marc Antony – Antony is Caesar’s loyal bootlick in Acts I and II. In Act III, he feigns loyalty to the conspirators after Caesar’s death and secretly plots to start a civil war. He is allowed to speak at Caesar’s funeral and delivers a speech that ignites the mob to mutiny. Antony’s more devious side is explored in Act IV as he sentences traitors to death, changes Caesar’s will, and plans for the removal of Lepidus from the triumvirate.
Octavius – The second member of the triumvirate arrives soon after Caesar’s death. He commands a large part of the forces that defeat Brutus’ army.
Lepidus – Antony does not want Lepidus to be part of the triumvirate at the beginning of Act IV. Nothing is mentioned of him afterwards.
The Soothsayer – The soothsayer has very few lines. His lines, however, are memorable. He warns Caesar “Beware the Ides of March.” Caesar and his entourage discard his words as those of a madman.
Artemidorus – Artemidorus has become aware of the plot against Caesar. He writes Caesar a letter with the names of all the conspirators. He, too, is ignored.
Calpurnia – Caesar’s wife is also made aware of Caesar’s imminent death. She narrates a dream about Romans bathing their hands in Caesar’s blood. She initially holds sway over Caesar and temporarily prevents his going to the Capitol.
Flavius and Marullus – These two tribunes appear in Act I, scene 1. They disperse the crowds of commoners who have come to celebrate Caesar’s victory over Pompey. After the crowds disperse, they are caught disrobing Caesar’s images. We discover later they have been either banished or killed.
Cinna the Poet – He is killed by the mob for having the same name as one of the conspirators.
Titinius – Cassius’ friend, thought to be killed in battle, causing Cassius’ suicide. After seeing Cassius’ dead body, he kills himself.
Portia – Brutus’ wife who kills herself by eating hot coals.
This post is part of the series: Julius Caesar Study Guide
- Summary of Julius Caesar
- Julius Caesar Study Guide & Character Analysis
- Famous Quotes from Julius Caesar
- Figurative Language in Julius Caesar
- Julius Caesar Study Questions and Answers