Cassius’ Domino Effect The divine lightning that rules our lives has always made us both the protagonist and the victim. In William Shakespeare’s tragedy, Julius Caesar, he focuses on the actions and results in the play that occur in a domino effect, with characters that set forth events that lead to great suffering. In Julius Caesar, Cassius is the tragic figure who contributes to the vision of the conspirators as a whole, but through the “divine lighting,” matters could not be helped.
Cassius’s personality leads to his, and many others, fatal downfall. Cassius’s is seen as the leader of the conspirators, the manipulative master behind the cruel plan. He, with many others, disdain Caesar for his arrogance, yet Cassius encompasses the same exact trait. His arrogance is shown in Act I, when he and Brutus are talking, and Cassius notices the unease in Brutus’ eyes when they believe Caesar is crowned. He says, “I was born as free as Caesar,” (1. 2, 104).
In this speech Cassius is trying to convey the idea that Brutus is as good as Caesar so that Brutus will be more inclined to join the conspiracy, but Cassius uses the first comparison of Caesar to explain that Caesar is no better than he. His cunning, manipulative nature bleeds through in his very first speech, his arrogance is clearly shown and his motives laid down. Cassius’ jealousy leads to his revulsion of Caesar. Only Caesar’s death being the answer to Cassius’ insecurities. The cunning manipulation Cassius practices affects everybody in the play.
Cassius manipulation so purely spoken by Brutus when he proclaims, “What dangers would you lead me, Cassius/That you would have me seek into myself/ For that which is not in me? ”(1. 2, 69-71). Brutus’ jealousy of Caesar had not yet progressed to the level of malevolence, but as Brutus said Cassius spurns him on selfishly to mold him into what benefits him the most. Brutus is troubled at first, unsure what to do, and his odd behavior aggravates Portia, causing her to grieve because of the knowledge she does not know.
Once the conspiracy is revealed to her she becomes edgy, and the arrival of Octavius sends her into a fit of stress which ends with her swallowing “fire. ” Caesar’s death is the main source of suffering, but Caesars anguish is not because of his death. His suffering is revealed in the moments before he dies, he utters the most memorable line in history, he cries, “Et tu Brute? ” (3. 1, 85). This is the cause of Caesar’s complete death, the death of not just his body but of his trust.
Caesar could handle the betrayal of the other senators, because that is politics, but the betrayal of someone he viewed as a friend, someone he loved, destroyed him. Antony’s speech, causing the most wide spread wave of despair, leads the Romans to exclaim, “O noble Caesar! / O woeful day! . . . We will be revenged,” (3. 2, 211-214). Their anger then leads to the suffering of many, even the innocent, as is exampled with the Poet Cinna’s death. The pristine control Cassius prides himself with, slips and turns Cassius into anything but the victor in this war of superiority.
After Caesar’s death Brutus becomes the leading face of the conspirators, leaving Cassius without even the pride of that small feat. Brutus becomes the leading face of the conspirators so now Cassius cannot even pride himself with that. When Cassius and Brutus fight, thinking the other has deceived them, Cassius falters, “Cassius is aweary of the world—/ Hated by the ones he loves, braved by his brother/ . . . / Strike as thou didst at Caesar, for I know/ When thou didst hate him worst, thou I lovedst him better/ Than ever thou lovedst Cassius,” (4. , 106-119). Cassius jealousy still remains, despite Caesar’s death. The feeling of unworthiness still runs deep, he feels like he still can’t compare to Caesar and it is tearing him apart. In the end though, through another misunderstanding, Cassius believes that the battle has been lost and his close friend, Titinius has been captured, he exclaims, “O coward that I am to live so long/ To see my best friend ta’en before my face! ” (5. 3, 36-37). Ironically as Caesar has lost his best friend so has Cassius, which leads to his conflicted death.
In the end Cassius is the conductor of his own suffering. It was Frye who wisely proclaimed that the tragic heroes seem the inevitable conductors of power, yet they become the both the instrument and victim of the “divine lighting. ” Cassius is seen as the leader of the conspirators leading him to contribute to the vision of the conspirators as a whole, but through his choices he causes the suffering of many including himself. Revenge is bittersweet.
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