There are two highly ranked individuals in Rome that have personalities so different that they almost contradict each other completely. These individuals are Marcus Brutus and Cassius; two people that have the potential and power to lead a whole nation. However, even if they did have many similarities, the play portrays them to to be completely opposite, like night and day.
One crucial and obvious difference between the two were their reasons for the death of Rome’s beloved Julius Caesar. Cassius and the other conspirators’ reason to murder Caesar is purely out of jealousy and hatred. Cassius despised the fact that Caesar has become godlike in the eyes of the lower class Romans, and therefore wanted to rid him once and for all. On the other hand however, Brutus was hesitant about the subject. But in the end, he decided to kill his friend because Cassius slyly persuaded him to contribute to his murder by simply stating that he has become ‘too powerful’ and may manipulate and take advantage of his dictatorship, and had been sending him forged letters saying that the Romans wanted Caesar dead as well.
Another difference is their personalities. Brutus was honourable and kind, but Cassius was impulsive and distasteful. Both were respected, but only Cassius hid his true face behind a mask of kindness and integrity; something he lacked in reality.
Like many good and evil characters, usually the good are naive. In this case, Brutus is the ‘good’ character between the two (but really, in the play, you could probably consider all of the characters as somewhat evil at one point or another). Cassius, being the ‘evil’ person he is, was responsible for the manipulation of Brutus’ decision. Brutus loved Caesar dearly, and even close to the end, surely Brutus felt conflicting feelings within him at the time where his closest friend was being stabbed by others, looking on, before being the final one to stab him.
[Casca first, then the other Conspirators, and last Marcus Brutus stab Caesar.]
Caesar: E tu, Brute! Then fall, Caesar! – Act III, Scene I, Lines 76-77
Another contrast between the two are their levels of honesty. Brutus is very honest and stays true to his words, however, Cassius is typically one of the most dishonest characters portrayed in the story. Cassius’ lies led Brutus to kill Caesar, his closest friend at the time.
On the other hand, these two fine men share a few similarities as well. One of them is their intelligence and perceptiveness.
[Flourish and shout.]
Just by hearing this alone led them to determine that the people wanted Caesar as king.
Brutus: What means this shouting? I do fear, the people
Choose Caesar for their king!
Cassius: Ay, do you fear it?
Then must I think you would not have it so. – Act I, Scene II, Lines 78-81
Considering they technically weren’t there at the time, to know what was happening is indeed very keen of them. Usually, people wouldn’t know what was going on unless they were witnessing the event.
Also, both men are prideful soldiers, both proud of their skills. In Phillipi, during their argument, they brought this up.
Brutus: You say you are a better soldier:
Let it appear so; make your vaunting true,
And it shall please me well: for mine own part,
I shall be glad to learn of noble men.
Cassius: You wrong me every way; you wrong me, Brutus;
I said, an elder soldier, not a better:
Did I say better?
Brutus: If you did, I care not. – Act IV, Scene III, Lines 51-58
In conclusion, Cassius and Brutus are two different people with two different personalities. Shakespeare did this purposely so the audience would be able to easily tell their characteristics apart, and it worked. Brutus was portrayed as the tragic hero, hero meaning ‘good’, while Cassius was portrayed to be a man of evil intentions. However, aside their differences, both men share the many similarities, whether it be their status of aristocracy or their glorious pride. In a way, both men aren’t so different to each other after all.