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When it comes to pride, Julius Caesar takes the gold. He's the most outwardly arrogant—and considering some of the other characters we're introduced to, that's saying a lot. Caesar's total lack of humility seems to be his tragic flaw. His prideful arrogance is a blinding force that prevents him from seeing the harm he's doing and the harm being planned against him. When Brutus is humble about what others call his greatness, he sets himself up in sympathetic contrast to Caesar. We like Brutus because he isn't all fatheaded. He also seems wiser than Caesar for being more aware of the world around him and genuinely more concerned for it.
Questions About Pride
- What's the difference between arrogance and a healthy amount of confidence? Is arrogance something we look for in a leader because anything less would make him seem unsure and incapable?
- Is Caesar actually arrogant? Doesn't he have a right to be, given that he's still remembered as one of the most powerful leaders of all time? How much of his historical fame is the result of his assassination? (Ironic!)
- Does Antony really believe the things he says about himself being a less able orator than Brutus? Is his humility ever real, or is it just a veiled arrogance, made worse because it is influenced by the presence of a public audience?
- Is humility considered noble in the play? Does anyone get rewarded for it?
Chew on This
Arrogance has a protective quality in the play: it's only by his intense arrogance that Caesar stays ignorant of the plot against him. Shakespeare points to arrogance as one of man's most dangerous failings. Under the influence of arrogance, a man can neither judge himself, nor accept the judgment of others.
Humility is a characteristic of the weak. Brutus lacks the strength and conviction to justify his murder of Caesar because he is too humble. If he had forcefully asserted that he had the right to judge Caesar, and the good sense to judge him correctly, he could have won the crowd over.