The struggle for power is one of the central themes of “Julius Caesar”¯ by William Shakespeare. The play uncovers the ongoing struggle for power which makes family members come into clashes to the extent that a son, Brutus, eventually kills his father, Julius Caesar. However, the murder was not an ordinary act of homicide but, instead, Brutus was apparently guided not by considerations of his family interests but by considerations of his Motherland, Rome, interests. In such a way, the author shows how the struggle for power can lead to the confrontation within a family and how it ruins family relationships when personal ambitions to maintain the power outweigh personal relationships with family members.
Julius Caesar, the main character of the play, is the personification of the great ambitions and irresistible strife for power. He neglects fundamental Roman values and traditions for the sake of power which he attempts to reach using all possible means. His ambitions to take the power in Rome and control the huge empire eradicate all other feelings and considerations. His ambitions rule his mind and soul and determine his actions: “When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept: Ambition should be made of sterner stuff”¯ (Shakespeare, Act III, Sc. II). Julius Caesar is unable to resist to his ambitions and desire to get the power in Rome that destroy his family relationship. In the course of the play, the internal conflict within Julius Caesar’s family becomes obvious as his son, Brutus joins the plotters and eventually murders his father.
In his strife for power, ambitions blinded Julius Caesar and, when he sees that his son is among his murders, he cannot help from saying:Ā “Et tu, Brute!”¯ (Shakespeare, Act III, Scene I). In fact, the murder of Julius Caesar by his son is the ultimate manifestation of the internal conflict in his family. At the same time, the analysis of causes, which forced Brutus to kill his father, reveals the destructive impact of power and personal ambitions on family relationships. Brutus is conscious of his actions but his attitude and reasons become clearer after the death of Julius Caesar: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears; I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”¯. (Shakespeare, Act III, Scene II). Brutus is overwhelmed with controversial feelings and emotions because, on the one hand, he regrets about the murder of his father but, on the other hand, he cannot ignore interests of Rome and its citizens: “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more”¯. (Shakespeare, Act III, Scene II). In such a way, Brutus proves to be a true patriot of his country because he kills his father, a person that raised him to the Olympus of power in Rome and he kills for the sake of his country.
In this respect, the personality of Julius Caesar, his ambitions and strife for power ruined his family relationships and led him to death. In fact, Julius Caesar was extremely suspicious in regard to those who could have challenge his power. For instance, he speaks about Cassius, a potential contender to power in Rome: “Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous”¯ (Shakespeare, Act I, Scene II). Julius Caesar sees an ambitious person and his ambitions are dangerous for him. However, Julius Caesar has the only treatment for too ambitious people: “As he was valiant, I honour him; but, as he was ambitious, I slew him”¯ (Shakespeare, Act III, Sc. II). Therefore, Julius Caesar puts his personal ambitions above all, including his family.
At the same time, he is conscious that death is inevitable:Ā “Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come”¯ (Shakespeare, Act II, Scene II) and he is ready to face death whenever it comes. His only goal is to take as much power as possible and to realize all of his ambitions before the death comes.
In this regard, his son Brutus is totally different because the power for him is nothing but a means to meet interests of Rome. He belongs to noble Romans: “For Brutus is an honourable man; So are they all, all honourable men”¯ (Shakespeare, Act III, Sc. II). Moreover, among all the noble Romans he was the noblest one: “This was the noblest Roman of them all”¯ (Shakespeare, Act V, Sc. V). At the same time, Brutus is also ambitious in his way because he decides that he can change the fate of Rome and Romans by killing his father. He uses his position and power to implement his murderous plan that proves that personal ambitions have a disastrous impact on family relationships.
Thus, the play shows that the strife for power and personal ambitions destroy family relationships.