chapter  6
24 Pages

BRUTUS AND MACBETH

From the crystal lucidity, even flow, and brilliant imagery of the style of Julius Caesar stand out two main personal themes: the Brutus-theme and the Cassius-theme. The one predominates at the start, the other at the finish. The two men are finely contrasted. But I shall not concern myself in this essay primarily with that contrast. Nor shall I consider the play as a whole in its romantic and spiritual significance. The Julius Caesar universe is one of high-spirited adventure and nobility, of heroic optimism, erotic emotion. It is differentiated sharply from the plays succeeding it. It is essentially a play of keen spiritual faith and vision, curiously preceding the sequence of the hate-theme which starts with Hamlet. These important elements I do not analyse here.1 Rather I outline the imaginative nature of the Brutus-theme alone; and, in considering the figure of Brutus, I shall indicate how his soul-experience resembles that of Macbeth. The process is interesting, since it forces us to cut below the surface crust of plot and ‘character’, and to expose those riches of poetic imagination too often deep-buried in our purely unconscious enjoyment of Shakespeare’s art. Moreover, it will serve as a valuable introduction to the complexities of the Macbeth vision itself.