7 December 2018
The use of Flattery to Achieve Personal Gain in Julius Caesar
The most prevalent form of manipulation is hidden in the form of flattery; it is also the most dangerous. Concealed agendas are typically cloaked in flattery; the subtle nature of it makes it most powerful when served to those who yearn for it. William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, expresses the theme of using flattery to achieve personal gain throughout the play. This can be seen through how Cassius flatters Brutus in order to make him the face of the conspiracy to take down Caesar. It is also shown through how Decius flatters Caesar in order to get him to go to the Senate, where he will await his death. Finally, the use of flattery in achieving personal gain is represented through the way Antony flatters Brutus and the conspirators, so that he may speak at Caesar’s funeral. In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, major action in the play rests on the way Cassius, Brutus, and Antony use flattery as a tool to carry out their personal agenda.
The first time the use of flattery is evident in the play, is seen through the way Cassius manipulates Brutus into being the face of his conspiracy. Cassius knows that Brutus is seen as righteous and noble in the eyes of the commoners, and that making him the face of the conspiracy will, in turn, justify the cause. However, because of Brutus’s friendship with Caesar, Cassius resorts to flattery in order to get Brutus on his side, “Brutus, and Caesar: what should be in that Caesar?/ Why should that name be sounded more than yours?/ Write them together, yours is a fair a name;” (I.ii.148-150). Cassius argues that Caesar has now become a “god”, and that there is no reason for him to be above other noblemen; Brutus is just as worthy as Caesar. He then appeals to both Brutus and his desire of Rome holding republican ideals, and mentions another friend of his named Brutus, who got rid of the last king of Rome. Cassius does this as a final form of flattery before allowing Brutus to ponder his words, “There was a Brutus once that would’ve brooked/ Th’ eternal devil to keep his state in Rome…” (I.ii.186-187). This flattery moves Brutus, proving to be successful in Cassius’s intentions for getting Brutus to think over his words. This shows how flattery is a vital tool in some of the most important parts of the play, as Brutus’s decision to join the conspiracy is what allows for it to be successful.
Another part of the play where flattery is used to achieve a personal agenda, is seen through Decius’s attempts to get Caesar to go to the Senate. Decius, one of the conspirators wanting to kill Caesar, needs Caesar to arrive at the Senate so that he, along with the rest of the conspirators, can kill him. He reinterprets Calphurnia’s dreams in a way that flatters Caesar, feeding into his ego:
Your statue spouting blood in many pipes,
In which so many smiling Romans bathed,
Signifies that from you great Rome...