ACT V – Scene.v
We observe Brutus and his generals resting from the
arduous battle. He wishes one of them to kill him, but they refuse.
Just then Caesar’s ghost appears to Brutus again, and he knows it is time
for him to die. Volumnius believes that the battle can still be won, but Brutus argues that the enemy has them cornered. He asks Volumnius to hold his sword while he runs onto it, but he refuses,
believing it is improper for a friend to do this.
Antony’s army approaches and Clitus warns Brutus to flee.
Brutus wishes his comrades farewell, and Strato who has just woken up agrees
to hold Brutus’ sword. They shake hands, and Brutus kills himself.
Antony comes onto the scene and says,
“This was the noblest Roman of them all:
All the conspirators, save only he,
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar.
He only, in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him that nature might stand up
And say to all the world, this was a man!”
Octavius promises an appropriate funeral for Brutus and the battle ceases.
They celebrate their triumph.
Shakespeare has made great use of suicide in this
play. Such an act in Elizabethan times was unthinkable. This topic would certainly have fascinated the audiences when this play was first shown. Suicide would be covered up in the 15th and 16th centuries, but here in Rome, it is almost an everyday occurrence, and is a mark of honor and nobility.
Brutus is a tragic hero and is courageous in choosing suicide over capture.
There is never any indication that the conspirators regret their
actions. They have made the ultimate sacrifice for their beloved Rome, freeing it from the likelihood of a tyrant.
The play finishes here with the audience wondering what the future holds for
Rome. Has one tyrant in Caesar been replaced by another in Mark Antony?