Julius Caesar is one of several plays that William Shakespeare wrote using true events of the Roman history as a basis. Thematically it focuses on the conspiracy against Julius Caesar in 44 BC and his assassination, but its idea elaborates the issues of betrayal and the conflict of friendship and civil duty.
Despite the play is entitled Julius Caesar, the emperor cannot be considered the main character, as he appears only in three scenes and is assassinated at the beginning of the third act. The key character of the play is Marcus Brutus and his psychological inner struggle of the opposing needs of civil duty to the country and the demands of friendship. Brutus is the driving force in the tragedy and, thus, he can be considered the key tragic hero. His efforts to rank the interests of the republic higher than his personal relations with his friend result in Brutus killing Caesar. Brutus is not only morally wrong. It turns out that he is also wrong politically, as he chooses the republic, which can no longer survive in that political climate. He acts on his passions, doesn’t look for the proves and evidences to make a decision and that is why he is manipulated by Cassius and the other conspirators, who act in this way only to satisfy their longing for power and envy.
Although the play exploited the events of the distant past, it actually reflected the general anxiety of England over succession of leadership. At the time when it was written, Queen Elizabeth, a strong ruler, was elderly and had refused to name a successor. This inevitably resulted in worries that a civil war, similar to that of Rome, might break out after her death. In the similar way the play is still up-to-date, especially for the countries undergoing a certain transactional situation with the political regime, as it raises an important topic of the personal responsibility for the result of the key state events.