In William Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar was murdered by a group of senators led by Brutus, a close friend of Caesar. Caesar begins to resist the attack but resigns himself to his fate when he sees that his friend is amongst the plotters. Caesar's last words are 'Et tu, Brute? Then fall Caesar!'
In the play, Mark Antony oratory cleverly exposes the betrayal. He describes the wound given to Caesar by his close friend Brutus as ‘unkindest cut of all’. He is playing on two meanings of ‘unkind’: ‘inhumane’ and ‘unnatural.’ When Brutus literally ‘cut’ his friend, a bloody deed was compounded with ingratitude. It wasn't the wound that killed Caesar, says Antony, but Brutus's treachery.
The most painful of insults, affronts, or offenses are often so painful because it comes from a trusted friend. It is pertinent to note that these ‘unkindest cuts’ are always aligned to back stabbing. While they may not be real cuts that exterminate, yet they kill reputation or relationships. The friends who chose to betray are eventually killing trust and the friendship born of it.
Some people are given yet another chance despite deceitfulness. But they repeat the untrustworthiness as they take relationships for granted. They may believe that the one who forgave once will forgive again. More importantly, they feel that the friend will never know about the unkindest cut! However, friendships take years to blossom but they can be smothered out forever by the unkindest cuts.
Friendship is felled where a betrayed friend is laid…
The ‘unkindest cut’ is always a double edged blade!
~ Pravin Sabnis