Julius Caesar Essay Brutu Tragic Hero

Marcus Brutus as the Tragic Hero in Julius Caesar

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Marcus Brutus as the Tragic Hero in Julius Caesar


   There is no such thing as the perfect person.  We may dream of such a person, but sadly, everyone has flaws.  These flaws are what make us human.  Something else that makes us human is our need for heroes.  We attribute 'perfect' qualities to our heroes.  In reality even our heroes are flawed.  The closest thing to the idealized person, or hero, is the Shakespearean tragic hero.  The tragic hero is someone of high standing, good character, and a flaw.  While it may be only one flaw, it is often fatal.  An example of a tragic hero can be best seen in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar.  Marcus Brutus is a prominent leader and noble citizen of Rome who leads in the assassination of Julius Caesar.  We see that Brutus plays the role of the tragic hero through his noble standing, fatal flaw, and legacy.



Marcus Brutus is of noble standing which adds to his appeal as a tragic hero. At one point Cassius says  "'Brutus' and 'Caesar.' What is so special about the name 'Caesar'........... yours sounds as good." (   )  This indicates that Brutus is held in the same esteem as Julius Caesar.  Most tragic heroes are of high standing because they are easily recognizable.  Tragic heroes are usually portrayed as prominent social figures so when they fall they fall harder.  



    Brutus's fatal flaw is his trustworthy nature.  He joins the conspiracy not because he "loved Caesar less but loved Rome more."  (   )  Brutus joins the conspiracy under the impression that he is preventing Caesar's tyranny and saving the people of Rome.  He also trusts the motives of the other conspirators.  In entering the conspiracy he is also responsible for the death of Caesar and the movement of the plot.  The civil war is a direct result of Caesar's assassination and eventually Brutus's own death.  Brutus's fall is definitely caused by his trustworthy nature.



    Through his legacy Brutus leaves the world an important lesson.  Marc Antony remembers Brutus as "the noblest Roman of them all."(   )  Despite his death and loss in the war, Brutus is still remembered as noble, in this he represents the moral of the play.

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  Even though Brutus fails by most standards he remains moral and honest which shows the reader that adhering to your own convictions is important.  By delivering the catharsis in the play, Brutus proves to be the tragic hero of the play.



    Through Brutus's noble standing, fatal flaw, and legacy we begin to understand the tragic hero.  Brutus is not perfect, but he is truly a good person.  In Brutus we see a person who is very complex.  In Brutus's case we are not just shown a way not to act, but a way to really live.  Brutus's story teaches us to stick to our own convictions, because the reward of self-respect is the greatest of all.



Works Cited

Bloom, Harold. William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Chelsea House Publisher; Connecticut, New York, & Pennsylvania. 1988, Pg. #33 - 36

Durband, Alan. Shakespeare Made Easy: Julius Caesar. Barron's Educational Series, Inc.; New York. 1985.

Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. Ed. Alan Durband. London: Hutchinson & Co. Publishers Ltd., 1984.



Brutus can be accounted as a tragic hero because he is unfailingly presented as a noble, upright, virtuous man who is, however, led into the tragic act of betraying a friend; and he suffers both internal and external conflict as a result.

Shakespearean tragic heroes, following the model laid down by Aristotle, generally are characters who are upstanding figures, well-spoken of by everybody, but who are let down by one major flaw. Brutus fits...

Brutus can be accounted as a tragic hero because he is unfailingly presented as a noble, upright, virtuous man who is, however, led into the tragic act of betraying a friend; and he suffers both internal and external conflict as a result.

Shakespearean tragic heroes, following the model laid down by Aristotle, generally are characters who are upstanding figures, well-spoken of by everybody, but who are let down by one major flaw. Brutus fits into this template. His flaw is his idealism – although it might seem odd to label idealism as a flaw, especially when compared to the deadly ambition of a Macbeth or the all-consuming jealousy of an Othello. However, it is undeniable that Brutus’s idealism leads to a fatal naivety on his part. He first is naïve enough to think that his political idealism can offset all personal concerns in turning against Caesar, a close friend.

It must be by his death; and for my part,

I know no personal cause to spurn at him,

But for the general. - He would be crowned.

How that might change his nature, there’s the question. (II.i.10-13)

Brutus has to concede that Caesar is not actually an oppressive tyrant and thus tries to justify his assassination purely on hypothetical grounds: that he may yet become one. This causes him considerable mental and emotional turmoil; he likens his state to that of a 'kingdom' suffering a 'insurrection' (II.i.68-69).  His actions engender civil war in Rome, but long before this he is already beset by inner conflict.

It is true that Cassius’s machinations also propel Brutus towards killing Caesar, but, tellingly, he remarks that he is ‘with himself at war’  (I.ii.46) before Cassius tries to convince him to join the conspiracy. As a long-standing friend, Cassius know him well and simply works on bringing to the surface the tensions that already exist within him.

After the assassination, Brutus’s naivete misleads him into believing that he can win everybody around to his cause. Instead, events spiral completely out of his control; Rome is engulfed in civil war, and he and Cassius are defeated and take their own lives. The idealistic vision which he had for the state of Rome, as an enduring republic, is completely destroyed. Ultimately, his action  in killing Caesar in order to safeguard the republic has the wholly ironic result of helping to establish Octavius, Caesar’s grand-nephew, as the first emperor of Rome. The tragedy of Brutus is not just his act of betrayal, his defeat and death, but the death of his ideals.

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