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Brutus the Tragic Hero

Aug 30, 2008 483 Words
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Brutus, the Tragic Hero
There is much debate as to who plays the part of the tragic hero in Julius Caesar, but through analysis and literal evidence, it can be proved that Marcus Brutus plays the tragic hero. The definition of a tragic hero, as by Dictionary.com, is “a literary character who makes an error of judgment or has a fatal flaw that, combined with fate and external forces, brings on a tragedy.” As given by examples in the play, Marcus Brutus possesses all of these traits.

The first major quality of a tragic hero is a rapid ascent to power or glory. This is done by Brutus as he joins the conspiracy and murders Julius Caesar. One powerful quote that describes how Brutus felt towards Caesar whilst he took power of Rome is as follows “As Caesar lov'd me, I weep for him/ as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it/ as he was valiant, I honor him, but, as he was ambitious, I slew him” (III, ii, 26-29). This tells the story of how Brutus needed to kill his best friend, Caesar, in order to better Rome. Through this act, he gained power of the government and people, and was thought of as a very noble man.

The second and undoubtedly most important trait of a tragic hero is the character’s tragic flaw, which is displayed by Brutus actions in this quote: “And you shall speak/ In the same pulpit whereto I am going,/ after my Speech is ended” (III, i, 274-276). In this statement Brutus shows gullibility as he is convinced that Antony’s intent to speak is innocent. Brutus also shows ignorance through another conversation with Cassius “For Antony is but a limb of Caesar” (II, i, 178). The combination of these fatal flaws would bring about Brutus’ imminent death.

The third and final quality of a tragic hero is their demise, brought about by their tragic fall, but also the realization of their tragic flaw. Brutus’ dying words best describe his tragic fall, “Caesar, now be still./ I killed thee not with half so good a will [He dies]” (V, v, 57-58). In this quote Brutus realizes that he has done wrong in killing Caesar, and then takes his own life. Being he tragic hero also gives the character a sense of nobility. This is best shown when Antony says “This was the noblest Roman of them all” (V, v, 74). So through the sum of these qualities, ascent to power by killing Caesar, tragic flaw through ignorance and gullability, and demise by his own hand, Brutus plays the tragic hero. Brutus committed his treacheries believing they were for the good of Rome, and though he may not have done the best things at the time, his and intentions were as noble as they come, and were certainly not without meaning.

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