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Vickey Ho

English 2 Honors


19 December 2015

Word Count: 1777

The Tragedy of Marcus Brutus

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”

(Campbell). This quote suggests that a tragic hero exists selfless and noble to others, and the hero

will have a heroic downfall due to his altruistic decisions and visions. Campbell’s definition of a

tragic hero can be shown as a person with spirit and exudes hope, love, honesty, and faith. In

addition, the hero will transcend to do something he believes in even though the hero may be

castigated. Aristotle also says that a tragic hero illustrates as noble in nature, and he discovers

and understands his fate by his own actions. Shakespeare includes a tragic hero in his plays to

show their fatal tragic flaw, that will evidently lead to their downfall. According to dictionary, a

tragic flaw defines as the secret weakness of character that brings about a hero’s downfall. In The

Tragedy of Julius Caesar, many critics argue and expostulate between who portrays the tragic

hero in the play and if the title prevails misleading to readers. Through Brutus’ meritorious

thoughts, actions, and his fatal flaw, Shakespeare demonstrates and persuades Brutus as the true

tragic hero of the play and that the play should be named Brutus: The Tragic Hero.

Because Brutus has noble, but imperfect thoughts about joining the conspirators and

betraying his friend, Shakespeare allows readers to see themselves in him, making him a hero.

Throughout the play, Brutus faces complicated decisions that make him a complex character. In

his synagogue, Brutus thinks, “To speak truth of Caesar, I have not known when his affections
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sway’d more than his reason.” (II.i.19-21). Through this quote, readers can infer that Brutus

realizes that Caesar might be having megalomania and make decisions according to his feelings.

Brutus thinks that killing Caesar will help Rome’s republic and give citizens freedom. Brutus

uses logos and reasoning to determine his decision including believing that Rome should be

equitable. As Brutus makes his sacrificing choice in killing Caesar, he represents as a tragic hero,

and recognizes the fact that he will betray his friend. Also, Brutus still becomes noncommittal of

his decisions, but still surmises that Caesar will become a tyrant. Brutus agrees to join the

conspirators, because of his ambitious and honourable thoughts to save Rome. When Cassius and

Brutus discuss and remonstrate about their plan, Brutus states. “I know no personal cause to

spurn him, but for the general.” (II.i.11-12). In these lines, Brutus demonstrates that he only

joined the conspirators for the people unlike everyone else. Brutus portrays as someone who

gives up his life for the greater good instead of for revenge or jealousy. Many conspirators

abominate Caesar because of his role as someone powerful and that he started to aggrandize. In

the lines, Brutus mentions the “general” as the people of Rome. He does not portray them as his

sheep like Caesar, but implies that they are equal. During Caesar’s funeral, Brutus explains why

he murdered Caesar, and mentions, “not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.”

(III.ii.20-21). Brutus attempts to explain the real reason behind Caesar’s mother. The people

begins to believe that if Caesar still ruled, they would all be slaves than free men. In addition,

Brutus was loyal to Caesar, but sacrificed his loyalty to Rome. In addition, Shakespeare creates

Brutus with many flaws, so readers can relate to his choice of difficult and serious decisions.

Brutus’s thoughts behind Caesar’s murder proves him as the real tragic hero.

Because of Brutus’s unselfish acts of assassinating Caesar and killing himself for the

righteous of Rome, he depicts to be the tragic hero of the play. Brutus, one of the most important
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character, sacrifices his reputation to stop Rome from being ruled by a demagogue. As Brutus

questions his decisions he states, “...think of him as a serpent’s egg, which hatch’d would, as his

kind, grow mischievous, and kill him in the shell.” (II.i.32-33). This quotes shows that Brutus’s

act of killing Caesar was so he wouldn’t become a tyrant and enslave all of Rome. Readers can

understand Brutus’s reasons, even though it may be wrong. Brutus believes that Caesar must be

killed before he will be crowned and it was intrinsic for Rome. In addition, Brutus talks about

how ambitious Caesar was and his intentions were cruel. According to the quote, Brutus plans to

kill Caesar before he becomes a demagogue with absolute power. Like a true tragic hero, Brutus

understands his doom and sees the root of his own downfall. After realizing his mistakes, Brutus

commits suicide and states, “Caesar, now be still: I kill’d not thee with half so good a will.”

(V.v.51). In this line, Brutus runs into a sword harder than how he stabbed Caesar. Brutus

suicides when he realizes how his decisions were wrong, and only caused a war and chaos.

Readers can infer Brutus’s death as tragic, because of the way he killed himself: using the same

dagger that killed Caesar. Because of his irreversible mistake and weakness of easily trusting

others, Brutus leads himself to his own tragic fall. He suffers more than he deserves and

discovers his own fates that were caused by his ambitious actions. In addition, Brutus’s tragic

death was heroic and honourable, because he spiritually avenges and expiates Caesar’s death

with courage. Brutus’s noble actions were made for the good of Rome, including killing Caesar

and sacrificing himself, therefore, making him a hero.

Brutus’s trustworthy nature is the root of his death, because it causes him to believe in the

conspirators that murdering Caesar will stop him from becoming a tyrant, and that Antony will

not go against him. After Caesar’s assassination, Antony walks into the room and shakes hands

with all the conspirators. Brutus accepts Antony’s requests and allows him to speak in the
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funeral. Later, he states, “There shall I try, in my oration, how the people take the cruel issue of

these bloody men.” (III.i.292-294). The quote talks about Antony’s plan to convince Rome that

Caesar’s death was an act of betrayal and done for the wrong reasons. Because Brutus gives

Antony permission to speak at Caesar’s funeral, he shows his trust in Antony to not talk bad

about the conspirators. Readers can imply that Brutus’s weakness led to him and Cassius in a

civil war, ultimately, leading to his downfall. In addition, it becomes ironic, because Antony

says, “Friends I am with you all, and love you all, upon this hope, that you shall give me reasons

why, and wherein, Caesar was dangerous.” (III.i.220-222) and shook hands with the conspirators

to show a new friendship, however, Antony abuses Brutus’s trust. In this quote, when Antony

presents his speech to the citizens, he gets their attention by bringing Caesar’s body and his will.

Brutus’s trust led to a war between him and the conspirators and Antony and Octavius Caesar.

Readers notice Brutus’s trust towards and Antony and how he understand his feelings about

Caesar’s death. Because Brutus allows himself to trust Antony, he inadvertently leads himself

towards his tragic death. According to Aristotle and Campbell, Brutus demonstrates as the tragic

hero of the play, because his tragic flaw of being easily manipulative led to his downfall.

A tragic hero should have qualities including excessive pride and be born of noble birth,

like Caesar, however, Brutus’s qualities and part in the plot outweighs Caesars. After Calpurnia

begs Caesar not to go to the senate because of the bad dreams and omens, Caesar

replies,“Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.”

(II.ii.32-33). This quotes shows Caesar’s pride which will eventually lead to his death.

According to some readers, Caesar depicts as the real tragic hero, because he contains a tragic

flaw, excessive pride, also known as hubris by Aristotle. The quote mentioned implies Caesar

knowing that he contains courage and that he does not fear death. Caesar’s arrogance and
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character allows him to ignore danger that has been warned to him many times. In addition,

many bizarre and occult things like the weather occur to demonstrate that something bad will

happen. Like Brutus and other tragic heroes, Caesar’s pride and ambition prevails as the root to

his tragic death. However, Caesar’s death was not noble and heroic, because he did not die to

protect Rome like Brutus. In addition, Caesar does not make a serious decision that leads to his

downfall. Before Caesar’s death, he tells the conspirators, “I am constant as the northern star.”

(III.i.60). Caesar compares himself to the brightest stars, while his ego increases. According to

the quote, Caesar becomes doomed from the start due from his self-esteem. Also, his tragic flaw

of pride and announcing his decisions irrevocable triggers before his death. In the play, Caesar

says those lines before his death. Readers can also infer that when Caesar says, “Et tu, Brute?”

(III.i.76). Some may believe that Caesar died honourably by realizing his mistakes, but Caesar’s

tone in the quote shows his surprise. According to this, Caesar did not realize his doom and

mistakes that he made. Critics believe that Caesar understood his death, because Brutus, his

noble friend, was part of the conspirators. However, Caesar does not portray as the tragic hero,

because he was not aware that he deserved to die. He possesses a few qualities that can depict

him as a tragic hero, but does not fully meet the requirements like Brutus.

Ultimately, in the mistakenly named play, The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Brutus portrays

the real tragic hero of the play through his qualities of a tragic hero like a tragic flaw, noble

thoughts, and meritorious actions. Before Brutus and Cassius contrived to assassin Caesar,

Brutus considers the outcomes that can occur. Unfortunately, Brutus put his trust in others and

was easily manipulated, therefore, leading to his ultimate death. For example, Brutus trusted

Cassius in believing that killing Caesar was the best choice for Rome. However, murdering

Caesar triggered the conflict and inevitably, Brutus’s death. Brutus’s downfall was heroic,
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because he killed himself for the good of Rome, therefore showing that he exists as an epitome

of noble.. Also, he used the same dagger used to kill Caesar to expiate and avenge Caesar’s

death. Some readers believe Caesar as the right hero, however, Caesar does not die

understanding his mistakes and excessive pride. Shakespeare portrays Brutus’s meritorious

character as the real tragic hero of the play and demonstrates how the play should be named

Brutus: The Tragic Hero.

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Works Cited

"ARISTOTLE & THE ELEMENTS OF TRAGEDY: English 250." Aristotle's Tragic Terms.

Web. 19 Dec. 2015.

"Joseph Campbell Quote." BrainyQuote. Xplore. Web. 18 Dec. 2015.

"Tragic Flaw - Dictionary Definition." Vocabulary.com. Web. 19 Dec. 2015.