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Brutus in Julius Caesar as a Tragic Hero

By Edited Dec 16, 2015 0 1

Throughout many dramas written by William Shakespeare, a character known as a tragic hero is involved in the play. In order to be identified as a tragic hero, a character must fit a series of requirements, including; a tragic flaw, a mix of good and evil, a catharsis and hubris, to name a few. In Shakespeare's play "Julius Caesar," the tragic hero is named Brutus. The appearance that Brutus presents to the world, and perhaps believes himself, is that of a moral patriot, but what lurks behind the righteous, arrogant, lover of Rome is a lust for his own name to be canonized as Rome's savior.

Brutus is a character in the play that is driven by an apparent moral high ground, and depicts himself as a moral patriot. Brutus was, at first, a dear friend of Caesar, but turned to oppose him and later kill him. Upon Cassius' persuasion, he began to contemplate the validity of morals that emerge from the idea of killing Caesar. Brutus eventually believes that what he is doing is best for the people of Rome at heart. Brutus' love for Caesar was great, and he believed that he would be a good leader. His hesitation to join the conspiracy is an example of him wondering if it is morally right or not to kill Caesar at all. In the end, his devotion to the Roman Republic, which both he and his family have supported, even to the extent of his ancestors leading the ousting of the Etruscan king, prevailed and was brought out from him by the act of killing his dear friend. Cassius reminded him of such, and as a politician, he's sworn to do what's best for the people, as well as what they want him to do: whatever's better for Rome. In his funeral speech for Caesar, Brutus implements his skills as an orator, and his position as the leader of the conspiracy, to sway the people. He states: "If there be any in this assembly, any dear friends of Caesar's, to him I say that Brutus' love to Caesar was no less than his. If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more" (III, ii, 17-22). Brutus demonstrates that he did love Caesar, and may have even thought that he would've made an effective leader, but also that he killed a tyrant who would ruin Rome. In his speech, he contradicted himself, showing his priority to maintain a good figure to the public. In his speech, he demonstrated that he killed a man he "loved" for the benefit of Rome. Because of his contradictory attitude, he himself has contradicting ideals concerning why he killed Caesar.

Although Brutus' exterior motive is that of a moral patriot, lust for canonization as Rome's savior is the true motive behind his actions. Again, Brutus shows that he killed someone he truly loved to save Rome. Even though on the exterior, he shows that he's loyal to Rome without personal gain. However, did Caesar not do the same? Caesar and Brutus both refused an offered crown, even though Caesar was to be the emperor. Brutus may have refused to take power, but the methods of his speaking at the funeral, and to Cassius, demonstrates his urge to lead. "There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats; /For I am armed so strong in honesty /That they pass by me as the idle wind, /Which I respect not" (IV, iii, 66-9). In his speech to Cassius, he states his moral high ground, emphasizing his massive ego. His self-righteous attitude drives him to believe that he's right. In a broad spectrum, to be an assassin, a massive ego is required to judge what is morally right. The motivation to kill needs a strong moral backing. In Brutus' case, he was the sole judge of what is morally right for the welfare of the empire. However, he was driven from his arrogance; self-righteous attitude to not only do what he said was best for the empire, but also for him. His control over the actions and morality of the conspiracy led him to become the sole spokesman of his cause. However, who died and made him king? His self-righteous and arrogance propelled him to lead, and control the outcome of the murder and its aftermath to work for his personal gain and advancement in Rome's society.

Brutus' situation relates to the tragic hero because he, like many others, is driven to achieve honor and valor beyond their exterior reasoning as a true patriot. Yes, on his exterior he shows a catharsis, deciding to kill his friend. Yes, he does fight for a "noble" cause, and is neither good nor evil, but what lies in his heart and soul? Like other tragic heroes, he fights for honor. In his case, he fought to "restore the Roman Republic," but his wanting of self-grandizement lies in the backdrop of his life. In the Iliad by Homer, Achilles killed Hector for glory and honor: giving him a grander image as a hero. Brutus did the very same, killing Caesar to achieve a new high ground for both him and Rome. Relating back to the previous paragraph, Brutus has an oversized egoism which drives him to impose his will on his fellow conspirators. Like other heroes of tragedy, he is overly headstrong with a will to lead. On his deathbed, he comes to realize he made a mistake. He was morally incorrect to kill Caesar, and was blinded by his own will for enthronement as a leader. "Caesar, now be still; /I killed the with not half so good a will" (V, v, 50-51). Even near his own death, he asserts himself as a believer in the rightness of his actions, until his last few words he reverts to his inner-contradiction about killing his friends.

In modern plays, tragic heroes are identified as a slew of almost superhuman qualities with one fatal flaw. In the end, this flaw leads to the downfall of the hero, and for a few, they do indeed realize their mistake and attempt to correct it, but still cannot change their predetermined fate. Brutus realized he was falsely driven to kill his friend Caesar, and realized it in his end, and spoke it with his dying words. But by then, it was too late to make amends to his ideals or attempts to change his fate. In Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Brutus is a self-depicted moral patriot, but beyond his arrogance is a will for self-deification and permanent canonization as a person who saved Rome from a tyrant named Julius Caesar: effectively bestowing him the title of Savior of Rome.



May 19, 2010 11:52pm
i see ur doin work on this..good looks
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