A Tragic Hero

A Tragic Hero

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A tragic hero is defined as a person of high social rank, who has a tragic flaw or flaws that lead to their downfall. These heroes’ downfalls are usually either complete ruin or death. Tragic heroes face their downfall with courage and dignity. While many characters in Julius Caesar could fit these conditions, the person who fits the role of a tragic hero the best is Marcus Brutus. Brutus develops into a tragic hero throughout the play, and this is shown though his qualifications of a tragic hero, his high status, his tragic flaws, and his courage in the face of his death.
Brutus has high social status in Rome. Brutus is a senator, and a popular one at that. Cassius says that “many of the best respect in Rome... have wished that noble Brutus had his eyes” (1103). Many people look up to Brutus, and wish he would help with their problems. Brutus has enough social status and wealth to hire six servants (1097). Brutus’s wife, Portia, is “Cato’s daughter”, a highly respected man (1124). IT would take someone of high status to marry a daughter of Cato’s. Portia asks if Brutus thinks she is “no stronger than [her] sex, being so fathered and so husbanded” (1124). This implies that Brutus is a man on a near caliber to that of her father. Even after Brutus is run out of Rome, he keeps his high status by becoming a general. One of the qualities of being a tragic hero is high social status, and Brutus has this quality.
Brutus has several tragic flaws. One of these tragic flaws is how he trusts people a lot. Brutus says that he “know[s] that we shall have [Antony] well to a friend” (1140). He trusts Antony will be a friend of the conspirators, yet he seems to not realize that Antony is obliviously against them, because they killed his friend. Brutus trusts Antony so much, that he lets Antony speak to the public alone. Antony turns the people against Brutus and the conspirators, leading to the wars where Brutus takes his own life. Brutus also receives letters, supposedly from the people of Rome. As he reads the letter out loud, Brutus remarks “‘Speak, strike, redress!’ Am I entreated to speak and strike? O Rome, I make thee promise, if thy redress will follow, thy receivest thy full petition at the hand of Brutus” (1118).

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He decides to kill Caesar, based off of vague words in a letter that he doesn’t know the author of. He blindly trusts that it was sent earnestly, and that his interpretation of the words represents the view of the roman public. This letter causes him to join the conspiracy, while if he hadn’t; he would not have died the way he did, because he would have been on Octavius and Antony’s side of the war. Another flaw of Brutus’s is his over confidence. Brutus says that he is “armed so strong in honesty” that Cassius’s threats “pass by [him] as the idle wind” (1161). Brutus is also very hypocritical. Brutus dislikes Cassius’s “rash choler” and his “testy humor” (1160). Brutus swears that Cassius will “digest the venom of his spleen”, that he will get his comeuppance because of his temper. What Brutus fails to realize is that even as he says this, he is “ill-tempered too” (1162). . Also in the same argument, Brutus states that he never wronged his enemies, and then “how should [he] wrong a brother,” and yet Caesar was both a friend of his, and a political enemy, and he killed
Caesar. That action is definitely wronging a friend. Brutus’s character flaws lead to his death, making him a tragic hero.
The last quality of a tragic hero is dignity in the face of death, and Brutus does this as well. He blames “Cato for the death which he did give himself” and finds suicide “cowardly and vile” (1174). Brutus condemns Cato for committing suicide, but he considers it a better option that going “bound to Rome” (1174). This shows that when faced with principle or honor, he will choose his dignity like a true tragic hero. Brutus says that his “bones … have but labored to attain” the hour of his death, and he has “almost ended his life’s history” (1181). He talks about his own death bravely, and ready for it. As he commits suicide, his only regret is that he “killed not [Caesar] with half so good a will” as he will kill himself (1181). Brutus’s dignity in the face of death, along with his other qualifications, makes him a tragic hero.
Brutus meets all of the criteria of a tragic hero. He has very high social status. He has many tragic flaws, including over trust, hypocrisy, and over confidence, that leads to his death. He also faces this death with distinction and honor. Marcus Brutus is a tragic hero. Brutus seems to be similar to another tragic hero, whose traits were very similar. Caesar was over trusting as well. He liked Brutus and considered him a friend, and yet Brutus kills him. Caesar also is hypocritical when it came to superstition, and he thinks very highly of himself. Brutus like Caesar became him after he killed him; he became the man he killed. If he had not become like Caesar, then he would not have become a tragic hero. Brutus’s many flaws set him on the path to his downfall and death, making him a tragic hero.


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