A Tragic Hero in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Good Essays
"You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain", said by Aaron Eckhart (Harvey Dent) in the movie The Dark Knight, describes perfectly the theme of William Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar. Even more so, Harvey Dent's words show the characteristics of the tragic hero in the production, Marcus Brutus. Most would argue that his part in the assassination of Caesar would make him the antagonist, or villain, but throughout a series of events in the play, it is logical to conclude that Brutus was indeed the hero. He was a tragic hero who just happened to make a tragic mistake.
In the first two acts of Julius Caesar, the audience begins to learn about the type of person Brutus was. Brutus was shown to have been a respected leader when Ligarius said, “But it sufficeth / That Brutus leads me on” (2,1,344-345). With this quote, Shakespeare shows that Brutus is the type of man which others are enticed to follow. Cassius knew this fact and that is why he targeted Brutus to be one of the conspirators. With the noble Brutus plotting against Caesar, Cassius believed that the Roman citizens would accept Caesar’s murder easier; however, Brutus was wise. He said, “Into what dangers would you lead me, Cassius, / that you would have me seek into myself / For that which is not in me?” (1,2,65-67), as soon as he suspected that Cassius had alternative motives for speaking with him. The audience learns that Brutus is not quick to make decisions and seeks honor before anything. If he was a villain, why would he spend time contemplating the consequences of Caesar’s death? Would he not just act?
Even through-out Caesar’s murder and funeral, Brutus stayed noble. When the other conspirators began to yell “Liberty, freedom, and...

... middle of paper ... that Marcus Brutus was tragic hero, then nothing will.
In conclusion, Brutus is shown to have stayed the the heroic state of mind throughout the play. All of his actions, including the taking of his own life, was for the betterment of the Roman Empire. No true villain would want to “better” something. Now, if Brutus acted out of greed or envy, then the argument would be different, but since he acted out of honor and patriotism then the argument is non-existent. Brutus is a hero. Just because he made a mistake doesn’t make him the wrongdoer. Everyone makes a big mistake at least once in their lives; however, in Brutus’ case his flaw happened to be irreversible. So why give him a label of nefarious or vile when we can simply say he was a tragic hero?

Works Cited

Crowther, John, ed. No Fear Julius Caesar. SparkNotes LLC. 2005. Web. 22 Mar. 2014.
Get Access