Brutus: A Tragically Misunderstood Hero

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In William Shakespeare's classic tragedy “Julius Caesar” the characters are all positioned on a path that leads them to a terrible and disastrous end. Some destroy themselves for the greater good of Rome or just because of their own selfish greed for power. Some characters proceed to destroy others in hopes of protecting the greater good, but lose those closest to them. Cassius leads a dark conspiracy and kills Julius Caesar, but later kills himself. Marc Antony and Octavius track down and kill the assassins that killed Caesar, but lose those they care about most along the way. A true hero will rise to adversity and meet a situation head on to conquer the problem or his foes; however, a tragic hero may do just the opposite. A tragic hero, through errors in judgment and personal flaws, combined with fate and forces often beyond their control ,will fail and bring those around them down as well. No hero has ever been so tragic in literature than Marcus Brutus. Brutus, through persuasion of others, bad decisions, and his personal fears of those around him meets a tragic end. When his beloved wife, Portia, kills herself, he later is compelled to do the same. Brutus’ character flaws bring about his ultimate downfall, which has been judged by critics throughout the ages. Brutus allows his flaws to overshadow his quest to do good, causing him to appear as a weak character. Brutus’ mistakes begin when he lets his thoughts be infiltrated by Cassius. Brutus admits to having an ongoing struggle within him about where his loyalties lie. When Cassius first presents the idea of overthrowing and assassinating Caesar to Brutus, Cassius begins by saying Brutus looks troubled, in response Brutus says, “Be not deceived. If I have veiled my lo... ... middle of paper ... ...st Roman of the all. All the conspirators save only he did what they did in envy of great Caesar…’This was a man!” (998). Antony’s words comprise a temerity that describes Brutus. Although he is a flawed man, who has to fall as far as he can, Brutus faces his demons, going down as one of literature's most tragic heroes. Like Brutus, the heroes of today are put under a microscope and their lives are exposed as a series of bad choices. Their actions are no less great, but their flaws spill over into their achievements and destroy their public persona. Although Brutus’ heart is in the right places, he soon cannot control the situation created by all his poor decisions and he must pay the consequences with the ultimate price. The path of Brutus’ tragic life is paved with good intentions. Works Cited Elements of Literature. Orlando: Holt, Winston, Rinehart, 2007.

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