Differentiating Between Hero and Antagonist in Julius Ceasar by William Shakespeare

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Differentiating Between Hero and Antagonist in Julius Ceasar by William Shakespeare

Within many of William Shakespeare's tragedies, the reader can easily distinguish between the hero and the antagonist. Unfortunately, this seemingly elementary task proves rather arduous when applied to William Shakespeare's tragedy of Julius Caesar. Upon conclusion of the play, the reader is left with an empty feeling (no thanks to the ever quick-witted bard Shakespeare) when confronted with the question: who is the tragic hero of the play? However, after unraveling the tangled results of careful consideration, the question still remains unanswered, or, at the most, with many answers. One answer to this elusive question is that the hero of the play is truly that character which the play centers around, both corporeal and in spirit: the character of Julius Caesar. Another possible answer, and the most common one, suggests that noble Marcus Brutus is the tragic hero. For Brutus in Marc Anthony's words, "was the noblest Roman of them all"(act 5, scene 5, line 68). Furthermore, how can one not argue that brave, loyal and clever Marc Anthony is not the hero? For in fact he endures his grief skillfully, conquers Brutus bravely, and is one of the few main characters left breathing when the tragedy concludes. All of these justifiable answers, given voice from a clever mind, can be proven infallible. So one is baffled again. How can all three, professedly heroic characters, be proven to be the tragic hero? After dedicating an exceedingly ample amount of time upon equating this seemingly impossible equation, one comes to the conclusion that there is no hero. Rather, one concludes that Shakespeare has written a problem play in which his prin...

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... arrogance in seeking the crown. Furthermore, this snowballing tragedy ultimately results in Anthony's evil reaction of preaching mutiny against Brutus's insurrection, due to the consequences of his tragic flaw in his un-"Caesarian" release of chaos and disorder coinciding with his mutiny. Simply stated, a mutiny, led in response to an initial mutiny, is a remarkable recipe for evil and disorder. Finally, the reader can draw the conclusion that although this complicated play has no true tragic hero, it does have a true antagonist: the immoral act of insurrection! All characters within the play are individuals composed of both honorable and dis-honorable qualities, men with emotions in disarray and jumbled motives, men with personal as well as communal needs, and men brought to absolute confusion by the disorder they created in their immoral action of insurrection.

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