Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar is a tragic play, where the renowned Julius Caesar is on the brink of achieving total control and power by becoming emperor of the Roman Empire. Ironically enough, when he thinks he is one step away from pulling it off, his "friends" (most from the senate) decide to overthrow him, with Caesar's most trusted friend, Marcus Brutus, acting as leader of the conspirators. Though the fall of Caesar from the most powerful man in the world to a man who's been betrayed and stabbed 30 times is a great downfall, he is not the tragic hero. Shakespeare's main focus is Marcus Brutus, a noble man who brings upon himself a great misfortune by his own actions, and arouses pity and fear to the reader. This, as Aristotle described, is a tragic hero, which applies to the infamous Brutus.
According to Aristotle, a tragic hero is a man of noble stature, and throughout the play Brutus shows his nobility and greatness in many ways. The most prevalent virtue Brutus has is honor. One way he shows his honor is when, after killing Caesar, in his oration to the citizens he does not slander or belittle Caesar. He simply explains that Caesar was too ambitious. So great is Brutus's honor that ironically, the man who is responsible for Brutus's death, Antony, calls him the "noblest Roman of them all" while looking down on his cadaver at the end of the play. Another virtue Brutus has is his sense to do common good. In his view, he resolves that by killing Caesar before he is crowned and becomes a possible tyrant, is the best thing to do for the people, "...Why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: Not that I loved Caesar less, but that ...
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...a great misfortune because of it. The reason that Brutus provokes so much pity is because he is the only character in the play that is not greedy and corrupted. He simply desires the best for his country. So it makes the reader wonder what kind of a ruler he would have made. Brutus grasps the reader's emotions and sensibility and takes the reader along a roller coaster of emotions, such as admiration, concern, sympathy and loss. This is why Brutus is the tragic hero of the play.
Bloom, Harold. William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Chelsea House Publisher; Connecticut, New York, & Pennsylvania. 1988, Pg. #33 - 36
Durband, Alan. Shakespeare Made Easy: Julius Caesar. Barron's Educational Series, Inc.; New York. 1985.
Shakespeare, William. Julius Caesar. Ed. Alan Durband. London: Hutchinson & Co. Publishers Ltd., 1984.
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