But how do we define a tragic hero? Aristotle offers a thorough and comprehensive analysis of the elements that a tragedy consists of in The Poetics. Known earliest surviving document discussing dramatic theory, Aristotle presents ideas and arguments that are still useful in analyzing more contemporary dramatic works. As found in his Poetics, Aristotle 's explanations of tragedy and the tragic hero support an argument that Brutus in Shakespeare 's Julius Caesar qualifies as both heroic and tragic.
There are four primary components of a tragic character as defined Aristotle. First, a tragic character must be good. Aristotle claims that “The character will be good if the purpose is good.” a rule that is “relative to each class.” (Aristotle) A person’s status (sex, class, job, etc.) holds them to a specific set standards, quite different to persons of a different status according to Aristotle. The second component of a tragic character states that they must have propriety which means that they conform to conventionally accepted standards of behavior or morals. The third element of a tragic character pertains to their trueness to life, or if a character has realistic qualities. Lastly for a character to be tragic by Aristotle’s standards, they must be consistent or “Consistently inconsistent.” (Aristotle 15) All of these qualities of a tragic figure have to do with Aristotle’s concept of catharsis, which is the purging of the audience through pity and terror. For catharsis to be achieved, the characters must be relatable to the audience to the point of where the audience sees themselves in similar situations as presented onstage or in the text. With these qualities of character in mind, we can now thoroughly analyze the character Bru...
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... permits Antony to speak a funeral oration over Caesar’s body after Brutus delivers his own speech. The result of Brutus’ decision is that he loses the authority and credibility with the plebeians by having the last word on the murder, and thus enable Antony to be in a position where he can incite the fickle plebeians to revolt against Brutus and his fellow conspirators. Brutus later calls into question his relationship with Cassius by self-righteously condemning what he sees as dishonorable fund-raising tactics on Cassius’s part. In all of these cases, Brutus acts out of a desire to limit the selfish aspects of his actions; ironically, however, in each incident he neglects the very cause that he seeks to promote, being a servant of the Roman people.
In summation, a solid argument can be made for Brutus as a heroic and tragic figure if Aristotle’s definition is used.
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