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There is no such thing as the perfect person. We may dream of such a person, but sadly, everyone has flaws. These flaws are what make us human. Something else that makes us human is our need for heroes. We attribute 'perfect' qualities to our heroes. In reality even our heroes are flawed. The closest thing to the idealized person, or hero, is the Shakespearean tragic hero. The tragic hero is someone of high standing, good character, and a flaw. While it may be only one flaw, it is often fatal. An example of a tragic hero can be best seen in William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar. Marcus Brutus is a prominent leader and noble citizen of Rome who leads in the assassination of Julius Caesar. We see that Brutus plays the role of the tragic hero through his noble standing, fatal flaw, and legacy.
Marcus Brutus is of noble standing which adds to his appeal as a tragic hero. At one point Cassius says "'Brutus' and 'Caesar.' What is so special about the name 'Caesar'........... yours sounds as good." ( ) This indicates that Brutus is held in the same esteem as Julius Caesar. Most tragic heroes are of high standing because they are easily recognizable. Tragic heroes are usually portrayed as prominent social figures so when they fall they fall harder.
Brutus's fatal flaw is his trustworthy nature. He joins the conspiracy not because he "loved Caesar less but loved Rome more." ( ) Brutus joins the conspiracy under the impression that he is preventing Caesar's tyranny and saving the people of Rome. He also trusts the motives of the other conspirators. In entering the conspiracy he is also responsible for the death of Caesar and the movement of the plot. The civil war is a direct result of Caesar's assassination and eventually Brutus's own death. Brutus's fall is definitely caused by his trustworthy nature.
Through his legacy Brutus leaves the world an important lesson. Marc Antony remembers Brutus as "the noblest Roman of them all."( ) Despite his death and loss in the war, Brutus is still remembered as noble, in this he represents the moral of the play.
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Through Brutus's noble standing, fatal flaw, and legacy we begin to understand the tragic hero. Brutus is not perfect, but he is truly a good person. In Brutus we see a person who is very complex. In Brutus's case we are not just shown a way not to act, but a way to really live. Brutus's story teaches us to stick to our own convictions, because the reward of self-respect is the greatest of all.
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.