The Tragedy of Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

The Tragedy of Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

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The Tragedy of Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar



Throughout many of Shakespeare's plays, a tragic hero is acknowledged: a courageous figure that possesses a tragic flaw, which eventually leads to his downfall. In The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, there have been arguments over who is in fact the tragic hero. Numerous people concur that Brutus is the tragic hero. However, others argue and name Julius Caesar as the tragic hero. After learning more about these two characters, a conclusion can be effortlessly drawn. Brutus is indeed the tragic hero of this play because when a person who possesses such heroic qualities dies, it is a true tragedy. In order to be the tragic hero the person must contain at least one tragic flaw, and Brutus contains many, but three of them stick out distinctively. His overconfidence along with his impatience and his nobility brought about Brutus's downfall. However, I believe that the main cause of his downfall was his naivety or the fact that he was an idealistic man.  


     At the beginning of the play, I believe that Brutus was a much different man than he turned out to be. He did not want to take part in the conspiracy, but Cassius was very persuasive and convinced him that it was what needed to be done. After Brutus had decided to go along with the idea I think that he expected it all to happen too easily. He was too confident that their plan would work exactly like they had planned and that nothing could go wrong. Along with being overconfident, he was also a very impatient man. They had only generated their plan a couple days before and did take not enough time to realize the consequences of their actions. If they had taken more time to think things through and had planned for the worst to happen, I believe they would have been ready for what would happen next. After the killing of Caesar and rioting of the plebeians after the funeral the two armies were ready to fight, which again showed signs of impatience. When going into the battle Brutus advanced too quickly which led to the killing of many of his men and his own suicidal efforts.

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     Many references were made as to why Brutus was an honorable man. He was very noble and everyone around him saw that. However, I believe they saw it as a good quality when in turn it led to his death.  In trying to do the right thing for the good of Rome he was making bad decisions. His only reason for killing Caesar was for the good of Rome and he truly believed that it was the best thing for his city. He also shows his nobility when he speaks at Caesar's funeral in saying that "As Caesar loved me, I weep for him...." He shows signs of compassion and sorrow, but at the same time he convinces the plebeians that it was the right thing to do and gives them just cause. Another way that he shows signs of nobility is that he does not betray anybody at any point in the play. Although he did murder Caesar, it was to better Rome, not to mislead him. Everything that he did was for the advantage of someone else. Even though he killed Antony's best friend, Antony still recognized Brutus as "the noblest Roman of them all." He cared more about others than he did himself. For example, in the course of killing Caesar, he could have without difficulty changed his mind and not killed him because he knew he might have been reprimanded, but he knew in the long run that it would help the plebeians most. At the conclusion when he grasps hold of what he did and how he was fooled, he kills himself with the knife that killed Caesar. This shows how righteous he is because he is man enough to realize what happened and he took accountability. I also do not believe he could have lived with that guilt of failing and killing one of his best friends.  I think Antony sums it up the best when he says, "This was the noblest Roman of them all. /  All the conspirators save only he/ Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;/ He, only in general honest thought/ And common good to all, made one of them./ His life was gentle, and the elements/So mixed in him that Nature might stand up/And say to all the world, `This was a man!'"


     The most evident reason as to why Brutus was not triumphant in his plans was because of his naiveté. He thought that all was good in the world, and that all men were respectable. He believed all that people told him and felt no one would lie or deceive him. Just because he did not betray anyone, he assumed the city of Rome would return this act. This mannerism led him to his death. All that he trusted swindled him at one time or another throughout the play. He allows others, like Cassius and Antony to betray him. He is too trustful and does not realize what people are capable of doing to him after making them his ally. Due to this tragic flaw, a demise of the character took place shortly after. His first error was when the forged letters are sent to him from the conspirators. This was all a lie to get Brutus to join in on the conspirator for Cassius knew he could not do it without Brutus' support. Brutus believes these letters are from the people of Rome and agrees to the slaughter of Caesar. Another example of this naiveness is when Brutus decides to allow Antony to speak to show honor to Caesar. What is even worse is that he trusts Antony so much that he allows him to take Caesar's dead body and also lets him address the crowd last and alone at the memorial service. In the end, this result ruins him. Antony enrages the crowd into believing that the connivers are all malevolent and they must get vengeance. They end up in a combat where Brutus ends his life.


     In the end, Brutus is conquered because of his catastrophic flaws. Brutus was youthful and did not realize the true behavior of the people he trusted. Even though the play is called The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, he is not the really tragic hero. Julius Caesar dies early on in the play and is not heard of again. Brutus on the other hand remains to battle for what he believes is right. Although he has imperfections such as impudence, eagerness, and decency he was very admirable and ought to hold the name of the tragic hero in the Shakespearian play.

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