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Julius Caesar, The Tragic Hero
Julius Caesar, The Tragic Hero
Julius Caesar, the tragic hero
Only the ignorant would deny that the title of a novel or play has no relevance to the play itself. Unfortunately, those ignorant minds have caused the true tragic hero of Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Julius Caesar, an area of dispute. Brutus seems to be a candidate because he appears more than Caesar in the play, but without Caesar the whole play would be lost. It is an indisputable fact that Julius Caesar is the Tragic Hero.
It is arguable that Brutus fits Aristotle’s guidelines for a tragic hero. He has a high position in society, which is evident through that fact that he is a senator. Brutus also has a noble and famous family name. In the play, even his enemies speak well of him (Shakespeare V, 5, 73-75). Brutus is also very prosperous. He is very wealthy and has many loyal friends. It also seems that he has a great relationship with his wife, because when she was concerned about him, he spent time to talk to her and comfort her. Furthermore, his tragic flaw causes him it make a mistake. He ends up murdering Caesar because of his overwhelming patriotism. Brutus is more concerned about his nation than he is about any single man.
Although Marcus Brutus seems to fit Aristotle’s qualifications of a tragic hero, the fact that Caesar fits it better is undeniable. Shakespeare makes his point almost too clear. First, the citizens of Rome love Caesar so much that they offer him the thrown three times. Brutus is barely known by the citizens. Julius Caesar had already been the leader of Rome without being king, and had led his own army to many great victories, which is obviously a sign of much power. Caesar can brag of his prosperity, through his wealth, his many friends, and his loving wife. Caesar’s tragic flaw helps to make his death more of a tragedy. He is too trusting and over-confident in the loyalty of his friends. In no part of the play did Caesar imagine that his closest friends were plotting to assassinate him.
The fact is, the title of the play is not titled The Tragedy of Marcus Brutus; it is titled The tragedy of Julius Caesar, which obviously leads the reader to believe that the story will be focused around Julius Caesar. Shakespeare creates the entire story around Julius Caesar and the events that lead to his tragedy. Brutus’ death isn’t much of a tragedy, supported by the fact that he took his own life. Brutus’ last words even spoke of Caesar. Brutus is too unimportant to be the tragic hero. If Brutus was taken out of the play, another character, like Cassius, could take his place as the betrayer; but if Caesar was taken out of the story, there is no one that could take his place, and there would be no story.
There are some small reasons why someone would mistake Brutus as the tragic hero. According to Aristotle, the tragic hero must die in the fifth act (like Brutus did), but Caesar did not. Caesar is actually present, even after his death, in the form of a ghost. His ghosts appears several times in the story to haunt Brutus, and in the end, he is truly laid to rest. Second, the last speech is not about Caesar, when most of Shakespeare’s tragic heroes are the subjects of the last speech. It can be explained by saying that Shakespeare felt is necessary to break one small rule in order to complete the novel successfully. Most of the other arguments that can be stated on Brutus’ behalf are just opinions, and cannot be backed up with facts.
Although Marcus Brutus can reasonably be seen as the main character of the story, the tragic hero is unmistakably Julius Caesar. Brutus is merely Shakespeare’s main tool in moving the play along. The play Tragedy of Julius Caesar is the story of a hero who is tragically killed, and that hero is Julius Caesar.
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