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Brutus: A Tragically Misunderstood Hero Essay

1266 words - 5 pages

In William Shakespeare's classic tragedy “Julius Caesar” the characters are all positioned on a path that leads them to a terrible and disastrous end. Some destroy themselves for the greater good of Rome or just because of their own selfish greed for power. Some characters proceed to destroy others in hopes of protecting the greater good, but lose those closest to them. Cassius leads a dark conspiracy and kills Julius Caesar, but later kills himself. Marc Antony and Octavius track down and kill the assassins that killed Caesar, but lose those they care about most along the way. A true hero will rise to adversity and meet a situation head on to conquer the problem or his foes; however, a tragic hero may do just the opposite. A tragic hero, through errors in judgment and personal flaws, combined with fate and forces often beyond their control ,will fail and bring those around them down as well. No hero has ever been so tragic in literature than Marcus Brutus. Brutus, through persuasion of others, bad decisions, and his personal fears of those around him meets a tragic end. When his beloved wife, Portia, kills herself, he later is compelled to do the same. Brutus’ character flaws bring about his ultimate downfall, which has been judged by critics throughout the ages. Brutus allows his flaws to overshadow his quest to do good, causing him to appear as a weak character. Brutus’ mistakes begin when he lets his thoughts be infiltrated by Cassius. Brutus admits to having an ongoing struggle within him about where his loyalties lie. When Cassius first presents the idea of overthrowing and assassinating Caesar to Brutus, Cassius begins by saying Brutus looks troubled, in response Brutus says, “Be not deceived. If I have veiled my look, I turn the trouble of my countenance merely upon myself” (890). Brutus urges Cassius not to misinterpret his expressions, that he is just concerned with personal matters. However, Cassius proceeds, realizing Brutus’ underlying conflict is fear for Caesar as a king. Cassius presents a grand speech to Brutus, manipulating him with faulty reasoning. Several times he tries to use examples that will make Caesar look unscrupulous. At one point he says, “He had a fever when he was in Spain, and when the fit was on him, I did mark how he did shake. ‘Tis true, this god did shake” (893). Cassius' jealousy is so blinding that he is unable to realize his reasons are pointless; however, Brutus is also unable to see through Cassius’ reasoning. Instead of realizing that Caesar is human and a fever is a common ailment of all humans, he is overthrown by Cassius’ manipulative words. Brutus claims to put his honor first when he says, “For let the gods so speed me as I love the name of honor more than I fear death” (892). However, Brutus’ actions do not agree with his words. He allows himself to be easily manipulated into not only bringing down Caesar, but eventually himself. As Brutus makes more and more dreadful decisions, he...

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