The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare centers on Caesar, a Roman dictator, and his demise in 44 B.C. Brutus, along with seven other conspirators, assassinate Caesar to prevent him from becoming king. The Romans then wage war with these conspirators, and all eight are either murdered, or commit suicide. At this point in the play, the audience realizes who the tragic hero is. A tragic hero is a character in a high social standing who causes his/her own downfall. The hero becomes enlightened of his/her mistakes, which causes the reader to feel sympathy for this person. Therefore, Brutus can be characterized as the tragic hero of this play, which is displayed through his tragic flaw, dramatic downfall, and sympathetic nature.
Similar to the conventional tragic hero, Brutus’s downfall is because of his tragic flaw: poor judgment. We see this flaw throughout the entire play, beginning when Brutus joins the other conspirators. When all eight of them are contemplating whether or not to kill Mark Antony, Caesar’s best friend, Brutus says:
Our course will seem to bloody, Caius Cassius,
To cut the head off and then hack the limbs,
Like wrath in death and envy afterwards,
For Antony is but a limb of Caesar.
Let us be sacrificers but not butchers, Caius…
And for Mark Antony, think not of him,
For he can do no more than Caesar’s arm
When Caesar’s head is off. (916)
By killing Antony Brutus believes the Roman citizens will view them as murderous creatures, instead of peace bringers. His concern for his nobility leaves him with poor judgment:
Do not consent
That Antony speak in his funeral.
Know you how much the people may be moved
By that which he will utter? (945)
Despite protest from another conspirator who knows that Antony is an adversary, Brutus still allows Antony to speak at Caesar’s funeral. During his speech, the Romans become convinced that Caesar should not have been assassinated. They become a mutinous, turbulent crowd, which is seen in the following: “Revenge! About! Seek! Burn! Fire! Kill! Slay! /Let not a traitor live!” (954). Brutus, along with one other conspirator, manages to escape Rome and flee to Sardis. Here, he eventually runs into a sword and kills himself because he is overtaken by Antony’s army. By not listening to his friends, and caring about his nobility more than his survival, Brutus shows poor judgment in allowing Antony to live. He caused himself to look like a...