The title of the historic tragedy Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare implies that Caesar is the tragic hero. Although Caesar is a universal character, William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar should have been titled Brutus because he is the real tragic hero.
The classical definition of a tragic hero is a person who is neither completely virtuous nor utterly villainous and falls from great status caused by a tragic flaw or error in judgment (bisd303.org). As all heroes do, tragic heroes often fall in line with archetypes. Tragic heroes repeatedly enjoy free choice, endure a punishment that exceeds their crime, undergo a course of enlightenment, and harvest a catharsis or a purging of human emotions in readers (Crowther). Tragic heroes are never perfect and are either killed by the end of the story or have fallen so far from their previous high status that they have nothing left from their old life.
More powerful than Brutus, Caesar is a tyrant that ...view middle of the document...
ii). Again, he uses his free will to postpone personal matters when he is on his way to the senate meeting and a citizen bestows a letter that could possibly save his life. While being stabbed to death by the conspirators, Caesar suddenly undergoes enlightenment and proclaims, “et tu, Brutus? – Then fall, Caesar” (lll.i). Et tu meaning you to. Caesar also falls from his high status of emperor when he is killed. Caesar does not fit the bill of a tragic hero in my eyes because he shows no true signs of being a good man during his life.
The true tragic hero, Brutus is a courteous, kindly senator who is concerned for others and wants nothing more than to preserve the Roman Republic. He is compelled by Cassius, who has false intentions in killing Caesar, to participate in the assassination of Caesar. This is Brutus’s tragic flaw, he is too unsuspecting. He lets Cassius manipulate his mind. Also, Brutus is too innocent to comprehend that by allowing Antony to speak at Caesar’s funeral, he is sealing his fate. Likewise, Brutus has a choice. A choice to kill Caesar for the good of Rome or not kill Caesar and risk the future of Rome under a tyrant. Brutus defends his actions by saying, “Not that I loved Caesar less but that I loved Rome more” (lll.ii). Brutus’s fate produces a catharsis in readers when he runs onto his sword held by Strato. In killing himself, he has fallen from his high status to the status of death. He became aware of his mistakes and admits to them saying, “Caesar, now be still. I killed not thee with half so good a will” (V.v). Brutus was not all bad and not all good. He possesses more traits of the classic tragic hero.
Both Caesar and Brutus possess traits typical of tragic heroes. To me however, Brutus is the character that best exemplifies the classical definition of a tragic hero. Brutus is a character that more readers can identify with. Caesar dies before we really get to understand his character. Readers learn most of what they know about Caesar through the other characters while with Brutus readers get to observe his true nature. Brutus was more of an honorable man than Caesar. When comparing Caesar and Brutus, Brutus seems to be the rightful owner of the title of tragic story told by William Shakespeare.