A A tragic hero in Shakespearean literature is understood as a noble and heroic character who makes a series of bad decisions based on his bad judgment that leads to his downfall and eventually death. In William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar, the tragic hero is Marcus Brutus, a powerful Roman senator who joins a conspiracy to assassinate the Roman ruler, Julius Caesar. Marcus Brutus is a tragic hero because of his noble reputation, his moral personality, the cathartic experience that the audience feels from his life and his tragic flaw: idealism.
Brutus is a tragic hero because he is well-respected in Roman society. This is displayed when Cassius, Casca and Cinna are speaking about the conspiracy after the marathon on the feast of Lupercal, and they talk about how they need to get Brutus involved in the conspiracy. Casca says, “Oh, he sits high in all the people’s hearts” (1.3.157). This proves that Brutus is honourable and noble in the public’s eyes. Also, in Brutus’s orchard, after the conspirators leave, Ligarius says to Brutus, “And with a heart new fir’d I follow you,/To do I know not what; but it sufficeth/That Brutus leads me on.”(2.1.332–35). This shows that Brutus is so dignified that even if people don’t know what he is doing or why, they will follow him because he is Marcus Brutus. Therefore, Brutus’s honour and nobility grant him the power to take action, which categorizes him as a tragic hero.
Furthermore, Brutus’s ethical intuition defines him as a tragic hero. Brutus’s morals are demonstrated when he meets with the other conspirators in his orchard about Caesar’s assassination and he says, “Let’s kill him boldly, but not wrathfully;/Let’s carve him as a dish fit for the gods,/Not hew him as a carcass fit for hounds:” (2.1.172–74). This shows that Brutus does not want to kill Caesar “wrathfully”, as if it is out of envy or revenge, but with dignity in knowing that what the conspirators are doing has purpose: they are killing him with Rome’s best interest at heart. Also, Brutus says to his servant, Lucius, “It but must be by [Caesar’s] death: and, for my own part,/I know no personal cause to spurn at him,” (2.1.10–11). This displays that Brutus has no personal resentment towards Caesar, but is doing what is best for the Roman people. Therefore, Marcus Brutus’s moral integrity shows in his decisions, which makes him a tragic hero.
Moreover, Marcus Brutus displays qualities of a tragic hero because of his tragic flaw: idealism. Brutus shows his tragic flaw when he speaks to the conspirators after they assassinate Caesar, and he says,
Stoop, Romans, stoop, And let us bathe our hands in Caesar’s blood Up to the elbows, and besmear our swords: ...