I need a good attention-getter for my paper on Brutus as a tragic hero.
My thesis is: In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Brutus is portrayed as a tragic hero, because he exhibits such flaws as foolishness, idealism, and self-righteousness, which eventually lead to his downfall and tragic death.
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A good quotation with which to start your paper on Brutus as the tragic hero of William Shakespeare's 'Julius Caesar' is with Marc Anthony's epitaph: 'This was the noblest Roman of them all.' Of the conspirators, only Brutus acted out of unmixed philosophical ideals. What makes this such a tragic circumstance is that Brutus and Caesar genuinely cared for one another, but Brutus felt that because Caesar would be a good tyrant, he would cause tyranny to become firmly entrenched in Rome, and thus, paradoxically, Brutus murdered Caesar because of his good qualities. This opening quotation allows you to move on to discuss the nobility of Brutus, one of the major themes of the play.
You could focus on the irony and contradiction in Brutus’s character and fate. Cassius steers Brutus into conspiring to assassinate Julius Caesar, who would not suspect Brutus’s involvement: “Caesar doth bear me hard; but he loves Brutus.” Cassius sees that Brutus can be manipulated both in spite of and because of his nobility. He flatters Brutus and appeals to his sense of equality. For his ideals, Brutus justifies murdering his closest friend, harming both himself and others: “I slew my best lover for the good of Rome.” He cares about people enough to kill one.
Another contradiction is that Brutus is a natural leader who does not believe any one person should rule. In spite of Caesar’s death being Cassius’s brainchild, Brutus often takes control of the situation. He contradicts and undermines Cassius multiple times in front of other conspirators. Brutus addresses the senators in his house and describes at length the moral reasons for Caesar’s death. When Decius and Cassius suggest killing Mark Antony as well, Brutus shuts them down: “Our course will seem too bloody.” Later, Brutus grants Antony permission to speak at Caesar’s funeral, without consulting the other conspirators. Cassius argues that “the people may be moved / By that which he will utter,” but Brutus is not persuaded.
This reveals yet another irony in Brutus’s nature and actions. His leniency leads to civil war. Brutus allows Antony to live and even speak to the public, two decisions that seal the conspirators’ fates. The crowd turns on them, and Antony and Octavius wage war against Brutus and Cassius. Brutus’s honor leads him to commit murder, but it also prevents him from fully carrying out the coup. In the end, Brutus’s whole purpose is thwarted: he killed Caesar to prevent Rome from transforming from a republic into a monarchy, but, after Brutus dies, Octavius Caesar will turn Rome into an empire that would last for centuries.
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