How is Brutus is the hero of the play Julius Caesar?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Brutus of Julius Caesar is truly a tragic hero. For, he meets the requisite criteria:

1.  He is a man of noble stature and nature.  A respected member of the Senate, Brutus is a patrician.

2.  He possesses a tragic flaw, a flaw that causes him his downfall. Because he is of noble birth, Brutus is more idealistic than he is practical. Likewise, his reasoning is more philosophical than it is pragmatic and expedient. In Act I, for instance, when Cassius enlists the noble Brutus as a co-conspirator, Brutus feels the appeal as a call to protect Rome from tyranny rather than one for self-gain as is really true of Cassius, who enviously speaks of Caesar as a Colossus who towers over him and others,

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonorable graves. (1.2.141-144)

But Brutus, inflamed by idealism and poor judgment, forms illogical analogies from nature, thinking Caesar may be "a serpent's egg" and worries that Caesar will not become tyrannical if granted the corrupting power of becoming an emperor as he has seemed to desire in the parade after he has slain Pompey. his former ally.

But when he once attains the upmost round, 
He then unto the ladder turns his back, 
Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees 
By which he did ascend. So Caesar may; 
Then, lest he may, prevent. (2.1.24-28)

In his idealistic commitment to principle, Brutus fails to assess Marc Anthony correctly; he rejects Cassius's suggestion to kill Antony and, barring that, to not allow him to speak to the Romans.

3. Brutus exerts poor judgment in battle. In Act IV, he argues with Cassius about the plan of battle against the forces of the triumvirate of Marc Antony, Octavius Caesar, and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus; for, he wants to march forward and engage war in Philippi, while Cassius suggests that their troops rest and let the troops of the triumvirate come to them.  As it turns out, Brutus suffers the worst downfall as he dies of his own sword.

The misfortunes of Brutus result from his character deficiencies and what Aristotle in his Poetics called hamartia, a criminal act for the sake of a greater good created by a man of noble stature. He is the hero of the play because, as Marc Antony admits in his eulogy,

This was the noblest Roman of them all.
All the conspirators save only he
Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;
He, only in a general honest thought
And common good to all, made one of them.
His life was gentle, and the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world, "This was a man!" (5.5.74-81)

A noble man of principle, Brutus joins the conspirators because he believes that Caesar will become tyrannical if he is crowned emperor. However, he tragically fails to comprehend "the evil that men do" as Marc Antony says. For, Brutus does not recognize the envy in the hearts of Cassius and the others, nor the expediency and self-serving motivations of Antony, who is willing to create civil war in order to defeat Brutus and the other conspirators.  A tragic hero, Brutus errs both in his heart and in the field of battle.

 

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mastertrump's profile pic

mastertrump | Student, Grade 8 | eNotes Newbie

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In Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Brutus is the noblest man of them all. Brutus was in the senate and was known to be an honorable and noble man. Brutus tends to show bad judgement a lot. But had the right intentions for killing Caesar.

Brutus has a tragic flaw, a flaw that causes him his own as well as the conspirators downfall.  As a result of Brutus being born noble, Brutus is more of an idealistic person than of a practical. In other terms, his reasoning tends to be more philosophical than practical. In Act I, for instance, when Cassius recruits Brutus and gets him to join him to “save Rome,” Brutus feels the need to join and do whatever he can to save Rome. Unlike Cassius, who just wanted to do it for himself, prejudicially speaking of Caesar as a Colossus who walks over him and others.

Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world

Like a Colossus, and we petty men

Walk under his huge legs and peep about

To find ourselves dishonorable graves.

But Brutus, once again seems to have show poor judgment, forms illogical analogies from nature, thinks Caesar may be "a serpent's egg" and worries that Caesar will become dictator if granted the corrupting power of becoming an emperor as he has seemed to desire in the parade after he had killed Pompey.

But when he once attains the upmost round,

He then unto the ladder turns his back,

Looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees

By which he did ascend. So Caesar may;

Then, lest he may, prevent.

Brutus fails with his assessment of Marc Antony, thinking he is no threat to them and therefore he should not have been killed with Caesar. But Brutus could not have been more wrong about this assessment, Marc Antony becomes their biggest nightmare.

Brutus shows poor judgment time after time. In Act IV, he has a disagreement with Cassius about the plan of battle against Marc Antony, Octavius Caesar, and Marcus Aemilius Lepidus; because he wants to march forward and engage war at Philippi, while Cassius suggests that their troops rest and let the troops of the Antony come to them. The war was not good for Brutus. He dies running into his own sword, because it is considered to be the more honorable to end your own life than to have your enemy degrade you, torture you, then kill you. Brutus was the most noble man in the play. Even Antony, a Brutus’ enemy admits to it and says that exactly in the eulogy.

This was the noblest Roman of them all.

All the conspirators save only he

Did that they did in envy of great Caesar;

He, only in a general honest thought

And common good to all, made one of them.

His life was gentle, and the elements

So mixed in him that Nature might stand up

And say to all the world, "This was a man!"

Brutus wanting the best for Rome, joins the conspirators thinking if Caesar takes the crown and becomes dictator he is going to start the downfall of Rome. However, he tragically fails to understand "the evil that men do" as Antony says. Brutus does not understand the hatred that Cassius and the others have, nor the length in term of how far Antony will go to win. Antony was willing to have Civil war. A tragic hero, Brutus makes mistakes in both in his heart and in the field of battle.

In conclusion, Brutus was a honorable and noble man. He had the right intentions when he stabbed Caesar causing his death. His main intention was to make sure that Rome will stay a democracy and not become a dictatorship. So I ask you, what would you have done?

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