In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, discuss how Brutus can be considered a tragic hero.

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booboosmoosh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Though Shakespeare's play is called Julius Caesar, the main character is Brutus. He is the play's tragic hero.

Aristotle described the characteristics of a tragic hero. He must be a great man—a man of notable deeds or character, or both. Second, the tragic hero has to die. Last, the hero's death is his own fault, brought on by his poor judgment because of a tragic flaw in his character.

Brutus is a great man in Rome. Brutus is greatly admired; when Rome erupts in Civil War, there are many that follow Brutus because of the true caliber of man he is. He is not a man who openly complains; while he worries over the fate of Rome in the hands of Caesar, he keeps his own counsel. Brutus believes in doing the honorable thing, even if it means his death:

For let the gods so speed me as I love

The name of honor more than I fear death. (I.ii.94-95)

Brutus tips his hand, letting Cassius know how he feels, especially in fearing that Caesar is to be crowned a king—in such a case, he says he'd rather be a peasant:

Brutus had rather be a villager

Than to repute himself a son of Rome

Under these hard conditions as this time

Is like to lay upon us. (178-181)

We know that Cassius lies to Brutus as he speaks of "seducing" the will of someone even as noble as Brutus—tricking him to believe there is more of a threat than there may really be—so Brutus will join Cassius. After Brutus leaves, Cassius ruminates about the man:

Well, Brutus, thou art noble; yet, I see

Thy honorable metal may be wrought

From that it is disposed; therefore it is meet

That noble minds keep ever with their likes;

For who so firm that cannot be seduced? (311-315)

Naiveté is Brutus' tragic flaw: he too easily believes Cassius—and falls in with Cassius' plot to kill Caesar. From one meeting to very next, Brutus has allowed himself to be swept into Cassius' conspiracy. Brutus will never know how this "friend" tricked him. At the end of the play, he erroneously honors Cassius:

My heart doth joy that yet in all my life

I found no man but he was true to me. (V.ii.38-39)

Brutus does die in this tragedy. He fights like a lion and is a valiant leader to his men. Rome is his only concern: he risks (and loses) his life for the good of his country. When he contemplates that he and Cassius may be defeated, he declares he will never allow himself to be captured and paraded through the streets in ignominy.


No, Cassius...Think not, thou noble Roman,

That ever Brutus will go bound to Rome;

He bears too great a mind. (V.i.120-122)

Brutus chooses a solider's death—to die by his own sword rather than be taken prisoner.

hcps-seitzjt | Student

Brutus is considered a tragic hero because he had a rise to power, made his fatal flaw, which was killing Caesar, and then made poor decisions which ultimately led to his death.

hari12 | Student

Brutus is a famous character from Julius Caesar. This was written by Shakespeare.

Let me define tragic hero first. A tragic hero is a person who has a good character, who commits flaws which are fatal and is of a very high standing.

Brutus was a noble citizen of Rome. He was of nobel standing which added to his appeal as a tragic hero.


Brutus joins the conspiracy not because he "loved Caesar less but loved Rome more."  Brutus joins the conspiracy under the impression that he is preventing Caesar's tyranny and saving the people of Rome.  He also trusts the motives of the other conspirators.  In entering the conspiracy he is also responsible for the death of Caesar and the movement of the plot. 

Despite his death and loss in the war, Brutus is still remembered as noble, in this he represents the moral of the play.  Even though Brutus fails by most standards he remains moral and honest which shows the reader that adhering to your own convictions is important.  By delivering the catharsis in the play, Brutus proves to be the tragic hero of the play.

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Julius Caesar

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