How does Brutus qualify as a tragic hero in "Julius Caesar"?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Brutus meets all of the qualifications of a tragic hero.

-He is a man of high position (socially, politically, and financially) who experiences a drastic fall from that position.

-He is of noble birth.  His family helped end the reign of the king and establish the Roman Republic.

-He possesses a tragic flaw (an emotion, obsession, or characteristic which causes a tragic hero's downfall).  His flaw is a lack of discernment of bad judgment.  Several examples of this can be found in Act 2 when Brutus disagrees with many of the conspirators on issues such as killing Antony.  He did not want to kill Antony because he was afraid of how the conspirators would be perceived, and yet if had chosen to kill Antony at the same time as they killed Caesar, who knows what history would look like now?  There are several other examples of his bad judgment, especially in Acts 4 and 5.

-He has a tragic realization (the point at which the tragic hero realizes that he has brought about his own downfall).  For Brutus, of course, this is too late.  As the battle seems to go to Antony, Brutus realizes that he made a horrendous mistake in killing Caesar.  He begins to make this discovery when Caesar's ghost appeared to him the night before, but as he is about to die, he knows that he judged Caesar in error and that he would have to pay for it with his life.

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Julius Caesar

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