Is Brutus the real hero in the play Julius Caesar? The play's name is Julius Caesar. However, Brutus' character is the one most focused on. Why is that?

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This is a perplexing question to which there is no simple answer.  In the same way that Shakespeare titled a play The Merchant of Venice, when the merchant, Antonio, is not the primary character in the play; in Julius Caesar , Caesar is not primary to the action that...

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This is a perplexing question to which there is no simple answer.  In the same way that Shakespeare titled a play The Merchant of Venice, when the merchant, Antonio, is not the primary character in the play; in Julius Caesar, Caesar is not primary to the action that continues throughout the play.  In both of these plays, however, the title character (in this case, Caesar) serves as the catalyst for action that is central to the play.

As for Brutus, the term "hero" can be misleading.  We tend to think of a hero as someone who swoops in and saves the day, someone we would like to emulate.  A super-hero is a good example of this sort of hero.  However, if you consider the definition of tragic hero as it was described by the Greek philosopher Aristotle in his Poetics, then we have a very different definition of "hero."

As defined by Enotes, a tragic hero is:

the main character in a tragedy. The modern use of the term usually involves the notion that such an hero makes an error in his actions that leads to his or her downfall.. . .Aristotle. . . is quite clear in his pronouncement that the hero's misfortune is not brought about "by vice and depravity but by some error of judgment." In fact, in Aristotle's Poetics it is imperative that the tragic hero be noble.

And so, if we use the above definition, then the tragic hero is the main character, a noble man, who, through an error in judgement, causes his own downfall.  Brutus does fit this description.  He is in the play from first to last (many would argue that he is the play's main character) and is the author of his own downfall through his decision to join the Conspiracy against Caesar for "the good of Rome."  This error in judgement causes his demise.

Caesar also causes his own downfall, in a way, by deciding to go to the Senate against all the warnings not to.  However, he cannot be considered the main character in a play in which he dies in the Third Act.  And yet, there is no doubt that the question "Who is the protagonist of Julius Caesar?" is one that continues to be debated about this play, and there are no cut and dried answers.

For more on tragic heroes, Brutus and Caesar, and which characters might be considered as a protagonist of this play, please follow the links below.

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