Which character is the hero of Julius Caesar?

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rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This question has elicited a great deal of disagreement among critics, but it does seem that Shakespeare did not really intend for the title character to be the hero of the play. Caesar actually has very few appearances in the play, far fewer than most of the other important characters. The play's most important character, and certainly the best developed character, is Brutus. It is Brutus who most struggles with the play's fundamental issues regarding liberty and tyranny, and who finds himself most confronted by the conflict between his perceived duty and his friendship with Caesar. The conspirators struggle to persuade Brutus to join their plot to murder Caesar, and it is he that leads the forces against Marc Antony and Octavian after the assassination. His position as the play's protagonist is cemented at the end, when Antony, having given an provocative speech over Caesar's body in the Forum, now praises Brutus after discovering his corpse at Philippi:

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 mix'd him that Nature might stand up
And say to all the world: "This was a man!"

Unique among the characters, Brutus emerges from the play with his reputation as a man of honor intact.

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Julius Caesar

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