What is role of Marcus Brutus in Julius Caesar?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Brutus is the tragic hero of the play, or arguably, one of two tragic heroes, the other being Caesar. Brutus's tragic flaw, like those of many Greek tragic heroes, is hubris . He believes that he is of high moral quality and allows himself to be persuaded by Cassius, at...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Brutus is the tragic hero of the play, or arguably, one of two tragic heroes, the other being Caesar. Brutus's tragic flaw, like those of many Greek tragic heroes, is hubris. He believes that he is of high moral quality and allows himself to be persuaded by Cassius, at which point he won't turn back. A decision he makes must be the right decision. One could also say that Caesar is the tragic hero, in that he also dies because of a tragic flaw: in his case, ambition. But in spite of the play's title, it is certainly Brutus, not Caesar, who is the protagonist; protagonists rarely die halfway through the text! The audience also sympathizes with Brutus, at least at first, which is another characteristic of a tragic hero and protagonist.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Marcus Brutus plays the role of protagonist and tragic hero in Shakespeare's classic play Julius Caesar. Marcus Brutus is an influential man in Rome and a close friend of Julius Caesar. Since Brutus is the protagonist, Shakespeare focuses on his difficult decision to join the conspirators to assassinate Caesar and illustrates the effects of Brutus's choices throughout the course of the play. Brutus's actions drive the plot, and he is depicted as the play's tragic hero. Brutus hails from a revered and aristocratic family, is destined for greatness, and has a tragic flaw that leads to his demise. Brutus's tragic flaw is his need to be noble and honorable. Brutus's need for nobility makes him naive and vulnerable to shrewd politicians like Cassius. After deciding to assassinate Caesar to prevent him from ruling Rome as a tyrant, Brutus makes several costly decisions that allow Mark Antony to incite a civil war by giving a passionate funeral oration. Brutus also makes the costly decision to attack Octavius and Antony's forces at Philippi and ends up committing suicide in one of the most dramatic/tragic scenes of the play.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is the main character, the protagonist, the tragic figure.   

The conspirators will not go ahead with assassinating Caesar without Brutus's approval and participation.  He alone carries the political weight to pull off the assassination.  He chooses to join the conspiracy, and takes over the leadership of the conspiracy. 

His leadership, however, not only leads to Caesar's assassination, but to the chaos that follows Caesar's death and to the failure of the conspiracy.  His leadership also leads to his own fall from glory and death.

Brutus makes poor decisions.  Ironically, the less noble Cassius turns out to be a much better decision maker than Brutus.  Cassius wants to kill Antony along with Caesar, but Brutus says no.  Cassius doesn't want to let Antony speak at Caesar's funeral, but Brutus vetoes him.  Cassius wants to maintain and hold a strong defensive position in the play's final battle, but Brutus orders the armies to attack with an offensive strategy.  These decisions lead to the failure of the conspiracy and to the deaths of the conspirators, including Brutus. 

Brutus is noble, but idealistic and possibly full of self-deception.  He is the focus of the play, however, and his decisions and actions create the tragedy in the drama.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team