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Marcus Brutus: Tragedy and the Tragic Hero within Shakespeares Julius Caesar.

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Introduction

MARCUS BRUTUS ? The Misinterpreted Messiah: Tragedy and the Tragic Hero within Shakespeare?s Julius Caesar. William Shakespeare?s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is a five-act Elizabethan drama that follows the guidelines of Aristotle?s Tragedy. Marcus Brutus qualifies as the tragic hero of the play because he is a man of high social status, well-intentioned throughout the play, who tragically partakes in the misguided assassination of Julius Caesar, leading him down a path of destruction until he ultimately undergoes peripeteia and experiences his downfall at the hand of hamartia. Brutus? greatest flaw is that, although he is kindhearted by nature, he is a poor judge of character, and as such is unable to apprehend the reality that not all men act out of the same noble and good intentions. Acting under false pretenses and blinded by the promise of nobility, he mistakenly joins Caius Cassius? machinations as a Messiah of the Roman peoples, only later to discover that his actions have steered the society he meant to liberate towards civil war. ...read more.

Middle

Although warped, this unwavering love for his country is a quality which appears even in his discourse to the Roman people, when given the chance to rectify his actions and reveal the goodness behind his true intentions: ?If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against / Caesar, this is my answer: not that I loved Caesar less, / but that I loved Rome more.? (3.2.20-23) At this point, the tragic hero has made his error in judgment, yet it can be very difficult to decide whether or not his actions were truly flawed. On one hand, the man has a strong sense of righteousness and can present powerful arguments to justify his action. On the other hand, his passionate sense of integrity can appear to be more a matter of pride than principle, inviting another possible tragic flaw: Hubris. Hubris is an inflated sense of privilege caused by an unrealistic estimate of one?s freewill, but Brutus never acts intentionally out of arrogance. ...read more.

Conclusion

Despite this, Cassius is devoted to Roman freedom, and is motivated by the belief that no Roman should be greater than another. Clever enough to twist Brutus? honorable mentality for his own benefit, he could not have put his plan in motion unless someone with the prestige of Brutus was to lead it. This is true for a variety of reasons. First, the conspirators want to have as many powerful men as possible on their side, so the public would be convinced that Caesar was killed with good reason and intentions. Second, because Brutus is one of Caesar?s closest friends, and Caesar would never suspect him of betrayal. The nobility and status attributed to Brutus by the plebeians would have been most important though, as Casca, a fellow conspirator, describes in 1.3: ?Oh, he sits high in all the people?s hearts, / And that which would appear offense in us, / His countenance, like richest alchemy, / Will change to virtue and to worthiness.? (1.3.159-62) As long as someone as well-respected as Brutus led the campaign against Caesar, Romans would look upon it as an act of virtue rather than one of envy. ...read more.

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