Brutus’ Tragic Flaw Essay
A tragic hero often has three important characteristics; his superiority whichmakes his destruction seem more tragic, his goodness which arouses pity, and histragic flaws. In the Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Brutus is an excellent example ofa hero with tragic flaws. Brutus is superior because of his close friendshipwith powerful Caesar and because of his popularity with the people. Theconspirators need Brutus to join the conspiracy because of his friendship withCaesar and his popularity among the people. Brutus idealism and goodness areevident throughout the play; he sees only the goodness in people and naivelybelieves others are as honorable as he.
Even his enemy, Mark Antony, comments onthese traits at the end of the play: This was the noblest Roman of themall. Brutus tragic flaws are idealism, honor, and poor judgment which aretaken advantage of at first by Cassius and later by Mark Antony. Brutus majorflaw is his idealism, his belief that people are basically good. His firstmisjudgment of character is of Casca who he believes should not be taken tooseriously.
Cassius disagrees and states that Casca just puts on this appearance:However he puts on this tardy form. This rudeness is a sauce to his good wit,which gives men stomach to disgest his words with better appetite. Brutusnext miscalculation of character involves Cassius motives. Brutus believesthat Cassius wants to assassinate Caesar for the good of Rome, while Cassiustruly wants power and a Rome not under Caesars control. Cassius manipulatesgullible Caesar with flattery of Brutus ancestors and of his honor. At thesame time, Cassius points out Caesars weaknesses: his deafness, his epilepticfits, and lack of swimming ability. Brutus continues his misjudgment when hereads the bogus letters and believes that these express the true feelings of allof Rome. The letter opens with this quote: Brutus, thou sleepst; awake,and see thyself. Had Brutus been a perceptive man, he would have rememberedCassius telling him to allow others to serve as mirrors. Brutus idealismcontinues to surface when he does not deem it necessary to take an oath of unityto the cause. He says, No, not an oath. If not the face of men, thesufferance of our souls, the times abuse if these be motives weak, break offbetimes. Brutus tries to cover the conspiracy with honor and virtue. He isonly fooling himself, because the other conspirators do not share his motives.
The turning point of the play and Brutus major tragic flaw concerns hisjudgment of Mark Antony. Brutus perceives Antony as gamesome and harmlesswithout Caesar while Cassius sees Antony as a shrewd contriver. When theother conspirators want to kill Antony along with Caesar, Brutus declares,For Antony is but a limb of Caesar. Lets be sacrificers, but notbutchers. Brutus wants to be honorable which leads to the conspiracysdestruction. Another one of his mistakes is allowing Antony to speak atCaesars funeral. Brutus sees no harm in allowing Antony to speak after he hasalready spoken. Antony effectively arouses the crowds emotions withCaesars body and will. His final fatal errors are meeting Antonys andOctavius army at Philippi and the mistiming of his armys attack, an eventwhich jeopardizes his armies. Brutus idealism leads to his downfall. Hisinnocence and purity of motives cause him to trust the motives of others. Hebelieves he is doing the right thing: what is best for Rome and the Romanpeople. The traits that allow him to be a successful private man are the veryones that hurt him in public life. He does not make quick and good judgmentsbecause of his ethical and moral views.
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