Brutus Tragic Flaw


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Brutus' tragic flaws are his nobility, trust and the inability to wrong people. Brutus is the tragic character in Julius Caesar because of his nobility and because he does all his deeds for the good of Rome. Learn how to determine what was Brutus' Tragic Flaws by reading other student's essays.

Brutus Tragic Flaw

Brutus the Tragic Hero in the Play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare



As Aristotle once said, “A man cannot become a hero until he can see the root of his own downfall.” This quote is significantly relevant to both the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare and modern-day society because it shows that to be a hero one should be able to understand their flaws. Unfortunately, the inability to be self-critical of oneself that many of the characters in Julius Caesar experience causes them to meet a tragic fate. In his play, Shakespeare shows that tragic heroes often face certain errors in judgment can inevitably lead to a person’s own destruction. A Shakespearean tragic hero is a high ranking noble person who fails to reach his goal usually because of a tragic flaw, which is a character flaw that first seems to make a person well renowned, but ultimately leads to their defeat. Sometimes, a tragic hero can have tragic recognition before their doom. Tragic recognition is when the hero is able to realize and acknowledge his flaws. In the play, Julius Caesar, the main characters, Julius Caesar and Marcus Brutus, show the different traits of an ambitious tragic hero; both character’s personal quests to maintain their reputations resulted in their tragic flaws destroying themselves.

At the beginning of the play, Caesar, a high ranking nobleman who is ambitious in various ways, refuses to even consider reading Artemidorus’s warning letter as he decides to put the worries of the people before his. Despite Artemidorus’s humble pleads, Caesar states that “What touches ourselves shall be last served” because his pride is masked by false humility from his ambition and desire to be king (3.1.8). It is this pride that inevitably leads to Caesar’s death. Through this event, it is easy to infer that Julius Caesar fits into the traits of a tragic hero because his character flaw prevents him from understanding what was happening around him. However, the most obvious example of Caesar’s flaws helping him is when he puts his role as a leader above all else and refuses Metellus Cimber’s plea to pardon his brother. He says that he will never change his mind, as he is a man who sticks to his word. In spite of numerous senators begging him, he describes himself as “constant as the Northern star, / of whose true fixed and resting quality / There is no fellow in the firmament” (3.1.66-68).

Regrettably, Caesar’s stubbornness and pride in both himself and his decisions, the Roman senators view him as power-hungry and ambitious which leads to his demise. While Julius Caesar cares deeply for the Roman people, his apparent ambition leads him to being killed in cold-blood. Antony even shows how much Caesar cared for everyone in Rome by mentioning in his soliloquy that ‘when that the poor have cried, / Caesar hath wept’ (3.2.100). Even after Brutus conveys the message that Caesar was ambitious, Antony takes care to remind the Roman people of how kind a leader Caesar was. Unfortunately, Caesar never has the opportunity to experience a tragic recognition that helps him understand that his fatal flaw was his arrogance and ambition. Although, in his final moments, Caesar realizes that his closest friend, Brutus, was the one who betrayed him.

In the play, Shakespeare give us two possible tragic heroes, but shows Brutus to be a better choice because Marcus Brutus fits the role of a tragic hero as he is an eminent leader and noble citizen of Rome whose downfall occurs due to a fatal flaw in his own character; a flaw which is typically considered to be a exceptional quality to possess. Brutus is a well respected man senator whose love for Rome is undoubted because his integrity is strong and his principles are firm. When Brutus tells Cassius, “For let the gods so speed me as I love / The name of honor more than I fear death,” (1.2.95-96) it shows that he values honor above all else. His sense of honor and love for his country draws him into the conspiracy to murder Caesar, and once he becomes a part of it, his downfall becomes inevitable. Brutus joins the conspiracy under the impression that he is preventing Caesar’s tyranny and saving Rome because he had a sense of loyalty for his country that surpasses his loyalty to his friend, Caesar. He also trusts the motives of the other conspirators, as he believes that all the conspirators are assassinating Caesar not for their selfish needs, but for the urgency to help the country.

Brutus is easily manipulated by Cassius through carefully crafted deception because he is unable to recognize fraud within others. Brutus fits the role of tragic hero as well, because soon after the assassination, Brutus is the only character who has the opportunity to have tragic recognition, which is a moment that helps him acknowledge his mistake. When Brutus recognizes that he has been manipulated by the conspirators, he is finally able to understand that their intentions are not pure and that it is his fault for being too naive and blindly trusting them. After realizing the truth behind the murder, Brutus warns Cassius by saying, “You have done that you should be sorry for” (4.3.74). Throughout this quote, Brutus’s remorse towards Caesar is shown as he realizes his mistake by blindly trusting the conspirators and murdering Caesar. Brutus’s downfall occurs quickly thereafter because he commits suicide to avoid capture in a battle against Caesar’s friend, Mark Antony. At the play’s conclusion, however, Shakespeare reminds his audience that one should be careful with making assumptions about their own strengths, as it can lead to a tragedy similar to Brutus.

In Julius Caesar, Caesar’s fatal flaw is shown to be his excessive self-pride, which makes him ignore warnings from the gods and thus invites havoc. One example is when Caesar refuses to listen to the soothsayer who warns him to beware the ides of March, Caesar responds by saying “He is a dreamer. Let us leave him. Pass” (1.2.29). His pride stops him from stepping down and listening to the words of a common and wise man. This same pride and ambition to gain the crown, makes him ignore Calpurnia’s plea to stay home. Without taking into consideration all of Calpurnia’s pleas, he says that “Caesar shall forth. The things that threatened me / Ne’er looked but on my back. When they shall see / The face of Caesar, they are vanished” (2.2.10-12). Due to the thought of what other people might think he is, he hurries to his fate instead of listening to the people around him, which may have saved his life. Caesar’s ambitions stand out compared to Brutus’s honor because of how he works to keep his reputation intact, but at the same time shows that he does not care as much about Rome as he does himself. On the other hand, Brutus’s honor is much more difficult to notice as it is a trait which is considered to be a good virture. Moreover, Brutus contradicts himself in the name of honor, when he sacrifices a great friend for what he thinks will help improve Rome. Ultimately, both Caesar and Brutus are killed due to their flaws and inability to recognize them in the first place.

Although Julius Caesar is a tragic play, it teaches us that even in real life, there is no such thing as the perfect person because everyone has flaws that make us human. Sometimes, it can be difficult to decide on certain factors, but when one is able to make clear judgments on negative issues such as our flaws, there is a possibility to change for the better. For example, there will be times when one is criticized by many for a certain reason, but if one takes a moment to analyze where they went wrong, they improve and correct themselves for the better. Essentially, we must try to be the best version of ourselves while being open-minded so that we may prevent ourselves from being blinded from our own shortcomings.

Brutus Tragic Flaw

Brutus Tragic Flaw

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Brutus’ Tragic Flaw



A tragic hero often has three important characteristics; his superiority which makes his destruction seem more tragic, his goodness which arouses pity, and his tragic flaws. In the Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Brutus is an excellent example of a hero with tragic flaws. Brutus is superior because of his close friendship with powerful Caesar and because of his popularity with the people. The conspirators need Brutus to join the conspiracy because of his friendship with Caesar and his popularity among the people.

Brutus idealism and goodness are evident throughout the play; he sees only the goodness in people and naively elieves others are as honorable as he. Even his enemy, Mark Antony, comments on these traits at the end of the play: This was the noblest Roman of them all. Brutus tragic flaws are idealism, honor, and poor judgment which are taken advantage of at first by Cassius and later by Mark Antony. Brutus major flaw is his idealism, his belief that people are basically good.
His first misjudgment of character is of Casca who he believes should not be taken too seriously. 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, hich gives men stomach to disgest his words with better appetite. Brutus next miscalculation of character involves Cassius motives. Brutus believes that Cassius wants to assassinate Caesar for the good of Rome, while Cassius truly wants power and a Rome not under Caesars control.

Cassius manipulates gullible Caesar with flattery of Brutus ancestors and of his honor. At the same time, Cassius points out Caesars weaknesses: his deafness, his epileptic fits, and lack of swimming ability. Brutus continues his misjudgment when he reads the bogus letters and believes that these express the true feelings of all f Rome. The letter opens with this quote: Brutus, thou sleepst; awake, and see thyself. Had Brutus been a perceptive man, he would have remembered Cassius telling him to allow others to serve as mirrors.
Brutus idealism continues to surface when he does not deem it necessary to take an oath of unity to the cause. He says, No, not an oath. If not the face of men, the sufferance of our souls, the times abuse if these be motives weak, break off betimes. Brutus tries to cover the conspiracy with honor and virtue. He is only fooling himself, because the other conspirators do not share his motives. The turning point of the play and Brutus major tragic flaw concerns his judgment of Mark Antony.

Brutus perceives Antony as gamesome and harmless without Caesar while Cassius sees Antony as a shrewd contriver. When the other conspirators want to kill Antony along with Caesar, Brutus declares, For Antony is but a limb of Caesar. Lets be sacrificers, but not butchers. Brutus wants to be honorable which leads to the conspiracys destruction. Another one of his mistakes is allowing Antony to speak at Caesars funeral. Brutus sees no harm in allowing Antony to speak after he has already spoken. Antony effectively arouses the crowds emotions with Caesars body and will.
His final fatal errors are meeting Antonys and Octavius army at Philippi and the mistiming of his armys attack, an event which jeopardizes his armies. Brutus idealism leads to his downfall. His innocence and purity of motives cause him to trust the motives of others. He believes he is doing the right thing: what is best for Rome and the Roman people. The traits that allow him to be a successful private man are the very ones that hurt him in public life. He does not make quick and good judgments because of his ethical and moral views.

Brutus Tragic Flaw

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