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
believes 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,
which 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
of 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.

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Shakespeare