A Comparison Of Shakespeare’s Marcus Brutus To Other Tragic Heroes

1759 words - 8 pages

The tragic hero is one of literatures most used (and sometimes abused) characters. The classical definition of a tragic hero is, “a person with heroic or potentially heroic qualities. The person is doomed by the Gods or some other supernatural force to destruction or suffering. The hero struggles against the fate, but due to a personal flaw, ultimately fails in the battle against fate. It is my personal opinion that Brutus,as he is portrayed in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, is a tragic hero by this definition. I came to this conclusion due to the fact that Brutus shares many similarities with other tragic heroes in literature such as Oedipus, Hamlet, and Ralph from Lord of the Flies. All four characters share the two critical traits that are needed to be tragic heroes: a tragic flaw that eventually leads to a tragic downfall. The tragic hero was defined by Aristotle, yet the “invention” of the tragic hero goes to Sophocles.
Sophocles’ tragedy, Oedipus, made the tragic hero. In the play, a prophecy comes along that says the namesake character Oedipus will kill his father and impregnate his mother. Oedipus tries to avoid doing these things (which ironically makes Oedipus the only person without an Oedipus complex, but that’s besides the point). One day an old man tries to run Oedipus off the road with his chariot and in response, Oedipus kills him. Later, Oedipus solves the Riddle of the Sphinx (here’s a hint, its man), saving the city of Thebes. Oedipus in return is crowned king and receives the widowed queen as his bride. Everything is now just swell, until a mysterious plague comes over Thebes. Oedipus consults an oracle who says that the plague will continue until the murderer of the previous king is brought to justice. Oedipus eventually discovers that (plot twist) he killed the previous king who was in fact the man in the chariot years ago. Oh, and was also his dad. Which means that his wife, Jocasta, is actually his mom. Long story short, Jocasta hangs herself and Oedipus gouges out his eyes with her jewelry. In later plays, Oedipus’ sons kill each other and one of his daughters commits suicide. Most Dysfunctional Family Ever. Until the Kardashians… Anyway, Oedipus is clearly a tragic hero. He didn’t really deserve his fate, but he was doomed to it by his tragic flaw: his lust for knowledge. In Oedipus’ case, ignorance is bliss. If Oedipus hadn’t kept pushing to find what had caused the plague, everything would have been fine (besides, you know, the plague). Oedipus’ need for knowledge is what ultimately brought him to his tragic fate. Like Brutus, Oedipus looked to better his citizens. Both Brutus and Oedipus, killed rulers to protect their honor, only to lead to the death of themselves and their spouses. Another important similarity between the two heroes is the fact that neither of them realize that their actions are wrong until the very end. This is perhaps best shown when at the end of his life Brutus famously quotes, “Caesar, now be...

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