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.