Brutus - A True Hero

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Part of the appeal of Shakespeare's plays is the complexity of his characters; unlike fairytales that often show people as wholly good or wholly bad, Shakespeare's characters are far more realistic because the characters often embody traits that are both good and bad. Shakespeare shows that even people who are traditionally considered good are also bound to have flaws, and that even people who are generally seen as bad may have some redeeming qualities about them. This ambiguity is particularly prominent in Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, which presents its main characters Caesar, Brutus, and Mark Antony in such a mixed blend of virtuous and less-than-noble qualities that it makes it unclear which of the three is the true hero of the play. While most Western textbooks have cemented Julius Caesar's image as a heroic figure, Shakespeare adds in his presentation of Caesar qualities of excessive narcissism and physical weakness; thus, though the play is named after him, his image as the "hero" of the play has been compromised. Furthermore, the traditional image of Brutus as a cruel traitor to his close friend has also been reworked in Shakespeare's play. Although Brutus takes part in the conspiracy to murder Caesar despite his close ties to him, Brutus's actions are based on genuinely noble reasons. Brutus is the true hero of the play because, unlike the other conspirators, his motivation is based on keeping the Roman republic from coming under the rule of an emperor; furthermore, while Caesar and Antony both have virtuous qualities, their flaws are much less forgivable than that of Brutus's. Brutus’s motivation for killing Caesar is more noble than that of the other conspirators, who were driven by envy. In the beginning of the play, as Caesar rakes in adoration from the common people, Cassius reveals his jealousy over Caesar’s popularity and power: “it doth
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