Julius Caesar

by: William Shakespeare

Protagonist

Main ideas Protagonist

Despite its title, Brutus serves as the protagonist of Julius Caesar. Caesar dies midway through the play and has little influence over the events that unfold. Brutus, however, stands at the very center of the action and helps instigate the play’s main events. For instance, even though Cassius and his co-conspirators have already fashioned a plot to take Caesar’s life, it isn’t until Cassius convinces Brutus to join the conspirators’ ranks that the plot has a chance of working, mainly because Brutus’s respectability could legitimize the assassination. Brutus serves as a tragic protagonist, in that he is a character with an important and consequential position in his world. The Roman public widely regards Brutus as an honorable man, and Brutus himself identifies as someone with a strong commitment to honor: “I love / The name of honor more than I fear death” (I.ii.). Brutus is thus fundamentally motivated by his ethics, and he joins the assassination plot out of a desire to protect Rome from a possible tyrant. However, he also has tragic qualities that blind or mislead him into mistakes, mainly his inability to see that others are not as honorable. Despite his good reputation and virtuous motivations, Brutus is tempted into making a dark choice and tries to seize an opportunity that he shouldn’t. Brutus’s choice to kill Caesar leads to destruction in the world around him, and inevitably to his own destruction.