What makes a tragic hero






What makes a tragic hero?

In all of Shakespeare’s tragedies, the hero must suffer and in some if not most cases, die. What makes a tragic hero? One has to be a man of high estate: a king, a prince or an officer of some high rank.
It was common practice for Shakespeare to tell of his tragic hero through the voices of others around his hero. This way we can understand his conflicts, his struggles, and flaws. Usually the hero’s own actions and obsessions bring him to his tragic end. (Bradley 2)

v The calamities of tragedy do not simply happen, nor are they sent—
v The calamities of tragedy proceed mainly from actions, and those, the actions of men.
v Shakespeare’s tragic heroes are responsible for the catastrophe of their falls.
(Lewin 51)
Who is the tragic hero in Julius Caesar? I believe it to be Brutus, and not Caesar. Even though the play is actually about the fall of Julius Caesar. The difficulty of relating to Caesar in terms of words, actions and reputation can contribute to an understanding of Brutus’s behavior. (Fox 140) This is one of the reasons Brutus is the tragic hero.
Marcus Brutus is a servant, but also friend to Caesar. He has a strong bond with Caesar, but he also cares about Rome and his people. Brutus said to Cassiius in Act 1 “What means this shouting? I do fear the people do choose Caesar for their king…yet I love him well.” (I.II)
Brutus feels a great friendship with Caesar, but he is afraid that Caesar will turn away from Rome and his people once in power. “I know no personal cause to spurn at him… how that might change his nature…” (II.I) He has great respect for his friend Caesar even though he knows he must put him to death. Because of Brutus’s love of Rome’s people, he felt that executing Caesar was the wise thing to do. “If then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.”(III.II)
Brutus is a very important tragic hero in the play. He is of high ranking, (servant of Caesar) and he struggles with conflicts and flaws. (loving Caesar and trying to care for Rome’s people) His actions brings on the death of Caesar, this makes Brutus an excellent example of a tragic hero.
Shakespeare’s King Lear is an excellent example of two tragic heroes’. King Lear himself and his friend Earl of Gloucester. King Lear fits the typical tragic hero outline, he is of high ranking: a king. His tragedies are caused by his bad judgment, arrogance and foolishness. King Lear’s first mistake is giving up his throne and dividing his kingdom among his daughters. He creates a contest amongst the three daughters, in which they must declare their love for him. His daughters Goneril and Regan meet the challenge, but the third daughter Cordelia, does not. She does not express her love like her sisters have even though she is the only daughter who truly loves her father. She is banished by her father. “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is…to have a thankless child! Away, away!” (I.IV) This is King Lear’s first of many down falls.
In the sub plot Gloucester makes basically the same mistake King Lear makes. Gloucester is a good-natured but naïve man. Edmund, Gloucester’s illegitimate son creates a plan to get rid of his half brother Edgar and Gloucester falls easily for the plan. And Edgar must flee the castle for his life.
“It is the deed of men that bring about their own destruction.” Lear calls upon the great Gods, Edgar and Kent blame fortune, and Gloucester states that “The Gods kills us for their sport.” (IV.I) But in reality the calamities that befall both occurs because of their own actions. (Dover 52)
These two tragic heroes don’t realize they have committed a vast error until they have suffered. Lear’s suffering is so intense he goes mad realizing his mistake was giving his kingdom to his spoiled daughters and casting out the one daughter that truly loved him. After Gloucester is blinded and finds out the truth about his two sons, he attempts and fails suicide.