Julius Caesar: An Inquiry into the Tragedy of Being Human

Serdar H. A.

Sekizinci Uluslararası BAKEA (Batı Kültür ve Edebiyat Araştırmaları) Sempozyumu, İstanbul, Turkey, 1 - 03 November 2023, pp.52-53

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: İstanbul
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.52-53
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University Affiliated: Yes


Julius Caesar: An Inquiry into the Tragedy of Being Human

Julius Caesar holds a unique place among Shakespeare’s tragedies. This can be attributed to the following aspects of the play. To begin with, the correspondence between the tragic hero and the title of the tragedy in Julius Caesar is weak, if not absent. Unlike his other tragedies which have eponymous heroes such as Macbeth and Hamlet, Julius Caesar has a tragic hero of a different kind: Brutus. Despite appearing to be the villain of the play, he bears the true characteristics of a tragic hero. Whereas Julius Caesar dies and leaves the play halfway through it, Brutus’s hamartia leads up to his tragic death which closes the play.Secondly, only in Julius Caesar does Shakespeare devote one single scene to one single character. It is Artemidorus. Shakespeare allows him to occupy the whole stage alone for one whole scene. He lets no one else in his entire collection of plays have the whole stage to himself for one whole scene. But Julius Caesar fails to recognize this and ignores him completely.Thirdly, only in Julius Caesar does Shakespeare allow for the use of prose. The switch from verse to prose occurs in one crucial scene where Brutus speaks in self-defense for his killing of Julius Caesar. Brutus’s choice of prose for his speech rests upon his hope that he might appeal to the reason of the public this way; however, it proves futile in the end. It should also be noted that apart from Brutus, nobody else in Julius Caesar, including the title character himself, is granted the freedom and the privilege to speak in prose.All three of them – Julius Caesar, Artemidorus and Brutus – fail to realize their projections of being a human in the sense that they have deemed proper. This makes it a play about the tragedy of being human. In this regard, this study aims to discuss in depth why being human is shown to be something tragic in Julius Caesar?

Keywords: Julius Caesar, Artemidorus, Brutus, tragedy of being a human