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Activity Overview

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is full of important literary elements for students to explore. One of these elements is the tragic hero, a protagonist who seems to be ill-fated, and destined for doom. In this play, Brutus is the tragic hero as he leads himself and many others to their ruin and deaths.

The Greek philosopher Aristotle first articulated the specific attributes or principles of a tragic hero. For the storyboard above, students can use a template to storyboard the qualities that make Brutus a tragic hero. The finished product outlines each of Aristotle's principles with a detailed explanation of the specific attributes.

Brutus - Tragic Hero

ATTRIBUTEDESCRIPTIONExample from Julius Caesar
HamartiaHero's Flaw that Causes Downfall Brutus’s love of Rome demands he do anything required to preserve it.
HubrisExcessive Pride Brutus was so certain of his justness in killing Caesar, he didn’t anticipate that the people of Rome would follow Antony against him.
PeripeteiaReversal of Fortune Antony turns the crowd against him during Caesar’s eulogy.
AnagnorisisMoment of Critical Discovery He discovers that the people of Rome have turned on the conspirators and they must prepare for battle.
NemesisFate that Cannot be Avoided Once Caesar has been killed, it is inevitable that Brutus will go to war with Antony. Caesar’s ghost foreshadows this defeat.
CatharsisAudience's Feeling of Pity or Fear After the Hero's Fall Antony finds Brutus’ body and requests that he be buried as a hero. The audience is sad that a noble man, with good intentions, suffered such a tragic fate.

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that shows how Brutus can be considered a tragic hero.

  1. Identify events of the play or characteristics of Brutus that fit into Aristotelian attributes of a tragic hero.
  2. Illustrate examples for Hamartia, Hubris, Peripeteia, Anagnorisis, Nemesis, and Catharsis.
  3. Write a short description below each cell that specifically relates Brutus as a tragic hero.

Lesson Plan Reference

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(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Tragic Hero Rubric Template
Create a storyboard that shows how the protagonist can be considered a tragic hero using Aristotle's Characteristics
Proficient Emerging Beginning Needs Improvement
Tragic Hero Characteristics
The six tragic hero characteristics are correctly identified and portrayed from the story. The explanation provided explains how the scenes depict each characteristic, and shows effective analysis.
Four or five tragic hero characteristics are correctly identified and portrayed from the story, or some of the elements may not be identified correctly. The explanations give context to the scene, but may be minimal, and there is some attempt at analysis.
Two or three tragic hero characteristics are correctly identified and portrayed from the story, or most of the elements are inaccurately depicted. The quotes and/or explanations are too minimal.
One or fewer tragic hero characteristics are correctly identified and portrayed from the story, or most of the elements are inaccurately depicted. The quotes and/or explanations are minimal or missing altogether.
Artistic Depictions
The art chosen to depict the scenes are accurate to the work of literature. Time and care is taken to ensure that the scenes are neat, eye-catching, and creative.
The art chosen to depict the scenes should be accurate, but there may be some liberties taken that distract from the assignment. Scene constructions are neat, and meet basic expectations.
The art chosen to depict the scenes is inappropriate. Scene constructions are messy and may create some confusion.
The art chosen to depict the scenes is too limited or incomplete.
English Conventions
Ideas are organized. There are few or no grammatical, mechanical, or spelling errors.
Ideas are mostly organized. There are some grammatical, mechanical, or spelling errors.
Ideas may be disorganized or misplaced. Lack of control over grammar, mechanics, and spelling reflect a lack of proofreading.
Storyboard text is difficult to understand.

How To Discuss Character Development Throughout the Story


Explain Character Development

Begin by explaining the concept of character development to students and why it is necessary to the plot. Before starting a discussion on character development, students can list down some of the main characters they would like to analyze with this concept.


Analyze Character Traits at the Beginning of the Story

Analyze the characters' earliest characteristics, personalities, and goals. What do they believe and want at the beginning of the story? What are their strengths and weaknesses? This creates a foundation for comprehending their evolution. It will also give the students a basis for comparison.


Recognize Catalysts

Describe the situations or occurrences that serve as impetuses for character development. These are the circumstances that test or strain the characters, forcing them outside of their comfort zones and forcing them to adapt. These catalysts can be easier to recognize if students employ the concept of a Hero’s Journey and read through the stages.


Highlight the Twists

Note the moments in the narrative where characters take important decisions that affect their development. Examine the significance of these instances and how they affect the course of the characters.


Use Textual Support

Provide textual evidence to back up your analysis. Quote sentences from situations, conversations, or passages that reflect the characters' growth. This gives your argument weight and credence. Students can also enhance their analysis by giving their own opinions about the character growth and the ending.

Frequently Asked Questions About Brutus as a Tragic Hero

How Does Brutus Go Through a Turnaround in His Fortune?

When Brutus' involvement in the killing of Julius Caesar results in unanticipated repercussions, his luck turns around. Instead of re-establishing the republic, Rome devolves into anarchy, and Brutus suffers both physical and emotional devastation.

What Happens During Brutus's Self-Realization Moment?

When Brutus admits his errors and understands how foolish he was, it is when he has a moment of self-realization. This insight occurs to him when he considers his decisions after experiencing loss in the war. During this moment, he recognizes his foolish involvement in Caesar’s death and how he was manipulated to do so.

Does Brutus' tragic error result in his demise?

Yes, Brutus' terrible weakness of idealism and his failure to recognize the effects of his deeds were key factors in his demise. His involvement in Caesar's murder triggers a chain of events that led to his tragic demise.

This Activity is Part of Many Teacher Guides

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