The authors of literary works and plays endow each of their characters with certain character traits so that readers and viewers can evaluate the characters, understand their actions and thoughts, and compare them with other heroes. Some tragic heroes have faced a lot of misfortunes, and although they are initially hostile heroes, these misfortunes were provoked by their weaknesses. As such heroes, readers can compare Shylock and Brutus, who are both tragic but still differ in many ways.
Brutus is naive and shows more concern for other people than for himself. Undoubtedly, he is an opposing hero since he kills Caesar, but still, he was afraid of punishment, and therefore he was ready to retreat. Brutus says: “…And I will look on both indifferently, For let the gods so speed me as I love The name of honor more than I fear death” (Wace, 1938, 1.2.84-91). Shylock is evil, greedy, and mean, but in certain circumstances, namely that people mistreat him, he becomes cruel. A desire for revenge envelops him, but it is generated by the contemptuous attitude of people toward him. He says: “I would my daughter were dead at my foot and the jewels in her ear! Would she were hearsed at my foot and the ducats in her coffin!” (Shakespeare, 2010, A III, s i). The characters are shown to be truly tragic since they are negative in themselves, and they decide their fate, turning it in a bad direction.
Shakespeare, W. (2010). The Merchant of Venice. Simon & Schuster.
Wace, A. (1938). Roman de Brut. Société des anciens textes français.