One Major concern of Julius Caesaris about rhetoric-the skill of persuading others with words. In Act III, Shakespeare pits Mark Antony's famous "Friends, Romans, Countrymen" speech (III, II) against Brutus' "Romans, Countrymen, and Lovers" earlier in the scene. Read both carefully. Most find Antony's speech more effective rhetoric (surely the crowd did!). Why is that? Does Shakespeare agree? Or disagree? Be able to argue from care attention to the text, not just your general impressions.
You might consider what makes for effective persuasion, and what Shakespeare might be saying about persuasion through presenting these two speeches. Break down as carefully as you can howeach speech works, whateach speaker is trying to achieve, and how successful each was.
Compose an essay dealing with these question. SEt out a thesis (that is your position) and defend your thesis with evidence from the text and your reasons and analysis. Please limit your answer to 2-3 pages (500-750 words, double spaced).
Here is my essay. I would appreciate advice, criticism and any typos that slipped through my proof read.
Julius Caesar is a play deeply concerned with the idea of rhetoric, or persuasion. The play is driven by persuasion. Cassius convinces Brutus that Caesar must die, setting the story in motion. The resolution of the plot is decided by Antony's speech to the plebeians. Shakespeare sees rhetoric as one of the most powerful forces in the world; able to topple kings and crown them. The play, Julius Caesar, examines what gives rhetoric its power by pitting Brutus's speech against Mark Antony's. Shakespeare shows Antony's rhetoric to be superior by the effect he has on the plebeians.
Brutus's speech fails to convince permanently win over the crowd because he does not understand them. His first failure is at the beginning of his speech when he asks the plebeians to, "Censure me in you wisdom, and awake your senses". It seems as though he does not realize that he is speaking to an angry mob. His argument is based on cold and calculating reason. He argues that the love of freedom is stronger than the ties of friendship. "Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more". This logic cannot sink deeply into an emotional mob. He asks the plebeians to "Believe me for mine honor, and have respect to mine honor that you may believe". He cannot use his honor as a reason for belief in his story when his honor is in question. Brutus fails to offer any proof of Caesar's ambition, the central point of his argument. He ends his speech with a verbal attack on any who disagree with him, essentially calling them cowards. This silences dissension temporarily but when the other side is presented it does not help his cause. Brutus's argument fails because he much less a man of the people than he would like to think.
Mark Antony's argument is a great piece of rhetoric. He successfully accomplishes his object of convincing the plebeians that Brutus is a traitor. He has mastered the use of emotion, subtlety and logic. He uses emotional phrases such as, "My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar" and "Oh judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts". Which give him a connection with the emotion the crowd is feeling at the death of Caesar. He begins not by attacking Brutus, but by praising Caesar. This serves to give him a greater common ground with the crowd, who must have also remembered the things that Antony spoke of. He provides many counter-examples to Brutus's claim that Caesar was ambitious. "I thrice presented him a kingly crown which he did thrice refuse". These counter-examples give warrant to the crowd's rejection of Brutus. His reference to Brutus as an, "honorable man" progresses from a simple statement to a mordant denunciation over the course of his speech. His indirect way of showing the crowd his feelings makes his speech more effective. The crowd is guided but not forced to his conclusions so that when they accept his argument they feel like it is their own. Antony is ultimately the better orator because of his understanding of the crowd.
Both Brutus and Mark Antony struggle for the support of the plebeians, who are portrayed as dumb and fickle. This is at the heart of Shakespeare's idea of rhetoric. Rhetoric is pure persuasion; it is not bound by the same rules as debate. Shakespeare does not pass judgment on the absolute validity of either argument in that scene. The viewer is left to decide for himself who is truly right, but there is no doubt that Antony is the better speaker.
You're on the right track. I don't know that you can say that Brutus's speech isn't effective at the beginning, though. The people do respond well to him. He has a good reputation, he offers to let the crowd kill him if they find him villainous, and they urge him to live. His rhetoric is pretty good. But he speaks first, and leaves once the crowd is calmed down. Antony comes along afterward, and speaks for a lot longer. He doesn't need to -- the crowd is ready to riot after the first part of his speech, but he gets a lot more air time, as it were. Part of the point here is that the crowd is so fickle, in need of a strong ruler.
Beyond that, I'd say you need to add more to your essay, and to break down the two speeches in much more detail than you do. What you have now is strong, but you could quote more extensively and add additional points. You only have ~500 words, and can go for half that again if necessary.
I also notice that you seem to be arguing that Mark Antony has the better rhetoric because the crowd responds to him more favorably. While it's certainly true that the only true test of persuasive speech is whether it, in fact, persuades, what your teacher wants to know is why Antony was more successful and what, if anything, Shakespeare means to say about rhetoric and persuasion by this example.
At present, your introduction reflects this wider concern, but your conclusion does not. So, in addition to providing more detail in your rhetorical analysis of each speech, be sure to return to the wider question of persuasion in the play in or just before your conclusion.
NOTE: Free essay sample provided on this page should be used for references or sample purposes only. The sample essay is available to anyone, so any direct quoting without mentioning the source will be considered plagiarism by schools, colleges and universities that use plagiarism detection software. To get a completely brand-new, plagiarism-free essay, please use our essay writing service.
One click instant price quote
Rhetoric is perhaps one of the oldest disciplinary regimes introduced on the human race. Rhetoric is the study of impressive writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion. In William Shakespeare's very famous play "The Tragedy of Julius Caesar" Marcus Brutus and March Antony, both Roman Senators at the time; give a speech at Julius Caesar's funeral. Both speakers introduce themselves to the crowd in their own unique way with the usage of prodigiously different rhetorical strategies, therefore arousing in the Roman crowd greatly distinct emotions and reactions. Antony's pathetic speech proofed to be the most effective.
He was able to turn the easily swayed crowd against the "honorable" conspirators, and he was able to portray Caesar as a non-ambitious caring and truly honorable roman man. In order to accomplish all his objectives Antony used in his speech a combination of verbal irony, repetition, connotation, and imagery rhetorical devices while strongly appealing to the plebeians "pathos" emotions. The rhetorical device Antony took hold of and made the central device throughout his persuasive argument was verbal irony. The use of verbal irony in his speech is so strong that it borders on sarcasm. "Friends, Romans, countrymen, ...
I come to bury Ceasar, not to praise him. " (Act III sc II 80 - 84) says Antony when introducing himself to the crowd. Knowingly that at that point Brutus was to them an "honorable" man he makes sure that he does not allow his emotions to take in and destroy his real intentions. He addresses the plebeians as "Friends" with the purpose of persuading them into believing that they were equal, and that he just wanted to say farewell to his passed, and dear friend Caesar. As his speech develops, Antony begins to plant the seed of doubt and anger in the plebeians hearts towards the conspirators. "The noble Brutus hath told you Caesar was ambitious... It was a grievous fault, And grievously hath Caesar answered it, ... they all are honorable men" (Act III sc II 84 - 91) Here very wisely Antony is telling the plebeians that Brutus's is an honorable, and noble man thus may excuses his wrongful act when killing Caesar.
These contradicting statements "Brutus an honorable man / killing Caesar was wrongful, " already begin to create confusion and distrust about the conspirators. Once he had aroused this feeling of doubt in the plebeians Antony was able to continue with his argument with much more strength and confidence. A point extremely important in Antony's eulogy was persuading the crowd to view Caesar as the most honorable man in Rome, whom was not ambitious as claimed by the conspirators. The evidence that Antony gave the crowd which persuaded them into believing that Ceasar was not indeed ambitious, was that "He hath brought many captives home to Rome, whose ransoms did the general coffers fill... a kingly crown... he did thrice refuse...
Brutus is an honorable man" (Act III sc II 95 - 116) Here Antony is implying to the crowd that if Caesar would " ve been ambitious as the honorable Brutus claims than Caesar wouldve kept all the treasures acquired at war for himself, plus he wouldve never rejected the crown offered to him three times. Antony's plans were working to maximum excellency. The crowd was torn, angry, and believing each and every word the noble Antony spoke. To make his speech even more effective Antony emphasizes on a mixture of repetition and connotations, which makes of his speech even more pathetically appealing. A word that is extremely stressed in Antony's speech is the word "Friends" which Antony refers to the crowd.
This word has connotations of confident, familiar, and trust which make of Antony's image in the commoner's eyes a positive one. The word "honorable" is excessively present in Antony's speech too. At first, Brutus and the rest of the conspirators are thought highly of for being honorable men. Nevertheless, with the manipulative strength that he continuously uses this word to describe Brutus, the word becomes petty, no longer symbolizing loyalty and good for the commoners. The commoner's begin to think that Brutus was not distant of this word at all.
This reaction from the commoner's was very positive for Antony for Brutus's and the conspirators honor was the only trait that excused them for murdering Caesar. "Bloody" is another word Antony uses with great consistency throughout his speech because of their negative, gruesome, tragic connotations. "While bloody treason flourished over us" (Act III. sc II 193) These connotations along with the tone in which they are told create a feeling or thought of sadness, and atrocious events in the audiences souls. This growing emotion in the commoner's makes the respect and honorable view they had for Brutus and the conspirators slowly fade more into nothing more than the want for revenge. The usage of the rhetorical device, imagery was also a powerful turning point in Antony's eulogy. "Through this the will-beloved Brutus stabbed, and as he plucked his cursed steel away, mark how the blood of Caesar followed it" (Act III sII 177 - 179) The form in which Antony exhibits the mantle which covered the dead body of Caesar, and explain to the commoner's the way in which he was recklessly and wrongfully killed he was able to incite in them a rage inexplicable with words. Antony specifies to his listeners which one of the conspirators were responsible for the many stabs and wounds on Caesars body. Brutus being responsible for the one right on Caesars heart.
Following this image Antony also makes sure that the crowd would believe that Brutus had committed this atrocious murder not for the sake of Rome but for the sake of his own personal ambition. The testament was also another very good device Antony used to further alter the emotions of his listeners. .".. gentle friends... under Caesars seal. To every Roman citizen he gives... seventy-five drachmas...
all his walks, private arbors, and new-planted orchards, ... he hath left them you and to your heirs for ever... " (Act III sc II 253 - 263) This will immediately destroyed the honor ability of the conspirators, this image demonstrated to the plebeians that Caesar was never ambitious as stated by the conspirators. This was the last drop, the Roman crowd left Antony enraged by the wrongful crime committed by the impostors, liars, and murderers of the conspirators and ready avenge Caesars death. March Antony's speech is truly one of the most passionate and moving speeches of all time. It is amazing how Antony was able to take hold of each and every word he said and in the tone they were said, to further pathetically persuade the crowd into siding with him, meanwhile maintaining his true intentions unrevealed. In the end of his remarkably emotional speech he was able to accomplish all of his goals.
He turned the crowd against Brutus and the conspirators, plus he was able to convince the crowd that Caesar was not the ambitious one but that instead Brutus was. Irony, repetition, and imagery were just three of the rhetorical devices Antony used to convey his wants and needs to his listeners.
Free research essays on topics related to: killing caesar, brutus is an honorable, julius caesar, act iii sc, verbal irony
Research essay sample on Rhetorical Analysis Of Antony Speech