Rhetoric In The Tragedy Of Julius Caesar

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The period of time after Caesar’s death was a time of turmoil. The funeral and speeches afterwards caused even more chaos and disorder. During those speeches, rhetoric was used to convince and persuade the audience to the speaker’s side of the problem. In The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, the use of rhetoric by the main characters influences the amount of power being dominated in the face of wavering, uncertain alliances.
Rhetoric was an influential force in both Brutus’ and Antony’s eulogies. This force was presented to the audience by the power of the strong, contrasting opinions of both men. During Brutus’ eulogy, he tries to convince his audience, the people of Rome, that he killed Caesar because he loved him, but he
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Antony begins by stating the reasons why Caesar wasn’t ambitious, but a kind, loving friend. For example, “He was my friend, faithful, and just to me,/But Brutus says he was ambitious,/And Brutus is an honorable man./He hath brought many captives home to Rome,/Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill./Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?/When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept;/Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.” (III.ii.94-101). By saying this, Antony informs the audience of his and Caesar’s relationship and mocks the way Brutus repeated how Caesar was ambitious frequently in his eulogy. Antony then provided evidence of the opposite. He says that, although he kept captives for ransom, he cries for the poor. He questions the ambitiousness of Caesar in that way. Antony relies heavily on pathos because he’s trying to get empathy from the people, which, of the two men, turns out to be the most successful approach. Antony uses an appeal to pity as well. For instance, “O judgment, thou art fled to brutish beasts,/And men have lost their reason!-Bear with me;/My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,/And I must pause till it come back to me.” (III.ii.114-177). After this part of his eulogy to Caesar, Antony weeps, causing a wave of pity in his audience, as designed. This action causes a rush of compassion and sympathy, giving Antony’s eulogy a…show more content…
But, where Antony’s was successful, Brutus’ eulogy wasn’t as much. Using all of the rhetorical appeals, but mainly pathos, Antony managed to persuade the people that get angry and rise up against the conspirators. Brutus’ speech, consisting mainly of logos and ethos, only spoke of how and why Caesar’s dead, then he made his audience stay and listen to Antony’s speech, expecting it to not manipulate the opinions of the people so easily. At the end of Brutus’ eulogy, the plebeians praise Brutus and say how alike he is to Caesar. He has to beg them to stay and listen to Antony’s eulogy. For example, the plebeians say, “Give him a statue with his ancestors./ Let him be Caesar./ Caesar’s better parts/Shall be crowned in Brutus. ” (III.ii.52-55). and Brutus replies, “I do entreat you, not a man depart,/Save I alone, till Antony have spoke.” (III.ii.66-67). The plebeians are easily persuaded, gullible, and susceptible to other, more influential and powerful people. This fact, in and of itself, might have been the reason why Antony was able to get the people fired up after his speech, and not the words or actions of the speech. Nevertheless, Antony essentially tells the people to revolt and get revenge. For instance, “And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony/Would ruffle up your spirits and put a tongue/In every wound of Caesar that should move/The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny.”
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