Rhetorical Appeal In Julius Caesar

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When making an argument to sway someone, one must first recognize when speaking that it is not so much what one says so much as how they say it. This can be seen in none other than Shakespeare’s renowned Tragedy of Julius Caesar when Calpurnia attempts to tell Caesar to stay home while Decius Brutus attempts the opposite. In Act II, scene ii, both make their arguments to convince Caesar to attend, or not attend, the senate meeting on the Ides of March in which the conspirators plan to assassinate the leader. While Calpurnia approaches Caesar using an emotional appeal, Decius decides to use a more logical appeal to persuade the general to fall into his trap. Ultimately Decius proves to be more successful in his attempt than Calpurnia, due to…show more content…
While Calpurnia relies more on superstition and signs from the gods to support her assertion, Decius relies on the knowledge that the crown appeals more to Caesar than message from the gods and focuses on a logical argument. Calpurnia states that the reason for her concern is that Caesar’s life may be in danger however this has little appeal to Caesar who does not fear death and knows that his fate lies beyond his hands as seen when he states that ‘Seeing that death, a necessary end/Will come when it will come’ (Shakespeare.II.ii.26-27). Decius, on the other hand, is well aware that Caesar is consumed in his confidence and believes himself to be untouchable. Playing on this Decius re-envisions the dream to make it seem as though Caesar has revived Rome. He also uses a variety of positive diction in addition to a praising tone to appeal to Caesar’s prideful nature using phrases such as ‘smiling Romans,’ ‘great Rome,’ ‘Reviving blood’ and ‘cognizance’ to describe how the dream sees Caesar and his rule to empower the Roman Republic (Shakespeare.II.ii.48-51). Furthermore Decius appeals more to Caesar as his listener and acknowledges this by continuously using second person point of view to capture his attention. Reoccurring use of this second person can be seen as in ‘Your statue,’ ‘from you,’ ‘If you shall send,’ and ‘to your proceeding bids’ and the use of this styling aids Decius in influencing Caesar’s opinions (Shakespeare.II.ii.47-65). Calpurnia instead focuses on the use of imagery in an attempt to invoke fear in Caesar which proves to not interest him. Calpurnia relied on the belief that danger was a possibility without any tangible proof while Decius provided Caesar with an incentive he was aware the power-hungry Caesar would fall for. Ultimately Decius proves to be more successful due to accommodating to his audience
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