In this essay I will be examining the two funeral speeches; additionally I will be analysing the content of each; and I will be describing why Anthony was more successful than Brutus in swaying the crowd. The funeral speeches are made by Brutus and Anthony, both for the Caesar’s funeral, I will quickly summarise the events that have happened leading up to Caesar’s death; Caesar had recently killed Pompey; Cassius becomes worried that when Caesar does become leader of Rome, he will bring it to its knees; Cassius decides to make a conspiracy against Caesar, and begins to persuade people to join it.Order now
He manages to recruit Casca, Cinna, Metellus Cimber, Decius Brutus, Trebonius and Caius Ligarus; they then stab him at the Capitol, but they decide not to kill Anthony as they believe he is, “But a limb of Caesars”, which means that he can only function with Caesar around, and obviously with him dead they believe that Anthony is nothing. We know that Anthony has been successful in conquering the crowd due to the fact that they are all shouting appraisal of Caesar just as they were when he was victorious over the great Pompey and they are already seeking to revenge him.
Else where in the text (in the beginning), there is evidence of the Plebeians changing their allegiance when in Act One Scene One, Murellus says to a companion, ” Why have you changed so suddenly into Caesars favour, when once you were climbing to the top of the house just to catch a glimpse of Pompey”. So this is evidence they changed their trust into him because he beat the old and aged Pompey; so it shows how easily the Plebeians change their loyalty from one person to another.
We know that Brutus is a good friend of Caesars, this is shown in the text, we also know that Brutus conspired against Caesar from the goodness of his heart, and he had Rome’s best interests at heart. We also know that he was a republican, so he didn’t want a king, which is why he got rid of Caesar; as he thought that he would eventually take the crown and become the monarch of Rome.
Anthony is also one of Caesar’s good friends; in the beginning of the play he is running the Lupercal race, and it is superstition that if a runner touches a woman here infertility will be cured; so Caesar tells Anthony to touch his wife so she can be cured. We also know Anthony is quite high up in the senate so he has power in vital decisions to do with power; he has enough power to offer the crown to Caesar, which was refused thrice, yet Brutus, takes this as ambitious.
The conspiracy all started when the crown was offered, Casca was there and reported back to Cassius, he stated that there was something in Caesar’s eyes that showed ambition. So Cassius took it as a sign and believed that Caesar wanted the crown. Although Anthony is one of the high senators, he still looks up to Caesar as a leader and respects him like a leader, this is shown when the race is going on he says, “I shall remember: when Caesar says, ‘Do This,’ it is performed,” so this quote is showing us that Anthony looks at Caesar as a leader because he takes orders from him; before that Anthony addresses him as “his Lord”.
In Brutus’ speech, his love of Rome comes out again, as he talks to the Plebeians about him only doing what was right for Rome, we know him as quite a cautious character; this nature of his came out in his speech, when he asks the crowd at regular intervals if he has offended them, and when it was silent he would start as he meant to finish. Anthony’s speech is flooded with great emotion; this is the way he gets the crowd on his side.
Anthony’s personality does come out a little; it is his crudeness which shows the most, as he used sarcasm and irony in the speech to persuade the crowd away from Brutus’ side. The two speeches varied widely, Brutus gets the crowd with simple persuasion, he does this by explaining to the Plebeians that he did what he did because it was necessary and for the good of Rome; also that he loved Rome as much as he did Caesar. He also uses the question, “If any, speak, for him have I offended;” this question is used so Brutus can check if the crowd is still on his side.
He then pauses, to let the crowd speak, and he gets a positive outlook amongst the crowd. Brutus made his speech effective in persuading the people by using tone and rhetorical devices. Brutus was compassionate when referring to how he loved Caesar as much as Caesar’s friends of his speech. Brutus was showing compassion on lines 18 – 20 where he said, “If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar’s, to him I say that Brutus’s love to Caesar was no less than his. Brutus said this to help the people understand the sorrow he felt inside about the killing of his friend, although he felt bad he doesn’t regret his actions as shown on lines 21-22, where he said, “I weep for him, but I rejoice for Rome,” so this is telling us that he does feel sorrow, but it was necessary for Rome.
Anthony uses a different method, he doesn’t simply persuade he also used sarcasm and irony (as mentioned previously) with that he says, “Brutus says Caesar was ambitious, yet Brutus is an honourable man. Anthony doesn’t actually say anything bad about the conspirators until he knew the crowd was with him because he knew that saying dreadful things about Brutus would result in the crowd turning against him.
The other major factor in Anthony winning was bringing the body of Caesar in; so Anthony used both physical and mental means in getting the crowd. Another physical thing he used was Caesars will; that was the key in keeping the crowd listening, it was like bait to them. The language used varied considerably, Anthony used words that dug at the Plebeians’ emotions, and Brutus used words to convince them that he was truly a lover of Rome.
What Anthony had to do was praise the conspirators first, because they were the “new” Caesar in their eyes, and then explain to the crowd what they had done wrong, and each thing that they had done, would have sounded awful, so this in turn led them to go on Anthony’s side; as was mentioned before Anthony’s entrance is key, because he stirs their emotions when he brings Caesar in, this effectively builds him a strong base on which to build his speech, and this praise for the conspirators is a strong foundation, as if he was to jump straight into the condemning of Brutus, his “house” would collapse, in this case he would be mobbed by the Plebs and the conspirators would have won.
As mentioned before the “prop” that Anthony uses is a vital one; the “prop” is Caesars dead bleeding body, which immediately has an emotional effect on the crowd, but they take pity on Caesar, they don’t go onto his side immediately as they now believe that Brutus is the new Caesar. The very reason that Brutus went first was why he was so influential on the Plebeians; as we saw earlier in the play the Plebeians were all on Pompey’s side until he died, then they switched over to Caesar, then he died and the person to kill him was the Plebeians favourite; so Brutus had that advantage over Anthony before he even started his speech.
Anthony on the other hand had a real task on his hands, because not only did he have to actually persuade the crowd, he also had to keep them listening, he was aided slightly by Brutus who asked the crowd foolishly to listen to him, but the other bit was the will, which served two purposes, one was to keep the crowd listening and baited; the other was another major factor in them turning to Caesar’s side once again, as in his will he gave the Plebeians his wealth and land.
An Elizabethan audience would most certainly have appreciated the rhetoric more than a modern audience, due to the fact that the Elizabethans had lessons in rhetoric, so their interpretation and understanding of the speeches would have been much sharper compared to the modern type. I can conclude this essay by giving credit to the author of this wonderful play, William Shakespeare; I am crediting him because I believe that English would not be where it is now if it wasn’t for people like Shakespeare.