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    Julius Caesar: Shakespeare Essay

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    After the murder of Julius Caesar both Brutus and Antony made a speech to the citizens of Rome. Brutus was one of the conspirators who murdered Caesar, he was also a good friend of his but he murdered him on the behalf of Rome, he makes a speech to explain to the citizens why he did it. Antony was a loyal friend of Caesar”s and he makes a speech after Antony to commemorate Caesar. Brutus allowed Antony to do this so that he would not seem to be harsh and ruthless. Brutus was an idealist who wanted everything to be truthful and right. It was a big mistake letting Antony speak last and leaving him to speak, because his speech had a big effect on the fickle crowd. If Brutus had spoken last, then maybe the crowd would have turned in his favour as they had done after he made his speech at the beginning.

    Brutus’ speech is a blank verse; it is flat and responsible sounding. It is not poetical and does not use many sentences that are hard to understand, because he is speaking to the common people. He speaks to the people from the pulpit so he is distant from them and higher than they are. He is and intellectual and I think he finds it hard to relate to the common people. He is physically constipated; he uses nothing to grasp the crowd’s attention like Antony. He doesn’t even use any gestures to show his emotions. There is a lack of passion and stagecraft in his speech, which makes it less powerful. Antony remarkably upstaged him.

    Brutus begins his speech ‘Romans, countrymen and lovers,’ this is important, because he is addressing the people who love their country and are proud to be Romans. This means that his reason for murdering Caesar will be understood, because they would all do the same for their country.

    ‘Believe me for mine honour, and have respect for mine honour that you may believe.’ He is saying in this sentence that he is an honourable man and they should believe what he says because of it. He asks them to respect him first so that they might look at the situation from a different point of view. If they dislike him then they might not believe what he is saying, but if he commands their respect first then they will look at it from his angle.

    ‘If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of Caesar’s, to him I say that Brutus’ love to Caesar was no less than his.’ He is stating the fact to the crowd that he did love Caesar as a dear friend. He uses the word ‘love’ which is emotive and can be very powerful if used in the right context as it is here. He says that he loved Caesar so his reason for killing him must be very good.

    ‘Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.’ Here he states his reason to the awaiting crowd. Again he uses the word ‘love’ to involve emotions in the reason for killing Caesar. His reason is patriotism at its peak. He loved Rome so much that he would kill one of his dear friends to save it. I think this statement would have commanded great respect from the crowd, because they are all proud Romans. In the film of Julius Caesar there was a big uproar from the crowd at this point to show their respect for him.

    ‘Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all freemen?’ This rhetorical question makes the crowd realise that Caesar was a tyrant and that he would have lead a dictatorship if he had not been killed. Of course no one would like to be slaves so it seems absurd not to have killed Caesar sooner. The crowd is very fickle and will believe anything that Brutus says. He uses the words ‘die’ and ‘live’ to show that if Caesar lives they die, and if Caesar dies they live.

    ‘As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him; but, as he was ambitious I slew him.’ He uses emotive language again to show his love for Caesar and his sadness for his death. He praises Caesar for his fortune and bravery to prove again that he respected and loved him, and again gives the reason for his murder.

    ‘Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If any, speak, for him have I offended.’ He uses lots of rhetorical questions to make the Romans realise that they are better off without Caesar. He asks if anyone is so uncivilised that they would not be part of their own country. No one would speak up for this, because no one regards themselves as uncivilised and no one, who lives in Rome, does not want to be considered a Roman. The repeating structure he uses with the rhetorical questions makes it powerful, because it has an impact on the crowd.

    Then Mark Antony enters with the body. In the film the whole crowd gasps and murmurs with shock. ‘Mark Antony, who, though he had no hand in his death, shall receive the benefit of his dying, a place in the commonwealth.’ Brutus shows his compassion for Antony as well even though he had no hand in Caesar’s death and would therefore be considered an enemy of the conspirators.

    ‘With this I depart: that, as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself when it shall please my country to need my death.’ He is replicating what Caesar did when he was offered the crown and then put a dagger to his throat. This causes a great uproar from the crowd, who all want him to live.

    When Brutus departs and Antony steps up to talk the crowd talk among themselves on the side of Brutus; ”Twere best he speak no harm of Brutus here!’ is one of the remarks given by the plebeians in the crowd.

    Antony’s speech is very different to Brutus’ speech. Antony establishes proximity with the crows instead of the higher distant approach of Brutus. He is emotional whereas Brutus just spoke emotive words and did not express it physically. He is a tactician and a manipulator; he wants the citizens to revolt in anarchy and riots so he uses things, such as Caesar’s will, to feed their anger and their greed. He uses tricks and devices to turn the crowd, such as when he turns away, apparently crying, to gain sympathy and also to hear what the crowd is saying. The body, I think, is the main prop, which unlocks anger and revenge in the crowd. Especially when he shows them the holes from the daggers in his cloke and the blood, which poured out of the wounds.

    Antony starts off his speech much the same as Brutus’; ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears! I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.’ Antony clearly stated here that he is not going to praise Caesar when later on in his speech he does. This is just a statement for the crowd to make them think that he is humble and a man of few words.

    ‘The noble Brutus hath told you that Caesar was ambitious; If it were so, it was a grievous fault, and grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.’ He refers to Brutus as ‘noble’. He uses this term ironically, because he can’t be noble if he has killed Caesar under some misconception of weather he was ambitious or not. His words imply that Caesar had a terrible end and that he must have died in pain which makes the crowd angry and sympathetic to Caesar.

    ‘For Brutus is an honourable man, so are they all honourable men.’ He uses the word ‘honourable’ to describe Brutus, but again this is with great irony, because he loved Caesar and he hates the conspirators for killing him so he couldn’t possibly think of them as honourable men. He keeps using this word to make the crowd disagree and to make them shout out in conflict to the word honourable. He wants them to realise that they are not honourable men at all, they are shameful and discreditable, because they killed Caesar. He uses lots of repetition of this word to build up the crowds outrage, ‘But Brutus says he was ambitious, and Brutus is an honourable 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; yet Brutus says he was ambitious and Brutus in an honourable man.’ Here Antony is telling the crowd how Caesar brought wealth and prosperity to Rome and how he wept for the poor. This is showing both Caesar’s strong side, in battles and wars, and Caesar’s soft side, in feeling sympathy for the poor. Again he states that Brutus is an honourable man. The more repetitive he is of this word the less we believe it.

    ‘You all did love him once, not without cause; what cause withholds you then to mourn for him?’ At the beginning of the play, two tribunes ask the plebeians on the street why they have forgotten Pompey and why the don’t mourn for his death. This part of Antony’s speech reminds me of that. The crowd is so fickle that it forgets the great leader as soon as he is dead and move on to the next icon.

    Then Antony breaks off from his speech to supposedly weep; ‘My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, and I must pause till it come back to me.’ He then listens to the crowd to make sure it is safe to say something against Brutus or Cassius. This open show of emotion makes the crowd sympathetic of Antony; ‘Poor soul, his eyes are red as fire with weeping.’

    Then Mark Antony brings out the will, which is a very clever tactic which appeals to the greed of the Romans; ‘But here’s a parchment with the seal of Caesar, I found it in his closet, ’tis his will – which, pardon me, I do not mean to read.’ He teases the crowd with this will, which he says will be full of riches for them. It’s like holding a bone before a dog just out of its reach. This is a very clever tactic to keep the crowd hanging off of his every word; ‘Being men, hearing the will of Caesar, it will inflame you, it will make you mad’

    The crowd grow impatient and start to shout out for Antony to read the will; ‘The will, the will, we will hear Caesar’s will!’ Antony cleverly uses the will to make the crowd say out loud bad things about Brutus and the conspirators. He uses their greed to fan the fires of hatred; ‘I fear I wrong the honourable men whose daggers have stabb’d Caesar, I do fear it.’ This turns the crowd around dramatically; ‘They were traitors. Honourable men!’

    At this point Antony comes down from the pulpit to the level of the common people. He comes face to face with them instead of keeping his distance like Brutus. He asks them to form a circle around Caesar so he can ‘show you him who made the will.’

    ‘That day he overcame the Nervii.’ Holding Caesar’s cloak he casually reminds the crowd of Caesar’s great accomplishments.

    ‘Look, in this place ran Cassius’ dagger through; see what a rent the envious casca made; through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb’d.’ Antony shows the crowd the holes that were made in the cloak from the daggers when he doesn’t actually know who stabbed where. This is just a tactic to show the crowd something that will shock them.

    ‘Then burst his mighty heart.’ Antony speaks of how Caesar’s heart burst when Brutus stabbed him. He makes it sound like Caesar died of grief from his best friend betraying him rather than by any physical means. This keeps up Caesar’s God like image.

    ‘O, what a fall was there, my countrymen.’ Antony makes it sound like when Caesar fell, so did the whole of Rome, because Caesar was the one holding it together with his superior strength.

    ‘I come not friends to steal away your hearts.’ Here Antony is being disingenuous, because he has already stolen away their hearts. He is trying to decieve them into thinking that he is not a clever man and that he is just like one of them; ‘a plain blunt man.’ ‘For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth, action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech to stir men’d blood.’

    ‘Why, friends, you go to do you know not what. Wherein hath Caesar thus deserv’d your loves? Alas, you know not! I must tell you then: You have forgot the will I told you of.’ The crowd is fickle and avaricious. They are easily changed and have a short attention and memory span. They had forgot Caesar’s will and were prepared to run riot already.

    Antony tells them what Caesar has left them. It is very democratic for he has left them money and his gardens. The crowd then riot for the loss of Caesar.

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    Julius Caesar: Shakespeare Essay. (2018, May 25). Retrieved from

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