Julius Caesar Antony Persuasion Essay
In this essay I am going to explain and analyse Antony’s speech to show how he tries to persuade his audience. There are many features in Mark Antony’s speech which show he is trying to persuade the crowd. One of the many features he uses to persuade the audience is using memorable, quotable dialogue which endures the crowd and makes them want to listen an example of this is the line which starts this persuasive speech “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears. Some other enduring phrases are: “lend me your ears”, “The evil that men do lives after them”, “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”, “But Brutus is an honourable man. ” It is also a powerful speech, using both rhetorical patterns and emotive imagery to stir the crowd up against Caesar’s killers. Another thing Antony said to change the crowd’s mind and say Brutus was wrong without actually saying it was with some clever oratorical skills. Throughout the speech he repeatedly says “Brutus was ambitious. ” and “Brutus was an honourable man. ”, but he didn’t really mean it he was saying it sarcastically to test Brutus.
Each time he said this he changed the tone he was speaking in; from sincerity to irony and just mocking Brutus. He gradually built up the tone to make them have a bad opinion of Brutus, because if he just came up and said “Brutus is a horrible man, because he killed Caesar,” nobody would believe him they would think he was the horrible one who is insulting Brutus for doing a brave and honest thing in killing Caesar. He uses the same oratorical skills to call Brutus a liar when he says Caesar was not ambitious, Brutus says Caesar was ambitious, Brutus would not tell lies.
Since all three of these statements cannot all be true the speech edges the crowd towards believing that the third statement, Brutus would not tell lies, is false. He continues this when he says “I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke, but here I am to speak what I do know. ” Another way Antony persuades the crowd is when he moves on from talking about Brutus to talking about the people themselves, reminding them that “You all did love him once, not without cause”, complimenting their past judgement and questioning their current opinions – he is making them feel guilty for being happy and celebrating the death of Caesar.
Antony also has an advantage as Brutus spoke first to go against and rebut some of Brutus’ points and to question them to show that he is better than Brutus, and to show that Brutus did the wrong thing in killing Caesar. He is also persuasive as he is gentle, respectful, and even humble before the crowd, however Brutus is sterner and demands silence to be heard. Brutus boasts about his honour, allowing Antony to use this boast against him later.
Brutus asserts Caesar’s ambition, and uses this assertion to justify the murder. But Antony gives examples of Caesar’s lack of ambition and invites the crowd to form their own conclusion. Brutus accepts that his own love for Caesar causes him to weep, and it is this that Antony seizes upon later to whip up the anger of the crowd. He agrees that Caesar should be grieved and skilfully manipulates the crowd into believing that grief gives rise to a wish for revenge.
Antony develops his rhetoric through the speech and provides exceptional examples of the use of different elements of rhetoric, from the opening with exordium – ‘friends’ who should listen to another friend, ‘Romans’ who as citizens of that state should hear what another citizen has to say, ‘countrymen’ who can trust the word of a countryman through the sarcastic descriptions of Brutus and the conspirators as ‘noble’ and ‘honourable’, inviting the later disagreements from the crowd, to the three rhetorical questions designed to attack the substance of Brutus’ speech at the beginning of the scene.
He also makes the crowd feel to equal or greater status compared to him to make them feel good about themselves and to make them have a good opinion about him and listen to his points more and make himself seem like a good person. He also does this when he says “Bear with me. My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, and I must pause till it come back to me. By the end, the crowd is a mob bent on avenging Caesar, whilst Antony has maintained his promise not to criticise Brutus and the conspirators directly, or to speak ‘against them’. He ends with the appeal to the crowd to take ‘what course thou wilt’, having again humiliated himself as no great speaker.