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Analyzing Rhetorical Devices in Julius Caesar
Transcript of Analyzing Rhetorical Devices in Julius Caesar
Brutus speaks to the plebians of Rome to tell them why he killed Caesar so that they will not turn on him. He talks about how he killed Caesar, not for his own personal want, but for the well-being of the state of Rome. He tells the people that allowing Caesar to rule and fulfill his ambition would mean the end of democracy and freedom in Rome.
Antony tells the Plebeians that they should not disaprove of Brutus and his actions, however they still should remember Caesar for the great leader and war hero that he was.
Rhetorical Devices in Antony's Speech
Whose speech was more effective?
After the Plebeians hear both Brutus’ and Antony’s speeches, it is obvious that they are more effected and motivated by Antony’s emotional and manipulative speech. After bringing out Caesar’s dead body, describing what an “honorable” man he was, and reading his will to the people, he convinces the people of Rome to avenge Caesar’s death with him. In Act III, Scene iii, the Plebeians are so overwhelmed with the urge to kill every man that had a hand in killing Caesar, they kill an innocent man, simply because he has the same name as one of the conspirators, Cinna. The complete chaos and ensues in Rome may not look seem like a positive reaction to Antony’s speech, but it is in fact exactly what he wants, which is shown through his soliloquy. Through the lack of almost no reaction to Brutus’ logical and ineffective speech, it is obvious that Antony’s speech has a much more of an effect over the people of Rome. As speeches as a whole, this shows that emotional appeal causes a much bigger reaction than logic and reason.
Rhetorical Devices Used by Brutus
1. Rhetorical questions
"Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men?" (Shakespeare, III, ii, 24-26)
Brutus uses this rhetorical question to show the Plebeians that he killed Caesar so they wouldn't be oppressed and treated like "slaves", but instead be free from his tyrannical rule.
Antony repeats the word "ambitious" a significant amount of times. Through the repitition of "ambitious", Antony mocks Brutus trying to justify his actions by saying that Caesar was too ambitious. Every time he uses that word, he describes an honorable trait of Caesar that contradicts Brutus' accusation. For example, he mentions that Caesar refused the crown three times, and asks the Plebeians whether if that would be considered ambitious.
"Censor me in your wisdom, and awake your senses that you may the better judge," (Shakespeare, III, ii, 17-18)
Brutus is telling the Plebeians that they need to take a moment to rationally look at the situation and how it will affect Rome positively.
"As Caesar loved me, I weep for him. As he was fortunate, I rojoice at it. As he was valiant, I honor him. But, as he was ambitious, I slew him," (Shakespeare, III, ii, 26-28).
Brutus uses parallelism to show the contrast between how he loved and respected him as a person, and how his one tragic flaw, his ambition, would lead to his death.
"If any, speak, for him who I have offended," (Shakespeare, III, ii, 35-36).
Through Pathos, Brutus shows the Plebeians that he still cares for them, and that their opinions still matter to him. He uses this so the people of Rome will see that he is still an honorable and noble man.
Antony repeats the word "honorable" several times in his speech. He is doing this in order to emphasize Brutus' honorability, and make the Plebeians question it.
"My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, and I must pause till it come back to me." [He weeps] (Shakespeare, III, ii, 116-117)
Antony uses Pathos to draw emotions out of the Plebeians. This quote emphasizes how much Antony loved Caesar, and the sadness he is feeling now that he is dead. Antony's grief makes the people of Rome sympathetic to him, which leads to them believing that the murder of Caesar was heartless and insensitive.
"When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept; Ambition should be made of sterner stuff," (Shakespeare, III, ii, 100-101).
Antony says this to show that Caesar was a good leader who cared much about his people. Brutus justified the murder by saying that Caesar was too ambitious, but this detail that Antony tells the Plebeians refutes Brutus' point. When a great leader is saddened by the misfortunes of his people, it shows that his cares and is sympathetic towards them. Through sharing Caesars' sympathetic nature towards the people of Rome, Antony makes the Plebeians feel that the conspirators had wrongfully murdered a good man. This incites anger in the crowd for Caesar's death.
"Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears," (Shakespeare, III, ii, 82).
Antony begins his speech by adressing the Plebeians as "friends" and Romans", and asking them to listen to what he has to say. By calling them "friends", he is trying to show that they can trust him, therefore proving his credibility. In addition, adressing the entire crowd as "Romans" also makes the citizens feel like Antony, as well as themselves, are all people of Rome. This creates the feeling among the Plebeians that Antony is on their side, and that they can trust him and what he says.
"Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?" (Shakespeare, III, ii, 99).
In his speech, Antony gives several examples of how Caesar was a good and honorable man and leader, then repeats that Brutus said he was ambitious. Through this quote, Antony is asking the Plebeians to question whether or not they believe that Brutus actually had a sufficient reason to kill Caesar. Because he tells reasons why Caesar isn't ambitious, he succeeds in making the people of Rome feel like the murder was immoral and unethical, thus stirring up anger among his audience.