A look into the contrasts between two of the greatest monologues that Shakespeare penned.
Image via Wikipedia
In William Shakespeare’s tragedy Julius Caesar, Marcus Brutus and Marc Antony both give speeches when presiding over Caesar’s funeral. However, each had different motives. Brutus’ speech was to prove that assassinating Caesar was the honorable thing to do, while Antony spoke to discredit Brutus and the rest of the conspirators. All in all, Antony’s strategies of using Caesar’s will and lacing his oratory with emotional sarcasm ended up making his speech seem more authentic than Brutus’, and he ended up swaying the Roman citizens over to his side.
One of Antony’s “trump cards” to ensure his authenticity was to display the will of Caesar. His words accrediting Caesar first gained the trust of the crowd. Then, his words of “I found it in the closet; ‘tis his will!” drew gasps from all the citizens. His close bond with Caesar obviously established him as one who would accurately understand the motives of the fallen leader. Furthermore, the contents of the will (each citizen was given seventy-five “drachmas” and Caesar’s private garden) gave evidence to one of Antony’s main points, that Caesar was not arrogant. In contrast, Brutus in his speech gave no evidence to support his view. As a result, Antony’s strategic use of Caesar’s will proved to be an effective why to portray the authenticity of his emotions.
Marc Antony’s style of speaking also allowed him to appear heartfelt and to convey what he wanted with out technically saying bad things about Brutus. His referring to the conspirators as “honourable men” grew more sarcastic with each repetition. This allowed the citizens to find out for themselves what Antony was implying without Antony saying it directly. Brutus himself just directly bashed Caesar’s character and ambition. Also, Antony gruesomely displayed the wounds the conspirators inflicted on Caesar. This gave the citizens up close and personal footage of the ghastly events that took place at the Capitol. Therefore, Antony masterfully used his articulate speaking skills to discredit Brutus and rile up the Roman citizens.
Brutus and Anthony both spoke at Caesar’s funeral to justify each other’s view on what had taken place. Antony’s speaking last and his use of imagery and sarcasm allowed him to appear more heartfelt and authentic, which eventually brought the crowd to his favor. This shows that, when implemented properly, the justification by one man can determine entire outcomes of a civilization.