Rhetoric and Power- Examine the ability to make things happen by words alone. Rhetoric and Power is a theme well used in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Mark Antony deceives the conspirators into believing he is on their side when he discovers them with Julius’ corpse, Brutus’ speech after killing Julius Caesar makes the Romans believe Julius was a bad person, Mark Antony’s speech after Julius Caesar’s death makes the Romans furious at the conspirators. In the last two situations we see the point of view the countrymen go from one thing to a completely different thing just by the use of words. “Let each man render me his bloody hand” (III,i,185). Antony convinces the conspirators that he knows they must have had a good reason for killing Caesar. He shakes their hands showing a gesture of friendship. Well at least that’s what he wants them to think. “Friends am I with you all, and love you all” (III.i, 222).
The conspirators still not fully certain Antony’s trust ask him if they could depend on him. Antony calls them friends and tells them he loves them. Antony is using only words to convince the conspirators he is on their side. “not that I loved Caesar less but that I loved Rome more” (III.ii, 20-21). Brutus tells the countrymen that he loved Caesar but his love for Rome was greater. He tells the Romans that if Caesar were a live they would all be slaves. Brutus tells them that Caesar was too ambitious and that’s why he killed him. “I have the same dagger for myself when it shall please my country to need my death”(III.ii.44-45).
Brutus ends his speech by telling the Romans he will sacrifice himself for Rome because of his tremendous love for it. At this point the Romans are all understanding to Caesar’s death and think that what Brutus did is okay. They all begin to chant for him. “When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept. Ambition should be made of sterner stuff. Yet Brutus says he was ambitious” (III.ii, 91-93). Mark Antony tells the countrymen of all the good deeds Caesar did that show he wasn’t as ambitious as Brutus says he was. “The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones”(III.ii.75-76). Antony states to the Romans that all the bad things that one does is always remembered, but the good they have done is buried with them. He tells them this because it seems as if the Romans have completely forgotten everything Caesar has done for them.
Then Caesar continues his speech by telling the Romans how many times poor Caesar was stabbed. He tells them how Caesar loved Brutus and that didn’t stop Brutus from killing him. Antony makes the Romans believe that everything the conspirators did isn’t a good deed but an evil murder. He gets all the Romans against the conspirators all through a speech he made to them. The power to make things happen by words is used a lot through out Julius Caesar. Antony’s speech alone led to the death of Brutus, Cassius, and 100 senators. Brutus’ speech made the evil act the him and conspirators committed seem like a good deed to the Romans. Antony’s deceiving words made the conspirators believe he was on their side.
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