Comparing the Speeches of Mark Antony and Robert F. Kennedy

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Giving a successful speech, in any language, is a difficult yet gratifying skill. Great speeches can be inspiring, compelling, and even revolutionary – indeed, these speeches are deliberate, succinct, engaging, and unforgettable. Two examples of such great speeches in both literature and in history are Mark Antony’s eulogy in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and Robert F. Kennedy’s On the Death of Martin Luther King. Through the speakers’ use of parallel structure, caesuras, and personal references – three stylistic devices and techniques – not only were both speakers able to embellish their speeches; it also allowed each speaker to deliver an even more powerful speech. In these speeches, the use of repetition through the anaphoral and epiphoral structure in both speeches accentuates the purpose of the speech, while the use of caesuras adds texture and tone to the speech, and the use of personal references engages and stimulates the audience.
Mark Antony’s speech, whose aim is to counter Brutus’ speech, enlightens the crowd on the unjust murder of Caesar. Though he never directly communicates to the crowd of his feeling towards the conspirators, Antony was able to effectively convey to the crowd, through the use of verbal irony and other stylistic devices/techniques in his speech, his true views of the assassination. Moreover, Antony was able to shrewdly emphasize his belief of the undeserved assassination of Caesar through the wide use of epiphoral and anaphoral structure in his speech. Antony emphasizes the wrongdoings of Brutus and Cassius through the ingenious use of the epistrophe along with verbal irony as he notes that “I should do Brutus wrong, and Cassius wrong” (III, ii, 125). Moreover, he stresses the importance of punishi...

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...n my own heart the same kind of feeling. I had a member of my family killed, but he was killed by a white man.”
Although both Mark Antony’s and Robert F. Kennedy’s speeches were successful largely due to the strength of their arguments, their careful choice and placement of their words and sentences is also an important factor in the delivery of their messages. The clever use of stylistic devices and techniques of both Antony and Kennedy’s speeches is a testimony to their much admired speaking styles. The use of repetition, caesuras, and personal references augment their speeches so that it is concise, purposeful, memorable and emotionally engaging. The influential nature of both Mark Antony and Robert F. Kennedy is in part due to their high level of skill in speech-making, a rewarding skill to have in any language, and an important asset required for any leader.

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