Caesar Funeral Speech
In Act III, Scene ii of The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, Mark Antony approached in front of the busy, crowded, open area of the Forum, he stood resolutely as he prepared to deliver his speech. Anthony needed to shift the mass’s favor towards Caesar while preventing any form of misgivings towards the proposal he was able to make - that the conspirators should compensate for the murder of Caesar with their lives. Through the use of his language and devices such as verbal irony, and rhetorical questions, Anthony devised a speech aimed to justify his goals, make the conspirators guilty of their crime, and raise up a mutiny to avenge Caesar’s wrongful death.
For the first step in his speech, Anthony needed to establish a sense of mistrust in the crowd without breaking his promise that he would not blame the conspirators for their crime. As he begins to address the people, he assured them that he had not come to praise Caesar, but insisted that “Brutus says he was ambitious, and Brutus is an honorable man.” The purpose of the this repetition is that every time he mentions this phrase, it allows him to gradually gather a sarcastic tone until its meaning had completely changed. Immediately after he says this, he presents Caesar’s “ambition” by reminding the crowd of the wealth that Caesar brought to Rome, his compassion to the poor, and his refusal to the crown when offered it. The effect of this verbal irony allows Anthony to contrast Brutus’s reasoning with evidence, while simultaneously eliminating the force and credibility of his claim. Though not openly, Anthony is not only able to praise Caesar by emphasizing his great works, he is able to recast Caesar as innocent and prove the murder as no longer legitimate...
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...ne appropriate answer from the crowd, Anthony uses a rhetorical question to further confirm the people’s sense of injustice from being stripped of such a benevolent ruler. As a result, the plebeians exit wildly as they seek vengeance for their grievances and loss of Caesar, leaving Antony in awe as he marvels at the mob that he had caused.
In overview, Mark Antony manages to clearly defend his argument that the death of Caesar must be avenged and successfully persuades the Romans into accepting his side, while joining them into mutiny. He uses verbal irony, repetition, and tone to assist him in reverting popular opinion in favor of the dead Caesar and against Brutus. Anthony’s speech is persuasive through a combination of language, rhetorical devices, and compelling delivery, which allows him to largely win the support of the citizens of Rome and fulfill his goal.
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