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Marc Antony 'Machiavellian schemer'

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Introduction

Question: 'Machiavellian schemer' or 'Loyal friend' - What is your opinion of Marc Antony? Mark Antony can be best described as Shakespeare's portrayal of an opportunist. An opportunist is a person, who adjusts his values to suit his purpose and the situation; who uses people and events to get what he wants, not considering principles or consequences. Antony was impulsive and passionate. He looked at life as a game in which he had a certain part to play, and indeed he proved to be a refined and skillful player who knew how to win. In Caesar's lifetime, Antony is seen as his right hand. At the beginning of the play Antony is obedient and extremely loyal to Julius Caesar. "When Caesar says 'do this' it is performed", he says. Later, we see Antony literally 'running' for Caesar as he takes part in the annual Lupercalia. Antony's devotion to Caesar shows he is capable of real loyalty. He is truly affectionate towards Caesar, even though he seems to bears no ambitious motives to claim the highest position in the Senate at present, but rather he intends to enjoy life as he can under Caesar's rule. Antony's reputation in the senate was one of a wild, pleasure-loving, womanizer. It was this lively character of Antony's that convinced Brutus that he was not a danger to the conspirators. ...read more.

Middle

He starts by appealing to the audience and implying strongly that Caesar paid more than his due (3.2.75-81). His Machiavellian scheming side is brought forth in his use of reverse psychology, when he first pretends to respect the conspirators calling them honorable men, and then slowly adding in things to prove that they are not. His sarcasm increases as he tried to prompt a response from his audience, "I will not do them wrong; I rather choose To wrong the dead, to wrong myself and you, Than I will wrong such honorable men" (3.2.126-128). Antony here, is trying in repetitive rhetoric to mock the idea of honor that Brutus has created so that he can bring the masses to side with him. "I fear I wrong the honorable men Whose daggers have stabbed Caesar; I do fear it" (3.2.152-154). Finally he incites the response from the people that he has been waiting for, "They were traitors: honorable men!" (3.2.155) He teases the people with the will, waving it in the air and bringing it up over and over again, yet pretending as if he was not going to read it. This causes the people to condemn Brutus and the rest of the conspirators like Antony had planned. Surely these are the workings of a ruthless mind that has been intoxicated by the idea of vengeance, especially if this vengeance will work in his favour to grant him power. ...read more.

Conclusion

Antony's reformation into a cold-hearted, ruthless leader is further proven with his intention to undermine the content in Caesar's will which he previously used to instigate sympathy for Caesar amongst the people (3.2. 240-252). Now he says almost matter-of-factly, "Fetch the will hither, and we shall determine How to cut off some charge in legacies" (4.1.8-9). His brutal ways continue when he goes against Lepidus behind his back, telling Octavius that Lepidus is unworthy to share their power. Antony describes him in an exceedingly derogatory manner, "This is a slight unmeritable man, Meet to be sent on errands: is it fit" (4.1.12-13). When Octavius tries to put it fairly by saying that Lepidus is a "tried and valiant soldier" (4.1.29), Antony compares those fine traits of Lepidus' to Antony's own horse "So is my horse, Octavius, and for that I do appoint him store of provender" (4.1.29-30). Antony has clearly a lack of compassion common to any manipulative leader or Machiavellian schemer, as shown in his attitude towards pricking the names of the people who were fated to die as well as here. Antony's final words about Brutus at his death, "This was the noblest Roman of them all...'This was the man!'" (5.5.68-75) might give us reason to believe that Antony might possibly carry the ability to recognize good from bad. However, it doesn't help change the image of Antony as a forceful political opportunist who would use any passage open to him, including the murder of a friend, to further his political ambition. ...read more.

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