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Closely analyse the funeral speeches of Brutus and Marc Antony from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and then answer the following question: Why does Marc Antony prove to be the more proficient orator?

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Introduction

Closely analyse the funeral speeches of Brutus and Marc Antony from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and then answer the following question: Why does Marc Antony prove to be the more proficient orator? At the funeral of Julius Caesar two characters make speeches to the plebeian mob, Brutus and Marc Antony. Shakespeare shows us the personalities of the two orators and gives one an advantage over the other. Marc Antony has an advantage over Brutus because he speaks after Brutus and he has Caesar's body. He also interrupts Brutus' speech. He uses a range of rhetorical devices to manipulate the crowd. Both characters make very powerful speeches that will eventually determine who rules Rome. Both characters begin their speeches with a list of three. This rhetorical device creates a powerful and intense atmosphere: "Romans, countrymen, and lovers" - Brutus "Friends, Romans, countrymen" - Marc Antony Brutus puts "Romans" and "countrymen" at the start of his list of three. This shows us that Brutus' number one priority is Rome and his country, and not the people. It shows us that he is honourable and patriotic. ...read more.

Middle

This is Shakespeare helping to foreshadow the retaliation. However, Marc Antony appears to be humble in his speech. He talks to the crowd emotionally and immediately lowers himself to their level. Brutus uses rhetorical questions as a persuasive technique. It creates an intense atmosphere amongst the crowd: "Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all freemen?" This rhetorical question makes the crowd think about the question Brutus asks them. It shows the crowd two different possibilities and is persuading them to agree with the death of Caesar. Brutus is rationalising with the crowd. However, Brutus overestimates the intelligence of the plebeian mob. He speaks to them in the wrong tone and uses language that makes him look superior. His biggest error is that the crowd cannot follow his logic they need emotive reasons. The mob might even be insulted by Brutus' naturally condescending tone: "Censure me in your wisdom" "that you may be the better judge" The irony is that the plebeians have no wisdom to censure Brutus with, but Brutus believes they do. Brutus also believes that the crowd will make the best decisions on the death. ...read more.

Conclusion

The sarcastic catch phrase helps Marc Antony turn the plebeian mob against Brutus and the conspirers. It makes the mob wonder whether the conspirers really are "honourable men". Antony's use of a metonym gains him the public sympathy and gets him emotionally closer to the crowd: "My hearth is in the coffin with Caesar" Marc Antony uses the metonym of the "heart" to show his emotions to the mob. It is as if he is saying he has died along with Caesar. Here he gains much sympathy from the mob. In conclusion, the two funeral speeches of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar are very persuasive. However, Marc Antony wins the crowds support by speaking to them in the correct tone. He lowers himself to the plebeian level and uses a range of rhetorical devices to support his arguments against the conspirers. He has an advantage over Brutus before he even speaks. He has the body of Caesar and speaks last. Brutus however is very disadvantaged. His speech is interrupted by the entering body of Caesar and he does not confront the mob in the correct tone. So, even though both speeches are very powerful and persuasive Julius Caesar ends up as a tragedy because the man that is honourable and humble becomes the one the crowd turn against. ...read more.

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