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In 'The Tragedy of Julius Caesar' the orations by Brutus and Antony after Caesar's death are dramtically crucial. Discuss their dramatic significance.

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Introduction

In Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, a critical turning point occurs during the orations by Brutus and Antony after Caesar's death, that sends public outrage souring against Brutus and the other conspirators involved in Caesar's death. At first it seems Brutus has the obvious upper hand, and Antony shows great respect for him. Yet where Brutus' reasoned, logical prose fail to permanently convince the citizens the Caesar had to be killed, Antony, using colorful poetry and emotional appeal, persuades the plebeians that there was no cause for Caesar's death, and those responsible must be punished. Brutus is only able to convince the audience of his opinion temporarily, because of a few vital mistakes. Brutus speaks in prose, refusing to let emotion enter his speech and erroneously assuming that the citizens, like himself, will be stoical enough to trust reasoned logic over emotionally stimulating poetry. He uses simple, logically reasoned prose in an attempt to better connect with the less educated commoners. ...read more.

Middle

So Antony does not, yet still manages to turn the crowd against him. How? By using irony, most famously his use of the word "honorable." Antony says, "(For Brutus is an honorable man; So are they all, all honorable men)" (III.ii.91-92). At first there is no trace of irony, but each time this "honorable men" phrase is repeated (and he repeats it often, saying "honorable" eleven times) it becomes more ironic and satirical, meaning the opposite of its actual definition. This is only one of the many devices Antony uses to trap the crowd into agreeing with him. He emphasizes Caesar's will using apophasis and other paradoxical statements. "'Tis good you know not that you are his heirs" (III.ii.157) says Antony, of course only making the citizens want to hear the will more. When he finally reads the will, the crowd has already become excited, and when they hear of the good things Caesar will do for them (Antony reads only the few bits of the will that the citizens profited from), they are ready to kill anyone who might have had anything to do with Caesar's death. ...read more.

Conclusion

A group as irrational as this cannot follow the logical prose presented by Brutus, but Antony's emotionally filled poetry easily sways them. When Antony convinces the plebeians that the conspirators' killing of Caesar was unjust, unneeded, and inexcusable, Brutus is forced in many ways to give up his idealistic belief that he partook in this assassination for the people of Rome, for it is them that now wanted him dead. In his slow acceptance of this fact, Brutus must also have noticed how badly his stoical, emotionless speech failed to impress the Roman crowd. This failure, along with Antony's great ability in oration, especially in manipulating the audience, is able to convince the citizens of his hidden opinion, that the conspirators must be punished for the evil deed they committed by killing his friend Caesar. Or, of course, Antony may have succeeded in simply because he was the last one the crowd heard, so the one they ultimately agreed with, but then there wouldn't be a point for this essay, now would there? ...read more.

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