Comare and contrast the ways Brutus and Mark Antony use rhetoric to persuade the fickle plebeians of Rome

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Ben Lander

Compare the ways in which Brutus and Mark Antony make use of rhetoric to persuade the fickle masses

Brutus and Mark Antony exemplify the use of in their manipulation of the fickle masses in Julius Caesar. After comparing and contrasting the way in which each speech causes the people of Rome to react, we can see that Mark Antony achieves the desired effect through his rhetoric, whereas Brutus is not able to manipulate the people. This is due to a number of factors, such as the fact that Brutus is noble man influenced by a malcontent in Cassius, leaving him out of touch with the people, whereas Antony, a physical specimen of masculinity and a great ally of Caesar, possesses the emotion to turn the people. Although Mark Antony’s use of rhetoric is more effective than that of Brutus, both men are able to influence the fickle masses.

To start with, both Antony and Brutus use contrast, or antithesis to change the views of the amassed Romans. However, both men use this technique very differently; Brutus states that ‘not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more’ and this use of antithesis is done an attempt to convince the people of Rome that he did this not for his own sake but for the greater good of his country. After Brutus has left the Forum, Mark Antony states to the crowd, who’s opinion is swaying against Caesar ‘I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.’ Antony’s use of antithesis here allows him to be heard as it appears he is agreeing with Brutus, the man who the fickle crowd currently side with. Due to this effect this sentence has on the crowd, Mark Antony can continue with his speech with the full attention of the crowd who are not immediately against him, allowing him to deliver his real message.

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Rhetorical questioning is another device used my Antony and Brutus as an attempt to sway the fickle masses. Both men do this so that the plebeians will become unsure of their allegiance; to the conspirators or Caesar and Antony?  Brutus asks, ‘had you rather Caesar was living, and die all slaves, than to live all free men?’ This is rhetorical as he is making the assumption for the crowd that if Caesar still ruled the people would become his slaves.

Antony uses rhetorical device to de-validate the point being made in Brutus’s argument. He states ‘For I did ...

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