Brutus maintains a consistent pattern where he presents Caesar’s action and then his own reaction: “As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him: but as he was ambitious, I slew him”. Brutus reiterates the same message but swapped around, presenting his reaction to Caesar’s action. “There is tears for his love; joy for his fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his ambition”. Brutus says these things to further reinforce his claim of loving Caesar thus achieving more emphasis.
He then ends the first part of his speech by asking several rhetorical questions to instil the audience with confidence in his statements.
These rhetorical questions are positioned at the very end of Brutus’ speech by Shakespeare to help members of the audience who are dubious about Brutus’ authenticity or were not convinced by Brutus’ earlier reasoning. Brutus then says: “I pause for a reply”. By waiting for a reply he challenges the crowds to speak against what he has said.
Brutus goes even further to prove that his actions are principled and just. In Line 48, in a second shorter speech, he says: “his death is enrolled in the Capitol; his glory not extenuated, wherein he was worthy, nor his offences enforced, for which he suffered death”. Brutus is insistent that Caesar’s legacy and pride will remain intact despite the fact that he was murdered for deceiving the Roman Empire. Brutus is trying to say that killing Caesar was the best solution as his existing legacy will remain intact, whereas if was still alive, he would have troubled Rome’s opulence and would have lost all the respect that he had achieved over the years.
He ends the second part of his speech by saying: “I depart, that, as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome, I have the same dagger for myself, when it shall please my country to need my death.” This statement was made by Brutus to reassure the citizens of his fate should he be found guilty. Brutus says this to maintain his meekness. To this response the citizens applaud Brutus. Shakespeare has achieved his objective of creating a dramatic effect within the audience
Antony begins his speech by greeting the crowd in much friendlier manner: “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.” The phrase, ‘lend me your ears’ is used as a request and not a demand which shows that Antony realises that the crowd are not very keen to hear his cause because of Brutus’ earlier speech. Antony requests the crowd to hear his cause to make himself appear humble. In line 139 Antony says: “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” Antony says this to assure the crowd. In line 143 Antony says: “The noble Brutus hath told you Caesar was ambitious: if it were so, it was a grievous fault, and grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.” The important word here is ‘if’. Antony is using hypothetical language to suggest that Caesar was not ambitious and Caesar’s murder was unlawful. Antony is forced to use hypothetical language and other subtleties as he’s aware that being very explicit will lead the crowd to believing that his cause is completely biased in favour of Caesar.
Similarly Antony then assures the crowd that he is not trying to praise Caesar, however in line 153 he says, “He hath brought many captives home to Rome whose ransoms did the general coffers fill: did this in Caesar seem ambitious?” This contradicts his earlier claim of not being present at Caesar’s funeral to praise him.
Here Antony mentions all the riches he has brought into the empire (considered a very noble thing to do). His praise for Caesar continued when he stated the fact that Caesar had in fact denied the throne thrice before. Antony wants to indicate quite clearly that Caesar had no desire of being powerful hence lacked ambition.
He challenges the crowd by asking them why they can’t mourn for Caesar when they had all loved him once without cause. Antony asks this to create a guilty conscience within the crowd. Antony then exclaims ‘O-Judgement!” thou art fled to brutish beasts’ the word ‘brutish’ is used as a pun and refers to Brutus; helping Brutus appear evil. Even towards the end of his speech, Antony maintains his subtlety by not mentioning Brutus’ name but using a pun instead.
Antony also uses emotive language to help the crowd believe that Caesar was not an ambitious man for example in line 156 Antony mentions how Caesar had wept with the poor. This would have grabbed the audience’s attention as one would not expect an ambitious person to have wept with the poor, let alone go anywhere near them. It might even have convinced them that Caesar was not ambitious after all. Antony finishes his speech sounding very overwhelmed with grief. This may have been to gather the audience’s support and also gain their sympathy.
Antony decided to take with him the will sealed by Caesar. The crowd are desperate to find out what the will holds. Antony refused to do this based upon moral grounds. However he hints that Caesar’s riches would have benefited the empire and its citizens since they were the heirs. This is arguably what changes and helps the crowd reach their conclusion.
Brutus’ speech is very direct in its addressing and relies on repetition and punchy lines to gain the audiences’ support. Comparatively Antony’s approach is astute and sophisticated. I believe Shakespeare has written a very engaging scene by constantly swinging the audience’s support between Brutus and Antony.
Here's what a teacher thought of this essay
This is a sophisticated response, which shows a good knowledge of the text as well as rhetorical devices. It would have been useful to make closer comparisons between the two speakers and indicate the importance of the crowd's reactions to them. ****