TheTragedy of Julius Caesar
TheTragedy of Julius Caesar is a play written by William Shakespeare inrelation to the historical events of the Roman Empire. One majortheme entailed in this play is the power of rhetoric. Rhetoric’s inmost cases are not meant to instruct an individual or individuals onwhat is wrong or right. Instead, they only try to make theindividuals believe. Words tend to possess magical power and canarouse emotions and subsequent actions. This paper will try tooutline the power of rhetoric and the strategies involved toinfluence persons as well as influence crowds. This play is rated asone of the best in outlining the art of persuasion. By effectivelyanalyzing the play, this paper will discuss the successes andfailures of the power of rhetoric to influence or rather persuadeindividuals as well as the general public. To effectively outline thetheme at hand, the paper will be classified into three sectionsutilizing three characters who symbolize the same. The sectionsinclude Cassius who successfully persuades Brutus into a conspiracy.Secondly, it will based on Brutus whose speech is quite influentialafter Caesar’s fall. Finally, Mark Antony’s oratory is able toinfluence the public to turn against the conspirators. By utilizingthe characters above, an in-depth analysis of the strengths andfailures of the power of rhetoric will be exemplified. Additionally,Shakespeare’s notions will be elaborated accordingly.
Beforeoutlining the sections above, it is vital to review the actual playand the happenings within the play. Julius Caesar came back to Romeafter a triumphant outing where his army had defeated Pompey. Thepublic are quite ecstatic and honor Caesar to the dismay of somesenators who think one person hold too much power. In that respect,Caius Cassius conspires to kill Caesar and convinces Brutus tosupport him. Cassius also proposes Mark Antony should suffer the samesince he is a friend to Caesar, but Brutus declines. Cassius, Brutusand their conspirators then stab Caesar to death within the senatehouse. During Caesar’s burial Brutus is able to successfully defendtheir actions while addressing the public. However, Mark Antony turnsthe public against the conspirators while addressing them. They thenforce the conspirators to flee away from Rome. Antony and Octaviuswho happens to be Caesar’s nephew take charge of Rome and defeatCassius, Brutus and the other conspirators. However, the two opt tocommit suicide to avoid being captured alive.
Cassiuspersuades Brutus one of the loyal individuals of Caesar to dissidentagainst him. Cassius uses two strategies to persuade Brutus to turnagainst his friend i.e. weakening Brutus’ devotion towards Caesarand prompting Brutus’ civic responsibility sense. By utilizingmeans like juxtaposition as well as contradiction, Cassius elaborateshis perceptions of Caesar. He juxtaposes Caesar to other men aimingto show how he was ordinary. In that respect, Caesar is bound to becorrupt and consumed by power despite him being seen as a god. Aninstance of juxtaposition is exemplified in Cassius acts ofconstantly comparing Brutus with Caesar. “Why should Caesar’sname be sounded more than yours”. In fact, “yours is as fair aname”. His perceptions of Caesar forces Brutus to query whetherweak and ordinary men should be allowed to rule. In the end, Cassiusis able to convince Brutus to turn his back on Caesar owing toconsiderable sense from Cassius.
InBrutus case, he tries to justify their actions to the crowd. While onthe platform, Brutus puts more emphasis on the rule of three. Therule of three defines triads of all kinds i.e. any assemblage ofthree elements that can be related like a sequence of threeconsecutive words or parallel components (phrases or words). At thebeginning of his speech, Brutus addresses the people as “Romans,countrymen, as well as lovers”. This are words used to persuade thecrowd into seeing side of the story and convince them that theiractions were appropriate. By referring to the citizens as “lovers”,they remember him as a noble man with an authoritative image. Heoften quoted how he loved Rome more than Caesar. By utilizingantithesis technique, Brutus heightens an idea to a vital aspectwhereas diminishing another to oblivion. The citizens would then viewBrutus as a patriotic personality full of honor. He would frequentlyutilize reverse psychology asking rhetoric questions to further pullthe crowd towards him. Questions are a form of showing connectionwith the crowd. Epimome which is the often repetition of phrases todrive a point, is another technique utilized by Brutus. The peoplewould the respond “live, Brutus, live, live to show acceptance ofhis notions.
Thespeech provided by Antony exemplifies a powerful rhetoric. Antonyuses the metonymy technique to make the crowd listen to him. He thenpraises Brutus to the delight of the crowd. He cunningly utilizesrepetition and juxtaposition to further spark doubt within the crowd.For instance, Antony combines two facts i.e. Brutus perceives Caesaras ambitious, and Brutus is honorable. By juxtaposing words this way,it raises doubts. Antony brings out the honorable deeds that Caesardid, such as weeping for the poor, refusing the crown severally amongother deeds that showed how honorable he was. He would thenemotionally connect with the crowd and seemed to be a crowd favoriteas he even walked down to them driving his point home. He utilizesrhetoric expedient by seemingly mentioning something withoutmentioning it. His technique is able to win the crowd over, who theturn on Brutus and the conspirators.
Persuasionin this play appears in several forms i.e. flattery, art of rhetoricor deception. All these means are meant to influence minds ofcitizens as well as people in power. All in all, even in the currentpolitical world, it is vital to identify rhetoric mechanisms sincethe consequences can be considerable.
Shakespeare, W. (n.d.). The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.