Critical Analysis of Mark Antony's Funeral Speech

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JULIUS CAESAR , a critical analysis


Of all Shakespeare’s works , Julius Caesar is a play that hinges upon rhetoric - both as the art of persuasion and an artifice used to veil intent. The most striking of Shakespeare is his command of language. In Mark Antony’s funeral oration for Caesar, we have not only one of Shakespeare’s most recognizable opening lines but one of his finest examples of rhetorical irony at work. The speech could serve as a thematic synopsis to Julius Caesar. One of the most important and significant parts in the play is the funeral speech given by both Brutus and Mark Antony. At first, the funeral speeches seem to have no true significant meaning. However in further investigation it is established that the speeches ultimately serve as the basis for the final outcome of the play. By exploring the speeches of both Brutus and Mark Antony we are able to focus on the important details which alter one from the other. Through this analysis we are also able to realize why Brutus's speech becomes one of his justifications and explanations, while Antony's becomes one of manipulation and skill. It is known that both Brutus and Antony desired to appeal to the common people. However, the way in which each man went about it differs drastically. Not only did it influence the outcome of the play, but each speech also offers a unique insight on each of the speakers.

Brutus’s speech

Brutus's speech becomes one of acquittal, not only for the people of Rome, but for Brutus himself. He uses his "honor and nobility" as a shield to defend and justify his actions to the crowd. Brutus states that he has carried out this horrendous act because of his love for Rome, and for the good of the people. "This is my answer, not that I have loved Caesar less, but that I love Rome more..." (3.2.21-22). In his speech he requests that the people use their "reason" to judge him. Although this seduces the crowd, it is not until after one of the common...
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