Compare and Contrast the Funeral Speeches of Brutus and Mark Antony. Which Is More Effective and Why?

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s): 1255
  • Published: January 4, 2013
Read full document
Text Preview
Compare and contrast the funeral speeches of Brutus and Mark Antony. Which is more effective and why?

When Brutus goes up to speak to the crowd he appeals to them as “Romans” before all else. As this keeps with his reason for joining the conspiracy the audience can see that he is honourable and trustworthy. The roman public may also know this because they hail him as “noble” Brutus and Brutus also asks them at the start of his speech to “Believe me for mine honour”. Brutus repeatedly uses “honour” throughout his speech as a way to gain trust from the crowds. Another way he may have been trying to gain trust is by imitating Caesar by speaking in the third person; “I say that Brutus’ love to Caesar was no less than his”. It could also be a way of showing the people that he is just as noble as Caesar.

His main speech to the people is honest and consistent with all his thinking and arguing throughout the play. Though he has no thought of deceiving the people his speech is nevertheless a shrewd, skilful piece of rhetoric which includes techniques such as rhetorical questions: “Who is here so base that would be a bondman?” This is made even more effective by following up with another two questions which together make three clear and powerful points. Another technique he uses is when he is describing or talking about Caesar is to state three good or positive things about him; “As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him” and then say one bad thing; “but as he was ambitious, I slew him.” Interestingly “ambition” is the only cause Brutus can give for Caesar’s death yet by putting it after a powerful tricolon showcasing Caesar’s good qualities he seems to suggest that just that one little bad thing can completely nullify all of his other achievements and justify murdering him. Brutus speaks calmly and reasonably but creates a kind of hysteria in the crowd by the time he has finished speaking. Though the speech is in prose, which is used for less important characters, its rhythmic patterning, balancing out of similar phrases and repetition of the word “love” and “honour” are as contrived and emotive in their cumulative effect as any other passage of poetry.

He ends the speech by offering his own life for his country. This act of self-sacrifice is very emotional and echoes Casca’s description of Caesar offering his life to the crowd. As Brutus leaves the stage he emphasizes that Antony will be speaking by “our permission”. By entrusting the crowd to Antony and naively believing that Antony will honour the spirit of their agreement Brutus makes a fatal error of judgement which costs him all of his power in Rome.

Without having to speak first, Antony manages to upstage Brutus simply by entering with Caesars’ body. Though he wasn’t present for Brutus’ stirring speech he shapes his own speech to complement it and to destroy all the effects that Brutus had so brilliantly achieved. While Brutus had appealed to the audience’s civic pride as romans and to its sense of logic, Antony works to undermine his grand ideas by controlling the crowds’ emotions. Where Brutus had begun with “Romans”, Antony begins with “Friends”. This makes him create the feeling that he, the crowd and the dead Caesar are all close friends. Having established the idea of a group of friends, he begins to separate his group from the other group, the conspirators. He does this by encouraging in the people a cynicism about Brutus. Brutus presented himself as an honourable man, however this backfires on him because Antony mocks him later by repeatedly reminding the people of this, “Brutus is an honourable man”, and he goes on reminding them until the very...
tracking img