Conflicting Perspectives – Julius Caesar
Personalities, events or situations often elicit conflicting perspectives. To what extent has textual form shaped your understanding of conflicting perspectives. In your response, make detailed reference to your prescribed text and one other text of your own choosing. Conflicting perspectives are often the outcome of diverse and contrasting views of ones personality, event or situation. This is evident is the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, as Caesar's personality develops and the diverse perspective of his death in ensuring civil war create conflict within the play. Raymond Briggs' picture book The Tin-Pot Foreign General and the Old Iron Woman generates an understanding of the injustice of Falkland's war through contrasting the perspectives of both the political leaders at the time and the Falkland Islanders. Through the use of dramatic, language and visual techniques both Shakespeare and Briggs have shown how differences in opinion can offer a understanding and ideas of certain personalities, situations or events.
From the opening scene of Julius Caesar, Shakespeare introduces conflict. Flavius and Murellus introduce Caesar as a contentious personality, as they rebuke the “mechanicals” who “make holidays to see Caesar” and “rejoice his triumph”. The Tribunes are unhappy with these celebrations as shown through the contrast in tone when Murellus adresses the “Mechanicals” with “You blocks, You stones, you worse than senseless things!” demonstrating the conflicting perspectives within the social classes. The Tribunes believe that Caesar's “growing feathers” need to be “Pluck's” as they are concerned that with his growing power they will be kept in “servile fearfulness”. Shakespeare conveys their anger at the fickleness of the “Mechanicals”, through the use of imperatives such as “answer me directly” and “be gone!'...” as they rebuke their “ingratitude” to Pompey. This shows the dominance of the Tribunes and undermines the plebeians' view of Caesar returning as a hero, thus positioning the reader in favour of their perspectives. These conflicting perspectives within Act 1 have offered diverse opinions on the personality of Caesar, portraying him as an ominously ambitious and controversial man, thereby framing the central conflict of the play.
Both Brutus and Anthony's funeral orations in Act III present conflicting and highly provocative perspectives about the motives for Caesar's assassination. Brutus as a “truly noble Roman” provides the first speech at Caesar's funeral, and attempts to win over the crowd's support and make them understand the need for Caesars downfall. His dry rhetoric and balanced syntactical structure fails to win over the crowd when juxtaposed with Antony's speech. Right from the opening line Brutus places Rome before its people through “Romans, countrymen and lovers!”, and throughout his speech he continually reinforces his motivations as “Not that I loved Caesar less but that I loves Rome more.” As he attempts to arouse patriotism within the audience, he is sabotaged by his own use of the syllogism “had you rather Caesar were living to die all slaves than that Caesar were dead to live all free men?” which is strong in logos but drains the speech of pathos and thus any emotional connection with the crowd. Brutus's use of anaphora “As Caesar loved me, I weep for him..., as he was ambitious, I slew him.” demonstrates that Caesar's growing power was the reason for his assassination. However, this fails offer evidence to validate his argument. Instead he calls upon the audience to “believe me for mine honour” which further diminishes his perspective to the point where the audience is only seemingly convinced that Caesar deserved to die, leaving Mark Anthony to juxtapose the perspectives of Caesar's personality.
Antony's speech provides a different and provocative insight completely contradicting that of Brutus. The opening asyndeton...
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