Manipulating the Masses: Marc Antony

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Shakespeare is considered one of the greatest historical and dramatic playwrights in history. He wrote the great tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, as well as the dark conspiracy of Julius Caesar. In Julius Caesar, Mark Antony speaks to a mob of citizens in order to obscure the audience’s view of Caesar and to persuade the audience to question Brutus’ honor.

Shakespeare parallels Caesar and Brutus. He repeats that Brutus says that “Caesar was ambitious” (6), and that “Brutus is an honorable man” (10). By constantly comparing the two characters, Mark Antony is making the audience think about the two men together. He wants them to realize that he truly means the opposite, and that Brutus is not an honorable man, because an honorable man would not say such things about Caesar. Antony wants the audience to revolt against Brutus, rather than agree to the idea that Caesar was ambitious and needed to die.

“Brutus is an honorable man” (10). The repetition of this line forces the audience to acknowledge that Brutus is honorable, and then create the question of why he is so honorable. The quote is always repeated after Mark Antony lists a good deed of Caesar. This technique makes the crowd wonder why an ambitious man would refuse the opportunity to become king three times. The audience is forced to wonder why it is Brutus that is honorable, when it seems that Caesar is not truly ambitious. Then the audience is led to the question of why is Brutus honorable when he is accusing a man who does not seem ambitious of being ambitious. The repetition of the lines creates a feeling of contradiction amongst the crowd. Mark Antony is forcing the audience to question Brutus’ honor.

Mark Antony also asks the crowd rhetorical questions in order to get them thinking about why Brutus is honorable and why Caesar is ambitious. “Does this in Caesar seem ambitious?” (18) he asks the crowd when he reminds them of how full the coffers were when Caesar was in power. He purposely asks these...
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