Mark Antony

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CHARACTER SKETCH
OF
“MARK ANTONY”
FROM THE PLAY
“JULIUS CAESER”

Prior to Caesar's assassination, Antony makes four brief appearances in which he speaks a total of five lines. Twice during Lupercal and again at Caesar's house, he makes short statements indicating that he is loyal to Caesar as dictator and as a friend. Caesar's confiding to Antony at Lupercal indicates that he trusts Antony and looks upon him as a friend in return, perhaps even as a protégé. Antony appears at the Capitol at the beginning of Act III, Scene 1, but he does not speak before Trebonius leads him out. When, during Lupercal, Caesar describes Cassius as a dangerous man, Antony defends him as "a noble Roman and well given." While Antony does not perceive at that time that Cassius is dangerous, and later underestimates the determination of Octavius, as a ruler, he is a perceptive observer who verifies Cassius' assessment of him as being a "shrewd contriver." Following the assassination, Antony quickly grasps that he must deal with Brutus, and he has the shrewdness to take advantage of Brutus' naïveté. When he has his servant say that "Brutus is noble, wise, valiant, and honest," it is clear that Antony intends to flatter Brutus and to work upon those personal qualities of Brutus that represent moral strengths, but that are also fundamental weaknesses when dealing with a more sophisticated man. Antony's requests for safety and for an explanation for the murder are reasonable in the context of the situation, but Brutus' consent to provide both ensures that, upon returning to the Capitol, Antony can concentrate on his ultimate objective of gaining a forum. At the Capitol, by having Brutus repeat his promises, Antony succeeds in placing him on the defensive and in establishing a means to evade the more difficult questions being raised by Cassius. He is not in the slightest degree deterred by considerations of honesty when dealing with those whom he wishes to deceive or manipulate. He knows...
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