Close Reading: Shakespeare `Julius Caesar` III. 2 lines 11- 48 (Brutus)
Julius Caesar is an historical tragedy, written by Shakespeare in 1599. Set in ancient Rome it depicts the rise and fall of an emperor and a time of vast political change. Presenting a tale of manipulation and a struggle for power Shakespeare uses the uses the art of the orator and rhetoric to describe key moments in Rome’s history. Structurally central to the play is Act III, scene 2, as it is at this pivotal moment, after the conspiracy and assassination of Caesar that the battle for power begins.
As the crowd gather they are confused and agitated. They are aware their ruler has been killed and are looking for answers. Previously reluctant to take power and manipulated into taking part in the conspiracy of killing Caesar, Brutus enters into the pulpit to take charge. `The noble Brutus is ascended. Silence! ` (11) Surrounded by the baying crowd Brutus asserts his authority and urges the crowd to listen to what he has to say: ` Be patient till the last. `... (12) He states loudly, pausing to assert himself as someone the crowd can believe in. When the crowd have quietened Brutus resumes his speech, beginning with a brief greeting. `Romans, countryman, and lovers, hear me for my cause`... (13) Signifying his wish to communicate with the people as ordinary folk Brutus uses words that he hopes will endear the public to him.
Brutus continues his funeral speech, speaking in slow punctuated, rational tones. Using prose, the language of the common people, he proceeds to implore the expectant crowd to believe in him as an honourable man. He demands the crowd listen to his reasons for Caesars murder: ` Believe me for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour, that you may believe`... (14-15) Shakespeare’s use of repetition to focus on honour is particularly significant. Brutus believes his actions are honourable and is determined to make the crowd aware of this.
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