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Conflicting Perspectives: Julius Caesar V. Good Night and Good Luck

By tomisruz Apr 10, 2013 1061 Words
Explore how Julius Caesar and ONE other related text of your own choosing represent conflicting perspectives in unique and evocative ways.

All texts are deliberately constructed to convey an agenda and a set of values, meaning every composer has a purpose fueled by issues from their context and audience. Conflicting perspectives are used as a vehicle for successfully conveying this purpose to the audience. Through the representation of events, personalities and situations, the responder is susceptible to accept the perspective that the composer has deemed valid or credible. William Shakespeare’s, Julius Caesar is a typical example of a play that was created by a composer that imparts their values to the audience through the use of conflicting perspectives. Also, George Clooney’s 2005 film, Good Night and Good Luck explores the representation of conflicting perspectives towards Communists that reflected the distraught norms of society in 1950’s America.

In both Julius Caesar and Good Night and Good Luck, the composers use personalities of certain characters to express conflicting perspectives. These personalities may be representative the leaders in the society at the time or even the society at large. An important conflict of personalities to be considered in Julius Caesar is Cassius and Brutus’. Cassius is believed to be the main conspirator in charge of killing Caesar and in order to successfully do so, he persuades Brutus to be involved. Cassius’ manipulative personality is demonstrated when he discusses with Brutus that people can manifest their own destiny. “Men at some times are masters of their fates: the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves, that we are underlings.” Shakespeare uses the Roman Republic as a platform to comment on Elizabethan society. Superstition was a very serious topic in that era and people genuinely believed their fate was in the hands of the Gods. Cassius’ argument to Brutus disregards this concept and as a result a conflicting perspective is obtained and considered by the audience. During this, Brutus is concerned with his honour and his determined state of mind will make him do almost anything to stay noble. Similarly in Good Night and Good Luck, there are many personalities that oppose each other in the film. The scene where Clooney’s character, Fred Friendly is in a meeting with two air force authorities that want to approve a story of one CBS is running “that says that the U.S. Air Force tried Milo Radulovich without any evidence and found him guilty of being a security risk.” The colonel warns Friendly that the unmerited story may cause controversy with the relationship between the air-force and CBS news. Friendly’s has a stubborn view of justice and has every intention to run the story anyway which demonstrates conflict between media and what they’re reporting. This is reflected into society with constant media debates that attempt to distinguish a reasonable boundary for media. The conflictive perspectives of the soldiers and Friendly, cause tension through the still camera close up shots throughout the scene. There are also many jump-cuts between the two sides of the table which express the aggression of both sides and how dedicated they are to their work and opinion.

Events are used in texts to represent separate morals and values between the characters and the audience. Mark Antony’s funeral speech dedicated to Caesar to the plebeians was cleverly written by Shakespeare to cause conflict between the Roman society and the conspirators that assassinated Caesar. In the speech, Antony points out the humane qualities of Caesar which is a pleasant contrast to the conquerer filled with greed and haste that Caesar is portrayed as before this event. Throughout Antony’s address to the people, the lines “But Brutus says he was ambitious and Brutus is an honourable man.” repeated three times. The use of repetition conveys that honour was an extremely important characteristic to own, which is a recurring motif throughout the play. The quote has a sarcastic tone, as it explains that Caesar must have been ambitious because an honourable man has stated it. However, Antony continues to reveal the goodness of Caesar and why Rome needed him as a leader. “I thrice present him a kingly crown which he did thrice refuse. Was this ambition?” It is Shakespeare’s perspective that the ambitious nature of dictatorship is not a suitable form of government for Elizabethan England. He expresses this in the quote with the rhetorical question in which he directly addresses the audience. Antony tries to convince the crowd that Caesar did not fight to become a dictator. He cared for the people he ruled over and his power strengthened as did his support.

Composers put their characters in a range of situations which becomes a source of debate for what society would do in particular situations. This may cause conflict in the different perspectives of people’s choices and decisions in certain situations. In Good Night and Good Luck, Clooney has executed this concept through the character of Edward Murrow. Murrow is put into many serious situations that threaten his own life and the attitudes of the society during the set era. One example is when Murrow is given the opportunity to write part of his own show which targets Senator McCarthy. The context behind this is that during the 1950s, the threat of communism was overwhelming and most media groups were strict in their delivery of the news out of fear that they would be targeted otherwise. Murrow however is not afraid to point out how McCarthy, an anti-communist leader, has stepped over the line of “investigating and persecuting” repeatedly. Murrow was in a tight situation that, if failed, could ruin his career and furthermore, the company he works for CBS. However, from the perspective of McCarthy, Murrow was assisting the Communists and therefore wanted him put off air immediately. As Murrow is a television broadcaster, the whole of society to would witness this situation and either agree with Murrow or McCarthy. “And whose fault is that? Not really his, he didn't create this situation of fear, he merely exploited it, and rather successfully.” During the speaking of this line, the camera zooms in on Murrow as he keeps a sustained eye contact. This makes the audience focus in an pay attention to the speaker as he is saying the words so intently and with a strong conviction.

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