First Last Name 1 Mrs. Bentz English 9A/B1 March 24, 2015

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First Last Name Last Name 1 Mrs. Bentz English 9A/B1 March 24, 2015

Mark Antony’s Masterfulness at the Pulpit

In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Mark Antony uses techniques of verbal irony and

props during his speech at Caesar’s funeral to persuade the Roman crowd to turn against the

conspirators in Act 3 Scene 2. First, Antony repetitively uses verbal irony to build suspense in

the Roman crowd about the conspirators and to get the crowd to listen to him. For example,

Antony starts his speech with an opening that gets the people’s attention: “Friends, Romans,

countrymen, lend me your ears” (3.2. 82). He continues to speak to the Romans to get them to

think more about Brutus’s speech and his reasons for killing Caesar: “You all did see that on the

Lupercal / I thrice presented him a kingly crown, / Which he did thrice refuse. Was this

ambition? / Yet Brutus says he was ambitious, / And sure he is an honorable man” (3.2. 104-

108). Antony uses the scene with the crown to show the concept between Brutus’s thoughts of

Caesar and the way Caesar really was, and also to remind the Romans that Caesar had no

intention of ruling as emperor, although audience knows that is not the true. After mentioning

something nice about Caesar, he always repeats how Brutus and the conspirators are

“honorable men,” which only intensifies the building suspense in the Romans, until they finally

realize that Antony is using sarcasm and that Brutus is not as honorable as they think he is.

Next, Antony’s second technique is to utilize props and visuals to make sure the Romans have

evidence to support their growing suspicion. It is actually a very important part of the speech,

because it is the part where Antony talks about Caesar’s body. He says:

Look at this place ran Cassius dagger through See what a rent the envious Casca made. Through this well-beloved Brutus stabbed, […] This was the most unkindest cut of all. For when the noble Caesar saw him stab,

Last Name 2

Ingratitude, more strong than traitor’s arms, Quit vanquished him. Then burst his mighty heart, (3. 2. 186-188, 195-198)

The audience knows that Antony is not present during Caesar’s fall, but the way he describes it

certainly makes it seem like he was. The “unkindest cut of all” is also the most hurtful cut,

because it is from the hand of Brutus, Caesar’s dearest friend. Even though Antony does not

use the line “honorable men” to describe Brutus, it is easy to detect that Antony means for the

crowd to think that by the way he refers to him as the “well-beloved Brutus.” Brutus is

supposed to be Caesar’s best friend, but he stabs him and he is an honorable man. The Romans

do not even question Antony about how he got that information. Antony’s choice of words and

the emotions that he uses to describe the cuts steers the Romans away from that

and instead they yell out: “Revenge! About! Seek! Burn! Fire! Kill! Slay! Let not traitor live” (3.

2. 216-217)! This only proves how skillful Antony is in arts of speech. The will that

Caesar “wrote” to people is the last piece that finishes Antony’s speech. Anthony lies and

claims that Caesar left every one of them seventy-five drachmas and all of his private walks and

planted orchards. To complete his masterful speech, Antony asks the Romans: “Here was

Caesar! When comes such another?” (3.2 266) Antony is very smart to use the will the last

because it solidifies the crowd’s opinion about the conspirators. He is able to turn the crowd all

the way around, to make its decision on its own, which leaves Antony out of trouble. But also

Antony’s words are so strong that now Brutus or any other suitor will not be able to turn them

back around to their side. In fact, they immediately seek out Cinna to kill him and instead

mistakenly lynch Cinna the Poet. Although the other senators view Antony as a playboy, it is

obvious with his use of verbal irony and visuals to turn the crowd against conspirators, he is a

most magnificent speaker who is able to convince the Romans to demand justice for his friend’s

bloody murder.

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