Julius Caesar Conflicting Perspective Essay; How would I conflict the following?I want to do one paragraph on Mark Antony's Funeral Oration and one paragraph on the Plebeians response or centre my...

Julius Caesar Conflicting Perspective Essay; How would I conflict the following?

I want to do one paragraph on Mark Antony's Funeral Oration and one paragraph on the Plebeians response or centre my writing around the power of rhetoric and how the Plebeians are so easily swayed in perspective. How would i go about doing this? Do you have any other examples of conflicting perspectives? I am already doing the Tribunes v The Plebeians at the beginning of the play.

Asked on by kristyb1

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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William Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar is replete with conflicting perspectives.  While this motif does not always include the plebians, one salient example of this duality and contradiction occurs in Act V, Scene 1 as Cassius goes against his words to Brutus in Act I, Scene 2 when he solicits him as a conspirator in the assassination of Caesar. For, when Brutus seems reluctant to join in the conspiracy because the "eye sees not itself," Cassius urges him to create his own destiny,

Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings. (2.1.145-146)

Yet, later in the play, it is Cassius who becomes superstitious, finding omens in certain occurrences in Act V. Anxious about the forthcoming battle with the Philippi, Cassius tells Messala that he has seen omens:

Two mighty eagles fell, and there they perch'd,
Gorging and feeding from our soldiers' hands,
Who to Philippi here consorted us.
This morning are they fled away and gone,

And in their steads do ravens, crows, and kites
Fly o'er our heads and downward look on us,
As we were sickly prey. Their shadows seem
A canopy most fatal, under which
Our army lies, ready to give up the ghost.(5.1.87-95)

Another example of duality of perspective occurs with Marc Antony, who is Act III portrays the loving Roman who is loyal to the Caesars and mocks Brutus for his dishonor. Yet, after he has been in the triumvirate with Octavius Caesar and M. Aemilius Lepidus after the death of Caesar, Antony displays shamelessly a disloyalty to the Roman people and to Lepidus in Act IV when he sends Lepidus on an errand to fetch the will of Caesar so that Antony can lessen some of the legacies promised to the plebians.  After Lepidus departs, Antony feels no guilt about his treacher as he tells Octavius,

This is a slight unmeritable man,
Meet to be sent on errands. Is it fit,
The three-fold world divided, he should stand
One of the three to share it  (4.1.13-16)

Later, then, Antony contradicts himself as he accuses Brutus and Cassius of the same expediency of which he himself is guilty in ridding himself of Lepidus:

Villains! You did not so when your vile daggers
Hack'd one another in the sides of Caesar.
You show'd your teeth like apes, and fawn'd like hounds,
And bow'd like bondmen, kissing Caesar's feet;
Whilst damned Casca, like a cur, behind
Struck Caesar on the neck. O you flatterers! (5.1.42-47)



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adipietrae | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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What is so interesting about the funeral speech is that the conflicting opinion is changed and both the people and the conspirators do not realize it is happening until it is too late.  When Mark Antony begins his speech, the people feel justified that Caesar was a tyrant and that his death was for the good of the people.  MA uses irony ("...for Brutus is an honorable man.  So are they all honorable man...") and repetition to make the people constantly think about the conpirators as honorable men.  He says this again and again and mixes in examples of how great JC was.  He illustrates how he loved the people and left them all money and even his own private gardens.  The people begin to realize that JC was a good man who cared for them and that these men who killed them were not honorable.  This is the point at which MA accused the conspirators of murder and they fled from the angry mob.  Now the conpirators, once the heroes, become the hunted murderers.

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dermotgill | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

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Mark Anthony's speech is a cunning way of getting the plebs on his side. It was very foolhardy of the conspiriators to leave Mark Anthony  alone with the body of the slain Caesar. Mark Anthony appealed to the hearts of the people. He indicated that Caesar only wanted to give the people more power. His successes were for the betterment of Rome.Mark Anthony was a great orator and he knew how to convince the people. This was he turning point in the play as Mark Anthony grabbed the ethical high ground in a manner of speaking. Mark Anthony was also building up the people to his successful  campaign against the conspiriatiors.

The crowd were very fickle and Mark Anthony exploited it to the best of his ability.

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