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In Act III, Scene II of The Tragedy of Juilus Caesar, many teachers like to focus on the Antony speech at the Capitol following Caesar’s death. What persuasive techniques does Antony use in his speech? I would focus particularly on verbal irony and repetition. Why are they effective? How does he turn the audience around to his point of view?
In this scene you might also be asked to comment on Brutus’ speech. The most striking aspect of his speech is his effective use of parallel structure. How do Antony’s and Brutus’ speeches differ? Who creates the strongest emotional reaction in the audience and why?
In Act IV, Cassius and Brutus have an almost violent argument in their tent in Scene III. What is the nature of this argument? Following the argument, on what matter of battle strategy do Cassius and Brutus disagree? Who wins the argument?
Act III of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar reveals a great deal about the character traits of Caesar himself, Brutus, Antony, and Cassius. An essay question, then, could ask the student to explain how the characters are developed in this act. For instance,
Q: Discuss character development of two of the following in Act III: a. Caesar b. Antony c. Cassius d. Brutus
Students can focus upon the arrogance of Caesar that he ignores the warnings of the Ides of March and does not heed the message that Artemidorus hands him. They can also examine the duplicity of Antony, whose motivation for speaking is not what he claims. Further, a close examination of Cassius's wisdom over that of Brutus is quite apparent in Act III, Scene 1.
In Act III, Scene 2, there are many questions to ask on the speeches of Brutus and Antony, but here are a few:
Q: What questions about Brutus does Antony subtlely suggest to the crowd?
Q: How is Antony's repeating of "Brutus is an honorable man" effective? What does it do to change the crowd's thinking?
Q: Does Antony speak as though he has loved Caesar dearly, or does his speech reveal other motives?
Q: Explain these lines of Antony's speech:
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones...(3.2.77-78)
Q: What does the riot of Act III, Scene 3 reveal about the state of Rome and its people?
Act IV gives the audience views of a changed Cassius and Brutus. A question that can be asked about this chapter is
Q: How does it seem that the personalities of Brutus and Cassius have altered in Act IV? What do both the men suggest about themselves?
Q: Whereas Cassius asserts finally that there are supernatural forms that play a role in their affairs, now Brutus calls his men to action. How are these attitudes ironic?
Q: What damaging words harm the friendship between Brutus and Cassius?
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