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The surprise and the power of Act 3 lie in Antony's words and actions. Explain Antony's...

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chocolate975 | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted April 1, 2010 at 5:03 AM via web

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The surprise and the power of Act 3 lie in Antony's words and actions. Explain Antony's dual roles in Act 3 and how they contribute to the drama.

Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

This is a short answer for my Language arts class--I am really stuck on this and would really appreciate it if you explain in detail why each answer is what it is. THANK YOU SO MUCH!!

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Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted April 1, 2010 at 5:44 AM (Answer #1)

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For a short-answer question it sure has a lot of parts!  And you ask for details, too!  The more parts your question has the less details we can include.  If you really need a detailed answer, you should break this up and ask several questions. 

But, I'll see what I can do.

You could probably point to more that two roles for Antony in Act 3 of Julius Caesar.  But I think what your teacher is probably getting at are the following:

  1. Antony's role as loyal friend of Caesar.  He suffers over Caesar's death.  Yes, some of the emotion he shows during his funeral speech is manufactured for emotional effect, but we get a true picture of his sense of loss when he gives his soliloquy immediately after he manages to get Brutus to give him permission to speak at the funeral, and Brutus and the others leave the stage. 
  2. Antony's role as avenger of Caesar and leader of the army against Brutus and the other conspirators.  You could also classify this as a role as an orator, or whatever.  I don't know exactly what your teacher might want.  The important part is that Antony single-handedly turns the Roman crowd into a Roman mob and stops the conspirators cold.  He does that in his speech at Caesar's funeral.

At the same time, words and action could refer to the words and actions within the speech itself.  Antony effectively uses irony in his words, then makes his speech even more powerful by pausing to calm down because he's so bothered by Caesar's death, pointing out the dagger holes in the body, etc. 

It's hard to know exactly what you need, but I hope this helps.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 1, 2010 at 5:54 AM (Answer #2)

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In Act III of Julius Caesar, Marc Antony is duplicitous.  When he approaches Brutus and the others after they have assassinated Caesar, Antony tells them he is ready to die.  But Brutus refuses his request, explaining that they only killed Caesar because he had become too power hungry; Brutus insists that he loved Caesar just as Marc Antony loved him.  Acting as though he accepts Brutus's explanation, Antony gives each of the conspirators his hand. Before these men and over the body of Caesar, Antony declares,

That I did love thee, Caesar, O! 'tis true!/If then thy spirit look upon us now/Shall it not grieve thee dearer than death/To see thy Anthony making his peace/Shaking the bloody fingers of thy foes....(III,i,209-213)

Antony asks if he may give a eulogy for Ceasar, and Brutus agrees against the advice of Cassius.  However, he instructs Antony that he cannot say anything negative:  "You shall not in your funeral speech, blame us, (III,ii,270). But, after Brutus and the others depart, Antony, in a soliloquy vows to begin a violent civil war and to avenge the death of Caesar.

When he does give his funeral oration, Marc Antony uses rhetorical devices, such as repetition and emotional words and irony to accuse the conspirators without directly saying that they are traitors, or any other negative implication.  He tells the Romans,

...He was my friend, faithful,and just to me;/but Brutus says he was ambitious,/And Brutus is an honorable man. (III,ii,93-95) 

As he continues, Antony mentions that Caesar thrice refuses a crown, but repeats that Brutus says "he was ambitious, and Brutus is an honorable man."  Repeatedly, Antony subtlely destroys the credibility of Brutus as being of noble intentions.

Dramatically, he shows the crowd the bloody robe of Caesar revealing where each conspirator stabbed him, and reads Caesar's will in which he has bequeathed to the people  each seventy-five dracmas.  By his tone and demonstrative actions, Antony sways the Roman people away from believing Brutus and the others without having broken his promise not to blame them. 

 

 

 

 

 

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