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What are the manipulative tactics that are used by Marc Antony in his speech to win...

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abwa2013 | (Level 3) eNoter

Posted August 31, 2013 at 5:31 PM via web

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What are the manipulative tactics that are used by Marc Antony in his speech to win over the citizens against Brutus? 

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 31, 2013 at 8:11 PM (Answer #1)

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Acting as a counterpoint to the noble and eloquent Brutus in his funeral oration, Marc Antony presents himself humbly to the plebeians, even calling them his "masters." And, since he does not have to defend his actions as Brutus must, Antony speaks of Caesar rather than himself, an action which again connotes humility, also saying that his "heart is in the coffin there with Caesar" (3.2.114), These two gestures certainly serve to ingratiate Antony with the crowd.

In the course of his oration, Marc Antony makes use of repetition and a sarcastic tone, techniques which catch the ear of the common man. His repetition of the lines,

Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man (3.2.94-95)

certainly undermines the character of Brutus, who has attested that Caesar was tyrannical, as Antony precedes these lines with examples of Caesar's altruism such as filling the public coffers and denying the crown three times.

In these lines, too, sarcasm is present in his tone as he quips after his mention of the filling of the coffers,

Did this in Caesar seem ambitious;
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept;
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff. (3.2.98-100)

An emotional appeal that Antony makes is the drawing forth of Caesar's will and informing the people that their ruler--accused of tyranny--so loved them that he included them in his will. This appeal to their natural greed incites the crowd, especially as he taunts them by being dilatory about reading its contents,

Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it.
It is not meet you know how Caesar loved you.
You are not wood....but men;....
It will inflame, you, it will make you mad....*3.2.150-154)

After saying this, Marc Antony includes the plebleians in his actions and words before them as he draws the crowd around the mutilated body of the dead Caesar, thus arousing their emotions more as he makes his subtle accusations against the conspirators:

 See what a rent the envious Casca made;....

Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabbed
And as he plucked his cursed steel away. (3.2.185-187)

...Look you here,
Here is himself, marred as you see with traitors. (3.2.207)

Then, acting as though he reads the will only because of the citizens' demands, and not his desire to foment the crowd, Antony reads it while subtlely planting the idea of mutiny in them:

Good fiends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny.(3.2.220-221)

And, then, not subtlely at all, Antony employs repetition again with the rhetorical device of anadiplosis fomenting the crowd "to rise and mutiny."

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