In Act 3 of Julius Caesar, how is Antony able to work the crowd up into a frenzy with his speech?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Antony is very clever and effective in how he manipulates the Roman citizenry in his speech. He understands human nature and plays upon it in his speech. Antony begins by disarming his listeners; he knows that after listening to Brutus, they support him and are antagonistic toward anything Antony would say against the conspirators and in support of Caesar. Antony calls them his friends and reminds them that he and they are all fellow Romans. He tells them that his purpose is not to praise Caesar. Once he has eliminated their hostility to him, Antony begins to manipulate the crowd's emotions.

He makes Caesar seem human by describing Caesar as his friend. Antony then reminds the crowd of all the good things Caesar had done for Rome. He plays upon their self-interest by tempting them with news of Caesar's will and follows up later by listing all that Caesar had left them in his will. Antony plays upon their sympathy by showing them Caesar's bloody body and reliving Caesar's brutal murder at the hands of the conspirators. Throughout his speech, Antony says again and again that Brutus and the others are "honorable men." By the time he has finished speaking, however, the phrase has taken on a terrible irony, and Antony watches with great satisfaction as the crowd, now enraged, sets out to hunt down and destroy those who assassinated Caesar.

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Julius Caesar

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