In Act 3, Scenes 2 and 3, why has Antony brought the body of Caesar and how does the presence of the body impact the crowd and strengthen the point Antony is making?

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Antony has brought the body of Caesar because this is a funeral oration and the body should be present. Brutus's speech was not a funeral oration but an explanation of the conspirators' motives. Evidently Antony carries in a dummy wrapped in the cloak Caesar was wearing when he was stabbed by all the conspirators. Antony must place this dummy in a coffin, because he says early in his speech, "My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar." The audience never actually sees the body because of the mob in front of the coffin. What the audience sees is the bloody and shredded cloak or mantle which Antony holds up when he ostensibly shows the mutilated body to the mob. Showing the cloak is more effective than trying to show a body lying in a coffin. The cloak can be seen by everyone in the theater. It would be awkward for an actor playing Antony to enter carrying the actor playing Caesar, and it would not necessarily have an emotional effect on the audience comparable to its effect on the Romans who actually knew Caesar. Antony knows that the mob will feel sympathy for Caesar because of the way the body was hacked and "butchered." According to Octavius, there were thirty-three wounds. This excessive violence seems to show cruelty and hatred rather than patriotic zeal.

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