Antithesis is placing opposing or contrasting ideas close together. What are some of the antitheses Antony uses? This is from ACT III of the play. It would also greatly help to know WHY Antony...

Antithesis is placing opposing or contrasting ideas close together. What are some of the antitheses Antony uses? 

This is from ACT III of the play.

It would also greatly help to know WHY Antony introduces those contrasts.

Thanks you!

Asked on by jonjon7

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billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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If you refer to Brutus's speech a bit earlier in the same act, you will see that he is using contrasting ideas as a rhetorical device. For example:

...hear me for my cause, and be silent that you may hear. Believe me for mine honor, and have respect to mine honor, that you may believe. (III.2)

Shakespeare, of course, did not know what Brutus or Antony actually said in their funeral speeches. Antony seems to be starting his own speech by imitating Brutus's use of balanced sentences. He refers to Brutus throughout his entire speech--but he soon departs from that stiff, formal style of rhetoric and begins speaking spontaneously and emotionally, adopting the style of a plainspoken, unpolished soldier which probably appeals more to the uneducated mob attending him.

Here is an example from the beginning of Antony's speech:

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.

And here is an example of how Antony speaks with passion and appears to disregard all the rules of logic and rhetoric:

I am no orator as Brutus is,
But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man
That love my friend; and that they know full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him.
For I have neither wit, nor words, or worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,
To stir men's blood. I only speak right on.

Shakespeare is intentionally contrasting the oratorical styles of Brutus and Antony, with the implication that Antony's is more effective because it seems natural, spontaneous, uncalculated, and unpretentious. Brutus presents himself as an aristocrat; Antony presents himself as one of the people. Antony may not be as well educated as Brutus, but he is every bit as intelligent;; he has a lot more "street smarts" and a lot more common sense. Later in the play Cassius will tell Antony, in Brutus's presence, that his words "...rob the Hybla bees, / And leave them honeyless."

Antony is far from being "a plain blunt man." He had to appear before a hostile mob and come up with an extemporaneous speech that would turn them completely around and cause them to drive Brutus and Cassius out of Rome, along with all their co-conspirators and most of their sympathizers. Shakespeare could only imagine what Antony said on that historic day, but the speech he invented is probably the most famous  thing he ever wrote.

Sources:

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