Compare and contrast the characters of Brutus and Antony with reference to their speeches in Act III of "Julius Caesar".

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Brutus's character as the "noblest" of the Romans is evident in the sober, logical way he addresses the crowd after the assassination. He gets his message through to them honestly by appealing to the intellect of the people and assuming they can understand his basic argument that Caesar was killed for the good of Rome and all its people. The unfortunate thing for Brutus is that he has no understanding of the psychology of "the mob." Because he is an honest, "honorable man" (as Antony describes him only partly with irony), he thinks highly of the Roman "plebs" and believes his rational speech will make a permanent impression on them. They do at first applaud him wildly: "Live, Brutus! We'll make him a king!" As it turns out, the favorable impression of Brutus and his speech lasts about five minutes. Antony, once he has quieted the crowd down, begins to work on their emotions. For him, the end justifies the means. The recounting of Caesar's virtues, the reading of the will, and the showing of the corpse, along with Antony's own beautifully poetic language, all work to make the crowd turn savagely against the conspirators. The point noted above about language is especially significant. Negative critics of Shakespeare, like Leo Tolstoy, charged that all of Shakespeare's characters "speak the same way" and use the same style of language. As a result, the most important element of stagecraft, the delineation of character, is therefore lacking. Nothing could be further from the truth. One only has to compare Antony's sonorous, poetic address with the flat and impersonal (though elegant) language of Brutus to see this. This is evident not only in the famous opening of "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!" but also in the gradual build to a climax, the heavy repetitions, and the emotional metaphorical phrases such as "My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, / And I must pause till it come back to me." Unlike Brutus, Antony has the intention to "Cry havoc! and let slip the dogs of war!" and therein lies Antony's success and Brutus's failure.

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Brutus is a very trusting, loyal man. From his speech we are able to see that he is not overly eloquent or elaborate in his speech, but is able to communicate simply and effectively. He credits others with being as loyal and as rational as he is, not questioning motives or understanding. He very simply states the reason for killing Caesar, and urges Rome to do the same thing to him if these traits are ever found in him.

Antony, on the other hand, is very eloquent in his speech. He uses good rhetoric skills to manipulate the crowd to favoring his opinion. Shakespeare shows this difference by writing Antony's lines in iambic pentameter, versus the prose of Brutus's speech. Rather than simply stating facts and letting reason govern, he appeals to the audience's emotions, rallying them against the conspirators through sentimentality over Caesar's actions.

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