In Julius Caesar, how are the differences in the natures of Antony and Brutus revealed through their speeches in Caesar's funeral?What are their purposes in addressing the citizens?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Brutus's speech shows him to be the honest, straightforward man that he is. He believes that if he simply explains to the crowd why Caesar was assassinated, they will understand and accept Caesar's death. His speech is based on logic and appeals to the Romans' ability to weigh his presentation of facts and arrive at the reasonable conclusion Brutus believes they will reach: that freedom in Rome must be preserved, above all else. Brutus is naive. The crowd warms to him, but they miss his message. Before he is through speaking, they are calling for him to replace Caesar as a ruler of absolute power.

Antony's oration reveals his character, as well, but his character is far different from Brutus's. Antony does not speak honestly and directly to the people. He manipulates them through a careful choreography of persuasion. He plays to the crowd as an actor delivering his lines to achieve maximum effect. Whereas Brutus appealed to logic, Antony appeals to the crowd's emotions. He understands the Romans far more than Brutus does. Antony speaks of friendship and loss, Caesar's courage and his love for the Roman people, the deceit of the conspirators and the violence of their actions. When the time is right, he mourns over Caesar's body, finally tearing away the mantle that covers it to reveal the savage wounds he received. Antony whips the Romans into a frenzy of anger and revenge, thus beginning the civil war in Rome. Antony's speech in its effectiveness shows just how clever and deceitful he truly was. He achieves his intended purpose to turn the people against Brutus and the others, but he keeps his word, technically, by not speaking ill of the conspirators. As Antony said, again and again with bitter irony, they were, after all, "honorable men."

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Julius Caesar

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