Explain Antony's speech in Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare.

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In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, the third act portrays the assassination of Caesar and its immediate aftermath.  Cassius, Brutus, and Antony speak to the people.  The conspirators explain why Caesar had to be eliminated from government. Before he was allowed to speak, Antony had agreed to certain terms: speak after Brutus, do not denigrate the conspirators, and only praise Caesar.

Antony fooled the conspirators by agreeing to these conditions.  He did follow Brutus in speaking, but he did not adhere to the rest of the rules.

How does Antony achieve success in his oration?

He establishes himself as a peer of the people---Friends, Romans, and Countrymen.

The crowd had supported Brutus during and after his oration.  Initially, Antony seems complimentary of Brutus and the other conspirators.

He outlines why he is speaking to them…with Brutus’s permission, he is there to talk about Caesar because he was his friend.

One of his primary devices used is repetition.  He uses the words ambition, ambitious, noble, honorable, and the will repeatedly since Brutus employed these words in his speech to describe both Caesar and himself. As the speech progresses, he sutly begins to use thee words sarcastically and eventually with anger.

  • Praises Caesar
  • Pauses to show his grief and tears for his friend Caesar
  • Mentions the will but puts off reading it
  • Describes the gruesome bathing of their hands and daggers in Caesar’s blood and pulling a hair from his head to have as a souvenir
  • Brings out the corpse covered with his cloak
  • Points out the wounds and the names of the conspirators who gave made them
  • Specifically indicts Brutus as a close friend of Caesar

For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar's angel.
Judge, O you gods, how dearly Caesar loved him!
This was the most unkindest cut of all;
For when the noble Caesar saw

  • Uncovers the corpse and compares the wounds to mouths that would accost the one who stabbed Caesar in that spot
  • Reads the will which gives the Roman citizens money and land to be used for their pleasure.

After the commoners go off to find the assassins, Antony gives real insight into his purpose in giving the speech:

ANTONY:

Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot
Take thou what course thou wilt. 

Obviously, Antony intended to achieve the demise of the conspirators.  He hoped that the evil would run the gamut throughout Rome.

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