How does Antony use language? Choose a few highlights of language use and explain how they work to enhance the message he is trying to give us.

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Doug Stuva eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'll assume you're referring to Antony's speech to the Roman crowd in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

First of all, Antony isn't trying to give "us" anything.  He's trying to get the crowd on his side, instead of being on Brutus's side.  Sophisticated literature doesn't deal in "life lessons." 

One thing Antony does to convince the crowd that Caesar should not have been assassinated is use irony.  Before he is allowed to speak at the funeral, he promises Brutus that he will not blame the conspirators, that he will not say anything against them.  In order to follow the letter-of-the-law agreement he made, he says one thing, but means another.  For instance, he repeats and uses as a refrain the phrase, "Brutus is an honorable man."  He says Brutus is honorable, but he means the opposite.  So here you have repetition, refrain, and irony.  There's three ways that Antony uses language. 

Just to give you another one or two pieces of evidence, Antony opens the speech with "...Lend me your ears."  He is using metaphor here.

Antony uses speech by not using it:  he pauses to give the crowd a chance to think about what he's said, talk among themselves about what he's said, and to show the crowd how full of grief for Caesar he is.  Before he pauses he says:

My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,

And I must pause till it come back to me.

The speech uses numerous rhetorical devices.  I hope these few help.

dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Antony uses simple language the plebs could understand combined with his romantic reminder of the Republic (which ironically was being dismantled by Caesar) with his opening of...Friends,Romans,countrymen lend me your ears.. the antithesis of Brutus' words. Moreover, by referring to the men who murdered Caesar as honorable men of Rome, acting on behalf of the people only served to further anger the crowd against Brutus and the conspirators. Antony's speech added insult to injury allowing him to politically manipulate the Roman mob.

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Julius Caesar

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