In Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, what is an example of antithesis in the speech of Brutus at Caesar's funeral?
Shakespeare intended to present a strong contrast between the speeches of Brutus and Antony in the second scene of Act III. Brutus is a trained orator. Antony refers to him sarcastically as an "orator" in his own speech. Brutus' speech is full of antithetical statements, questions, and references in keeping with his studies of formal Roman and Grecian oratory. The comparisons he makes are impressive, but they seem stiff and brainspun, and it seems likely that many of the ignorant men in his audience hardly understand what he is talking about and cannot appreciate the oratorical skill he displays. Brutus has probably been rehearsing this speech ever since he decided to take part in the assassination plot, which further contributes to making it sound stiff, formal, and insincere. Examples of antithesis are:
...hear me for my cause, and be silent that you may hear.
Believe me for my honor, and have respect to mine honor, that you may believe.
Had you rather that Caesar were living and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men?
Shakespeare had very little formal education himself. He was largely self-educated and learned about humanity in "the school of hard knocks." His presentations of Brutus and Antony in this oratorical contest show the great poet's characteristic preference for what was simple, common, natural, unpretentious and unaffected. His own audiences were made up largely of men like the Roman mob in his play, and he, like his character Mark Antony, knew how to talk to them in language that they could understand.
Brutus has many good qualities. He is intelligent, generous, honest, sincere, brave, and patriotic. But he is presented as a bookworm, an introvert, a loner, a naive idealist. He does not understand the common man, as do both Antony and Cassius.