What is the irony in the reaction of the crowd to Brutus' first speech?

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gpane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Brutus addresses the crowd at Caesar's funeral, to explain his reasons for killing Caesar. He did this, he explains, not for personal but for purely political reasons - for the sake of Rome. He was worried that Caesar was becoming too powerful and might become a dictator and oppress the people. The crowd is quite impressed by his passion and his rhetoric but their response shows that they have understood nothing of what he was actually trying to say. They call for him to be honoured, as Caesar was. This is utterly ironic as the elevation of any one man is precisely what Brutus has just been arguing against. The crowd are therefore shown to be unreasoning and easily swayed. They formerly cheered Caesar; now they applaud Brutus, Caesar's killer; and very soon they will turn against Brutus after listening to Mark Antony, who is next to speak. They just go along with anyone who happens to make a rousing speech, caring nothing for its actual substance.

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Julius Caesar

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