One major element of Julius Caesar is rhetoric – the skill of persuading others with words. In Act III, Shakespeare pits Mark Antony’s famous “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” speech against Brutus’ “Romans, Countrymen, and Lovers” earlier in the scene. Read both carefully. Most find Antony’s speech more effective rhetorically (surely the crowd did!). Why is that? Does Shakespeare agree? Or disagree? Be able to argue from care attention to the text, not just your general impressions. GIVE DETAILS!
You might consider what makes for effective persuasion, and what Shakespeare might be saying about persuasion through presenting these two speeches. Break down as carefully as you can how each speech works, what each speaker is trying to achieve, and how successful each was.
Compose a short essay dealing with these question. Set out a thesis (your position) and defend your thesis with evidence from the text and your reasons and analysis. You should have 3-5 paragraphs by the end of the period.
Brutus’ speech – lines 2-8, 12-31, 33-43, 53-59
Antony’s speech – lines 71-105
Stuck? These questions might help.
Why is Marc Antony’s speech more persuasive?
What elements does he use to convince the crowd?
What are some of his strategies?
What does Brutus do in his speech? How does he (at first) win over the crowd?
How is manipulation different from persuasion?
Of the two characters, who manipulates and who persuades?