English II G
Period 5 The Tragedy of Julius Caesar William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is about a man who is betrayed by his trusted friends because they accuse him of being ambitious. Caesar is betrayed by Brutus, Cassius, and Casca because they were afraid he was going to become a tyrant and was not good for Rome. This view, however, is not shared by one of his good friends, Antony. After Caesar is killed by Brutus, Brutus addresses the crowd and says why he killed Caesar, appealing to his credibility. Antony then speaks to the crowd and tells them that Brutus was very close to Caesar, but yet he still killed him. No honorable man would betray a close friend like Brutus did. As Antony’s speech progresses, he gets the crowd on his side by destroying Brutus’ credibility.
Brutus begins the speech by appealing to his own credibility through parallel structure. Brutus says “Believe me for mine honor, and have respect to mine honor, that you may believe,” (3.2. 14-16) telling the citizens of Rome that he is an honorable man and that whatever he says is true. He repeats “honor” and “believe” to reinforce the idea that he is an honorable man and that Rome can trust him. He says this to try to build his credibility in order for his reason of why he killed Cesar to be credible. Brutus then tries to ask rhetorical questions through a parallel structure to get the audience to think of how things would be if Caesar was still alive. He asks the citizens of Rome, “Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all freemen?” (3.2 23-25). Brutus was implying that Caesar was going to take advantage of the power he was given and that they would all die as slaves working for Caesar because he would become a tyrant. He said this to move the Roman citizens and make them feel that Caesar wasn’t any good for Rome. To emphasize this point, towards the end of his speech, Brutus asks them another rhetorical question. He asks, “Who is here so vile that will not love his country?” (3.2. 33-34). By asking this, Brutus was appealing to the Romans’ patriotism because everyone wants the best for their country and he was suggesting that if they didn’t think he was right in what he did, they didn’t care and love their country like he did. When Brutus lets Antony speak, Antony uses repetition to tell the Romans that Caesar wasn’t being ambitious at all but Brutus was an “honorable man” (3.2. 84) so they should believe him, in the process of doing this, Antony appeals to the Romans’ emotions. He starts off by saying, “The noble Brutus hath told you Caesar was ambitious… he was my friend, faithful and just to me; But Brutus says he was ambitious, and Brutus is an honorable man” (3.2. 79-80 87-89). Antony starts off like this because he is trying to prove that Caesar wasn’t being ambitious and that Brutus did wrong in killing Caesar. Every time Antony repeats “honorable man,” the literal meaning fades away and is starting to be said in a sarcastic way. Antony was trying to ask the Romans subliminally, why would such an honorable man do this? By Antony proving to the Romans that Caesar wasn’t being ambitious, it would make Brutus tell a lie, hence disprove him of being an “honorable man.” Through the middle of Antony’s speech he continues to appeal to the Romans’ feelings making them feel pity for Caesar by using rhetorical questions. He tells the crowd of Romans, “I thrice presented him a kingly crown, which he did refuse. Was this ambition?” (3.2. 98-99). He was showing the Romans that Caesar was not being ambitious because he didn’t take the