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The Battle of Words: Brutus vs. Antony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar Essay

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Updated: Dec 31st, 2021

Introduction

The play “Julius Caesar” looks at the connection that is there between authority and rhetoric in a detailed manner. The capacity to cause things to happen by making use of words or speech alone is the strongest kind of authority. In the starting scenes of the play, this kind of authority is seen in Caesar. Mark Anthony says that when Caesar tells people to perform something, the thing is performed. Proof of this is traced in Act III in which speech is utilized to touch the hearts of people as well as capture their minds. Through the use of words, Mark Anthony is able to convince in a clever manner those conspirators that he desires to back him; “let each man render me with his bloody hand” (Shakespeare 3.1.372). Under the pretext of friendship, Anthony identifies conspirators for revenge. On the other hand, Brutus makes a speech to the people and makes an appeal to them to have love of liberty in order for him to ensure justification of the murder of Caesar. Brutus fully refers to the high esteem in which he is held and this reference is made with an intention of him further making valid his explanation. More so, Mark Anthony in a similar manner wins the favor of the people by employing persuasive rhetoric to sweep the crowd in to an immense frenzy, so immense to a level that they don’t even come to a realization of the unpredictability of their favor. However, the speech styles employed by these two characters are not similar but differ from each other in that the style employed by Brutus is one of oration, stoic and is simple and direct to the point while the style employed by Mark Anthony is a performance which is “much more Ciceronian in its style, abetted by the props of Caesar’s body and his will and directly involves and affects the audience” (Nordquist, Para 10) and this difference in the styles basically resulted from the goals each of the two individuals was having in line with Caesar’s death.

Brutus versus Mark Anthony

In spite of the fact that Brutus had an aspiration not to be seen as a butcher or having intentions to cut off Caesar’s limbs by murdering Mark Anthony, in real sense he brought about invocation of blood and also destruction by not killing Mark Anthony. Brutus had hopes that by taking away the life of Caesar, he would enhance realization of freedon among the people of Rome and these people would not be ruled by a prospecpective dictator. Brutus also had hopes that there will be no war and peace would prevail. But on the other hand, in spite of the respectable ideals that Brutus had, Mark Anthony viewed Caesar’s death as the commencement of a curse of battle and bloodshed that would occur on men. He took an initiative to engage in enacting such a curse which was being prevented by Brutus. The contradictions that are seen here are the stimulation of the resulting war that occurs between these two people; Mark Anthony and Brutus.

Prior to Caesar’s death, there was an argument between Brutus and Cassius about the idea as to whether or not Mark’s life should as well be taken away. Claims are presented by Cassius about Mark being a perceptive contriver and letting him to remain alive presents much danger for the reason that this person was very much adored by Caesar. Much fear was filled in Cassius concerning the steps Mark Anthony could take in revenge to them after Caesar was murdered.

However, the claims that are presented by Cassius are refuted by Brutus who makes a statement that their course could turn out to be a bloody one. According to Brutus, he believes that Mark Anthony is not a big threat to their lives or the plans that they have. He takes Mark Anthony as just being a limb of Caesar and he is not even in a position to come up with decisions on his own or hit back as revenge to Caesar’s murder. However, this turns out not to be the case after Caesar is murdered as indicated in the steps taken by Mark Anthony where he comes up with a prophesy that a curse shall be on the men’s limbs (Shakespeare 3.1 373).

Mark Anthony carries out the curse by considering himself as a man’s limb and he does this through going to battle in the fight against Brutus and Brutus’ legions. He ensures the accomplishment of the prediction or prophesy he presented of ruin and blood and also the accomplishment or fulfillment of the fell actions he had.

In the words that Brutus puts across, he asks the rest of the plotters that by taking away the life of Caesar they would not be assassinators but rather they would be sacrificers. In his words he says; “We all raise up to the Caesar’s spirit and in the men’s spirit there is no blood. Oh, that we then could come by Caesar’s spirit and not dismember Caesar” (Shakespeare 3.1.373).

Initially, it seems like Brutus has a mind that in case conspirators (him being among them) just desire to come against Caesar’s spirit, in turn, by coming against Caesar’s body (murdering him), no blood will be there. However, in the speech that Brutus presents later, he makes recognition that there must be bleeding of Caesar for the actions they take. Brutus makes justification of this by imploring that they murder Caesar in a bold manner and not in a manner that is of anger and that they cut him as a food that is suitable for the gods. Seemingly, according to Brutus killing Caesar is doing some favor to him (Caesar).

On the other hand, this idea is counteracted by Mark Anthony by presenting a prophesy that the spirit of Caesar “ranging for revenge, with Ate by this side come hot from hell, shall in these confines with a voice cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war” (Shakespeare 3.1. 373). Mark Anthony presents claims, in opposition to the Brutus’ claims, that Caesar will turn out to be one of the gods and not food for the gods. According to him, Caesar will look for revenge with the goddess of destruction, Ate. In a more ironic manner, just after a period of two years, a declaration was made of Caesar being among the Rome’s gods. This tends to be the fulfillment of the prophecy that was presented by Mark Anthony. Basing on Mark Anthony’s view, the war that was experienced, the bloodshed, destruction and death that come after the occurrence of Caesar’s death was brought about by the spirit of Caesar looking for revenge.

There were fears in Brutus about Caesar turning out to be a harsh emperor and therefore to avoid this, Brutus developed an idea that Caesar had to be murdered. But in realty, it is after Caesar is murdered that he turns out to be the root of tyrannymore death and there is occurrence of destruction as a way of hitting back against Caesar’s death and this was more than what Caesar himself could have done while he could be living. This turns out to be an indication that Brutus was wrong in drawing his conclusion that, “And as for Mark Anthony, think of him, for he can do no more than Caesar’s arm when Caesar’s head is off” (Shakespeare 3.1 373).

By Mark Anthony ensuring revenge against the death of Caesar through engaging in war and presenting claims about the war serving as a revenge against Caesar’s spirit, a prove is seen in regard to Mark Anthony being in a position to be more than just the limb of Caesar. This revenge that comes about is the cause of Rome turning out to be an empire and ceasing from being a republic. This empire turns out to have rulers that are tyrannical who bring about much suffering among the people of Rome. This sequence of actions give an indication that the complete reason of Brutus murdering Caesar was spoilt since he did not judge well about the consequences of the actions that he took.

Brutus had it in mind that the Romans would look at him together with his fellow conspirators as people who were not murderers but purgers instead. May be if Brutus had been having a willingness to murder Mark Anthony or “hack the limbs” he would have turned out to be in a position to convince the people of Rome to back his view. But on the contrary, since he did not put in to consideration the capabilities Mark Anthony had, he was not in a position to realize his goal of Romans’ happiness and also peace.

Conclusion

The two sets of speeches that are presented individually by Brutus and Mark Anthony give an indication of how completely opposite they view the death of Caesar and anything else associated to this death. The views are presented in the speech styles that are not similar by Brutus and Mark Anthony basing on the individual’s goals. According to Brutus’ view, Caesar’s death and blood was necessary and would serve a purpose but he would not like to kill any other person. On the other hand, Mark Anthony looked at Caesar’s death as being wrong and was not necessary but in order to revenge Caesar, he was having a willingness to murder any person. In reality, Brutus commenced on doing something and this thing was completed for him by Mark Anthony. Possibly, Mark Anthony himself would not have murdered Caesar, but since Brutus actually murdered Caesar, Mark Anthony was now able to use that action as a cause to ensure the fulfillment of his goals or purposes. The views that are opposite and contradicting presented by Mark Anthony and Brutus as seen in their speeches are the cause of the destruction and bloodshed that came after their actions.

Works Cited

Nordquist Richard, “Comments on the Rhetoric of Brutus and Marc Antony in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar”. 2007. Web.

Shakespeare William, The complete works of William Shakespeare with explanatory and historical notes Volume 2. Paris: Baudry’s European Library, 1838.

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