Mark Antony’s Speech
How does Mark Antony persuade the crowd to reject the conspirators in Act III. 3 of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar? During Mark Antony’s compelling speech, he uses various techniques to convince the crowd that the conspirators are murderers not legends. Because the plebians were easily swayed, Mark Antony had this opportunity.
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To make sure the crowd took his points seriously, Mark Antony has to appear fair and wise. He knows that the plebians are strongly in favour of Brutus, as Brutus has just given them a speech, so if he starts by accusing Brutus, no one would listen to him.
Therefore, at the beginning of his speech, Mark Antony was saying that Brutus was “noble” and “honourable”. Mark Antony approaches the crowd discernibly. As his arguments grow stronger, the crowds begin to realize that Brutus and the conspirators are wrong. Every time he calls the conspirators “honourable”, it becomes more ironic and sarcastic and the people start believing it less. To oppose Brutus’ claim that Caesar was a heartless tyrant Antony recounts “how dearly he loved Brutus.
Also, Antony humbles himself as “no orator, as Brutus is” hinting that Brutus used trickery in his speech to deceive the crowd. After that Antony reveals to the crowd Caesar’s will, in which “To every Roman citizen he gives, to every several man seventy-five drachmas” as well as land. He then asks the crowd, “Here was a Caesar, when comes such another? ” which questions the conspirators ability to lead. Finally, Antony releases the crowd and utters, “Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot. Take thou course thou wilt. After this the crowd riots and searches out the traitors in an attempt to kill them. Mark Antony shows that Caesar was compassionate and that he had a big impact on Antony’s life that he can never forget Caesar: “My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar. ” He claims that they are so close that whenever one hurts, the other does too. He starts crying and the crowd understands what he’s going through and we can see this when one plebian says, “Poor soul, his eyes are red as fire with weeping. ” Antony then teases the crowd with Caesar’s will, which the beg him to read, but he refuses.
Antony tells the crowd to “have patience” and expresses his feeling that he will “wrong the honourable men whose daggers have stabbed Caesar” if he is to read the will. The crowd yells out “they were traitors. “Honourable men” and have at this time completely turned against the conspirators and are inflamed about Caesar’s death. Even though in his speech Antony never directly calls the conspirators traitors, he is able to call them “honourable” in a sarcastic manner that the crowd is able to understand.
He starts out by pointing out that Caesar had refused the crown three times, which refutes the conspirator’s main cause for killing Caesar. He reminds them of Caesar’s kindness and love for all, proving Caesar as innocent. Next he teases them with the will until they demand he read it, and he reveals Caesar’s ‘gift’ to the citizens. Finally, Mark Antony, leaves them with the question was there ever a greater one than Caesar, which infuriates the crowd. Mark Antony is able to eloquently manipulate the crowd through remarkable rhetoric skills and turn them against the “honourable men”.