Essay on Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

Imagine living in Rome in 44 B.C. You are a common citizen who had just finished the daily chores you always do. That’s when you hear the terrible news, the man who was going to become your king was murdered. That man was Julius Caesar. You then rush over to the capitol building, hundreds of lost souls waiting to hear answers about how this event happened, then a man slowly walks out of the shadows. In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, this man was named Marcus Brutus. Brutus took part in the killing of Julius Caesar, who was going to become their king. Caesar was a man who influenced a lot of people, and those people trusted and respected him. Mark Antony was Caesars sidekick, he also took part in the murder. Antony and Brutus are allowed to give speeches towards Caesars death, although Brutus must deliver his speech first. The speeches differ in many ways. In the speech delivered by Marcus Brutus, parallelism, antithesis, and use of rhetorical questions to create a prideful and truthful tone while a Synecdoche, metaphors, and paralipsis found in Antony’s speech show his boldness and loyalty.  

Brutus uses many literary and rhetorical devices that convey his tone of pride and truthfulness. For example, Brutus displays parallelism when he is weeping for the death of Caesar. He states, “As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant I honour him” (Shakespeare 3.2.22-23). Brutus is showing his emotions towards the death of Caesar to the citizens of Rome. The repetition of the phrases that start with “As” and “I” is a great use of parallelism. This allows Brutus to strengthen and to build off of his argument by stating great qualities of Caesar that make his soliloquy flow, when he states more about Caesar. The speakers use of an Antithesis is useful by seeing the contrasts of Brutus, he states “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more” (Shakespeare 3.2.20). Brutus is

Page 2 displaying great contrast between loving Caesar and loving Rome. This can also create a sense of suspense throughout the crowd by Brutus speaking his true feelings. In Julius Caesar Shakespeare implements many rhetorical questions. Brutus asks a rhetorical question to try and manipulate the crowd. He says, “Had you rather Caesar were living and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men” (Shakespeare 3.2.20-22). By including this is his speech, Brutus is using his manipulative characteristics by persuading the common people that the death of Caesar was good for them because they are now free from Caesars ambitions and his mighty power. 

After Brutus delivers his speech, Antony gives a sincere and dramatic tone through many literary devices. An example of paralipsis is when Antony addresses the will of Caesar and he adds curiosity towards his last request. “You will compel me, then, to read the will, then make a ring about the corpse of Caesar” (Shakespeare 3.2.). The common people want Antony to read the will of Caesar. Antony wants the citizens to beg for him to read the well as he says “you will compel me, then, to read the will”. This can be seen as dramatic. Shakespeare uses many hyperboles in the play. Specifically in Antony’s speech a hyperbole is used to connect his argument. Antony states, “...and they would kiss dead Caesars wounds and dip their napkins in his sacred blood” (Shakespeare 3.2.). This is an extreme exaggeration of how much the citizens of Rome love Caesar. They loved him so much they would kiss his wounds and would dip their napkins in his blood so the people would always have a resemblance to Caesar with them. Brutus does not have hyperboles in his speech. Lastly Antony uses a metaphor to express the emotions he has for Caesars death. He states, “My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar” (Shakespeare 3.2.). Antony’s heart is not really in the coffin, he is showing his sincereness by telling the common people of Rome that his heart still belongs to Caesar even though he is dead. In Brutus speech he says this “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more” (Shakespeare 3.2.20). Brutus expresses that he loves Rome more than Caesar. Antony does not directly say he loved Rome more. This ties back to Antony’s sincereness and Page 3 his dramatic tone.  

In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, many rhetorical and literary devices are present throughout the text. The use of these devices in Mark Antony and Marcus Brutus’ speech are to show the tones. In the first speech spoken by Brutus, he reveals a prideful and truthful tone by using parallelism, an antithesis, and rhetorical questions. In Mark Antony’s speech he conveys a sincere and dramatic tone through the use of paralipsis, hyperboles, and metaphors. 

Both characters use these devices to achieve their overall effect to the reader. Brutus’s speech is given to justify his actions on why he killed Caesar, while Antony’s is meant to justify against the conspirators and to manipulate the crowd. Mark Antony’s oration is more effective for the citizens of Rome, as he persuades them.



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