Rhetorical Devices in Mark Antony’s Funerary Speech from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar

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Chris Davis evokes feelings of defeat and revenge from the stadium as he catches a missed field goal and rushes 109 yards to score a touchdown just one second before the end of the game. His intention of winning the game can be applied in speeches, where people use certain moves with the intention of obtaining a certain outcome. In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Mark Antony stands on the capitol steps, addressing Rome’s countrymen. He speaks on the demerits of Brutus on March 15, 44 B.C. at the capitol building in Rome, just after Brutus assassinated a beloved ruler. In his speech, Antony urges the Romans to recognize Julius Caesar’s merits and Brutus and the conspirator’s immoral act, all while adopting the persona of an emotional friend of the people.
In the beginning of his speech, Mark Antony establishes a friendly persona while he creates a feeling of urgency for revolt. He begins by addressing the crowd as “Friends, Romans, countrymen” (JC 3.2.74). After listening to Brutus’s persuasive speech, Mark Antony understands that he must appeal to the audience through a different approach to gain supporters. Antony specifically uses an informal “Friends” to unify himself with the Romans, which provides the Romans a sense of trustworthiness in the stranger that will destroy a beloved general’s reputation. In addition, Antony he leaves out the “and” in “Friends, Romans, countrymen” (JC 3.2.74). Antony uses asyndeton and omits the conjunction between “Romans, countrymen” to create a rushing rhythm as well as a feeling of urgency because he needs the public to understand that Brutus is a villain. In addition, he uses the asyndeton to prove to the public that friendship is an urgent matter, which further builds the public’s trust in Antony. To conclude his introduction, Mark Antony asks the public to lend him their ears (JC 3.2.74). However, he does not literally mean that they should remove their ears and lend them to him, but instead, he uses it to represent his lust for attention. He focuses on the public’s attention in order to establish further a sense of trust and friendship, which allows Antony to persuade the public easily. Before Antony can have the Romans follow his plan to destroy the conspirators, he must ensure that the countrymen will chose to listen and believe in him instead of Brutus.
After stating the grounds for his speech, Antony moves to bash Brutus while he devotes himself to Caesar. Throughout the speech, Antony repeats the words “ambitious” and “honorable” five times each (JC 3.2.87-88,91,94-95,98-100,125,128). Before beginning his speech, Brutus allows Antony to speak whatever good he wishes of Caesar so long as he speaks no ill of himself and the other conspirators. Antony cleverly uses “honorable” in a sarcastic manner to speak poorly of Brutus without breaking his deal. On the other hand, rather than list ambition as a negative quality, Antony uses it to paint Julius as a righteous ruler. Embedded within the clash, Antony...

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