The Power Of Rhetoric In Julius Caesar, By William Shakespeare

1131 words - 5 pages

In William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, persuasion and rhetoric play a crucial role in a myriad of events and outcomes that occur. In Act one Cassius is trying to convince Brutus to turn against Caesar and join the conspiracy. Later, in Act three, Brutus and Antony speak at Caesar’s funeral. Brutus convinces the Roman people that what he and the conspirators did was for the good of Rome. Antony then persuades the plebeians that the conspirators had no reasonable judgement to kill Caesar and that all Caesar’s future plans were to help Rome. Though many characters appear to be rhetorical, Antony could be considered as the most. Persuasion and rhetoric are used throughout Julius Caesar when Cassius is trying to coax Brutus to join the conspiracy, and when Brutus and Antony convince the crowd at Caesar’s funeral.
Brutus is considered an honorable, noble man in Rome and it is important to Cassius that he becomes part of the conspiracy. In Act 1, Cassius and Brutus agree that Caesar becoming king would be detrimental to Rome. Cassius starts off persuading Brutus by describing how weak Caesar is. He states, “he had a fever when he was Spain, and when the fit was on him, I did mark how he did shake; ‘tis true, this god did shake” (I.ii.119-121). Cassius is trying to show Brutus that Caesar is not perfect or better than everyone else. In fact, he is weak and infirm. Next, Cassius makes the point that Caesar is too powerful and if he becomes king, he will rule over the people “like a Colossus” (I.ii.136). Brutus says he will consider joining the conspiracy if it is

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for the better of the people of Rome. Cassius claims that Brutus has already come three-quarters of the way towards turning against Caesar and questions, “for who so firm that cannot be seduced?” (I.ii.312). As the final act of persuasion, Cassius decides to write letters coming from random citizens to Brutus. The letters will mock Caesar and push the opinion of Brutus closer to wanting Caesar removed from power. Eventually, Brutus reads these letters and does accede to a position in the conspiracy. In the end, Cassius is a powerful persuader and because of these skills Brutus joins the conspiracy, which leads to the killing of Julius Caesar.
After the death of Julius Caesar, a funeral is held in which Antony and Brutus will give an oration. Brutus speaks first and he appeals to logic by taking his time to make decisions. He loved Caesar and states, “if then that friend demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more” (III.ii.20-22). Brutus did not want to participate in the death of Caesar, but he felt it was for the good of Rome and that is more important. Brutus then claims, “there is tears, for his love; joy, for his fortune; honor, for his valor; and death, for his ambition” (III.ii.27-29). Brutus is telling the crowd that because of Caesar’s ambition, he had to die. Too much ambition in the government can...

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