Friday, 18 May 2012

Persuaded by Mark Antony's Speech

Julius Caesar is one of the most renowned works of Shakespeare. As for me, it is one of my favourites. The story relates the events that lead to Caesar's death and things happen after. One of my favourite parts of the play is Antony's speech in Caesar's funeral. The speech is an art of persuasion, tact and communication skill.

I'd like to discuss in this article the famous speech of Mark Antony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. I've been in love with it since the first time I read it. I will not dissect all of it, since it would consume pages and pages of words. Perhaps somebody out there has made a paper or even a book on the subject anyway. But I'd like to share something that made me smile the first time I read the speech, something that made me say to myself, “Look at what he's doing, and what a foolish crowd.”

So I'd like to cut te speech into three parts, and tell you what get at each part. Let's begin.

First Part:

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him...
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.

At this stage of the speech, he said that he only wanted to bury Caesar. He said that Brutus was perhaps right, and thus Caesar died. But then he reasoned with the audience that if Caesar were ambitious, he would have taken the “kingly crown”, but he didn't. He also reminded the crowd of his noble deeds, making Rome and the Romans prosperous.

Antony closed his reasoning with those two sentences: “I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke, but here I am to speak what I do know”. It's like saying, “I only want you to know my point of view, based on my experience. I bear no grudge against Brutus. But Caesar had been my friend, and I know him well.” Then the crowd began to wonder. Antony's ready for his next step.

Second part:

But yesterday the word of Caesar might
Have stood against the world.

What is he saying? He is saying that what happened between Caesar and the conspirators were just a matter of misunderstanding. Caesar wasn't wrong, and neither were Brutus and his collegue. Caesar said something “against the world”, something different from others' opinion. Then after mentioning the will, and showing the dead body of his dear friend, he said his last part of his speech.

Third Part:

Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny.
They that have done this deed are honorable.
What private griefs they have, alas, I know not,
That made them do it.

Aw. Can you see what happened there? He changed his words again. This time, it's not just a misunderstanding, it's a “private grief” -- personal grudge -- that made them do it. Those words, of course, moved the Romans from haters of Caesar into avengers of Caesar. They forgot everything Brutus said just minutes earlier.

That's what so interesting about Antony's speech, for me, personally. What do you think about it?

1 comment:

  1. Haven't read this play, my first Shakespeare is a comedy. But if I must choose a tragedy, Julius Caesar would perhaps my first choice.