To Persuade, Or Not To Persuade?

In William Shakespeare’s famous play “Julius Caesar”, the use of persuasion and manipulation is greatly prevalent throughout the story. Towards the end of the story, two speeches are presented after the death of Caesar: Antony (Caesar’s best friend), and Brutus (Caesar’s killer). They both use a certain amount of persuasion to attain their audience, yet one is more persuasive than the other. Brutus makes a stronger connection to the audience than Antony.  He uses connections to the audience, uses strong diction, while also delivering it in an effective manner.

First: Connection

Brutus begins by making a connection to the audience demonstrating their need for the strength of Rome. He uses this statement:

“Not that I loved Caesar less, but I loved Rome more.”

He clearly appeals to the people through nationalism, and having the pride for their country rather than praising a man who could have done them wrong. This appeals to the people in way for them to realize that their county would soon be overthrown with an “honourable yet ambitious man”. Brutus makes this clear to the public, convincing them that what was going to happen would be bad had Caesar still been alive.  He is able to persuade these people, because they have the epiphany that they had been blind to Caesar’s actions, and were ready to be lead and appreciated by someone else.


Second: Words

He uses a certain diction to appeal to the Romans. He uses this statement:

” Had you rather Caesar were living and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men?”

Words like “slaves” and “free men” have strong connotations to the people. They are said so bluntly that the people really believe and understand what they were being lead into. He then uses the statement:

” as I slew my best lover for the good of Rome,”

He goes back again to the use of the home country and the diction of “slew” and “for the good” to convey too his audience that what he did was for them, not for himself. With this, he fully expresses the desires of the people, which they then realize and are ready to follow Caesar.


Finally: Present

Lastly, he uses a strong delivery of the words that wrap it all together. He uses the statement:

“If any speak, for him have I offended. I pause for a reply.

He says this in desires to hear the crowd, having a strong delivery of the statement, especially with the pause in between to strengthen the effect of his words. Using the statements listed earlier,  it is clear that he says these profoundly and brazenly. He uses no  shame in his words, even if the regret of murder is strong. The regret is clear in his voice when he talks about killing Caesar.  This not only gets the audience’s attention, but it creates a sense of leadership, persuading the audience that what he did was right.


Both Persuade?

Some may disagree, and say that Antony’s speech was more  persuasive. although persuasive, it does have some flaws that negate it’s persuasion. He uses a lot of emotional appeal to explain his point of view, and also gives some to explain what friendship he shared with Caesar. He uses the statement:

“My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar. and I must pause till it come back to me.”

He uses obvious emotional appeal to attain the audience, almost to the point of redundancy. he becomes so overly emotional that audience doesn’t react in sympathy. One citizen said:

“If thou consider rightly of the matter, Caesar has had great wrong.”

This shows that even the citizens are aware of what was happening, and that they are unconvinced of Antony’s words.

Overall, persuasion in these speeches, (and any speech for that matter) is strong enough to attain the audience. It all depends on what is used, and how it is used.


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