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The Great Power of Mighty Words

Adolf Hitler is not only widely known for his destruction of many peoples, but also for
being a charismatic, influential orator. Similar to Hitler, the character, Marc Antony, in
Shakespeares tragedy, Julius Caesar employs techniques of rhetoric that allow him to sway the
decisions of many men. In the second scene of act three, Marc Antony wisely manipulates his
words to turn the plebian mobs acceptance of Caesars assassination to utter scorn and
vindictive violence. Marc Antony slyly exploits the appeals to logic, feelings, and identification
as a fellow plebian to successfully alter the decision and mindset of the plebian mob. Adolf
Hitler would have seen Marc Antony to be a worthy opponent of warfare by words.
In the beginning of Antonys speech, he appeals greatly to the logic of the plebians to turn
the acceptance of Caesars assassination, but nevertheless, his speech is filled with half-truths.
For example, he claims, He hath brought many captives home to Rome/ Whose ransoms did the
general coffers fill. (85-86) This essentially means that during Caesars conquests and wars, his
victories helped to bring wealth and fortune for the Roman people, but he does not mention the
war against Pompey which had no economic gain. Antony uses this half-truth to focus on
Caesars achievements of war and avoid his flaw of an unreasonable war for personal fulfilment.
Later, he states, I thrice presented him a kingly crown, which he did thrice refuse. Was this
ambition? (94-95) This is another case of a half-truth where Antony avoids stating that Caesar
only denied the crown to appear modest and gain the love of the people. In doing so, the
plebians begin to question whether Caesar was really ambitious and thus, Brutus credibility as
well. While Antonys logical arguments appeals greatly to the sense of logic, he precisely
manipulates his words to tell the partial truth that would win the favor of the plebian mob.

Though this serves to be an effective means of persuasion, his exploitation and appeal to the
emotions and feelings of the plebians proves to be much stronger.
Throughout his speech, he appeals greatly to the feelings of the plebians, inspiring strong
emotions that sway their mindsets about the acceptance of Caesars assassination. For example,
he states, When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept. Ambition should be made of sterner
stuff. (89-90) Antony clearly uses this example to establish the image of Caesar as a caring
leader who was constantly concerned and empathized with his people. He makes the plebians
feel a sense of guilt for accepting the assassination of the leader who thought much for their
well-being. Furthermore, he also reads the will and says, Here is the will, and under Caesars
seal to every Roman citizen he gives- to ever several man- seventy-five drachmas. (230-232)
This further intensifies the feeling of guilt amongst the plebians, as the will of Caesar strengthens
the image of Caesar as a caring ruler who thought about the good of his people. This makes the
plebians feel guilty for thinking badly of Caesar as all his actions appeared to be for their good.
In addition, Antony also says, And as he plucked his cursed steel away, mark how the blood of
Caesar followed it, as rushing out the doors, to be resolved if Brutus so unkindly knocked, or
no. ( 171-174) Brutus was known to be Caesars most trusted, valuable friend, and when
Caesar saw Brutus stab him, he couldnt believe that his best friend would turn on him. This is
used by Antony to create a feeling of betrayal Caesar felt when Brutus killed Caesar, greatly
enraging the crowd. The plebian crowd fully sympathizes Caesar when Antony dramatically
reveals Caesars reaction and heartbreak when he sees his best friend take a part in the plot to kill
him, greatly enraging the crowd. Antonys appeal to logic is used to reverse the image of Caesar
the plebians held to a more caring leader who felt the pain of betrayal, rousing hatred amongst
the plebians. Ultimately, his ability to draw out the most intense emotions of the plebian crowd

plays an essential role in his speech to persuade the plebian crowd, but his greatest ability is that
of establishing common ground and disguising as a fellow plebian which allows him to gain their
trust.
Throughout his speech, Antony establishes common ground with the plebians and even
disguises himself as a fellow plebian; this proves to be the most effective means that he uses to
sway the plebian crowd. Disguising himself as a plebian, Antony frequently uses the word,
friend. (70, 138, 200, 225) By regularly using this word, he makes the plebian crowd feel as if
he is speaking to them on a plebian peer level. With this word constantly repeated, he establishes
himself as a plebian instead of a higher being. This aspect of his speech dramatizes the
persuasion that Antony has on the plebian crowd, as they feel as if Antony is a friend that they
can easily understand and trust. To them, Antony appears as a loyal man working to tell the
truths to his fellow friends. Antony further underscores this feeling of friendliness and
establishes further common ground by saying, and let me show you him that made the will.
Shall I descend? And will you give me leave? (157-157) Antony proves to wise and an
influential speaker through these lines. To the plebians, a man speaking above their level on a
raised platform radiates a sense of authority and condescendence; this essentially creates a
feeling of distance and inability to fully understand and relate to the speaker. However, Antony
avoids this by descending down to the same level and ground as the plebians, making them feel
as if he truly belonged to them and was a fellow plebian speaking not as a superior being, but as
a friend and equal. This allows them to better understand and empathize with Marc Antony,
bolstering his ability to persuade the plebian crowd. Furthermore, Antony clearly reveals his
intentions to portray himself as a common man amongst the plebians when he claims, I am no
orator, as Brutus is, but as you know me a plain blunt man that love my friend for I have

neither wit not words nor worth, action nor utterance nor the power of speech, to stir mens
blood. (207-213) By saying this, he truly makes the plebians feel that he is one of their own,
and Brutus is a skilled man who tried to slyly persuade the plebian crowd through his skilled
manipulation of words. This causes the plebians to accept him as one of their own and look at
Brutus as superior, unjust being deceiving them with his fancy, big words and cunning skills.
Through creating a sense of friendliness and common ground, Antony is able to have greater
influence on the plebian crowd, as humans usually listen to their friends more than one who they
think is a manipulator. Antonys strongest form of persuasion is his establishment of common
ground with the plebians and disguise as one of their own, in the end, making him seem not as a
superior, selfish figure, but as a caring friend.
Antonys use of half-truths, great appeal to logic, and disguise as a common plebian to
excellently brings the plebian crowd to accept his side of the dispute, allowing him to make the
plebians turn on Brutus. Through the examples given it is seen that Antony is knowledgeable in
the art of speaking, as he skillfully weaves a disguise as a fellow plebian which he uses to stir up
the most intense emotions of the crowd and even convince the crowd with blatant half truths.
Compared to Brutuss speech, Antonys speech portrays a more skilled, planned oration that
triumphantly wins over the minds and hearts of the plebian crowd. In this tragedy, Julius
Caesar, by Shakespeare, Antony displays proficient skill in oration which proves to be on par
with Hitlers world-renown skill.