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Julius Caesar - the power of persuasion

Uploaded by Sxyclr on Sep 12, 2007

Explore how Shakespeare uses the power of rhetoric in the play ‘Julius Caesar’

The play ‘Julius Caesar’ is not merely about, Julius Caesar; the character who gives the play its title only appears in three scenes and just has a few lines. The play is much more centred round a struggle for power and the use rhetoric, the ability to persuade people.
A good persuasive speech will contain certain devices, more often than not it will be very emotive using imagery, it might use mockery or humour, the speech may contain rhetorical questions or repetition to get a point across but generally it will be aimed at exploiting human weakness and appeal to those it aims to persuade; it flatters them.
The first significant persuasive speech in the play is when Cassius wants to persuade Brutus to join his rebel group which has the aim of assassinating Caesar. It is vital to Cassius’ group that they manage to get Brutus on their side because of their reputations. Cassius, for example, is seen as having a ‘hungry look’ about him, the word hungry implying the fact that Cassius is ‘power-hungry’ whereas Brutus is seen as an honourable man ‘O, he sits high in all the people’s hearts’. The rebels believe that Brutus will change how people perceive their deed, the murder of Caesar; their act ‘…that which would appear offence’ in them will only be considered for the good of Rome if Brutus is alongside them,
‘His countenance, like richest alchemy,
Will change to virtue and to worthiness’.
The metaphor about alchemy is used because in Shakespeare’s time there were many alchemists/scientists that were trying to discover how to turn worthless metal into gold. The conspirators believe that Brutus will do this for their cause; he will turn their aim, in the public’s eyes, into something honourable rather than something for selfish gain.
The task of convincing Brutus to join the plot to assassinate Caesar turns out to be fairly easy and the catalyst that launches Cassius into trying to persuade Brutus that Caesar should be assassinated is when Brutus himself reveals the fact that he has doubt in Caesar as a leader.
‘…I do fear, the people
Choose Caesar for their king.’
Cassius then exploits this initial doubt in Brutus and helps it to grow. Cassius does this by revealing several weaknesses of Caesar’s that he has happened to witness. He wants to convince Brutus that...

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Uploaded by:   Sxyclr

Date:   09/12/2007

Category:   Julius Caesar

Length:   14 pages (3,190 words)

Views:   5177

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