AD's English Literature : Forum Scene in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Act III, SCENE II. The Forum): Compare and Contrast Brutus' Speech and Antony’s Speech

Forum Scene in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (Act III, SCENE II. The Forum): Compare and Contrast Brutus' Speech and Antony’s Speech

"A man of great common sense and good taste,—meaning thereby a man without originality or moral courage."
George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)
Irish playwright, 1901
Referring to Julius Caesar

Both Brutus and Antony are the great orators as we find them in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Their respective speeches signify their character as well as patriotism- the two individual in different colours. At first Brutus delivers his speech and explained the reason of Caesar’s assassination. He says that Caesar being a friend of him makes him proud by his valiant deeds and heroism. But he is a dictator, autocrat and ambitious. For this reasons, in order to save the beloved mother-land Rome he is murdered by him. His death is an inevitable consequence of a tyrant ruler who is persuading the hostility and barbarism to cause the destruction of republic in his country. Brutus the stoic philosopher, have to bear a burden too heavy for him:
“Be patient till the last.
Romans, countrymen, and lovers! hear me for my
cause, and be silent, that you may hear: believe me
for mine honour, and have respect to mine honour, that
you may believe: censure me in your wisdom, and
awake your senses, that you may the better judge.
If there be any in this assembly, any dear friend of
Caesar's, to him I say, that Brutus' love to Caesar
was no less than his. 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. Had you rather Caesar were living and
die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live
all free men? As Caesar loved me, I weep for him;
as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was
valiant, I honour him: but, as he was ambitious, I
slew him. There is tears for his love; joy for his
fortune; honour for his valour; and death for his
ambition. Who is here so base that would be a
bondman? If any, speak; for him have I offended.
Who is here so rude that would not be a Roman? If
any, speak; for him have I offended. Who is here so
vile that will not love his country? If any, speak;
for him have I offended. I pause for a reply.”


William Shakespeare
Brutus tries to explain that Caesar a ruler is far way different from Caesar a man. Brutus draws a line of distinction between a ruler and a friend. For the sake of liberty and freedom Caesar is murdered by him where friendship finds no impediment. But Brutus fails to understand the character of Roman mob. The distinction between Caesar a man and Caesar a political dictator is too subtle that Roman mob cannot appreciate it. Brutus further exclaimed why Roman mob cannot make their right choice of freedom. He thus bursts into the following remarks:-
“Let him be Caesar
Caesar’s lest part
Shall be crowned in Brutus”.

Brutus in the name of freedom puts friendship under stare. An idealist of pure reasons he is truly a republican who has failed to comprehend and read the mind of the Roman mob.

Antony, cleaver a diplomat is a great orator who debunks Brutus speech by subtle instigation of Caesar’s good qualities completely:
“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest--
For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all, all honourable men--
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
He hath brought many captives home to Rome
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?
O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.” 

Farther, neglecting Caesar autocracies he soothes the hostile mob by referring such as sympathy for the poor, refusal to the crowned etc. in an ironical tone he says,
“Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny.
They that have done this deed are honourable:
What private griefs they have, alas, I know not,
That made them do it: they are wise and honourable,
And will, no doubt, with reasons answer you.
I come not, friends, to steal away your hearts:
I am no orator, as Brutus is;
But, as you know me all, a plain blunt man,
That love my friend; and that they know full well
That gave me public leave to speak of him:
For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth,
Action, nor utterance, nor the power of speech,
To stir men's blood: I only speak right on;
I tell you that which you yourselves do know;
Show you sweet Caesar's wounds, poor poor dumb mouths,
And bid them speak for me: but were I Brutus,
And Brutus Antony, there were an Antony
Would ruffle up your spirits and put a tongue
In every wound of Caesar that should move
The stones of Rome to rise and mutiny.”

 Antony is clever and by his argument he does not disprove Brutus's charges but stirs the mob. He further refers to the Caesar’s will which, he says will not be read lest they should be mutinous. This type of allurement is surely a provocation.

 At last he plunks away the blood stained mantle and the mob breaks into historical frenzy and forget the will. By these clever initiatives Antony stirs the Roman mob into mutiny. 

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