Here, in his own words, Antony says that he is a ‘plain blunt man’ – the evidence from the play may well prove this wrong. So, by a close examination of these central scenes, I shall seek to investigate this claim.
In Act 3, Scene 1, we get a clear picture of how Antony works, and get a first glimpse of his deviousness. I think we get a little bit of insight to what his real feelings are, in his reaction to Caesar’s corpse.
“Shall it not grieve thee dearer than thy death
To see thy Antony making peace,”
I think that he really means what he is saying here, he is emotional, showing what his real feelings are.
“O mighty Caesar! Dost thou lie so low?”
We get a sense of how Antony feels about what has happened, although from what we know later in the play, it could be questioned whether Antony really felt so sad about the death of Caesar.
“Are all thy conquests, glories, triumphs, spoils
Shrunk to this little measure?”
He is clearly full of grief however, and he uses strong words to describe how he feels.
“Who else must be let blood, who else is rank.”
Here he is angry, questioning the conspirators, these are definitely his real feelings and emotions.
“Shall it not grieve thee dearer than thy death
To see thy Antony making peace,”
Again, I think that he really means what he is saying here, he is emotional, showing what his real feelings are.
“No place will please me so, no mean of death,”
In his first speech to the conspirators, we see him ‘beg’ for his life, which is sort of devious, and he already knows by the promise from Brutus, that the conspirators do not intend to kill him. He behaves like they are better than him, and I think that he is testing the conspirators, to see how much they will let him do. It is almost as if he already has an idea of his way to get revenge for the killing of Caesar, and he is carrying out his plan – to get on the good side of the conspirators – again showing his character to be devious; even clever.
” I doubt not of your wisdom.
Let each man render me his bloody hand.”
Here, Antony shakes the bloody hands of all of the men, and we see have far he is prepared to deceive everybody – we know that he does not agree with what they did; at this point in the play. When he shakes their hands, he calls out each of their names, and this is manipulative, as he makes a point of letting everybody think that he is talking directly to them – therefore making them trust him more.
“That one of two bad ways you must conceit me,
Either a coward or a flatterer.”
Here is another technique used by Antony, he is clearly honest about loving and missing Caesar, but he tells the conspirators that they must see him as been scared of them, or that he is flattering them. He lets them know that this is not the case, but he did love Caesar, but that he agrees that they were right to do the deed. He is obviously pretending to the conspirators here.
“But what compact mean you have with us?”
“Or shall we on and not depend on you?”
Cassius clearly do not seem to see what point Antony is trying to make, questioning him – so Antony’s tricks may not have worked!
“Our reasons are so full of good regard”
Brutus does not properly answer Antony’s question on why they killed Caesar, and yet Antony replies:
” That’s all I seek,”
showing that he lets it pass, as he does not want to get on the wrong side of him, he already know that Brutus trusts him, and does not see him as a threat. Brutus straight away agreeing to let him speak at the funeral backs this up.
“You know not what you do. Do not consent
That Antony speak in his funeral”
Cassius definitely does not trust Antony at all, we already knew that he had his suspicions on Antony, but this just proves that Cassius sees Antony as a threat – don’t forget that earlier on in the play, Cassius wanted Antony dead!
“I know not what may fall, I like it not.”
Even when Brutus explains that it will be more advantage than wrong, Cassius is still unconvinced. Antony definitely has the upper hand on Brutus, but not Cassius!
While he is with the conspirators, Antony tries to test them out, to see how far he can get, and what he can get out of them. When he hits a dead end, like when Brutus did not answer his question, he is fine about it. He pretends a lot, trying to get the trust of the conspirators, which he seems to have succeeded in – apart from Cassius. Of course, we know that Cassius is right!
When the conspirators leave, we see exactly how Antony feels, in the soliloquy.
“O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!”
Again, Antony uses strong words to show his feelings of grief.
“A curse shall light upon the limbs of men:
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Shall cumber all parts of Italy;”
He foresees a civil war in Italy, which obviously shows how distraught he must be feeling over the killing of Caesar. He wants revenge.
“And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,”
Antony shows that he really thinks that it was a wrong thing for Caesar to die, and he knows that he will get revenge for it. He sees Caesar as a great man, who did nothing wrong; he loved him.
All of this shows that he can be a caring, straightforward character, and that he is not always devious; although I think that him being devious is the true side of his character, as that is how we mainly see Antony.
When the servant enters, Antony’s rhetoric reaches its highest point, and with the appearance of the servant, he is brought back down to earth. Speaking to Octavius’s servant:
” There shall I try
In my oration how the people take
The cruel issue of these bloody men,”
We find out that Antony will test the crowd when he speaks to them at the funeral – so he is already thinking ahead!
Looking over this scene, we see the lengths that Antony goes to, to deceive the conspirators, and although we do see that he sincerely feels sad about the death of Caesar, I would not trust him at all.
Act Three, Scene Two, and Antony’s funeral speech changes the whole view of the crowd! Before Antony speaks, all of the crowd have already gone from not liking what has happened, to completely agreeing with Brutus!
” Caesar’s better parts
Shall be crown’d in Brutus.”
The crowd almost forget about Caesar, and move on to Brutus, just like at the beginning on the play, where they forget about Pompey, and move on to Caesar. They are like a flock of sheep – and so Brutus should know how easily Antony would have been able to change the crowd’s perspective!
“You gentle Romans”
Antony starts his speech off on a nice note, which will make the crowd want to listen to him, and not just ignore him.
“I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.”
Antony lets the crowd know that he is not saying that Brutus is wrong, but he is just expressing what he know of Caesar, this is a good point, as it will let the crowd feel that Antony is a part of them.
” Bear with me,
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.”
He uses emotions to get on the side of the crowd here, and Antony could well be speaking the truth here.
His speech is far more subtle than Brutus’, and it is full of many clever ways to manipulate his audience. He uses many tricks, the first of which is repetition. He keeps repeating the same word, which is very effective. He repeats:
* Honourable men – and this becomes sort of ironic and sarcastic, he knows full well that they are not. He especially keeps referring to Brutus, saying that he is noble, and by keep doing so, gets the crowd to wonder whether he really is honourable
* Caesar is ambitious – this is also ironic
* Traitor’s – this angers the crowd and makes them want revenge
* Mutiny – he finishes off his speeches with this word, leaving it in the minds of the public
He also uses pretence:
“I am no orator, as Brutus is,
But – as you know me well – a plain blunt man
That love my friend, and that they know full well,
That gave me public leave to speak of him.”
He brushes his speech off, as if his words mean nothing and that he is no good at public speaking – he is been devious again, he has definitely thought about what he will say to the crowd.
“Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?”
“Was this ambition?”
“What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?”
All of these are examples of another trick – rhetorical questions! These are very effective, as they get the crowd to think carefully about what he is talking about and each question questions what the conspirators did. It is a very effective way to fool the crowd, and brainwash them. Other examples of this trick are:
“Will you be patient? Will you stay awhile?”
“You will compel me then to read the will?” (The will – something we will come on to)
“Our Caesar’s vesture wounded?…” – this line also includes another
technique – the fact that he says Our Caesar’s is important, it lets the crowd feel that he is talking about all of them, including himself. It lets them think that he himself saw Caesar as great, and it will make them accept what he says about Caesar. I think that he is been honest when he says this. The rhetorical questions have a dramatic effect on the public!
“He hath brought many captives home to Rome”
“…did the general coffers fill”
Examples of Caesar’s goodness are also brought in on the speech, and this is effective too, as it shows the Romans exactly what Caesar has brought to Rome – therefore showing that he was an honest and noble man.
“When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:”
“It is not meet you know how Caesar lov’d you:”
Also, examples of his kindness is given, showing how he has wept, and how much he loved the Romans – Antony uses sort of emotional blackmail to get them on his side here. Letting them know how much he loves them! Antony also shows him to be generous in these statements!
The will is used as a stage prop and a physical sign of Caesar’s generosity; it is one of Antony’s main ways to manipulate the crowd!
“But here’s a parchment with the seal of Caesar,
I found it in his closet, ’tis his will.”
This is the first time that Antony lets the crowd know that he has Caesar’s will, he knows that he will end up telling them what is in the will!
“Which, pardon me, I do not mean to read”
He teases the crowd, by saying that he will not tell them what is in the will – he knows that they will want him to read it and ask for him to do so. Again, we see him as been devious. Once the crowd say for him to tell them, he says that he must not. The next bit shows Antony telling the crowd that they should not know how much Caesar loved them:
“Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it.
It is not meet you know how Caesar lov’d you:”
Here, although he says he will not tell them what is in the will, secretly he does, and this is another trick, making the crowd want to hear it more.
“You are not wood, you are not stones, but men”
Another trick is used here – he flatters the crowd, and this is an important, especially as it contrast what is said in the first Scene by Flavius:
“You rocks, you stones, you worse than senseless things!”
This would make the crowd feel good, and listen to Antony’s reasons even more.
“Shall I descend? And will you give me leave?”
Here again, the crowd is flattered by Antony asking their position to step down to read them the speech. It also tests the crowd, to see how much his speech has affected their views. Once around Caesar’s body, the crowd forget about the will.
“If you have tears, prepare to shed them now.”
Antony lets the crowd know that they are about to be shocked, maybe getting a bigger ‘cry’ than what would have happened if he never told the crowd this.
“‘Twas on a summer’s evening, in his tent,
That day he overcame the Nervii.”
After, Antony tells the crowd a story about the first time that Caesar wore the cloak that he was killed in, and all of this is a lie. He is just setting the scene, so that the crowd feels more sorry for what has happened, it seems more personal listening to what he has to say, and looking at the same cloth Antony is talking about, on Caesar’s body – full of blood!
“Look, in this place ran Cassius’ dagger through;
See what a rent the envious Casca made;
Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabb’d”
Again, Antony is just making things more personal. Antony was not there whilst Caesar was been stabbed, so we know for a fact that he is lying. Even if he saw Caesar been killed, he still would not have known which stab wound was inflicted by which person. It is complete and utter lies.
“Mark how the blood of Caesar follow’d it”
He talks of the blood in an attempt to move the crowd; also to anger them. The whole point of this story is to get sympathy and move the crowd.
“For Brutus, as you know, was Caesar’s angel.”
Antony again refers to Brutus, directly after he ‘shows’ the crowd where Brutus stabbed Caesar. This will obviously anger the crowd.
“Even at the base of Pompey’s statue
(Which all the while ran blood) great Caesar fell.”
This is a strong statement, not only is it the point where Caesar died, Antony describes it with a lot of blood. A picture of him falling to the ground can be thought, and the crowd would feel the need for revenge!
“Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
To such a sudden flood of mutiny.”
This is very ironic, as we know that Antony wants the crowd to be full of hatred and revenge, and rebel against the conspirators. Again, he is not honest to the crowd.
“You have forgot the will I told you of.”
With the detour of the story, everybody forgets of the will, Antony has to remind them. We know for definite now that he always planned to read the will to them, as if he really didn’t want to, then he would not have reminded them!
“Here was a Caesar! When comes such another?”
After reading what has been left to the crowd, Antony questions when there will be another person like Caesar. The response:
“Never, never! Come, away, away!”
Just the answer that Antony must have wanted!
“Now let it work. Mischief, thou art afoot,
Take thou what course thou wilt!”
And so we know that all of his speech was an act to manipulate the crowd!
The citizens are at first, reluctant to stay and listen to Antony, and they only do so because Brutus has asked them to. Gradually, as Antony speaks, the crowd change sides. I will go through and trace the stages where this happens!
“Methinks there is much reason in his sayings.”
Here is the first line from a citizen that shows that Antony’s long speech is having an effect. This is an important part in the play, as it shows that Antony has the upper hand! We also know that him repeating that Caesar been ambitious has got through to the crowd as a citizen states:
“Mark’d ye his words? He would not take the crown,
Therefore ’tis certain he was not ambitious.”
He does not even think that it could have been a set up, with Antony offering it him the next day!
“There’s not a nobler man in Rome than Antony.”
We get the first major hint that the citizens totally agree with Antony, by calling him the noblest man in Rome! Weren’t they just calling Brutus the most noble?
“We’ll hear the will. Read it, Mark Antony.”
“The will, the will, we will hear Caesar’s will!”
After Antony tempts the crowd will the will, they beg him to tell them, even though he basically told them what was in the ill. Again, he has the upper hand on the crowd! By this point in the play now, they hate the conspirators, and want to get revenge for Caesar’s death.
“O piteous spectacle!”
“O noble Caesar!”
“O woeful day!”
“O traitors, villains!”
“O most bloody sight!”
After Antony shows them Caesar’s body, they are clearly moved and saddened. They are stunned and shocked, and definitely want revenge.
“We will be reveng’d!”
It is quite clear that the crowd’s feelings have gone from being shocked into having a desire for revenge and hatred.
” We’ll burn the house of Brutus.”
At the end of the scene, we find out exactly what the citizens are going to do, and the anger that Antony has made burn up inside of them. We see exactly what the crowd are planning to do!
Looking over this scene, we see more of the length that Antony goes to. We see that he is highly skilled in phrasing things in a particular way, to change the mind of the crowd. To me, he appears to be sly and untrustworthy.
“Truly, my name is Cinna”
I thought it would be a good point to show what Antony has turned the crowd into, with them questioning him for his name, and once they have it:
“Tear him to pieces, he’s a conspirator”
Just because he has the same name of a conspirator, they are prepared to kill him. This shows how much Antony’s speech has affected the crowd, and the state of anger that he has turned them into!
In Act 4, Scene 1, we see a totally different view of Antony. We thought that he sincerely loved Caesar, but this could begin to be questioned!
“These many shall die, their names are prick’d.”
We see clearly that Antony is a hypocrite. He is bartering with people’s lives, when whilst he was speaking to the crowd, he was saying that he doesn’t want to make them want to kill the conspirators! Antony is shown here to be nasty and evil.
“He shall not live – look, with a spot I damn him.”
He just uses a mark on a piece of paper to determine whether they live or die – he is most definitely an evil man. I think that he is looking for power, maybe to be the most powerful man in Rome. He tries to make himself feel important by doing this, most defiantly untrustworthy. We see more about this in the way he speaks of Lepidus!
“But, Lepidus, go you to Caesar’s house,
Fetch the will hither, and we shall determine
How to cut off some charge in legacies.”
Antony seems to order Lepidus about, as if he thinks that he is better than him. We also see here that he is going to try and find a way to make money out of Caesar’s will, and not give the crowd the full amount. Antony is a liar and a cheat, and we can wonder whether he really loved Caesar as he said he does!
“This is a slight, unmeritable man,”
The moment Lepidus leaves, Antony goes on saying that he is not worthy, and that they should kill him – this is twofaced and shows him to be untrustworthy. It could also show him to want more power, as I stated before.
“Octavius, I have seen more days than you,”
This statement by Antony could also show him to think that he is better than anybody else – he could be trying to prove that he is the one in power.
“To ease ourselves of divers slanderous loads,”
All Antony wants from Lepidus, is to use him.
“A barren-spirited fellow…”
Antony sees that Lepidus should not be allowed to have any of his ideas, and that he needs to be stopped.
“Therefore let our alliance be combin’d,”
Antony asks for their forces to work together in the battle, showing him again to be thinking ahead.
Looking back over the Scene, I would say that we get a clear picture of Antony’s disloyalty and deviousness!
Antony’s own description of himself as a plain blunt man basically means that he is all of the following: straightforward, frank, candid, open, honest, down to earth and trustworthy. The evidence would prove that he is not any of these at all. If we were to assess how far we could agree with his claim, the evidence suggests overwhelmingly that he is NOT a plain blunt man. We see that Antony is a liar, twofaced, a user, untrustworthy, devious, manipulative, and nasty. Though obviously his genuine side most clearly does not outweigh his nasty side, the evidence also suggests that he is not 100% a liar.
We do get a viewing of his genuine side, and this is shown in the way he talks of Caesar, and his feelings about Caesar’s corpse. His reactions to seeing Caesar lying dead are quite obviously genuine, he uses strong words to describe the way in which he is feeling, and he is quite clearly very emotional. In his soliloquy at the end of the scene, he is quite honest and blunt, where he calls the conspirators murderers.
So, we have now established just exactly how plain and blunt Antony really is, and I have to say that I would most definitely not trust Antony!