Understanding Marc Antony's Funeral Oration In Julius Caesar

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The use of rhythm through iambic pentameter plays an important part in understanding Marc Antony’s funeral oration in Julius Caesar. Much of the speech is representative of Antony’s thought process and the rhythmic variations allow the audience to connect with his train of thought. Determining the meaning of these rhythmic variations can be done by examining the iambic pentameter. For instance in Speaking Shakespeare, Patsy Rodenburg discusses the importance of counting syllables in each line to discover if the iambic pentameter is regular or irregular with any line exceeding ten syllables being irregular (86). The irregularity of certain lines can indicate an important break from the monotony or “heartbeat” of the character, because Rodenburg …show more content…
Mark Antony says, “If it were so, it was a grievous fault; / And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it” (Shakespeare 598). There is importance in these two eleven syllable lines. Antony is not only bringing attention to the seriousness of the sin of ambition, but also how serious of a price Caesar paid for it. This proves important when Antony is able to turn the audience’s view around that the men who killed Caesar were in fact the ambitious ones, and that Caesar did not deserve his death. This way the crowd can still see ambition as a “grievous fault” while exonerating Caesar of it, and in turn have the justification of taking down his killers for unfairly ending his life. One way Antony brings their attention to this is lines nine through sixteen. Each line describing Brutus and his co-conspirators judgment of Caesar while still being honorable men falls at ten syllables or less, making them lines of regular pentameter. By delivering these lines in a steady and monotonous way, it is as if Antony is thinking aloud rather than addressing the audience. In doing so, he has not directly said the men were wrong, but is instead leading the audience with his train of thought to reach the same conclusion. This contrasts nicely with the next line of irregular pentameter, line seventeen. In line seventeen Antony says, “Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill” (Shakespeare 598). By using irregularity after so much …show more content…
One way it did this was with regular lines of pentameter that allowed Anthony to deliver a train of thought rather than directly saying that Caesar’s killers were wrong. By allowing the audience to come to their own conclusions, it made their anger stronger because they did not feel they were being led to feel that way. Beyond that, it created natural flow and pauses, as well as purposely drawing attention to certain ideas. In doing this, it strengthens the play as a whole and makes the story more

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