Julius Caesar – Conflicting Perspectives

10 October 2016

Every text is constructed for a purpose; the composer is trying to convey and embed their agenda into the reader by persuading them to accept their perspective on key events, personalities and/or situations. Through the manipulation of various textual forms, structures and language composers persuade their audience to adopt their perspective. Composers often decide to present conflicting perspectives to truly engage their audience.

By demonstrating the concept of conflicting perspectives the composer is able to glorify their perspective in contrast to another to enforce their agenda, they position the audience through language to side with them. The tight narrative “Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare’s utilises the final days of Caesar’s rule and assassination as the catalyst for exploring the nature of political power, conveying conflicting perspectives on imperial and republican rule.

Julius Caesar – Conflicting Perspectives Essay Example

Shakespeare’s context shaped the meaning of this play as he exploits people’s fears at the time to connect with the audience. In contrast, Miranda Devine’s political article “Felled by an Invidious Green Plot” 19/8/10 (SMH) tells the “chilling story” about how “green activists” used political maneuvers to build the support of the public to tear down the timber company ‘Gunns’ and devastate the life of Chief Executive John Gay and the Tasmanian economy.

She uses various textual techniques and includes a provocative cartoon at the top, as well as quotes from those supporting her views to convince the reader of her perspective. Devine, known for her conservative view on political and social issues, is deliberately bias against the Greens as she has gained vas wealth through exploiting the countries natural resources such as deforestation. By demonstrating the concept of conflicting perspectives both composers are able to shape meaning to convey their purpose through the choice of textual forms, structures and language.

The concept of conflicting perspectives presents the audience choice and involves them in the depiction of the message of the text and the composer’s agenda. In Shakespeare’s renowned play Julius Caesar the concept of political power in ancient Rome, and how political tactics are often used to manipulate the public is explored. The concept of conflicting perspectives is created in the play by the characterisation of Brutus and Marc Antony. Their perspective of Caesar and whether he should rule directly clash, one rguing the side of imperial rule and the other republican rule and hence provide the central conflict throughout the play. At the time the play was composed, this concept was a real threat as the Roman Empire sought new rule following the recent death of the Queen, allowing Shakespeare to toy with the emotions of his audience. With an engaged audience and the manipulation of structures, language and textual forms Shakespeare is able to shape the meaning of the play.

The construction of their speeches after Caesar’s death, arguing both personal and public reasons for their views, demonstrates their individual perspective and their attempts to convince their audience of their view. Brutus, “having to show the reason of our Caesar’s death”, argues from a political perspective, believing imperial rule is the best model. His opening lines “Romans, Countrymen, and Lovers, hear me for my cause” uses inclusive language to immediately build rapport.

He agrees that Caesar was an honourable man “Brutus’ love to Caesar was no less than his”, yet his perspective and justification for assassinating him, is ultimately determined by his love for Rome, demonstrated through use of syntactical balance “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more”, and is demonstrated through use of rhetorical questions “Had you rather Caesar were living and die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men? ” which invites the audience to side with his opinion.

Through Shakespeare’s use of patriotism in Brutus’ political speech, he is able to persuade not only the Plebeians but also the audience, demonstrating how language techniques are able to reinforce a particular perspective to shape meaning in a text. Putting Brutus’s speech first is a structural technique by Shakespeare to allow for rebuttal. Conflicting perspectives through the manipulation of language, textual forms and structure allows the composer to present two perspectives and give the audience choice in their depiction of the message of the play.

The choice is ultimately determined by the context of the reader, which largely affects their interpretation of the text as they may have diverse experiences causing their depiction of the text to be altered. Marc Antony provides the conflict to Brutus’ speech, demonstrated through his passionate and melodramatic funeral oration, which provides a conflicting perspective on Caesar and the nature of his assassination. Antony walks on stage holding

Caesars dead body, a dramatic device used by Shakespeare to heighten the effect of the speech. He scolds Brutus and the other senators, mocking, through use of sarcasm and repetition of their “honour” “For Brutus is an honourable man”. Antony’s key tools at the beginning of his speech are his conspicuous ambiguity regarding Caesar and Brutus “Yet Brutus says he was ambitious”, and use of rhetorical questions “Did this in Caesar seem ambitious? He challenges Brutus’ perspective that Caesar was too ambitious “I thrice presented him a kingly crown, which he did thrice refuse”, expressing his perspective that Caesar was unjustly assassinated, and through his emotive language “it was a grievous fault”, is able to convince the plebeians that Caesar was an honourable leader “Methinks there is much reason in his sayings”. The deliberate structure of the play with, with Brutus’ speech being first, slightly glorifies imperial rule and gives the audience the impression that Shakespeare believes that imperialism is the best political model.

The reaction of the crowd to both speeches indicates how political power can shift opinions of people through the power of language. Firstly Brutus has full support of the crowd “let him be Caesar”, but Antony’s speech convinces them of a different perspective “We’ll burn the house of Brutus”. Hence, through the use of juxtaposed dramatic speeches and language techniques, Shakespeare shapes the meaning of the play, engaging the audience, involving them in the process of deciding whether republicanism or imperialism is the ultimate model for the Roman Empire.

The concept of conflicting perspectives can be a great tool to give the reader choice in the depiction of the text, however, this concept can also be utilised as a way to glorify one perspective in contrast to another. In the news article “Felled by an Invidious Green Plot” , Devine is similarly making a statement about the nature of political power, however, through use of an emotive tone, she presents a far more confronting and persuasive argument.

Devine effectively manipulates the medium of the article, enabling her to provide a conflicting perspective to the Greens principles as portrayed in the media, while simultaneously not allowing a conflicting perspective to oppose her view. Devine’s argument is very political and one sided, and this is demonstrated very clearly through emotive language “fought a relentless campaign to… destroy Gay” and rhetorical questions “Who is actually going to believe that environmental management is going to be better in Indonesia or Malaysia? ”.

This, through the concept of conflicting perspectives, forces the reader to undertake her opinion, making the purpose of the article to accept a perspective rather than giving the reader choice. She selects information and statistics to support her view, “He…transformed Gunns into a top 50 company with a market capitalisation of $900 million by 2003” and, similarly to Antony and Brutus speeches, uses emotive language to manipulate the readers to agree with her perspective “(John Gay) became a hero of the working class people of Tasmania”.

As she is writing a newspaper article, it could be argued that she should provide a balanced perspective, however through portraying a positive image of John Gay, she offers the perspective that the Greens victimized him for their political gain, and Devine is able to shape her agenda in the text and through conflicting perspectives, purposely glorifying her perspective to embed her message of the article in the reader.

Similar to Antony and Brutus, Miranda Devine has a clear political perspective, which is made clear to the reader through her closing paragraph “those…people planning to vote for the Greens on Saturday had better understand exactly what they are voting for…moving backwards into the dark ages”.

The use of hyperbole to finish an obvious political statement reflects how the article only portrays her perspective, rather than balancing conflicting perspectives, in to convince her readers to undertake her perspective, shaping meaning through deliberate glorification. Through the exploration of textual forms, structures and language both composers, using the concept of conflicting perspectives, shape the meaning of their text.

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