Julius Caesar/War on Terrorism
Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar presents conflicting perspectives of Julius Caesar’s death. Shakespeare employs a variety of dramatic and language techniques to enhance the contrasting views of the assassination. Similarly President Bush’s Address at the 5th Anniversary of 9/11 and the article War is not a solution for Terrorism by Howard Zinn, deals with differing views of US occupation in Iraq. Shakespeare’s tragedy Julius Caesar clearly presents conflicting perspectives of the assassination of Caesar, a powerful and respected leader, viewed by the conspirators as overly ambitious, but by Marc Antony as a loyal servant of Rome.
Brutus and the conspirators believe that Caesar’s death is necessary in retaining democracy, whereas Antony regards the act as brutal murder. Shakespeare positions the audience to view the assassination in negative aspect, through Antony’s passionate eulogy, as compared to Brutus’ austere speech. This is understandable, as given Shakespeare’s Elizabethan context, where the removal of a legitimate leader would be viewed as treason. Shakespeare presents the internal conflict that occurs in Brutus when he contemplates the assassination.
He tries to rationalise his decisions through the balance of the language, weighing the arguments of the situation. “Th’ abuse of greatness… disjoins remorse from power. And to speak truth of Caesar, I have not known when his affections swayed more than his reasons. ” Brutus’ soliloquy is stern as he presents a logical and justified reason for killing Caesar and this becomes his main argument as he presents to the crowd. Brutus’ funeral speech is a short piece of prose, pragmatically justifying his and the conspirators’ actions.
The speech is succinct and balanced stating “But as he [Caesar] was ambitious, I slew him. ” Brutus’ lack of emotions reinforces that the assassination was purely for the greater good and not for personal profit. “There is tears for his love, joy for his fortunes and death for his ambition. ” Brutus uses rhetorical questions to attempt to justify his actions and whether Caesar’s lust for power threatens Rome’s democratic society. “Had you rather Caesar were living to die all slaves, than that Caesar were dead, to live all free men. Nearing the end of his life, Brutus maintains his reasons for killing Caesar, and his nobility that his actions were morally acceptable for his love of Rome and loyalty to the people. Brutus’ funeral speech ends with a succinct statement reinforcing the main thesis that Caesar’s death was for the benefit of Rome and thus morally justified. “With this I depart. That I slew my best lover for the good of Rome. ” However, Shakespeare presents an alternative view of the assassination through Antony’s passionate oration.
Antony’s speech uses emotional poetry to expose the malicious motives of the conspirators. “If you have tears, prepare to shed them now… At the base of Pompey’s statue great Caesar fell. Then I and you, and all of us fell down, whilst bloody treason flourished… ” After Brutus’ speech, the crowd was wholly convinced of his intentions. Shakespeare the uses Antony’s manipulation of the crowd through rhetoric to engage his audience and force an alternate perspective to Caesar’s death. “He [Caesar] brought many captives home… whose ransoms did the general coffers fill. Did this in Caesar seem ambitious? Antony also reminisces about Caesar’s compassion through personal and emotional language, portraying the loving side of Caesar in contrast to the power hungry leader previously presented by Brutus. “When the poor hath cried, Caesar hath wept. Ambition should be made of sterner stuff. Yet Brutus says he was ambitious. ” Antony’s speech owes much of its influence to repetition. Each time Antony recalls Brutus’ claims that Caesar was “ambitious”, the claim loses credibility. Similarly, each time Antony declares how “honourable” Brutus and the conspirators are, there is an underpinning sarcasm mocking them.
Shakespeare uses Caesar’s body as a powerful tool to eventually sway public opinion against Brutus. Antony descends from the pulpit carrying Caesar’s corpse and vividly describing the wounds. “Thou bleeding piece of earth… wounds which like dumb mouths do ope their ruby lips. ” Thus he strikes the final blow to the Brutus and the conspirators, and creates mutiny. Likewise, but on a different event, US President George W Bush and US political activist Howard Zinn also presents conflicting perspectives of US occupation in Iraq and the morality of the ‘war on terrorism’.
Following the events of September 11 2001, the US army and other allied nations waged a war against Iraq and their leader Saddam Hussein, claiming he possessed weapons- of- mass- destruction and harbouring the terrorist group responsible for the attack. The occupation of US and allied troops in Iraq is controversial as its legitimacy and morality are questioned. In his “Address at the 5th Anniversary of 9/11”, President Bush justified US occupation in Iraq. Like Antony, Bush uses highly emotive and descriptive language to address his audience to show the destruction and consequences resulted from 9/11. On 9/11, our nation saw the face of evil… Nineteen men attacked us with barbarity… They murdered people of all colours and nationalities –and made war upon the entire free world. ” He reminded the audience of the trauma of the event and uses the simple idea of defending America and protecting the world against the ‘face of evil”. Similarly to Antony’s oration, Bush uses repetition of ‘courage’ to great effect to praise the heroic actions of the American people and thus encourages them to continue support of the occupation of US troops.
Furthermore, Bush attacks the terrorist’s actions through powerful emotions stating “they [the terrorists] are driven by a perverted … ideology that hates freedom, rejects tolerance and despises all dissent. ” This allows him to portray the evil soulless nature of the terrorist and justifies his legitimate response to occupy Iraq. etBush’s speech is also very personal using inclusive language to demonstrate that it requires a united force to defeat the terrorists and manifests that his decision to invade Iraq is for the greater good. “We are now in… struggle between tyranny and freedom. We are fighting to maintain a way of life… and we will never back down… ” President Bush presents a valid perspective on the issue of US occupation in Iraq, stipulating that the occupation is legitimately acceptable in bringing democracy to Iraq, justice to the terrorists and securing safety for the world. However, political activist Howard Zinn believes that war on terrorism is unnecessary and “morally reprehensible”. In his article “War is not a solution for terrorism” presents a more realistic blunt perspective on the war.
Like Brutus, Zinn employs succinct and emotionless language to deal with the reality of war and the sufferings that encompasses it. Unlike Bush, who concentrates on the emotions of attack and the devastation of the American people, Zinn focuses on the destruction inflicted on the innocent Iraqi civilians. “The United States bombardment… has been an utter failure in its claimed objective of bringing democracy and stability to Iraq. ” Zinn clearly confesses that the war has been unsuccessful, something Bush does not acknowledge.
Zinn attacks the morality of Bush’s decisions by comparing to John Hershey’s male character in ‘The War Lover’ who “loves to drop bombs on people, boasts about his sexual conquests and is impotent. ” This harsh judgement suggests that the US occupation is based on one man’s selfless and unreasonable decision, and thus the unjustified attempt to invade Iraq. The oxymoron “the killing of innocent people in Iraq is called accidental, whereas the deaths caused by terrorists are deliberate” shows the contradictory nature of US’s objectives.