Theme in Julius Caesar

by Phillip Kim

Manipulation and Propaganda

Shakespeare uses the theme of manipulation and propaganda through the use of rhetorical devices and conflict in Julius Caesar in order to show how both can be heavily influential and gives one authority over others. In the play, Caesar uses manipulation by declining the crown in front of the people of the Roman Empire despite wanting the crown in order to appear humble and thoughtful in front of the audience. By doing this, he gains the support of the masses and essentially uses this event as propaganda to gain even more supporters. Furthermore, Antony manipulates the people of Rome after the assassination of Julius Caesar in order to rally the common people of the Roman Empire against Brutus and the other conspirators. He uses various objects and methods in enraging the crowd by reading Caesar’s will which stated to give every Roman citizen money and also by making sarcastic remarks about Brutus and the other conspirators. Through the use of effective propaganda and manipulation, these people were able to rise politically and gain support from the masses.

Rhetorical Devices and Conflict

Shakespeare uses both rhetorical devices and conflict in order to develop the theme of manipulation and propaganda. For instance, during Antony’s speech, he effectively uses rhetoric throughout his speech through the use of sarcastic remarks and reminding the citizens of the Roman Empire of Caesar’s good deeds. Throughout his speech he constantly states “Brutus is an honorable man” (Act III, sc ii, 86) or “noble Brutus” (Act III, sc ii, 96) in a sarcastic manner showing how he truly despises Brutus and the other conspirators for their actions against Caesar. Furthermore, he reads Caesar’s will which stated “To every Roman citizen he gives, To every several man, seventy-five drachmas” (Act III, sc ii, 255-256) in order to emphasize how Caesar cared about the people of the Roman Empire and cared for their wellbeing. Shakespeare uses Brutus’ inner conflict in order to show how he has been manipulated by Cassius into murdering Caesar and shows how he contemplates whether to kill Caesar or not. For instance, during Brutus’ soliloquy he states “But for the general. He would be crowned: How that might change his nature, there’s the question… Crown him that, And then I grant we put a sting in him” (Act II, sc i, 12-17) showing how he is taking Cassius’s plot into consideration and debating about whether to participate in assassinating Caesar.