A six-page, fill-in-the-blank handout in which your students will compare and contrast two orations given during the crucial scene of Shakespeare’s play “Julius Caesar:” The memorable speech by Antony and the lesser known one by Brutus.
This handout will allow your students to examine the following aspects of each oration: The medium used (for instance, why is one in prose and the other in verse?); the length of each speech; the stage movement of the two speakers; the use of visual effects during the speeches; and most importantly the use of the three persuasive appeals available to any speaker: (1) logical appeals (reason and evidence); (2) ethical appeals (character traits of the speaker, such as wisdom, good will, intimidation, etc., revealed during the speech); and (3) emotional appeals (how the speaker works on the feelings or beliefs of the audience).
Working with such persuasive appeals in “Julius Caesar” should translate into a more capable use of them in your students’ own argumentative essays.
One sample activity from the handout: Why is Antony’s three-word salutation, “Friends, Romans, countrymen,” so much more memorable than Brutus’s? One possible answer which your students will consider is that Antony’s progresses smoothly from a one-syllable word (“Friends”) to a two-syllable word (“Romans”) to a three-syllable word (“countrymen”). This syllabic progression is more effective than Brutus’s greeting which begins with a two-syllable word, sweeps upward to a three-syllable word, before anticlimactically returning to a two-syllable word.
An Answer Key to the handout is provided, beginning on a separate page. Not as part of the student handout, I have appended three pages of notes on the historical background and aftermath of the assassination of Julius Caesar, listing changes in the real events which Shakespeare made in dramatizing these events. You can select which of these items, if any, to incorporate into your classroom activities of “Julius Caesar.”
The student handout is suitable for a homework assignment or as an in-class activity.
Prepared by Professor William Tarvin, Ph.D., who has published many articles on literature in scholarly journals.