In the play Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, rhetorical devices are used to persuade the audience. However, the most influential and powerful rhetorical strategies were used in Antony’s funeral speech. Antony ultimately won the crowd’s hearts by the rhetorical devices in his speech and the emphasis he placed on them. The rhetorical strategies that were most persuading were hysteron proteron, argument to the people, and aposiopesis.
A rhetorical device that Antony used in his speech was aposiopesis. An aposiopesis is a form of ellipse by which a speaker comes to an abrupt halt, seemingly overcome by emotion. Antony proclaims, “And men have lost their reason! Bear with me; my heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, and I must pause till it come back to me” (III, ii, 107-109). Antony uses this aposiopesis to form an impact on the audience by causing the citizens to feel remorseful and sympathetic. It’s effective because it helps Antony gain the citizen’s sympathy and turn against the conspirators claims again Caesar (being ambitious).
Argument to the people was another rhetorical strategy that Antony used. Argument to the people is when a person uses the appeal of popular assent, often arousing the feelings and enthusiasm of the multitude rather than building an argument. Antony uses this when he declares:
Have patience, gentle friends; I must not read it. It is not meet you know how Caesar loved you. You are not wood, you are not stones, but men; And being men, hearing the will of Caesar, It will inflame you, it will make you mad. ‘Tis good you know not that you are his heirs, for if you should, O what would come of it? Will you be patient? Will you stay awhile? I have o’ershot myself to tell you of it. I fear I wrong the honorable men whose daggers have stabbed Caesar; I do fear it. You will compel me then to read the will? Then make a ring about the corpse of Caesar, and let me show you him that made the will. Shall I descend? And will you give me...