Anthony Vottima K. Hewitt ENG IV: Pd. 4 9 November 2008 The similarities that bind together Marc Antony’s Friends, Romans, and Countrymen speech and Martin Luther King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail are unreal; seemingly orchestrated. King’s letter is written upon a structure of a strong pathological appeal combined with a powerful use of repetition and moving language. Likewise, Antony’s speech demonstrates an emotion appeal with a firm directing address to his audience and a sinewy use of verbal irony.
The strong use of pathos, repetition, and a few other various rhetorical devices come together to assert Mark Antony’s funeral speech and Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s Letter from Birmingham Jail as two public addresses of great similarity. Pathos appeal dominantly takes the upper hand in terms of similarities throughout the two proclamations. For example, both King and Antony open to their audiences with a friendly standing. Antony calls upon “Friends, Romans, [and] Countrymen” (III. ii. 75. ), and King addresses, “My Dear Fellow Clergymen” (King, Jr. ). In doing so, they both associate themselves as one in the general public.
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The friendly approach, however, doesn’t last long either of the speeches. Shortly into his announcement, Antony breaks his seemingly neutral stance in saying “When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept;” (III. ii. 93. ). This attributes a vulnerable and human characteristic to Caesar’s personality. On the other hand, King takes upon a much more outright and vivid description in which to do so. He explains his reason to why he cannot “wait” for justice to take play in the unfair separation of whites and blacks is because he has seen “vicious mobs lynch mothers and fathers at will and drown sisters and brothers and whim;” (King, Jr. . Obviously, this would cause quite a stir of emotion to his reader. The use of this compelling strategy helps the composers to build not only sadness in the minds of their audiences, but also guilt, giving much more meaning in the portrayed message. Repetition is another correlating example of a correlating device that can be found in both speeches. However, there is a dramatic difference in the manner in which the two orators go about using it. Marc Antony repeatedly states, “Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; / And Brutus is an honorable man” (III. ii. 95-96).
By doing this, Antony manages to lessen the meaning behind his words to the point of an obvious sarcasm. His reverse psychology brings the crowd to realize the true crimes committed and to turn against the conspirators. Again, Martin Luther King Jr. takes a much more lucid and pathos oriented way in convincing his audience. In the eighth paragraph of his letter, King describes some of the brutalities he had to live through, all of which start with “when you […]” (King, Jr. ). This lengthy list compiled together to help the audience see the merciless and uncivil treatment that had been forced into the lifestyles of blacks.
The most contrasting rhetorical strategy the two addressings hold is their tone. The Letter from Birmingham Jail speaks with a demanding and emotional diction that clearly sets the stage for King’s attitude. He uses a stirring and dramatic choice of words and imagery to broaden his message amongst his audience. Antony takes quite a different approach. He emphasizes a neutral position, which in turn uses verbal irony to expose the conspirators and rally the townspeople. A powerful use of rhetorical questioning is also found within the two pieces.
Mark Antony questions the crowd, “Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill; / Did this in Caesar seem ambitious? ” (III. ii. 91-92). By asking this self contradictory question, Antony forces the townspeople to see the obvious answer. Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s letter also uses rhetorical questioning as a means of identifying irrationality. For instance, King questioned things such as “Isn’t like condemning a robbed man because his possession of money precipitated the evil act of robbery? ” or “Isn’t this like condemning Jesus because his unique God consciousness and never ceasing devotion to God’s will precipitated the evil act of rucifixion? ” (King, Jr. ). These questions, like that of Antony’s, help to showcase an absence of reason and create a moral. Mark Antony’s funeral speech is what gave Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar the true “Shakespeare quality” that his plays are known for. Without Martin Luther King Jr. ‘s Letter from Birmingham Jail, who knows; racial segregation may have continued for years. Fact of the matter is both pieces have gone down as two of the world’s most golden selections of literature. What the two have in common is what makes them great; what the two differ in keeps them unique.