The character of Mark Antony from Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar
may be viewed as simply the confident and devoted supporter of Julius
Caesar. On the contrary, Antony presents the qualities of a shrewd flatterer, a
ruthless tyrant, as well as a loyal follower. Antony’s characteristics will
change as the play progresses. He will begin using flattery to get what he
wants, but he will eventually depend on his powerful relentlessness.
Furthermore, Antony uses these various attributes to make him successful.
Throughout the play, Antony uses flattering to achieve his goals.
Following the assassination of Caesar, Antony quickly grasps that he must
deal with Brutus, and he has the shrewdness to take advantage of Brutus’s
gullibility. Antony has his servant say, ‘Brutus is noble, wise, valiant, and
honest’; (III i 126). From this point, it is clear that Antony intends to flatter
Brutus and to work upon those personal qualities of Brutus which represent
his fundamental weaknesses. Antony then comes to the Capitol where he
further flatters the conspirators by shaking their hands and saying, ‘Friends
am I with you all, and love you all…’; (III i 220). This act symbolizes that
Antony has made a new friendship with the conspirators, but in reality, he is
plotting to seek revenge so he can take over Rome. Antony is also able to
flatter the vast angry crowd in order to get his way. He is first able to get the
crowd to feel sorry for him. This feeling is evident when the second plebeian
says, ‘Poor soul, his eyes are red as fire with weeping’; (III ii 116). Antony is
then able to turn the people in the crowd against Brutus by teasing them with
Caesar’s will. Antony says, ‘And being men, hearing the will of Caesar, it
will inflame you, it will make you mad’; (III ii 144-145). This blandishment
provokes an immediate response of the crowd demanding that Antony read
Caesar’s will. Although Antony uses flattery to get what he wants, he will
also show respect for others with his devotion and loyalty.
One of the most significant characteristics of Mark Antony is his
strong, affectionate loyalty to Julius Caesar. Antony’s devotion to Caesar
extends beyond a simple friendship, but politically as well. This fact is best
recognized when he offers Caesar the crown of Rome three times in the
beginning of the play. This act shows that Antony is dedicated to Caesar
because he is quite willing to serve under the rule of an ambitious tyrant.
Immediately following the assassination of Caesar, Antony acts as though he
is a friend of the conspirators’. On the contrary, he is secretly plotting to get
his revenge on all of the assassins. Antony later reveals his true feelings in a
wholehearted soliloquy before the bloody cadaver of Caesar, ‘Thou art the
ruins of the noblest man that ever lived in the tide of times’; (III i 256-257).
Antony believes that Caesar was the most imposing man ever to live
throughout the course of history. To prove his loyalty, Antony gives a
confident and persuasive speech at Caesar’s funeral despite an extreme
danger on his own life. First, Antony expresses his sadness and grief over the
death of his distinguished friend. However, as the speech progresses,
Antony’s emotions transform into extreme anger towards the conspirators
when he says to the crowd, ‘Look you here, here is himself/Marred as you
see with traitors’; (III ii 197-198). The people in the crowd were so moved
by his speech that they were willing to go to war against the conspirators. By
starting this civil war, Antony again risks his own life to get revenge on the
assassins of Caesar. Antony realizes that loyalty is an advantageous quality
for a person to possess. He emphasizes this speculation when he does not kill
Lucilius, the officer to Brutus who stoically risked his own life to save his
master. Antony says of Lucilius, ‘This is not Brutus, friend, but, I assure
you, a prize no less in worth’;(V iiii 26-27). Realizing the value of having
loyal followers, Antony orders that Lucilius be protected. Eventually,
Antony’s loyalty will change into an envy of Caesar’s ambition and he will
follow the path of the ruthless tyrant.
As the play progresses, Antony develops a ruthless state of mind. He
forms into a relentless tyrant much like Caesar was before his death. Cassius
probably describes him best as a ‘shrewd contriver’;. Antony first shows his
fierceness in his speech at Caesar’s funeral. He speaks of the conspirators
sarcastically calling them ‘honorable’; men. He enrages the people of the
crowd by convincing them that Caesar’s assassination was morally wrong and
the conspirators are traitors.
By his powerful speech, Antony has created
civil war in Rome and he has no concern for the welfare of the citizens who
will suffer in the strife. Antony again shows his ruthlessness when he
condemns his own nephew to death by saying, ‘He shall not live; look, with a
spot I damn him’; (IV i 6). The way in which Antony says these words show
his unrelenting mind. Antony is willing to ignore all ethical and moral
considerations in order to concentrate on political practicality and expedience.
Also, the way Antony regards Lepidus as a ‘slight’; man without merit further
shows his relentlessness. Antony uses Lepidus essentially to run errands and
he intends to eventually append Lepidus’ powers to his own. At Phillipi,
Antony shows his ruthless nature when he immediately attacks after Brutus
left Cassius’s army exposed. As a consequence, it is because of Antony’s
ruthless state of mind that he is successful.
In conclusion, Mark Antony is more than a simple follower of Julius
Caesar. Antony is a shrewd flatterer, a ruthless tyrant, as well as a loyal
supporter of Caesar. He is able to manipulate Brutus using flattery.
Furthermore, he is able to get what he wants with his ruthless state of mind.
In summary, Antony is able to use his various qualities to make him