Brutus’s Speech Analysis in Julius Caesar: Persuasion and Argumentation

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Introduction: The Power of Persuasive Speeches

Persuasive speeches are quite a tool in order to sway the opinion of an uneducated individual. These speeches must have the power to reform a certain community’s opinion on such a topic that the giver of the speech presents. This form of essay writing follows a strict guideline that must be effective yet, at the same time, subtle in design and composition. They are formed using three such parts of any fundamental argument: the claim, the data, and the warrant.

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Toulmin’s Analysis perfectly configures this idea of using these parts of an argument instead of basing it on fellow logical models. This philosophy applies in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare. In this play, two of the main characters, Brutus and Mark Antony, give powerful speeches utilizing, to the tea, Toulmin’s Analysis.

Brutus’s Speech Analysis

In Act III Scene 2 of the play, Brutus steps up and gives a speech to the crowd below. At this time, the crowd has very mixed emotions, as some are enraged while others are calmer for their love of Brutus. In this scene, Brutus tells the crowd his claim for killing the great Julius Caesar. Brutus’s claim is essentially that, though he holds Caesar in such a high regard, his death is necessary in order to avoid the pure ambition of Caesar. Though he does not state all the evidence, saying it is in the Capitol, he does use one primary statement to restate and intensify his claim: “As/ Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate,/ I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honor him; but,/ as he was ambitious, I slew him.” In this portion of his speech, Brutus directly states Caesar’s nature, one containing only ambition, which Brutus highly believes is dangerous to not only the Senate but the entire Roman Empire. He is also able to spark a certain emotional connection with the crowd, as he openly admits his favorable opinion of Caesar, though his love for him is not as powerful as the one he has for Rome itself.

As a persuasive speaker, Brutus incorporates the third piece of Toulmin’s Analysis to bring his speech from incomplete into a valid argument. In his warrant, Brutus asks the plebeians a simple yet effective question on the entire ordeal: “Had you rather Caesar were living, and die all/ slaves, than that Caesar was dead, to live all free men?” In this quote, Brutus taps right into the ignorance of the plebeians. The plebeians, in their delusion of seeing Caesar as “mighty and powerful” and wanting to make him king, do not take into account what would truly become of them. Brutus presents this idea so that their eyes may be opened to a harsh reality that would be set in stone if Caesar lived with such high power right in the palm of his hand. As such, all the parts of Brutus’s arguments are clearly identified and solidified using Toulmin’s Analysis.

Antony’s Speech Analysis

Going further with this quite powerful analytical tool, one other speech may be dissected into fundamental argumentative points: Mark Antony’s speech. After Brutus gives his speech, the plebeians are all praising Brutus, saying that he will be the next king. Antony, with a solemn look, brings in the body of Caesar. For about the next seven pages, from when he brings in the body towards the end of the scene, Antony gives a very powerful speech to those in attendance. In all his rambling and sympathetic mess of words, Antony has a distinguishable claim to his argument: Caesar is truly a great and honorable man without ambition existing in Caesar’s very nature. He has several forms of data to support his claim about Caesar; however, the most important piece of evidence that Antony gives is Caesar’s lifeless and blood-induced corpse: “Look, in this place ran Cassius’ dagger through; / See what a rent the envious Casca made; / Through this the well-beloved Brutus stabbed…/Quite vanquished him. Then burst his mighty heart…”

Antony, in his attempt at cajoling the crowd, shows them the hideous image of what truly transpired between Caesar and the conspirators. As easily as a pigeon feeds on a piece of bread, so does Antony feed on the crowd’s ignorance and present himself as the defender of a man with too many stab wounds to count. He seals off the argument with the warrant. In order to justify the fault in killing Caesar, Antony needs to validate his data; therefore, he uses Caesar’s will, which symbolizes the warrant in Toulman’s Analysis. Antony goads the crowd in him, reading the will. At this point, the crowd has become restless and wants him to read the will to them, which he eventually pursues: “Here is the will, and under Caesar’s seal. /To every Roman citizen he gives, /To every several men, seventy-five drachmas.” The commoners, upon hearing this decree, are now infuriated. They see how valiant and honorable Caesar was, and Julius’s death was one of unjustifiable precautions. As such, Antony successfully completes the job he came to do, shed a bad light on the conspirators in order to make Caesar look favorable. He does all this using the basic principles found in Toulmin’s Analysis.

Comparison and Impact of Speeches

Looking back on these two speeches, it is crystal clear to see that one speech is highly superior to the other. That speech is, of course, Antony’s. Though both speeches are formidable and influential, Antony’s has the most notable impact, which can be seen later in the play when most of the plebeians end up fighting on Antony’s side. From a logical perspective, Brutus is definitely lacking one of the most essential aspects of Toulman’s Analysis: the data. Though he says that Caesar, while alive, is ambitious, he does not have sufficient reasoning to support this: “The question of/ his death is enrolled in the Capitol; his glory not/ extenuated, wherein he was worthy, nor his offenses/ enforced, for which he suffered death.” In this scene, he does not tell the crowd all the exact reasons why Brutus and the conspirators killed Caesar. The only thing that Brutus is relying on is his favorable image as a valiant Roman. This bond that the crowd and Brutus have is like a temporary bandage, which Antony rips right off when he comes up to speak. Right at the beginning of the speech, Brutus’s argument collapses as soon as Antony speaks of Caesar’s non-ambitious demeanor.

He makes valid points on how Caesar did what he did not for the benefit of his power but for the benefit of Rome itself, which is now a destroyed dream because of Brutus’s and the conspirator’s violent actions. Another scene in which Brutus’s argument comes to a complete crumble is where Antony begins to characterize himself, with a noticeable motive behind it: “But (as you know me all) a plain blunt man/ That love my friend…/ For I have neither wit, nor words, nor worth…nor the power of speech/ To stir men’s blood…/ Show you sweet Caesar’s wounds…/ In every wound of Caesar that would move/ The stone of Rome will rise and mutiny.” Unlike Brutus, who makes himself seem like a person of righteous value for protecting Rome from an inevitable dictatorship, Antony uses a different tactic: make himself seem as if the commoners and he is on equal terms. He flat-out claims that he is no orator like Brutus but a plain man who simply loves Caesar as the commoners all deeply inside do. The motive behind Antony’s words is to light a violent and emotional response in the commoners, which he mentions by saying that Rome “will rise and mutiny.” With him presenting his speech in such a way that presents himself as a fellow Roman instead of a “high and valiant man” as Brutus does, Antony’s speech surpasses Brutus’s, as Antony masterfully creates a ripple effect among the citizens that has a much more significant influence over the crowd, which makes Brutus’s speech look weak in comparison.

Conclusion: Toulmin’s Analysis in Action

Though these two speeches vary greatly, they both follow the strict guidelines constituted by Toulmin’s Analysis. Persuasion and evidence are always key in any argument, which Brutus and Antony try to utilize in order for others to perceive them in a respectable manner. In conclusion, analyzing these two speeches really sets forth the ideals of the modern rhetorician Stephen Toulmin and his now-famous Toulmin’s Analysis, which can be easily seen in Antony’s and Brutus’s speeches through careful Analysis and observation.         


  1. Shakespeare, William. “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar.” Project Gutenberg, 1990,
  2. Toulmin, Stephen E. “The Uses of Argument.” Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  3. Woodward, David. “Rhetoric and Persuasion in Julius Caesar.” Literature/Film Quarterly, vol. 7, no. 1, 1979, pp. 15-26. JSTOR,
  4. Miller, Arthur G. “The Nature of Persuasion: A Study of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.” Theoria: A Journal of Studies in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, vol. 19, no. 1, 1962, pp. 69-77. JSTOR,
  5. Bevington, David M. “The Art of Shakespeare’s Verse.” Harvard University Press, 1992.
  6. Dilworth, Thomas J. “Shakespeare and Aristotle: Overlapping Forms and Ways of Thinking in Julius Caesar.” Studies in Philology, vol. 101, no. 1, 2004, pp. 41-56. JSTOR,
  7. Harkins, Richard P. “Rhetorical Philosophy and Rhetorical Method in Julius Caesar.” College English, vol. 35, no. 6, 1974, pp. 663-676. JSTOR,
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Brutus's Speech Analysis in Julius Caesar: Persuasion and Argumentation. (2023, Sep 05). Retrieved from