Character Analysis, Marc Antony

English PIB-6

March 15, 1999

Marc Antony, of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, changes dramatically throughout the play. He begins the play a foolish reveler and ends it as a power hungry, vengeful, cold hearted member of the Second Triumvirate. What prompts this dramatic change of character in Antony? A number of things, chiefly the death of Caesar, and the power he gains in the Second Triumvirate.

In Act I and II the characters of the play see Antony as little more than a foolish, gamesome, reveler. Antony is nothing more than a friend of Caesar. Brutus dismisses him as a threat to the conspiracy saying “for he is well given / to sports, to wildness, and much company”(II. i. 188-189). The other conspirators are quick to agree that “there is no fear in him"(II. i. 190.). Caesar like the others, does not think much of Antony, other than as a friend. He shows surprise in one instance and says “See! Antony, that revels long a-nights, / is notwithstanding up”(II. ii. 116-117.). Everyone sees Antony as a young partier and not worth much thought. They however have miss judged Antony as they soon find out.

In Act III you first see the conniving, scheming Antony you will see for the remainder of the play. Rather than foolishly show up and yell at Brutus and the other conspirators, after Caesar’s death, he sends a servant ahead to see if it is safe, and chooses his words carefully. He is careful to convince at least Brutus that he is a friend. He, the ‘foolish’ reveler, out wits Brutus and receives permission to speak at Caesar’s funeral. In his soliloquy at the end of the scene he shows that he has already thought ahead and has a direct course of action. He is already able to predict that “domestic fury and fierce civil strife” will run rampantly through Italy after his speech (III. I. 263.). He is plotting revenge, and is very emotional in this act. In scene two the cunning Antony uses his emotion to his advantage in his funeral speech. His ability to turn the crowed to his side is remarkable. Which makes his statement, “I am no orator, as Brutus is” all the more ironic (III. ii. 219.). Antony’s use of irony in his speech is ingenious. The success of Antony’s speech and the pure madness of the crowed utterly discredit Antony’s reputation as a reveler.

In Act IV and V you see Antony as the powerful leader of the second Triumvirate. As Lord Actin said “power doth corrupt, but absolute power doth corrupt absolutely.” Antony has clearly been changed by the power he now possesses. Rather than the emotional distraught man, we saw in the previous act we see a non-feeling leader. He casually sentences his nephew to death without hardly a thought. He then turns around and says Lepidus “is a slight unmeritable man” (IV. I. 12.). The once caring Antony now even speaks ill of his “friends”. Antony’s seems to change again when his finale goal of revenge is achieved with the death of Brutus. He then is less bent on blood and determines that Brutus was in deed a good man and killed Caesar with the noblest of intentions.

Antony is one of the most constantly changing character of the play. He changes from a foolish reveler to a cunning leader throughout the course of the play. None of the other characters change to the same extent except for maybe Cassius. The new Antony is sure to clash with the ambitious Octavius before his life is over.