Sundai Riggins teaches English at Elizabeth Seton High School in Bladensburg, Maryland.
Julius Caesar 3.2
What's On for Today and Why
This lesson will allow students an opportunity to do a close reading of the speeches of Brutus and Mark Antony in 3.2. They will identify the effects of the rhetorical appeals used and explore the variety of ways in which Antony might have delivered the speech.
This lesson will take two class periods.
What You Need
Folger edition of Julius Caesar
Available in Folger print edition and Folger Digital Texts
Complete Speech Handout
Sectioned Speech Handout
Essential Questions Handout
What To Do
1. Distribute copies of 3.2.82-151 (Complete Speech Handout).
2. Have students circle any repeated words.
3. Using at least two different dictionaries, have students look up the definitions of the two most commonly used words in the speech: honorable and ambitious. Briefly discuss the definitions of each word and fill in the appropriate section at the end of the handout. Tell students to note the context of the words used in Antony's speech. Allow students to read the first part of the speech aloud. Briefly discuss why they may find the speech persuasive. Ask students about how the repetition of the words changes the impact of the speech.
4. Introduce the terms ethos and pathos . Discuss the definitions for each of these words and fill them in with the other definitions at the end of the handout. Briefly discuss why these rhetorical appeals can be effective and critical persuasive elements of an argument. Using the Editing Handout, have students replace missing words with bland phrases (nice, sad good, etc). Have students read out their edited speeches and discuss the difference in the impact of the substituted words in terms of ethos and pathos.
5. Divide the class into groups of three or four. Distribute copies of lines 82-117 and lines 130-149 using the Sectioned Speech Handout. Remind students of the rhetorical appeals: ethos, pathos and repetition. Using their text and the excerpts from the speech, have students underline words they would like to emphasize and stress in their own delivery of the speech. Have students address the following questions:
How did Mark Antony feel about Caesar?
What words does he use to express his feelings?
How do you think he would have delivered this speech? Consider his tone of voice, mood and attitude. Does he yell, whisper or cry?
Does the tone/mood change during the speech?
Before delivering their speeches, have students complete the Essential Questions Handout.
6. Have students reread Antony's speech. Each group can choose a student to read their section. Divide the students and room into quadrants, each taking one plebeian voice. All students should read the last line, 149, together.
7. As a closing activity, have students write down the answers to the following:
How did Antony's speech influence the crowd?
What did you notice about the words you decided to stress?
Did you focus on the rhetorical appeal of ethos or pathos?
Have students share their responses. Which choices made the speech most effective?
How Did It Go?
Were students able to identify the rhetorical appeals used in the speeches? Were students able to incorporate techniques of stress and emphasis into their own delivery of the speeches?
If you used this lesson, we would like to hear how it went and about any adaptations you made to suit the needs of YOUR students.