The Powers of Articulation

Studying persuasion through The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

Essay, 2012

4 Pages, Grade: 10th


The Powers of Articulation

Persuasion is the highest exercise of intellect, for within successful persuasion, intelligent tact is converted into action. William Shakespeare displays the power of persuasion throughout his historical classic, Julius Caesar. The play centers upon a group of senators in ancient Rome who conspire to slay Caesar. One prime example of persuasion comes in Act I, scene 3 where Cassius attempts to recruit Casca for his plot against Caesar. Cassius successfully persuades Casca by using five different methods of persuasion: false cause and effect, inductive reasoning, bandwagon appeal, either/or reasoning, and name calling.

The first technique Cassius uses to successfully persuade Casca is a false cause and effect scenario. In this fallacy, he claims that the strange weather occurring is because of supernatural powers warning Rome against a threat. Cassius says, “To monstrous quality, why, you shall find / That heaven hath infused them with these spirits / To make them instruments of fear and warning / Unto some monstrous state” (I.3.68-71). His superstitious reasoning that spirits are affecting the weather is meant to alarm Casca as to Rome’s state of affairs which will strengthen his admonition against Caesar. Cassius sets up his successful persuasion by opening with a false cause and effect.

The next type of persuasion Cassius uses that successfully persuades Casca is inductive reasoning. He compares the terrifying weather to a person, but Cassius doesn't state whom he is describing by name. Cassius says, "Now could I, Casca, name to thee a man / Most like this dreadful night, / That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars" (I.3.72-74). This statement leaves Casca to deduce that Cassius means to address Caesar; however, because of Cassius' gentle tact, Casca is already accepting his image on Caesar even if he doesn't realize it. Cassius inches closer to his goal by using inductive reasoning.

The third vehicle of persuasion Cassius pilots toward Casca with is a bandwagon appeal. In this fashion, he makes the claim that the spirit of all Romans is humiliated by Julius Caesar's rule. He states, "Let it be who it is; for Romans now / Have thews and limbs like to their ancestors; / But, woe the while! Our fathers’ minds are dead, / And we are governed with our mothers’ spirits; / Our yoke and sufferance show us womanish" (I.3.80-84). With this, he leads Casca to believe Caesar's reign is an insult on Roman dignity universally which continues to establish the paradigm of Caesar Cassius has created. Cassius advances his persuasion on Casca successfully with a bandwagon appeal.

After his bandwagon appeal, Cassius convinces Casca further by employing either/or reasoning. He goes as far to say he will end his own life if Caesar stays in power. Cassius declares, "I know where I will wear this dagger then; / Cassius from bondage will deliver Cassius" (I.3.89-90). He has presented a situation of either slavery to Caesar or death to invigorate his attempts of persuasion. He manages to persuade Casca further by employing either/or reasoning.

The last type of persuasion used by Cassius on Casca that leads to his success is name calling. Cassius uses a rude words to demean Caesar as a person; "What rubbish and what offal, when it serves / For the base matter to illuminate / So vile a thing as Caesar!" (I.3.109-111). This final attack on Caesar serves to further alienate Casca from Caesar and align him with the conspiracy. Thus Cassius wraps up his persuasion of Casca successfully with a name calling technique.

In conclusion, Cassius persuades Casca to join his conspiracy successfully using 5 vehicles of persuasion. The first method Cassius employs is a false cause and effect scenario by stating the strange weather phenomenon is the result of spirits warning against Caesar. Then Cassius uses inductive reasoning by talking about Caesar vaguely yet allowing Casca to derive whom he is speaking about. Next Cassius approaches Casca with a bandwagon appeal which assumes the state of all Romans in general. In a desperate attempt, he even threatens to stab himself if Caesar prevails as their king. At last he resorts to name calling when he insults Caesar on a personal level to diminish him in Casca’s eyes. Cassius persuasion ultimately wins Casca over, showing us that strong persuasion is built upon several attempts of varying styles. Therefore, if one wishes to exchange tact for action, a method similar to this is ideal.


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The Powers of Articulation
Studying persuasion through The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
English II
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ISBN (Book)
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This work is an evaluation of a persuasive attempt through the analysis of a scene in William Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Julis Caesar.
julius caesar, william shakespeare, cassius, casca
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Kevin Caravaggio (Author), 2012, The Powers of Articulation, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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