Personification and Other Literary Devices in The Tragedy of Julius Caesar

June 7, 2022 by Essay Writer

Literary devices are often used in literature to engage the reader in the text by making it more alluring, while adding more depth and meaning. In the tragedy of Julius Caesar, written by Shakespeare, a conspiracy rises against Caesar, which is lead by Caesar’s good friend Cassius. Cassius effectively gets more characters to join the conspiracy through his ability to persuade through language. Throughout the tragedy, the author uses many literary devices, including imagery, metaphors and personification to emphasize the art of persuasion Cassius uses to make the pitch to join the conspiracy more convincing to other characters. Shakespeare use of metaphors allow him to advance the central message of persuasion by making Cassius have the ability to convince characters to join the conspiracy against Caesar through metaphors.

Cassius attempts to convince Brutus to join his conspiracy against Caesar because he doesn’t believe Caesar is worthy of becoming king. Cassius asks Brutus is he can see his own face, which he obviously replies that he can’t unless he has a mirror, in which Cassius goes on to say, “And since you know you cannot see yourself / So well as by reflection, I, your glass, / Will modestly discover to yourself / That of yourself which you yet know not of” (I.II.72-75). Cassius uses this metaphor to persuade Brutus by telling him that he can be Brutus’s mirror to show him how great he can be if they overcome Caesar. Cassius compares himself to a mirror because he is explaining to Brutus that if he joins him in his quest to stop Caesar from becoming king, Brutus can see his true potential. The use of a metaphor effectively serves as a persuasive technique for Cassius and advances the central message of persuasion. In coupled with Shakespeare’s use of metaphor, he utilizes imagery by using distinct and specific words to make Brutus’s argument sound more convincing by allowing him to paint a vivid image for other characters. When Cassius approaches Brutus in attempt to persuade him to turn against Caesar, he recalls a story with Ceasar from the past, “For once, upon a raw and gusty day, / The troubled Tiber chafing with her shores, / Caesar said to me, ‘Darest thou, Cassius, now / Leap in with me into this angry flood,” (I.II.106-110).

Cassius then continues to describe this story’s relevance to his pitch to Brutus after he explains how he saved Caesar from drowning, “The old Anchises bear, so from the waves of Tiber / Did I the tired Caesar. And this man/ Is now become a god, and Cassius is / A wretched creature and must bend his body, / If Caesar carelessly but nod on him” (I.II.121-124). The author describes the scene that Cassius is recalling to a point where his story is easy visualized. The power of imagery in this scene makes Cassius’ story more authentic and makes his claim that Caesar is ungrateful and selfish more convincing because hearing this story allows Brutus to understand why Cassius felt so unappreciated for what he did despite the conditions of the river. Cassius describes the day as “raw and gusty”, while he describes the water as an “angry flood”, these subtle details create vivid imagery for the rest of the story and advance the central theme of persuasion. By the same token as Shakespeare’s use of metaphors and imagery he also uses personification to give Cassius pitch towards Brutus variety and take a different approach in persuading him to join the conspiracy. As Cassius tries to convince Brutus that they have to stop Caesar from becoming king he personifies Rome, “But it was famed with more than with one man? / When could they say till now, that talk’d of Rome, / That her wide walls encompass’d but one man? / Now is it Rome indeed and room enough, / When there is in it but one only man” (I.II.160-164).

He uses Rome to personification to get the point across to Brutus that Caesar is taking something that doesn’t belong to one person. He says that her walls can hold more than one man, which is personifying Rome by referring to it by her. This allows a better connection in terms of Brutus understanding what it is happening, meaning that because Cassius personifies Rome, Brutus now views Rome as a human which has more emotional value than an object. The use of personification allows Cassius to push his persuasion techniques to new corners as he gets Brutus to think of Rome as a person which makes his argument about Caesar taking over more convincing. Persuasion is a common theme throughout the tragedy of Julius Caesar, however theuse of imagery, metaphors and personification help advance that central theme of persuasion. The uses of literary devices help Cassius pitch sound more convincing making his ability to persuade the conspirators against Caesar more believable, as well as making his persuasion ability stand out as a strong power he posses. Julius Caesar is a gold mine of literary strategies and techniques, however their role throughout the text really help advance one of the most common themes of the book; persuasion.


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