Marc Antony: The Living Teeter-Totter Essay, Research Paper
Marc Antony: A Living Teeter-Totter
Throughout Shakespeare?s play Julius Caesar we see a contrast of personalities come from one of the minor characters, Marc Antony. One of which is compassionate and impulsive; the other is in complete control of his emotions at all times. One can cry over the death of his dear friend, Caesar; the other condemns his peers to death without batting an eyelash. One makes a powerful political speech with perfect understanding of human nature; the other can be so mistaken that he labels Cassius “not dangerous”. Can such opposites exist within one man? It?s possible that Shakespeare couldn?t make up his mind about Antony and left him an unfinished portrait. It’s also possible that Shakespeare was trying to portray the many sides of an opportunist. An opportunist is person who adjusts his values to suit his purposes; who uses people and events to get what he wants, regardless of principles or consequences. It is because Antony is such an indefinable man, that it is understandable that, like a chameleon, he would change colors from one moment to the next.
A modern man, Antony takes the world as he finds it and uses whatever means are necessary to get what he wants. Life for him is a game–serious, but a game nonetheless–and he is a skillful player who knows how to win. Antony is an opportunist, yes, but is he evil? Look closely at his words and actions, and you can find evidence to support that point of view. In his famous funeral speech, for instance, nothing could be more offensive than the way he fires up the masses by appealing to their lower emotions. And nothing could be more irresponsible than
the way he unleashes the “dogs of war”–bringing death and destruction to innocent and guilty alike.
Antony is cynical, hard and unprincipled, yet he is motivated not by personal ambition but by the desire to revenge the death of a friend. His almost dog-like loyalty to Caesar reveals a deep capacity for devotion and affection. He is cunning, but, unlike Brutus, completely honest with himself. He may manipulate people, but he speaks with conviction, and what he says is deeply felt. His funeral speech is more effective than Brutus’ because he speaks from the heart.
In the end, Antony (with Octavius’ help), triumphs. Though his representation, is Shakespeare suggesting that realists like Antony are the hope of the future? Perhaps Shakespeare is merely pointing out that Antony and his kind, whose personalities rock back and forth like a playground teeter-totter, are more likely to succeed in a world as imperfect as the one we live in.