Julius Caesar

William Shakespeare

Key Questions and Answers

Summary Key Questions and Answers

11) Why does Caesar’s will have such a powerful impact on the plebeians?

It is not the actual contents of Caesar’s will that have a powerful impact on the plebeians, but rather it is Antony’s reading of the will. He essentially uses the will as a rhetorical device that symbolizes Caesar’s love for the plebeians and the betrayal he endured at the conspirators’ hands, which gives the will the power to truly move the plebeians to rise up in mutiny. First, Antony primes the plebeians by telling them exactly what the will represents: Caesar’s love for them and all of Rome. He then states that he “must not read it” and cleverly implies how people should react if they were to hear its contents: “It is not meet you know how Caesar loved you. / You are not wood, you are not stones, but men. / And, being men, hearing the will of Caesar, / It will inflame you, it will make you mad.” Essentially, Antony tells the plebeians that Caesar loved them and suggests that the will is proof of this love.