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Successful people are those who can manipulate their audience’s opinion of truth.

Through the composer’s own representation of particular personalities, the responder is

enabled to understand conflicts of differing perspectives. The use of visual and literary

techniques can unwittingly persuade audiences into taking a particular stance, as can be

seen in Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, Jason Reitman’s film, Thank You for Smoking

and Kenneth Slessor’s poem, Vesper-Song of the Reverend Samuel Marsden.

Conflicting perspectives in Julius Caesar develop over the assassination of Caesar. The

power to win over the Plebeians is found in Mark Antony’s funeral speech as opposed to

Brutus’ through his linguistic ability to manipulate their opinion. In Elizabethan times,

Julius Caesar the play was a form of entertainment, not a political statement against the

monarchy. Shakespeare would have been given the death sentence for depicting the

downfall of the Monarchy either way, so it was imperative that all Conspirators that acted

against it were punished. In Act one I, Shakespeare has represented the fickleness of the

commoners, as Flavius and Marullus see how easily they were swayed from first

celebrating Pompey, to celebrating his victorious opponent, Caesar, providing an insight

to their impressionable nature for the forthcoming conflicts. A dichotomy between the

Conspirators’ covets for a republic, and Antony’s thrust for a Monarchy resulted in

conflict and the murder of Caesar. Brutus spoke first at the funeral, demanding the

audience listen to him,

“Romans… hear me…”


Shakespeare has used irony to highlight Brutus’ underlying desire for control, through his

commands, despite claiming to support republicanism; his contradiction highlighting his

inner conflict and instability. Speaking in prose, his planned, syllogistic speech lacks

exaltation and fails to connect with the people on an emotional level. By having the first

say, Brutus has given the commoners the chance to be won over by Antony. Contrasting

Brutus, Antony addresses the audience less demandingly with a request;

“Friends… lend me your ears.”

From the two greetings, the crowd distinguishes Antony as the speaker who cares more

for the needs of the Romans. Whereas Brutus tried to reason with the audience,

Shakespeare has represented Antony as sly and manipulative. Through the use of

praeteritio, Antony subtly convinces the audience that Brutus and the other conspirators

had wrongfully murdered Caesar; in

“I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”

Antony makes it sound as though his words were mere truths, that he didn’t intend to lay

praise, capturing the hearts of the people further than if he admitted to his admirations.

When the crowds proceeded to hunt down the conspirators, it is made clear that the

successful speaker was Antony, and proof of his success is found when the mob

randomly attack and kill Cinna the Poet, thinking he was Cinna the Conspirator. Through

various techniques, Shakespeare’s representation of Antony’s mannerisms and fluid use

of rhetoric was what ultimately manipulated the audience to believing Mark’s opinions of

Caesar.
Similarly to the dichotomy formed between the republicans and the monarchs in Julius

Caesar, conflicting perspectives occur in Reitman’s Thank You for Smoking between the

tobacco companies and the non-smoking public and government. In present context,

when the movie is set, smoking is seen and advertised to the public as a poison, and it is

tobacco industry lobbyist Nick Naylor’s job to defend his company. Thank You for

Smoking aims to make more of a political statement than Julius Caesar; as a film, it can

reach the wider public and show the effects of smoking legislations from the perspective

of the tobacco companies, at a time when smoking legislations are internationally

becoming more evident. Naylor is successful in swaying his audiences to his own

opinions as the composer has represented him as a confident, intelligent ‘Sultan of Spin’

through various oratory and filmic editing techniques. The first scene opens as an ad-

break return on the Joan Lunden Show, where Naylor is a guest speaker, alongside a 15

year-old ex smoking cancer patient, and representatives from various health associations.

As Naylor is introduced, the frame freezes as the crowd boos. The scene remains still in

time as it diverts to slides of the formation of the Academy of Tobacco studies, as

Naylor’s voiceover provides the background information. He proceeds to display

smoking related death figures, to emphasize his challenge to win over the non smoking

public. The camera returns to a clip of Naylor swooning the press, as his voiceover states

“I get paid to talk.”

As his head swings from one side to the other, the composer has dubbed in the sound of a

machine gun firing, which symbolizes his speaking ability as being a powerful force,

possessing the ability to control people and leave a lasting impression. The scene then

reverts back to the Joan Lunden show, where Naylor proceeds to use techniques of spin
to manipulate the crowd’s opinions. Before the other panel members can drill him about

the effects of smoking on the ‘Cancer Kid’, Naylor begins conversation by flattering the

“fine audience” in their concern for the youth of America, winning them over with his 50

million dollar anti-teen smoking campaign, in his claim that there is

“Nothing more important than America’s children.”

Naylor used sycophancy to precede his speech, just as Antony had in addressing the

“gentle Romans”. By using spin to influence the audience opinions, Naylor connects with

them on an emotional level, successfully diverting their attention from the issue of

smoking in general to the discouragement of teen smoking. Through the composer’s use

of techniques, Naylor has been represented as a self-assured orator who parallels the

rhetoric of Mark Antony, showing that both men were successful as they were able to

manipulate the truth, and have their audiences accept it.

Conflicting perspectives of Reverend Samuel Marsden occur between countries, just as

perspectives of Caesar formed between Antony and the Conspirators in Julius Caesar. In

Australia in the early 1800s, Marsden was seen as a sadist and a tyrant for his abuse of

power in torturing convicts, and his rejection of Aboriginal culture, whereas in New

Zealand he was seen as a savior, introducing the ways of Christianity to the islands, and

accepting and helping the Maoris. As an Australian, Kenneth Slessor has represented

Marsden as a wicked man with a twisted desire to make others suffer; drawing out his

darker traits through linguistic techniques and poetic structure in Vesper-Song of the

Reverend Samuel Marsden. The poem is written as a Dramatic Monologue from

Marsden’s voice, where the responder is able to connect with his thoughts more
intimately and directly. The poem is structured as an Iambic Tetrameter, providing the

steady, flowing rhythm of a traditional prayer, whilst it also replicates the regularity and

continuity of his whips in motion. As the hand of God, the contradiction in this saintly

figure’s violent desires and nonchalance for the convicts makes Marsden seem pitiful in

his caricature of himself, enhancing the satire and emphasizing his inner conflict. The

metaphor “My cage of Brutes” creates an image of the indifference Marsden feels, in

viewing these men as animals and low-lives, suggesting his feelings of superiority and

power over them. The capitalization of “Hand” in

“Not mine, the Hand that writes the weal”

suggests its importance, and represents God- Marsden is suggesting that God is

controlling his hand, and that he is performing God’s will by torturing these men for their

redemption. Both Brutus and Marsden feel the need to justify themselves and their

actions, making them both appear unstable in their inner conflicts. Slessor’s

representation of Samuel Marsden parallels Shakespeare’s representation of Brutus, as

inner conflict is seen in both protagonists, restricting their ability to be admired. Slessor’s

Australian-influenced representation of Marsden’s inner conflicts has resulted in his

success as a composer. Through various techniques in Vesper-Song of the Reverend

Samuel Marsden, he has been able to manipulate his audience; the New Zealand

perspective of Marsden would be thereafter tainted due to Slessor’s ability to influence

his audience to his own perspective on the truth of Marsden. Such an effect also occurred

on Brutus- Caesar’s representation of Antony as a success left little room for Brutus to be

praised, showing that it is the successful people who are able to manipulate their

audiences.
Through analysis of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Jason Reitman’s Thank You for

Smoking and Kenneth Slessor’s Vesper-Song of the Reverend Samuel Marsden, it can be

deduced that a composer’s representation of different personalities can result in

conflicting perspectives to occur, but in all texts, the successful person is the one who can

manipulate their audience’s opinions of truth to follow their own perspective- whether

that person be the composer himself or a character within the text. In all three texts,

various techniques have been able to distinguish that Antony, Naylor and Slessor have

been the successful people in winning over their audiences, whereas Brutus, The non-

smoking public and the New Zealand view of Marsden (respectively) have been

established as unsuccessful as they have lacked in the tools and techniques which equate

with successful audience manipulation.