View Full Version : Persuasion At It's Best

Anna Roberts
05-30-2012, 11:05 PM
Persuasion At Its Best
Persuasion affects us everyday. It is a tool in the hands of the user, and only the person wielding it can decide how to use it. In the play The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare, a woman named Portia is trying to persuade her husband Brutus to tell her his tightly held secret. Portia successfully persuades Brutus, using persuasive techniques such as reasons, evidence, name calling, and loaded words.
First, she successfully persuades Brutus is her use of reasoning. She says that because of her respectable rank she is adept and deserves to know the secret that Brutus is carrying: “I grant I am a woman; but withal / a woman that Lord Brutus took to wife. / I grant I am a woman; but withal / a woman well reputed, Cato’s daughter,” (2.1.291-294). Her lineage to Cato, who is her father and also a “respected man who was famous for his integrity,” and her relation with Brutus qualifies her to know all his thoughts. Portia proficiently coaxes Brutus using the logical appeal reasoning.
Next, Portia effortlessly wheedles Brutus in her practice of evidence. Portia had previously given herself a cut and no one knows about it, so she proclaims that it provides evidence of her trustworthiness: “I have made strong proof of my constancy, / giving myself a voluntary wound / here in the thigh; can I bear that with patience, / and not my husband’s secrets?” (2.1.299-302). She points out that her ability to withhold intense information from all those around her proves her reliability as a confidant. Using evidence, Portia successfully convinces Brutus.
Third, Portia, by application of name calling, is able to inveigle her husband. Her approach of attacking herself with harsh names did exactly what she wanted it to do. Make Brutus feel bad. “Dwell I but in the suburbs / of your good pleasure? If it be no more, / Portia is Brutus’ harlot, not his wife,” (2.1.285-287). Portia says that if Brutus does not confide in her, she is just a slut there for his entertainment rather than his wife. She successfully wields persuasion on Brutus by applying offensive names to herself.
Fourth, Portia again uses name calling to smoothly influence Brutus. She verbally attacks him to make him feel bad, causing him to want to make himself right again in her eyes and “clean the slate.” “It should not need, if you were gentle Brutus.” (2.1.279). She calls Brutus ungentle, causing him to feel terrible about not telling her, so he proceeds to tell her his deeply held secret. By using name calling, Portia effectively persuades Brutus.
Fifth, Portia loads some words which contributed to the success of her endeavor to persuade Brutus. Portia lays down an intense array of vocabulary to guilt trip him: “Yet I insisted, yet you answered not, / But with an angry wafter of your hand / gave sign for me to leave me. So I did. / Fearing to strengthen that impatience / which seemed too much enkindled, and withal / hoping it was but an effect of humor.” (2.1.245-250). Using such passionate dialogue as, “angry, fear, strength, impatience,” and “enkindled,” allowed her to guilt trip him enough to make him tell her his secret. Loading words played an important role in Portia’s successful attempt of swaying Brutus.
In conclusion, Portia smoothly convinces Brutus because of her effective persuasive techniques to learn the secret that he clutches so securely which was that he and his comrades were going to assassinate Julius Caesar. Portia reasons that her honorable stature qualifies her to know his secret. She provides evidence of her ability to keep secrets by showing him a cut she gave herself that no one knows about. Name calling is another persuasive technique she applies to herself in order to make Brutus feel bad. She practices the use of loaded words to condemn him for his previous actions to make him feel guilty. Portia loads some more captivating words to remind him of oaths he took when taking her hand in marriage. Name calling is once more applied in order to make him feel blameworthy and make him want to “clean the slate.” Persuasion is a powerful weapon, how you choose to use to wield it will determine who you are.