William Shakespeare’s play “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar” illustrates many chaotic characteristics of Ancient Rome, such as conspiracies, treacheries, and gory battles. Not one of these elements, however, is as crucial to the development of the narrative as the power of deception and manipulation, which Shakespeare uses to move the plot forward and lead the reader toward the play’s key moments.
One of the first examples of deceit occurs in the first act, when Cassius sends anonymous letters to Brutus. Cassius boldly claims that these letters will eventually allow him to “shake” Caesar and make him suffer (1. 2. 315). As it turns out, these letters ultimately convince Brutus to join the conspiracy — a major step towards Caesar’s deathly fate. Besides, without the use of deception, Brutus would never fall into Cassius’s power-hungry hands, and without Brutus’s role in the conspiracy, the events of this tragedy would follow entirely different routes, or perhaps not even take place at all.
Another event in which deception plays a major role can be found in Act Two, when Decius assures Caesar that his wife’s daunting dream has been “all amiss interpreted” (1. 1. 83) for it was instead “a vision fair and fortunate” (1. 1. 84). This lie is key to the narrative because it convinces Caesar to attend the senate where his murder takes place. Thus, without Decius’ deception, the conspirator’s plan might have failed.
Though the conspirators are the main antagonists, they are not the only characters who use manipulation to achieve their ends. By using powerful rhetorical devices in his renowned speech, Antony leads the people of Rome to rampage in quarrel against anyone involved in the rebellious attempt that his audience had previously condoned. He continuously calls Brutus an “honorable man,” but only to carefully compare this attribute with his suspicious deeds (3. 2. 82–91), eventually turning praise into mockery, whereas he questions Caesar’s ambition by reiterating to the people of Rome his honorable accomplishments:
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill.
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept;
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious,
And Brutus is an honorable man. (3. 2.)
Anthony’s influence is so great that the triumvirate’s success relies almost entirely on his speech. As such, with a greatly acclaimed (and famously renowned) tragedy, William Shakespeare raises questions about the role of manipulation and deception not just in “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar”, but in humanity itself.
What Are the Best Advertisements That Manipulate People’s Psychology Effectively?
Most sources tell advertisers that all they need is a catchy strap line and a call to action. However, as consumers become more jaded by constant advertising, and more sophisticated in their tastes, these tried and trusted techniques are no longer enough. More recent studies show that the most successful advertising campaigns are those that engage our emotions by associating brands with our hopes, fears, loves and aspirations.
The most obvious use of this is by associating the brand or product with pleasant images: sunsets, flowers, cute animals and so on, as seen in many detergent commercials, and in Google’s Android “Friends Furever” (2015). However, advertisers can make a greater impact by aligning the brand with the target market’s aspirations and social values, increasing the feeling that the brand is authentic and socially acceptable. Humans like to belong and to gain approval.
One of the first types of advertising to do this came from the tobacco industry. Advertisers targeted women, making cigarette smoking epitomize freedom and self-determination, as in Kim’s 1980s “Asi, como soy” (It’s so me) and Golden Tobacco Company’s 1990 “MS Special Filter” advertisements showing Indian women in Western dress and affluent surroundings, symbols of independence for Indian women (Amos & Haglund, 2009). Similarly, Proctor & Gamble associate the Always brand with images of girls and young women breaking stereotypes with “#LikeAGirl” (2014–2015) campaigns.
A 2010 study shows that we do not even need to pay attention to advertising for the brand message across to influence purchasing decisions by playing on our emotions (Dempsey & Mitchell, 2010).
“They may forget what you said—but they will never forget how you made them feel” (Carl W. Buehner in Evans, 1970)…
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