North Syd Boys Band 6 Caesar + Bhutan + Sheehan

Evaluate how composers’ “act of representation” shape our understanding of conflicting perspectives.


The authors, through the provision of a balanced argument of disharmonizing perspectives, were able to enrich their own arguments, and thus alter the responder’s understanding. Julius Caesar, a play written by William Shakespeare in 1599, reflects the contention for and against absolutist monarchism casted upon the final years of Queen Elizabeth’ reign through the characterisation of Caesar. Similarly, Brook Larmer’s National Geographic Feature article “Bhutan’s Enlightenment Experience” (2008) features the examination of Bhutan’s entry into the global village. Finally Paul Sheehan’s political essay “Voyage of the Damned”  (2003) provides contrasting positions on the “baby overboard” agenda in the lead up to the 2007 election. Through analysis of how author’s disproval of the opposing perspectives are able to strength their own, we can see how acts of representations enforce the authorial narrative.

JC: Monarchy vs republic

The audience’s understanding of conflicting perspectives is shaped through Shakespeare’s exploration of the legitimacy of final years of Queen Elizabeth’s rule, which is examined by the illustration of Julius Caesar as a legitimate sovereign. Initially there is weariness in the perception of Caesar as a king through Cassius’s mythical allusion, “Like a Colossus… to find ourselves dishonourable graves,” depicting Caesar as a potential tyrant, who would cannibalise his citizens for power. However Shakespeare clearly identifies Caesar as a legitimate ruler and king through the author’s play on the traditional ruler in the Elizabethan convention as “he shall wear his crown by sea and land,” alluding to Caesar as a legitimate ruler by both a governing government body and by populous. Shakespeare positions the audience by utilizing the common belief in the chain of being, specific to his Elizabethan audience. This is demonstrated through Casca’s verbal irony “did I go though a tempest dropping force / for I believe, they are portentous things unto the climate they point upon.” A verbal and narrative irony statement employed by Shakespeare to allude to the Chain of Being in favour of Caesar. This is further demonstrated through Calpurnia’s hyperbole “the heaven themselves blaze forth the death of princes,” utilising astral phenomena, symbolic of Elizabethan belief in fate to reinforce the legitimacy of Caesar’s reign. Thus we are able to perceive how Shakespeare successfully establish Caesar and thus Elizabeth as a legitimate ruler whose legacy must be sustained.

Related 1: Bhutan

Similarly, despite the advantages of democracy and global integration, Brook Larmer’s feature article “Bhutan’s Enlightenment Experience” explores how modernity undermines the traditions of Bhutan in order to forge our assimilation of his perspective. The ironic attitude of a King clamouring for democracy is outlined in his rhetorical question, “what would happen if Bhutan fell into the hands of an incompetent ruler?” He utilises statistics of the boons brought forth by modernity, “literacy rate from 10-60%”, “life expectancy from 46-66 years…” to demonstrate that democratic reform is essential to Bhutan’s entry into the global village. However, interviews with ministers and local elders point to the contrary, “Why do we need democracy?” They ask, clearly illustrating the Bhutanese’s reluctance to relinquish the monarchy. The representation of the wishes of the people reflect the plebians of the Julius Caesar, who would “have done no less” even if “Caesar had stabbed their mothers.” Creating the support for monarchy through the ironic ‘popular support’ of the public. To represent this ironic love of an out-dated system of Monarchy, the article points to the willingness of the citizens to risk their livelihoods on the King’s benevolence. The hyperbolic statement, “But whatever the king says, we must eat—whether sweet or sour, poisonous or delicious.” parallels the same persuasive use of Plebeians in Julius Caesar, as it is stated by the Chief Commissioner of Bhutan, whom, “prefers not to have elections.” Thus through the act of representing an Monarch seeking democracy, and a nation whole heartedly resisting it, Larmer successfully established that Bhutan would retain their current traditions and thus, the current monarch.

JC: Brutus vs Antony

Shakespeare further employs two tragedy archetypes, Brutus, the tragic hero, and Antony, the avenger to create a contention between the legitimacy of a rising Monarchy and a fallible Republic.  Brutus is characterised as a hero whose hamartia lies in his gullible honour. His pride and arrogance is utilized by Shakespeare as an element of hubris. The high modality of, “as he was valiant, I honour him, as he was ambitious, I slew him” and the political blackmail of, “Had you rather Caesar were living and die all slaves” both employ an idealistic tone to elevate Brutus’ perspective of the regicide.

However, Shakespeare makes the deliberate choice of Brutus speaking in prose, an expression associated with the lower classes. This contextual convention is utilised so that Antony can disavow Brutus, and undermine his honour and trust. Antony’s anaphora, “But Brutus says he was ambitious… and Brutus is an honourable man.” repeatedly draws an inferred allusion that Brutus’ honour is self serving and damaging to Rome. Shakespeare finally utilises stage craft, in which Antony walks among the Plebeians, using Caesar’ body as a prop. “This is the unkindest cut of all!” and gesticulating to the clearly segregated senators and Brutus to establish a ‘us and them’ mentality in the audience. As such through Brutus’ fatal flaw, Shakespeare is able to elevate Brutus, and then use his downfall as a means to justify Antony and the right of Monarchy.

Related 2: Voyage of the Damned

In the political essay “Voyage of the Damned” Paul Sheehan explores the character assassination of John Howard through the presentation of “baby overboard” agenda from the media and government’s perspectives. Initially, Sheehan quotes Four Corners transcript, which utilises high modality language to illustrate Howard as a dishonourable figure. The appeal to pathos through the anecdotal “names of two women appeared on gravestone at Christmas island…drowned when the boat was sabotaged” attempts to persuade the audience to Howard’s unethical treatments of asylum seekers. This can be seen as a parallel of Brutus’ attack on Caesar, in which he inferences that Romans will ‘die as slaves’ had Caesar succeeded.

However, Sheehan’s purpose is to exonerate the Howard Government, and as such, he counter points his examples of the Media’s accusation by pointing to anecdotal evidence. Sheehan utilises the aphorism, “throwing children overboard is a documented, and common practice of refugees seeking asylum,” to engage with the audience’s logos, positioning the responder to side with Howard government through the undeniable, unethical practice of refugees. As such the ironic falsehood of the media is established by Sheehan. Like Julius Caesar, the accuser now becomes the accused. His sarcastic, accusatory comment, “a simple explanation that never occurred to the ABC (Australia Broadcast Corporation).” Further alienates the audience from trusting the media.

As such, through undermining of the media’s perspective is achieved through the structure of the essay, where Sheehan positions his arguments as rebuttals to the TV program and radio transcripts, we are able to perceive how a counter point in conflicting perspective strengthens the position of the author.


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