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Analysis: Rhetoric and Speech Essay

The famous speech from Churchill is chosen as the subject of the study. Public speech, as important social-cultural phenomena, is an effective way to express feelings and convey ideas. In order to be attractive and persuasive, a successful speech should be formal and vivid at the same time. These requirements make a public speech have its own unique style.

Public speeches are formal and so as this speech “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat”.

Lexically, a lot of formal words were used in the speech such as commission, rigor, summon, undertaking, preliminary, ordeal, grievous, confer, conceive, buoyancy, etc. And many of these words origin from Latin or French: commission, rigor, confer (Latin); summon, preliminary, grievous, conceive (French/Old French). The use of these formal words makes the speech sound solemn and powerful.

The language is full of intensifiers, including superlatives (greatest, best, most, fastest), comparatives, and exaggeration. These are all examples of how Churchill intensifies his appeal wage war. He makes it give the impression as if there is no other alternative but to fight against the Nazis keep Britain’s pride. The speaker emphasizes the importance of the war, and how it will affect the future.

“…we are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history,”

“We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind”

“We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering”

“with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark and lamentable catalogue of human crime.”

The superlatives really enhances the message Churchill is trying to give, and changes the tone of the speech. It makes Churchill appear bolder, and the situation more serious.

Also, instead of phrasal verbs, many noun phrases and adjective phrases were employed in the speech to make it formal: “on account of”, “extreme urgency”, “in all respects”, “in accordance with”, “at the earliest opportunity”, “at any length” and so on.

Syntactically, long sentences and complex sentences are frequently used in the speech. The samples are as follows:

It is the evident wish and will of Parliament and the nation that this should be conceived on the broadest possible basis and that it should include all parties, both those who supported the lat Government and also the parties of the Opposition.

The appointment of the other Ministers usually takes a little longer, but I trust that, when Parliament meets again, this part of my task will be completed, and that the administration will be complete in all respects.

To form an Administration of this scale and complexity is a serious undertaking in itself, but if must be remembered that we are in the preliminary stage of one of the greatest battles in history, that we are in action at many other points in Norway and in Holland, that we have to be prepared in the Mediterranean, that the air battle is continuous and that many preparations, such as have been indicated by my hon.

Meanwhile, in order to keep a good tempo and path while giving the speech, short sentences were adopted in between the long sentences. The samples are as follows:

I have completed the most important part of this task.

The three Fighting Services have been filled.

Friend below the Gangway, have to be made here at home.

The appropriate using of these short simple sentences added smooth rhythm into the speech, making it colorful and powerful.

Apart from the formal diction, the employment of various rhetorical devices greatly contributed to the vividness and persuasive effect of the successful speech.

Rhetorical question is a figure of speech in the form of a question posed for its persuasive effect without the expectation of a reply. Rhetorical questions encourage the listener to think about what the answer to the question must be.

You ask, what is our policy? I can say: …

You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word.

Parallelism was also employed in the previous two sentences. It is the rhetorical device of employing identical or equivalent syntactic constructions in corresponding clauses.

Repetition is the simple repeating of a word, within a sentence or a poetical line, with no particular placement of the words, in order to emphasize. And there are several different types of repetition.

Repetition of a word in various places throughout a paragraph.

Victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.

Repetition of the last word of a preceding clause.

It is victory, victory at all costs.

Repetition of a word or phrase at the middle of every clause.

It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime.

Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of every clause.

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and suffering.

Let that be realized; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal.

A detailed investigation is conducted on the style and rhetoric aspect of the speech “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat” in this work with the approach of stylistic analysis. The proper choice of the words and employment of various rhetorical are very important to a composition. A good command of knowledge of literary stylistics can be so help to complete a successful literary work.

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