Inaugural Speech Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 15 February 2017

Inaugural Speech Rhetorical Analysis

John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech is certainly one to remember. It’s memorable not for its length, but for the effective content that it beholds. He entices readers by the use of strong rhetoric techniques. His inaugural analyzes style of writing, such as diction, tropes, schemes, and syntax, and applies the concept of it effectively throughout the speech. A reader performs rhetorical analysis to examine how authors attempt to persuade their audiences by looking at the various components that make up the art of persuasion.

Moreover, it is most essential to be able to understand the relationship among the speaker, subject, and audience, which President Kennedy adequately exploits in his speech. It is a necessity to be able to identify the speaker, subject, and audience in a piece of writing, such as John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech. The ethical appeal, instead refers to the credibility, character, and confidence of a writer. There are a number of ways in which an author may establish ethical appeal.

During the time period in which it was written, cold war tensions were still lingering the atmosphere and Kennedy had just won the position as president in a very close election over an accomplished opponent. Therefore, the nation is vulnerable and tense and has reached a turning point in history. The speaker would be classified as the narrator, which in this case is John F. Kennedy. Since he was elected president, the audience views him as an authoritative figure whose speech should be respected.

Although Kennedy was young, he still faced critique on his tone and image, whether that be physical or mental. His speech was not aimed toward any particular individual, it was written for the world. So, it was expected of him to exhibit hope, compassion, strength, and loyalty. The speaker, subject, and audience all depend on each other in a piece of work because without them, it would be difficult to identify what the writing is talking about and who would be affected by it.

Within President Kennedy’s speech, he utilizes various rhetorical strategies, including diction, tropes, syntax, and schemes, which make it more effective and versatile. For instance, parallelism such as the statement, “whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, hear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe,” gives flavor to the speech by pointing out opposite words within a single sentence but still making it work. A few antimetaboles are used in the speech, such as “let us never negotiate out of fear.

But let us never fear to negotiate” and “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country,” make the speech more effective by twisting around the order of the words, or syntax, to get people to realize a point. Additionally, what makes Kennedy’s speech so effective is that he can transition from a simple sentence to a more complex, meaningful one in a matter of lines of the speech. In accordance to the diction, the words in his speech (freedom, poverty, devotion, and loyalty) are considered abstract. This is because they all convey a tone of desire and significant qualities held by friends.

They strengthen and add more feeling to the speech as well. However, the archaic words, such as writ and forebears, are used in a manner to bring in the old language as well as the new, therefore there is sophistication as well as understanding. Kennedy also uses juxtaposition when he says, “peaceful revolution,” and this adds spice to the speech because of the contradiction of the two powerful words. Yet another effective rhetoric strategy that he uses is hortative sentences, such as ones using the phrase “let us” or “let both sides”, which urges action and attention to the audience the speaker is writing to.

Clearly John F. Kennedy has made remarkable use of various rhetorical strategies throughout his inaugural speech, which in turn allows one to develop a superb rhetorical analysis with the different components of the text. His speech is an effective piece of writing because of its style, diction, syntax, tropes, and schemes. Additionally, it all goes back to the understood relationship between speaker, audience, and subject as well as the classical appeals.

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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 15 February 2017

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