Rhetorical Devices Essay Sample

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Seven score and ten years ago, Abraham Lincoln used his powerful words to persuade his audience to take the first step in their obligation of taking action. Uniting the people is the only way to start uniting the country for the people during the hard times of the Civil War. In Abraham Lincoln’s “The Gettysburg Address”, Lincoln uses rhetoric to convince his audience to come together. To effectively persuade his audience, Lincoln used pathos, antithesis, and repetition.

Throughout Lincoln’s speech he uses pathos to get to the emotions of the audience and convince a final thought of action. In the beginning of his speech, Lincoln reminds the people of their founding principles that the nation is to be “conceived in Liberty” (2) and “that all men are created equal” (2) as stated in the Declaration of Independence. By reminding spectators, an emotion is brought out of them that every person belonged to the nation. The audience, as divided as it was, unanimously felt the pride in belonging to a nation like America, and were all unified as one again. Lincoln then moves on to speaking of the present times in which their nation is being tested through the Civil War and of “the brave men, living and dead,”(10) that have and continue to sacrifice their lives for a better nation.

Having said this, Lincoln reaches for emotion of sorrow for the fallen to not only dedicate Gettysburg as a cemetery, but to also have the audience feel sympathy, not alone, but as united people. He gives the sense that the passed away men before them have believed that the nation can become great and if they can devote their lives to the cause there must be a reason for the audience to act towards the cause as well.

Towards the end of the speech, Lincoln contributes to idea that the listeners have an obligation to build “a new birth of freedom-and [a government] of the people” (18-19). Lincoln states the country must be united, as it is the only way the country will ever have a “rebirth” to a superior nation. The audience is called out as interior patriots that will be rewarded with a better stable nation if they fight for the government they want to have. In Lincoln’s speech, he used pathos to create emotions in the audience through his speech to influence action into the Civil War.

President Lincoln also uses antithesis in his speech to juxtapose different concepts to form one idea for the divided audience to understand. Lincoln first juxtaposes two different ideas of “remembering” and “forgetting” in one sentence by stating that the future people to come will “nor long remember what [he says there]”(12), but yet they will “never forget what they did there”(12). By Lincoln reminding the audience and remembering the dead, Lincoln puts forth the idea that the dead are more important than him and whatever he says that day.

He also creates the feeling that he is a humble president and he appeals to the South to create more fondness towards him. Lincoln also juxtaposes “add” and “detract” when talking about the deceased that have “consecrated [Gettysburg], far above [their] poor power to add or detract” (11). Saying so, he instills a sense of guilt and sympathy once again into the ones listening for those who have died. He continues to make the audience more willing to carry out the request of uniting to make a greater nation. With using antithesis, Lincoln shows that opposites can come together to become something greater like the divided audience is still together as a nation.

One other important device used in President Lincoln’s speech is repetition used throughout the whole speech. Generally, the repetition is applied to create a consciousness of unity, and when Lincoln repeatedly states “we can not… we can not… we can not” (9-10) in the same sentence. He persuades the audience that they cannot continue on the cause of division and slavery, but yet join together to creating the nation they all dream and hope America can be. Simultaneously, he states expresses that they all cannot let the deceased die in vain, since they have given their devotion to fighting for the government that is for and by the people.

Lincoln continues to give a sense of unity when repeating “people” (10) and “we” (4) through his speech. Using these collective pronouns he declares that the only way the nation will become one, is becoming one; the people create the government for the people and putting everyone’s thoughts in the decisions. Creating the sense of unity, Lincoln coveys that all men should be equal in America leading to the thought of ending slavery. Repetition was exercised wisely by President Lincoln to have the people establish their new nation.

To conclude, in “The Gettysburg Address”, Lincoln uses pathos, antithesis, and repetition to convince those present to believe in the Union. Years ago, the intelligent President Lincoln used wonderful words to bring together, what seemed to be the most divided audience together to agree to a cause of reuniting a new nation.

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