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Rhetoric of Political Speeches and Documents

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1 Rhetoric of Political Speeches and Documents

2 Rhetoric Rhetoric: the art of choosing and using words to effectively persuade an audience In addition to the content of the appeals, political documents and speeches also often employ rhetorical strategies

3 Political Rhetoric Political speeches and essays are generally persuasive Recall the 3 modes of persuasion: Appeals to ethics (ethos) Appeals to emotion (pathos) Appeals to reason (logos)

4 Analyzing Documents First look at Who and Why:
Audience – to whom is the speaker delivering the speech? Purpose – why is he/she giving a speech?

5 Analyzing Documents Next, look at the HOW:
Types of appeals (logos/pathos) Use of literary devices (metaphor, simile, personification, imagery) Use of rhetorical devices Tone and word choice Persuasive efficacy

6 Rhetorical Devices Rhetorical strategies include: Parallelism
Repetition Restatement Rhetorical Questions Aphorisms Diction / Charged Words

7 Parallelism Parallelism is the use of words, phrases, clauses, or sentences that are similar in structure. “He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burned our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.”

8 Parallel Words Using words from same part of speech; sometimes alliterative: “He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records.”

9 Parallel Phrases He has constrained our fellow citizens taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.

10 Repetition Repetition is added for emphasis (and conveys tone)
Look for words or phrases that are repeated, word for word “I have a dream…”

11 Restatement Restatement is repeating an idea in a variety of ways.
In “The Declaration of Independence”, Thomas Jefferson states that the people have a right to overthrow an abusive government in several ways: “…under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government” “Our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury…A tyrant is unfit to be the ruler of a free people”

12 Rhetorical questions asking a question whose answer is self-evident:
“But if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it…am I to suffer it?”

13 Aphorisms Brief, pointed statements expressing a wise observation.
“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise” (Franklin). “No gains without pains” (Franklin). “All men are created equal” (Jefferson).

14 Diction / Word Choice Look at the words chosen- the nouns, verbs, and adjectives. Why is one word used rather than a synonym or similar word? Example: Why would someone use “friend” instead of “acquaintance”?

15 Charged Words Charged words are those producing an emotional response:
“unalienable rights” “absolute despotism” “patient sufferance” “harass our people and eat out their substance”

16 Recap When analyzing: Who is the audience? What is the purpose?
How does the document achieve its purpose? What appeals and devices does the speech employ? Is the piece effective?

17 Writing Practice Please copy the following prompt in your notebook:
Write an essay in which you compare TWO of the following: “The Declaration of Independence,” the excerpt from “The Crisis, Number 1”, and “Speech in the Virginia Convention.” In your essay, focus on the purposes of the authors and rhetorical strategies they used to achieve those purposes. Read Henry’s “Speech” p. 186, then write.

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