Kig James New Version The Old And New Testament List A Rhetorical Analysis of JFK’s Inaugural Address

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A Rhetorical Analysis of JFK’s Inaugural Address

Before George W. Bush and Barack Obama took the seat of the president of the United States, a man has already enjoyed this position and earned a star in that hall of fame as Abraham Lincoln did. He is the former president of the USA, John F. Kennedy, who, without a doubt, has been evaluated by critics as one of the best presidents who ruled the United States of America. Along with this great recognition, JFK has also gained popularity and greatness with his inaugural address which was addressed not only to his fellow citizens but to people around the world.

His inaugural address, delivered on January 20, 1961, while not the shortest of presidential speeches, was still considered short—containing only 1,355 words—and simple—choosing beautiful words, because as he told his writer, Sorensen. , he didn’t want people to think he was a *bag. Despite the simplicity, JFK still made his way to captivate the hearts and minds of people with his inaugural address. Who wouldn’t, when the address contained so many rhetorical devices for embellishment?

________________________________________

*wind bag – a person who, as the wind does,

just take down everything he or she says

Rhetorical devices are techniques that help a writer or a speaker embellish a discourse and persuade and influence people about the argument presented. In JFK’s inaugural address, his rhetorical devices did the job of pleasing and persuading people with his message. Out of only 1,355 words, he was able to use 13 rhetorical devices to persuade people. One in particular is Alliteration.

Alliteration is a successive repetition of the initial sounds (vowels and consonants) in a phrase or a sentence. A total of 28 alliterations were used in JFK’s speech. The following alliterations are identified in bold and labeled with their paragraph number:

(1) the same solemn oath

(2) man holds in his mortal hands

(2) for which our forefathers fought

(3) exit this time

(3) to friend and foe alike

(4) if you wish us well

(4) we will pay any price, bear any lien

(4) survival and success of freedom

(6) faithful friends

(7) colonial control

(7) strongly supports

(8) struggling to break the bonds of mass misery

(10) sovereign states

(10) the writ may be executed

(11) before the dark powers of destruction

(13) sustained propagation of the lethal atom

(14) sincerity is always subject to proof

(19) peace preserved

(22) bear the burden

(23) a large and global alliance

(27) high standards of strength and sacrifice

(27) we go to lead the land we love

Another rhetorical device that is featured in JFK’s inaugural address is Anaphora.

Anaphora refers to the repetition of one or more words at the beginning of consecutive phrases, clauses, or sentences. A total of six anaphoras are presented in JFK’s speech. The first group of anaphoras is shown in paragraph 2:

(2) … to abolish all forms of human society

and all forms of human life

Another set of anaphoras is also shown in Paragraph 7:

(7) We will not always expect to find those who support our view.

But we will always hope to find them strongly supporting their freedom…

The third set of anaphoras is presented in Paragraphs 6 through 11 of JFK’s inaugural address:

(6) For those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share…

(7) For those new states that we welcome into the ranks of freedom…

(8) For those people in the shacks and villages halfway around the globe…

(9) For our sister republics south of our border…

(10) The World Assembly of Sovereign States, the United Nations…

(11) Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversaries…

In the following paragraphs 15 to 19, a fourth set of anaphoras is also given:

(15) Let both sides explore what issues unite us…

(16) Let both parties for the first time formulate serious and precise proposals…

(17) Let both parties seek to invoke the wonders of science rather than its horrors…

(18) Let both parties unite to take care, in all parts of the earth…

(19) Let both sides join in creating a new effort…

A fifth set of anaphoras is also specified in Paragraph 8:

(8) … not because the communists can do it,

not because we ask for their votes,

but because it’s right…

Finally, a set of six anaphoras is noted in Paragraph 22:

(22) … not as a call to bear arms, although we need arms –

not as a call to battle, though we are fought…

A number of metaphors were also expressed in JFK’s inaugural speech.

A metaphor is a rhetorical device that directly compares a person to an object. A total of eight metaphors are listed in JFK’s speech:

(3) … that the torch has been passed …

(7) … those who foolishly sought power by riding on the tiger’s back…

(9) … to assist free men and free governments in breaking the chains of poverty…

(9) … this peaceful revolution of hope cannot fall prey to hostile powers …

(9) … this hemisphere intends to remain master of its own house…

(13) … the race to change that precarious balance of terror that stands…

(19) And if a cooperation beach can

(19) repel the jungle of doubt…

Antitheses are also specified in JFK’s inaugural address to the nation. An antithesis refers to a contrast within parallel phrases. A total of eight antitheses are shown as taken from the address:

(1) Today we do not observe a party victory, but a celebration of freedom, symbolizing an end and a beginning, signifying renewal and change…

(2) … not by the generosity of the state, but by the hand of God.

(6) United we can do little in a multitude of cooperative enterprises. Separated, there is little we can do…

(15) Let both parties explore what issues unite us rather than address those issues that divide us.

(19) … not a new balance of power, but a new world of law.

(24) I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.

(25) And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.

(26) … ask not what America will do for you, but what we can do together for human freedom.

In the speech, two parallelisms are also evident. A parallelism refers to the congruence of verb tenses as they are used consecutively in a sentence.

(4) … pay any price, bear any burden, bear any hardship, support any friend, oppose any enemy…

(8) If a free society cannot help the many poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.

Two apostrophes were highlighted in the inaugural speech. An apostrophe refers to the interruption of thought to directly address a person or a personification. Paragraphs 21 and 25 contained examples of apostrophes:

(21) In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine…

(25) And so, my fellow Americans, don’t ask what your country can do for you…

Two contrasting rhetorical devices – Polysyndeton and Asyndeton – are also shown in JFK’s speech. A polysyndeton refers to the insertion of conjunctions before each word in a list. It is clear in paragraph 19:

(19) … where the strong are righteous and the weak safe and peace is kept…

On the other hand, an asyndeton refers to the absence of conjunctions in a sentence, as seen in Paragraphs 4, 17, and 24:

(4) … bear every burden, bear every hardship, support every friend, (and) oppose every enemy…

(17) Together let us explore the stars, conquer deserts, eradicate disease, (and) touch the depths of the ocean…

(24) … energy, faith, (and) dedication…

The use of chiasm has also been prominent to embellish JFK’s inaugural address. A chiasmus is a rhetorical device that changes the grammatical order of one phrase to another. In paragraphs 14 and 25, examples of chiasm are stated:

(14) Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us not be afraid to negotiate either.

(25) … ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for yourself

the country.

Other rhetorical devices were also used in JFK’s inaugural address. Anastrophe, which refers to the inversion of word order (syntax) to mark emphasis, is made clear in Paragraph 5:

(5) That much we promise – and more.

Punctuation of a point with an *aphorism, called Sententia, is also made evident in Paragraph 18:

(18) … to “undo the heavy burdens and let the adversaries go free…

________________________________________

*aphorism – saying; adage; cliché; max

The tricolon, which refers to a series of three parallel words, phrases, clauses, or statements, is also featured in Paragraph 22:

(22) … not as a call to bear arms, although we need arms –

not as a call to battle, though we are fought,

but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle.

In some cases, multiple rhetorical devices can be implied in a phrase, clause, or statement. A number of statements with multiple rhetorical devices for each statement were apparently implied in JFK’s inaugural address.

Paragraph 25 shows four rhetorical devices: Apostrophe, Chiasmus, Antimetabol and Antithesis; Paragraph 4, two devices: Parallelism and Asyndeton; Paragraph 15, two devices: Anaphora and Antithesis.

Paragraph 25:

(apostrophe)

And so, my fellow Americans, don’t ask what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.

(chiasmus)

And so, my fellow Americans, don’t ask what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.

(Antimabolism)

And so, my fellow Americans, don’t ask what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.

(antithesis)

And so, my fellow Americans, don’t ask what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.

Paragraph 4:

(Parallelism)

Let every nation know, whether it be well or ill, that we will pay every price, bear every burden, endure every hardship, support every friend, oppose every foe, for ensure the survival and success of freedom.

(asyndeton)

Let every nation know, whether it be well or ill, that we will pay every price, bear every burden, endure every hardship, support every friend, (and) oppose every enemy, to ensure the survival and success of freedom.

Paragraph 15:

(Anaphora)

(15) Let both parties explore what problems unite us rather than address them

the problems that divide us.

(16) Let both sides for the first time formulate serious and precise proposals for arms inspection and control and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

(17) Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science rather than its horrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer deserts, eradicate disease, touch the ocean depths and encourage art and commerce.

(18) Let both parties unite to heed, in all corners of the earth, Isaiah’s command to “undo the heavy burdens and [to] let the oppressed go free”.

(19) Let both sides join in creating a new effort—not a new balance of power, but a new world of law where the strong are just, and the weak safe, and peace preserved.

(antithesis)

(15) Let both parties explore what issues unite us rather than address those issues that divide us.

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