English III/Period 2
23 October 2012
Rhetoric in John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Speech
John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech was initially addressed to the public during a time of fear and insecurity about Russia and the Cold War. The people needed reassurance from their newly elected president, and Kennedy needed to make a highly persuasive speech. During his speech, Kennedy used rhetorical devices such as alliteration, metaphor, and allusion. The main purpose of the speech is to tell the American people that they elected the right man for the job, and the use of rhetoric reinforces the major points.
Anaphora is a very common device used in speeches. It is forceful in getting points across. Kennedy’s speech uses anaphora to great effect. For example at the beginning of a series of points, Kennedy starts out with the words, “Let both sides…” He does this at the beginning of four consecutive points. He uses this technique in order to keep the audience interested in his speech. This is a good technique to use to link different points together. He uses this technique for ethos. He wants to establish himself as a credible speaker, and this technique makes him someone that the audience will want to listen to. In this case ethos is established through the tone and style of the message, by the way Kennedy talks and the way in which he uses anaphora in this case.
Metaphors are also used in Kennedy’s speech. He speaks of “the chains of poverty” as a way to emphasize how Americans should help other countries to escape hardships that the U.S. had already experienced. He did this to exaggerate hardships and help the Americans to feel a stronger bond through the use of pathos. Kennedy grips hold of the audience’s emotions by conveying images of dark things that might scare the reader, and things that might make the reader sympathize for their country. It gives the people something they can grasp onto to feel sympathy for the impoverished. His main...