President Obama's Use Of Pathos In His Tuscan Shooting Memorial Speech

725 words - 3 pages

President Obama’s memorial speech following the Tuscan shooting carefully utilized the Aristotelian appeal of pathos, or emotional appeals through his word choice, which aligned him with the American people while still conveying a sense of authority, and his use of biblical allusions, which drew his audience together on the basis of shared ideologies.
In his opening lines Obama shows his compassion for the victims and mourners of the shooting stating: “I have come here tonight as an American who, like all Americans, kneels to pray with you today, and will stand by you tomorrow.” With just this short statement Obama aligns himself with the American people, showing his empathy and comforting the people by saying “I will be here for you.” This allows him to form a connection with his audience, which he further reinforces though his use of the term “we” when addressing the American population: “We mourn with you for the fallen. “We join you in your grief.” He also draws parallels between the nation’s mourning following the shooting and the mourning that comes with losing a family member, thereby implying that all Americans are a family and by using the collective term “we” Obama conveys the sense that he too, is wholeheartedly a member of this family, simply sharing in the mourning of a tragic loss. This strengthens the overall intention of the speech: to gather the Americans in their time of mourning.
Furthermore, with this word choice, not only has Obama effectively conveyed to his audience that he is one of them—just another member of the family—but he has also managed to place himself in something of a father figure position by carrying out the role of comforter, thus enhancing his credibility and presenting himself as a capable and wise President. By placing himself in this role, he creates the impression that as the father figure he is also in a position to give advice and serve as an educator. Obama then goes on to soothe and insure his nation that questioning and reflecting is natural, stating that “When a tragedy like this strikes, it is part of our nature to demand explanations –to try to...

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