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Rhetorical Strategies In John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address

1034 words - 5 pages

In his prominent 1961 Inaugural Address, John F. Kennedy extensively employs pathos, parallelism, antithesis, and varied syntax to captivate millions of people, particularly to persuade them to stand together and attempt to further human rights for the “betterment” of the world. Kennedy’s effective use of various rhetorical styles succeeds in persuading his audience –the world and the U.S citizens—that his newly-seized position as the U.S. President will be worthwhile for all.
Evident throughout his entire address, Kennedy employs a cogent pathos appeal to keep his audience intrigued. This can be demonstrated when Kennedy initially proclaims: “Let the word go forth from this time and place, ...view middle of the document...

This diction appeals to the common ideology that the audience values and further invokes a sense of patriotism—a thought needed to sustain the Americans at a time of war. Kennedy amplifies his pathos appeal by beginning and ending the speech with a reference to God to his mostly Christian American audience. Using a pathos appeal, Kennedy certainly gains the favor of the audience.
In addition, Kennedy utilizes parallelism in order to convey his ideas in the clearest method while stressing the importance of certain points. For instance, in his address, Kennedy centers on the idea that the U.S “shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty” (Kennedy). Through parallelism, Kennedy not only emphasizes this, but also presents the order in which he signifies these ideas. The fact that Kennedy came into office at the height of the Cold War also plays a major role in determining the rhetorical strategies Kennedy employs and the extent to which he desires his audience to instill their trust within him. During this time, the U.S was in the beginning of the Cold War and thus, Kennedy’s focuses on containing communism in order to assure the American people safety, while gaining their goodwill. Usage of parallelism accentuates this belief and keeps his speech flowing, as it allows for an organized sentence with clearly stated ideas, rather than long, drawn-out sentences with vague thoughts. This smooth flow engages the listener into believing that Kennedy thrives for the betterment of the country and the world, while still accomplishing the purpose of conveying Kennedy's plans to “explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce” (Kennedy).
Kennedy also relies on antithesis in his inaugural address not only through literal comparison but also metaphorically. Using antithesis, Kennedy explains how his inauguration “symbolized an end as well as a beginning” and “signified renewal as well as change.” By employing contrasting terms, Kennedy advances his belief that only people can change the world, not just the...

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