Analysis of Jfk's Speech

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John F Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, January 20th 1961:

The inaugural address of John F Kennedy was successful because of the various rhetorical devices that he employed throughout the speech. These devices used include contrasts, three part lists, antithesis, alliteration and bold imagery. The devices emphasized the fact that Kennedy was campaigning for better freedom for not only the people of the United States of America, but also the people in the neighbouring lands.

During the opening line of his speech, John F Kennedy addresses his peers in government, reciting a list of the important figures in the parliament of the United States in 1961; a list which ends with ‘fellow citizens’. This was important as it showed him identifying with the audience as though they were his governmental peers, and the rhetorical device of the list that was used emphasizes the fact that he places himself on a par with the ‘fellow citizens’, rather than the list of officials that he listed in the opening of his speech. The religious imagery used later in this paragraph, for example ‘For I have sworn before you and Almighty God’ makes it seem as though everybody is equal in the eyes of God.

When Kennedy states that we shall ‘bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe’ he uses isocolonic phrases, phrases of the same structure and length which adds force to the fact that they would do all of the things that he mentioned together, creating a sense of unity among the people of America. Antithesis is used multiple times during the course of the speech, such as in the first paragraph of the speech when John F Kennedy states that his electoral victory is ‘signifying and end, as well as a beginning – signifying renewal, as well as change.’ This emphasizes to the audience the importance of his victory, and how he believes that he can bring about a positive change for the people of the United States of America.

John F Kennedy uses anaphora in his...
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