Analyzing the Rhetoric of John F Kennedy's Inaugural Address

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Through his use of figurative language, President John F Kennedy persuades the worlds’ emerging nations of the 1960’s to adopt democracy over communism as their form of government. In addressing these nations, Kennedy compares colonial control to communism, which he describes as “a far more iron tyranny”. Through his strong metaphoric diction, Kennedy explains that by choosing communism as their form of government these new nations are embracing human oppression, which they recently fought against in order to achieve independence. He uses these countries’ history in order to warn them of the totalitarian and diabolical nature of communism. Kennedy further explains the undesirable consequences of communism by stating that “ those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.” By comparing the Soviet Union to tigers Kennedy portrays Communists as vicious animals who similar to the heinous despots of the past, seek to overpower and overtake these nations. In doing so, he magnifies the support for democracy, which he believes to be the more just and altruistic form of government. Kennedy further solidifies the benevolence of a democratic government by offering American support to those “ struggling to break the bonds of mass misery … not because Communists may be doing it …but because it is right.” With this metaphor, which contains powerful diction, Kennedy demonstrates to these nations, that he recognizes the magnitude of suffering that they have experienced and he is therefore willing to help them achieve liberation. He juxtaposes the Communists’ motives with the American objectives in order to establish that Americans are willing to aid others not due to their political reasons but because of their philanthropic nature. In doing so, Kennedy aspires to increase the support for democracy and halt the advancements of communism.
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