Jfk Inaugural Speech Analysis

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Taylor Tompkins
Mrs. Petersen/Pd. 3
JFK Rhetorical Analysis
12/3/11
JFK Inaugural Speech Rhetorical Analysis
John Fitzgerald Kennedy is considered one of America’s greatest speakers. In his inaugural speech he utilized many rhetorical devices to convey his message and established ethos, pathos, and logos. He skillfully persuaded the millions listening, whether in the live audience or watching it at home, to trust him and accept him as president.

Immediately, Kennedy established ethos, “We observe today not a victory of a party but a celebration of freedom—symbolizing an end as well as a beginning—signifying renewal as well as change.” He is identifying himself with the “citizens of the world” to fight for the freedom of man rather than dictating. He also established himself as everyone’s president, not just his party’s, or those who share his belief system, and emphasized the celebration of freedom gained through his election, not his victory itself.

In his speech, Kennedy’s establishment of pathos is far greater than that of logos. He again identified himself with all his citizens and promoted a common goal, “The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage, and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.” By describing the responsibilities passed on to the new generation of Americans, Kennedy invoked nationalistic feelings in the listening citizens. He pointed to the resiliency of the United States and the need for the people to continue to support the ideals of freedom that have made the country so successful. The people were challenged to “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe,...
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