More Perfect Union

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“A More Perfect Union” by Barack Obama
- A rhetorical analysis

The speech called “A More Perfect Union” was delivered by the American senator Barack Obama on March 18, 2008 at a convention in Philadelphia.

The speech deals with themes such as the racial tensions, races in general and inequality in America. Big parts of the speech are based on Obama’s personal story. He is the child of a mixed marriage, and being married to a black woman hasn’t prevented him from being successful. That, Obama claims, wouldn’t be possible in any other country besides America and it’s an example of what American culture is truly like. Obama claims that the key to solve America’s problems can only be found in the unity of American society, which as different as it is still shares the same foundation and hopes according to him. Obama hopes to heal America’s racial wounds and move forward from a negative past, in a positive manner.

Obama’s speech uses the rhetorical concepts of ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos is how the speaker’s character and credibility has influence on the audience, whereas pathos is a rhetorical way that alters the audience’s views through emotional appeals. Finally logos attempts to influence the audience by demonstrating the truth – the speaker uses his/hers knowledge, common sense and logic abilities to make a statement. These three rhetorical concepts are all evident within the speech and expressed in various ways. Obama gains ethos by explaining his own “genetic makeup”: “I’m the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas (…)” He continues that he married a black American woman who has both slave and slave-owner flowing within her, and states that this blood of “humanity” has been pass on to their two daughters. Obama reveals his own remarkable American story, and ethos is achieved through storytelling. This way Obama creates a biological connection with his audience. Pathos is in the speech achieved through the...
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