Patrick Henry Speech Rhetorical Analysis
In his speech to the Virginia Convention on March 23, 1775, lawyer Patrick Henry addressed delegates of the St. John’s Church in Richmond, Virginia, on the issue of the inevitable war with Britain. Henry’s purpose was to encourage the delegation to take up arms in the form of a militia and actively resist the oppression of Britain. By using a series of rhetorical questions and appealing to the delegation’s religious tendencies as well as their strong senses of patriotism, Henry delivered a powerful speech to encourage them to act on their hopes of liberty.
Henry opened his speech by establishing his own patriotism and encouraging the delegation to pursue freedom. Henry appeals to man’s natural willingness to fight because man has a tendency to “indulge on the illusion of hope,” instead of “fulfill[ing] the great responsibility [man] has to [his] country.” Henry demonstrated his passion in order to elicit the “whole truth” of the struggle for liberty and to “know the worst and to provide for it.” By opening in a memorable and relatable way, Henry produced the base for his audience to become more likely to become involved.
Henry then moved to solidifying the attention of his audience by questioning their commitment. Henry appeals to pathos and logos to remind them of the “chains which the British ministry [had] been holding for so long,” and to not “abandon the noble strength in which [they] have been so long engaged.” Henry asked a series of rhetorical questions, which encouraged the audience to think deeper about their nationalism. Then, he forcefully answered them each with growing power and passion in order to diminish “ineffectual resistance.” By spewing eloquent vehemence, Henry conveyed an inspirational tone that supported the “proper use of the means which the God of nature [had given]”
Patrick Henry’s fiery speech closed with “Give me liberty or give me death” to re-emphasize his patriotic pride and...
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