Paul Keating

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Paul Keating’s commemoration speech at the funeral of the Unknown Soldier carefully utilises rhetoric technique to persuade the greater part of Australia to reflect on the great sacrifice made by those who served our nation. The epideictic format and inclusive language engages the audience, whilst anonymity of the unknown solider establishes curiosity, capturing pathos both within the speaker and the audience. Keating’s position as Prime Minister establishes ethos, allowing him to speak on behalf of the Australian people. Inclusive language establishes a link between the Unknown Solider and Australia; accomplished by binary opposites “from the city or the bush” encompassing all the possibilities of who the Unknown Soldier was, blurring any distinction between male, female, civilian and soldiers. The use of collective nouns “we … us … our” creates connectedness within all people of his audience, sharing the same grieving process encompassed by war. The “horrors of war” is bluntly affirmed by Keating through accumulation “mad, brutal, awful struggle”. This concedes accountability at the hands of previous Australian government, whereas his honesty creates an affable image, adding to his persona. His emotional response and rhetoric pace captivates the respondents through change in tone; the assertive and condemnatory tone that is interchangeably used encourages respect for the Unknown Soldier. The absence of deflection maintains the sincere and solemn momentum of the occasion, focusing on the remembrance of past conflict as a lesson for the future. His speech encompasses a didactic statement for the future, “for out of the war came a lesson …” showing his audience that unknown solider has “taught us a lesson”; that ordinary people are not ordinary. By maintaining his anonymity, the soldier becomes a synecdoche for all demographics and past conflicts, reiterating the inclusiveness of the audience, associating them with the solider in order to discover his...
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