Rhetorical Analysis of Obama's Speech

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Analysis of Obama's victory speech

Obama's victory speech is a speech that the democrat Barack Obama held in his hometown Chicago, after being elected for president on November 4th, 2012. Chicago is where he in 2008 won his first presidential election. When taking a starting point in the pentagon model, we know that a text (in this case a speech) is always centered around an intention of the writer/speaker and is always dependent on the interrelationship between the topic, the writer, the reader/audience, the circumstances and the language. The topic of the speech is the election, the political campaign, the American people and the hopes for the future of the United States. The audience is primarily Obama's supporters, but also the rest of America and in fact, the whole world. Barack Obama starts by thanking the audience. Three times, at a matter of fact. That is because of the loud cheering, but also to underline his thanks. Then he speaks of how the nation is moving forward, and here he uses pathos and speaks to the patriotism in the Americans. This evokes positive feelings about the situation and towards the speech and speaker. He could easily leave out “more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny,” in the second line and “the American people” in the third paragraph. These are called pleonasms. Pathos is the most commonly used kind of appeal, obviously because he is happy and the audience is happy, and it is a celebration. The other forms of appeals are also used, but not as much: Ethos is present during the whole speech as the speaker is The President of the United States of America and therefore has immense authority. But ethos is not only about respecting the person, but also about liking him. In the second paragraph of page 2, Obama thanks all his supporters and tells them how much he appreciates them. This obviously gives the audience a more positive view of him. On page 3, paragraph 2, there is a great example of how he uses all three categories of appeal at the same time: He tells the audience about a girl who has cancer and how her family didn't lose all their money because of the Obama-care system. By this use of logos he gives us the message that hadn't it been for his great healthcare system, the family would have suffered even more. And by using pathos he evokes feelings of pity and sympathy for the little girl. When Obama turns to e.g., his daughters Sasha and Malia, his wife Michelle, or his vice president Joe Biden, he uses forms of pathos and ethos, by showing that he cares for them. This effect of turning aside from the general audience to a specific person is called apostrophe. On page 1, line 7, Obama says “rise and fall together.” This is an antithesis that he uses to make the content of the speech more dramatic. Obama's intention when delivering the speech is both to delight and to persuade. He delights all of his supporters by celebrating their victory and by thanking everyone - even Romney's supporters - for participating in the election. Being a recently elected president involves a great responsibility and therefore Barack Obama also has to almost manipulate the whole world into thinking that America chose the right candidate. He tries to convince people that America has a future and that he is the one to make that future brighter. A major theme in this speech is the future and moving forward. On page 3, line 9-12, he makes that very clear. He needs to sound serious about the heavy tasks that cannot be avoided, but he also needs to sound positive about the future, otherwise the Americans will feel negative about him. On page 3, line 26-29, Obama mentions all the challenges that he has to take on, and they are some pretty huge challenges! But he is very positive about it all, and he just reels them off, as if it was no big deal. On page 2, line 6-7 he says, “Thank you for believing all the way – to every hill, to every valley.” This is a metaphor...
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