A Matter of Heart and Mind: Patrick Henry’s “Speech to the Virginia Convention”

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In his speech to the Virginia House of Burgesses, Patrick Henry tries to persuade the members that it is time to take up arms against the British. Targeting both the hearts and minds of his listeners through emotional and logical appeals, Henry uses rhetorical questions, figurative language, and repetition to convince them that it is time to take decisive action. Henry uses rhetorical questions to make them think of the decision they should make. Some of the rhetorical questions are “Why stand here we idle?” and “What is it that gentlemen wish?”(85). Rhetorical questions are very helpful in this speech because it makes his audience think twice about what he is saying. In the speech Henry uses figurative language, like similes and metaphors, to compare things. An example of figurative language is “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience” (83). Figurative language, such as similes and metaphors, is helpful because it could compare something complex to something you understand better. In the example above he is comparing a lamp to experience saying he goes by experience and that’s how he gets his knowledge. Henry uses repetition to help get the point across by saying the same thing over and over again. In the speech Henry repeats the word God because religion was a big part of life and government then. Some repetition of God would be “An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!” and “Sir we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which God of nature hath placed in our power.”(84). Repetition helps because it keeps you thinking on the one thing he wants you to think about. In conclusion, Henry uses these devices to affect his audience in a way that can help them understand the point he is trying to get across. In his speech Patrick Henry is trying to persuade the audience to go with liberty and be on their own instead of staying with the British. Using rhetorical questions, figurative...
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