Analysis Essay #1
AP Language and Composition
December 8, 2008
George Washington resigned from office in 1796. For the occasion, he wrote a farewell address directed to the citizens of the United States. He was certainly aware that his audience would include other politicians as well as dignitaries and officials from foreign nations. Washington feels that the citizens need his closing remarks before he steps out of office. He is informing the citizens of how he feels about his past service, what is currently going on and what will need to be done in the future. In some respects, Washington is just saying goodbye to the nation.
Rhetoric can be defined as the practice of speaking or writing in a persuasive manner. Washington’s form of rhetoric was very verbose. He spoke in such a way that many ordinary people could not understand. He was known for being a poor persuasive writer and many times he was reputed to have had speech writers prepare speeches for him. His manner of speaking seemed to just run on without really coming across his purpose or reason for speaking. Ethos is sometimes defined as the appeal to a person’s character or reputation. Washington certainly understood his singular position as leader of the United States, and also enjoyed some of the benefits of being essentially a “lame duck” president. He did not need to consider the impact of his words on a voter, but rather may have considered only how he would be portrayed in an historic sense. Thus, he was free to offer himself humbly, as in the closing portion of his speech where he confesses that he “may have committed many errors”. This perhaps was intended more to endear his humanity to the listener, rather than to truly admit his errors, and thereby bring the listener closer to understanding his humanity. Perhaps this humble closing is to provide counterbalance to the otherwise fatherly slant contained in various portions of his speech. In many...
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