John F. Kennedy Inaugural Speech Analysis

Topics: Rhetoric, John F. Kennedy, Democratic Party Pages: 2 (659 words) Published: September 16, 2010
John F. Kennedy once said, “I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for President, who happens also to be a Catholic.” In this single sentence, he uses a method of Aristotle’s persuasive speech making. One of the greatest examples of using rhetorical strategies is indeed John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address of 1961. John F. Kennedy uses diction, syntax, and Aristotle’s method of persuasion in his inaugural address that not only made it uniquely his own, but made it undoubtedly one of the best, emotion tugging, speeches ever. It was a very cold, icy January day when John F. Kennedy made his inaugural address. He was the youngest president to ever take office. He won by a very small margin. He was the first Roman Catholic president. In this way, he established ethos. The shortness of the speech showed he cared about the audience standing in the freezing temperatures on that wintry day.

First, Kennedy uses Aristotle’s rhetorical speech making method–the appeals: ethos, logos, and pathos. He establishes ethos by naming how important God is to him and to the future of the United States. In other words, he is finding common ground with his audience. He also talks as if he as well as all the American citizens are in making this country better together by using words like us and we. He uses ethos by quoting the Bible (Isiah 58:6) to show he has done all the research. He also shows he has thought out every side to the arguments saying he will be a horrible president. He establishes pathos by asking what you can do for your country. He takes every person into consideration by asking what they can do, making everyone feel like they have a part in the country.

Diction plays a very strong part in this speech. President Kennedy uses words like: life freedom, poverty, devotion, loyalty, and sacrifice to draw people in. For example, these are all words that can relate to everyone. Everyone can put these words in his or her own...
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