Patrick Henry's Speech

Topics: Question, Rhetoric, Great Britain, Rhetorical question, British people, Kingdom of England / Pages: 2 (379 words) / Published: Nov 1st, 2011
In his speech at the Virginia Convention, Patrick Henry establishes the idea that the country is in danger of being under control by the British by referencing to the past events that have failed, and by using hypothetical situations to show what can happen if they don’t take action.

Henry initially reminds and informs the congregation of how past events to gain independence has failed. In the early part of his speech Henry uses the allusion “betrayed with a kiss.” This is fitting because the audience would be aware of the biblical reference to Judas and relate it to the fact that they are being misled by the British. Earlier in his speech, Henry uses the metaphor “lamp of experience.” This suggests that they must learn from their mistakes, and that they have made plenty of mistakes to learn from. By reminding the people of mistakes that have already been made, Henry can convince them that it is necessary to make a change and fight for what they want.

Henry also uses hypothetical situations throughout his speech to help convey his purpose. Towards the middle of his second paragraph he gives the audience and image of what life is starting to look like. He describes it a “war-like preparations which cover our waters and darken our land.” This provides evidence of the impending danger. Henry also uses a lot of rhetorical questions and answer. One example of a question he asked that gives a hypothetical situation is “Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies?” and “They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other…” This suggests that Britain is only building up their armies and navies to attack against them, because they have no other enemies. Telling the congregation hypothetical situations, can be useful in helping them to realize what Britain is planning to do, which can persuade the congregation to take action.

In order to convince the people that they need to

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