Rhetorical Analysis of Obama's Inaugural Address 2008

Topics: Barack Obama, United States, Democratic Party Pages: 3 (1157 words) Published: February 27, 2013
Rhetorical Analysis
The 2008 presidential campaign was controversial, emotional, historical and also amidst an economic crisis. Barack Obama’s victory marked a change in American society regarding race and politics. His election as the first African American President of the United States is profound and signifies a changing America. Obama gave his inaugural address on January 20, 2009 in Washington D.C. Unlike the campaign, the inauguration was a celebration, marked by clear skies and a patriotic crowd. More than one million people gathered in the National Mall to support the newly elected President despite cold weather. His primary audience was the American people viewing, but he also appealed to a secondary audience consisting of nations across the globe. Obama’s use of diction, tone, and vocal variety created a powerful delivery that supported his implicit purpose. In order to achieve his explicit purpose, he established and maintained a positive ethos and appealed to pathos through imagery. Obama’s explicit purpose was deliberative and challenged Americans to return to the moral truths “upon which our success depends”. He does not clearly state his main claim until the end of the speech. He goes on to list these truths as, “honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty, and patriotism”. After listing these values and challenging Americans to return to them, he states, “[w]hat is required now of us is a new era of responsibility – a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world [. . .]”. He is leaving it up to American citizens to take responsibility to face the challenges of today by returning to principles of yesterday. Implicitly, Obama’s speech was an attempt to generate a sense of hope back into America. He chooses words such as ‘hope’, ‘unity’, and ‘peace’ in order to rhetorically soothe the audience. He delivers a powerful implicit message through his use of...
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