Rhetorical Devices in JFK's Inaugural Speech

Topics: John F. Kennedy assassination, John F. Kennedy, Rhetoric Pages: 2 (669 words) Published: November 10, 2013
Rhetorical Devices of JFK
If a writer wanted to appeal to the audience, what would he have to do? He is going to have to utilize some rhetorical devices of course! Rhetorical devices are key in writing persuasion papers and just any paper that is meant to be read to an audience. In the Inauguration Speech of 1961 given by President John F. Kennedy, he was able to really connect with his audience that day by using lots of different rhetorical devices. By using chiasmus, anaphoras, and metaphors, JFK was able to effectively reach and persuade people to have faith in him despite his age and religion.

Perhaps the most important line of JFK's entire inaugural address was a utilization of chiasmus, which is a figure of speech by which the order of the terms in the first of two parallel clauses is reversed in the second. By simply flipping around some words, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country" (Kennedy, 5) is an example of how the device of chiasmus can be so powerful. This device, in this case, attempts to change the mindset of someone from being lazy or greedy or self-centered into a person who cares about the needs of not only other people, but the entire society.

Along with chiasmus, Kennedy decided to, on many occasions in his inauguration, use anaphoras. An anaphora is the deliberate repetition of a word or a phrase at the beginning of a sentence, clause, or paragraph. The first incident in which this device is used is when JFK is making pledges to all different kinds of people around the world about varying things. He continuously begins sentences with "to...(blank)" (Kennedy, 2-3 and by doing so, JFK is trying to show the American people that he is setting out to change the entire world for the better, not just the US. This appealed to the people because it showed them that JFK was very responsible and clearly wants to make positive changes. Another example of anaphora is when Kennedy says "let...."...
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