Rhetorical Devices in the Inaugural Address of John F. Kennedy

It is according to Aristotle that a speaker or writer has three ways to persuade his audience: The first kind depends on the personal character of the speaker; the second is on putting the audience into a certain frame of mind; the third is on the proof, or apparent proof, provided by the words of the speech itself.

One of the most influential people who made a noticable speech for the past century is President John F. Kennedy, a famous public speaker who wrote an inaugural address that contains a strength to persuade a lot of people.

His well-known speech shows how his method of using the art of persuasive written or spoken discourse (Rhetoric) that an author or speaker uses to convey a meaning to the listener or reader contributes to the purpose or theme of his message for his countrymen.

Definition of Terms:

1. Alliteration: Repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words that are close to one another.

2. Allusion: A fleeting or indirect reference to a person, place, event, or passage in a work of literature or the Bible assumed to be sufficiently well known to be recognized by the reader.

3. Amplification: An expansion of detail to clarify a point.

4. Analogy: A comparison between two things in which the more complicate is explained in terms of the more simple.

5. Anaphora: Repetition of one or more words at the head of consecutive phrases, clauses, or sentences.

6. Anastrophe: Inversion of information order to mark emphasis.

7. Antimetabole: Reverasal or repeated words or phrases for effect.

8. Antithesis: Contrast within similar phrases (not to be confused with the ordinary use of the information to average “extreme opposite”).

9. Assonance: Repetition of vowel sounds between different consonants.

10. Asyndeton: Absence of conjunctions.

11. Chiasmus: The reversal of grammatical order from one phrase to the next.

12. Climax: Consists of arranging words, clauses, or sentences in the order of increasing importance, weight, or emphasis.

13. Conduplication: Resembles anadiplosis in the repetition of a preceding information, but it repeats a meaningful information (not just the last information) from a preceding phrase, clause, or sentence, at the beginning of the next.

14. Consonance: Repetition of identical consonant sounds within two or more words in close closeness.

15. Ellipsis: Any omitted part of speech that is easily understood in context.

16. Ethos: Makes use of what an audience values and believes to be good or true.

17. Hyperbole: Deliberate exaggeration in order to create humor or emphasis.

18. Imagery: Lively descriptions which impress the images of things upon the mind using one or more of the five senses.

19. Logos: alluring to reason in a measured, logical way.

20. Metanoia: The qualification of a statement to either diminish or strengthen its tone.

21. Metaphor: Meaning or identity assumed to be true of one subject by way of another.

22. Oxymoron: Contraditory terms or ideas are combined.

23. Parallelism: The technique of arranging words, phrases, clauses, or larger structures by placing them side by side and making them similar in form.

24. Paradox: A statement that seems to contradict itself but that turns out to have a rational meaning.

25. Pathos: alluring to the emotions.

26. Personification: The character of human qualities to a nonhuman or inanimate object.

27. Polysyndeton: Insertion of conjunctions before each information in a list.

28. Repetition: information or phrase used two or more times in close closeness.

29. Rhetorical Question: A question asked for rhethorical effect to press a point, no answer being expected.

30. Sententia: The punctuation of a point with an aphorism.

31. Syntax: The grammatical structure of a sentence; the arrangement of words in a sentence.

32. Tricolon: A series of similar words, phrases, clauses, or statements.

33. Zeugma: Includes several similar rhetorical devices, all involving a grammatically correct linkage (or yoking together) of two or more parts of speech by another part of speech.

Rhetorical Devices That Are Present In The Inaugural Address of John F. Kennedy:

*Alliteration

• “same solemn” (2nd sentence of the 2nd use)

• “man holds in his mortal hands” (1st sentence of the 3rd use)

• “for which our forebears fought” (2nd sentence of 3rd use)

• “to friend and foe alike” (4th use)

• “whether it wishes us well or ill” (5th use)

• “Pay any price, bear any burden… ” (5th use)

• “the survival and the success of liberty” (5th use)

• “faithful friends” (1st sentence of the 7th use)

• “colonial control” (1st sentence of the 8th use)

• “strongly supporting” (2nd sentence of the 8th use)

• “break the bonds of mass misery” (9th use)

• “sovereign states” (11th use)

• “its writ may run” (11th use)

• “the dark powers of destruction” (12th use)

• “steady spread” (14th use)

• “sincerity is always subject” (15th use)

• “peace preserved” (9th to the last use)

• “bear the burden” (6th to the last use)

• “a grand and global alliance” (5th to the last use)

• “high standards of strength and sacrifice” (1st sentence of the last use)

• “Let us go forth to rule the land we love… ” (2nd sentence of the last use)

*Allusion

• “I have sworn before you and Almighty God.” (2nd sentence of the 2nd use)

• “those who foolishly sought strength by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside” (last sentence of the 8th use)

*Amplification

• “Let both sides… Let both sides… Let both sides… Let both sides (Paragraphs 16 to 19)

*Analogy

• “those who foolishly sought strength by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside” (3rd sentence of the 8th use)

*Anaphora

• “all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life” (1st sentence of the 3rd use)

• “not because the communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right” (1st sentence of the 9th use)

• “To those old allies… To those new states… To those people… To our sister… To that world… to those nations… ” (Paragraphs 7 to 12)

• “We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom” (2nd and 3rd sentences of the 8th use)

• “both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, however both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind’s final war” (14th use)

• “Let both sides… Let both sides… Let both sides… Let both sides” (Paragraphs 16 to 19)

• “not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need–not as a call to battle, though embattled we are–but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out” (6th to the last use)

• “the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor already perhaps in our lifetime on this planet” (8th to the last use)

*Anastrophe

• “Dare not” (1st sentence of the 4th use and 13th use & 3rd sentence of the 7th use)

• “This much we potential” (6th use)

• “Ask not” (26th use)

*Antimetabole

• “Ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.” (3rd to the last use)

• “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” (2nd sentence of the 15th use)

*Antithesis

• “We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom–symbolizing an end in addition as a beginning signifying renewal in addition as change. ” (1st sentence of the 2nd use)

• “… not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.” (2nd sentence of the 3rd use)

• “sustain any friend, oppose any foe… ” (5th use)

• “United there is little we cannot do in a large number of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do… ” (2nd sentence of the 7th use)

• “Not because… not because… but because… ” (1st sentence of the 9th use)

• “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” (2nd sentence of the 15th use)

• “Let both sides analyze what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.” (16th use)

• “not a new balance of strength, but a new world of law” (20th use)

• “Not as a call to bear arms… not as a call to battle.. but a call to bear the burden… ” (23rd use)

• “I do not spread from this responsibility–I welcome it.” (2nd sentence of the 25th use)

• “… ask not what you country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” (26th use)

• “ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man” (2nd to the last use)

*Assonance

• “… the steady spread of the deadly atom.” (14th use)

*Asyndeton

• “We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, sustain any friend, oppose any foe… ” (5th use)

• “analyze the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths” (2nd sentence of the 18th use)

• “The energy, the faith, the devotion” (4th to the last use)

*Chiasmus

• “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” (2nd sentence of the 15th use)

• “ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country” (3rd to the last use)

*Climax

• “All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor already perhaps in our lifetime on this planet.” (8th to the last use)

*Conduplication

• “to help them help themselves” (1st sentence of the 9th use)

• “good words into good deeds” (1st sentence of the 10th use)

• “free men and free governments” (1st sentence of the 10th use)

• “the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace” (11th use)

• “absolute strength… absolute control… ” (17th use)

*Consonance

• “Whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall… ” (5th use)

*Ellipsis

• “This much we potential–and more.” (6th use)

*Ethos

• “Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, Reverend Clergy, fellow citizens: We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom–symbolizing an end in addition as a beginning–signifying renewal in addition as change.” (Paragraphs 1 & 2)

• “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not spread from this responsibility–I welcome it.” (4th to the last use)

• “With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final estimate of our deeds, let us go forth to rule the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.” (last sentence of the last use)

*Hyperbole

• “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, sustain any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” (5th use)

*Imagery

• “The torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.” (4th use)

*Logos

• “old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we proportion” (1st sentence of the 7th use)

• “new states whom we welcome to the ranks of the free” (1st sentence of the 8th use)

• “people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery” (1st sentence of the 9th use)

• “that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations” (11th use)

• “nations who would make themselves our adversary” (12th use)

*Metanoia

• “Now the trumpet summons us again–not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need–not as a call to battle, though embattled we are–but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”–a struggle against the shared enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.” (6th to the last use)

*Metaphor

• “We are the heirs of the first dramatical change.” (1st sentence of the 4th use)

• “Let the information go forward from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans… ” (2nd sentence of the 4th use)

• “riding the back of the tiger” (3rd sentence of the 8th use)

• “the bonds of mass misery” (9th use)

• “the chains of poverty” (1st sentence of the 10th use)

• “evolution of hope” (2nd sentence of the 10th use)

• “master of its own house” (last sentence of the 10th use)

• “balance of terror” (14th use)

• “And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion… ” (20th use)

• “The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it–and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.” (4th to the last use)

*Oxymoron

• “But this peaceful dramatical change.” (2nd sentence of the 10th use)

*Parallelism

• “We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom–symbolizing an end in addition as a beginning signifying renewal in addition as change.” (1st sentence of the 2nd use)

• “born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage” (2nd sentence of the 4th use)

• “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, sustain any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.” (5th use)

• “Let both sides analyze what problems unite us… Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms… Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science… Let both sides unite… ” (Paragraphs 6 to 9)

• “United there is little we cannot do in a large number of cooperative ventures. Divided there is little we can do… ” (2nd and 3rd sentences of the 7th use)

• “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are high.” (2nd sentence of the 9th use)

• “sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond” (2nd sentence of the 13th use)

*Paradox

• “Only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.” (2nd sentence of the 13th use)

*Pathos

• “To those people in the huts and villages of half the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery… ” (1st sentence of the 9th use)

• “he graves of young Americans who answered the call toservice surround the globe” (7th to the last use)

• ” The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it–and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.” (4th to the last use)

*Personification

• “With history the final estimate of our deeds” (2nd sentence of the last use)

*Polysyndeton

• “where the strong are just and the ineffective obtain and the peace preserved” (9th to the last use)

*Repetition

• “For man holds in his mortal hands the strength to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.” (1st sentence of the 3rd use)

*Rhetorical Question

• “Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?” (5th to the last use)

*Sententia

• “undo the heavy burdens… (and) let the oppressed go free” (19th use)

*Syntax

• “My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” (2nd to the last use)

*Tricolon

• “We observe today not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom–symbolizing an end in addition as a beginning signifying renewal in addition as change.” (1st sentence of the 2nd use)

• “not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need–not as a call to battle, though embattled we are–but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out” (6th to the last use)

*Zeugma

• “Now the trumpet summons us again–not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need–not as a call to battle, though embattled we are–but a call to bear the burden… ” (6th to the last use)

Encapsulation of Findings:

John F. Kennedy used 33 different types of rhetorical devices in his inaugural speech. The most principal rhetorical device that he used was the usage of alliteration.

Conclusion:

by extensive examination, it can be seen that it is apparent that he has a goal of getting the audience’s attention to listen and to understand his points in a meaningful way in the fields of writing and speaking.

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