Writing Assignment #2: Analyzing Speech Rhetoric

Take a look at this link to a handful of famous speeches and decide on one that you’d like to analyze. I’d suggest looking at the information below each one–there are some good pointers for things that will help you in analyzing why the speech/the speaker’s argument works. I want you analyze your chosen speech, and come up with a few things (around 200-300 words, so only a handful of sentences) about why the rhetoric in the speech works, anything you see the speaker employing to help boost their speech’s argument, etc. I’m not setting any strict guidelines, because analysis is up to the individual. There really is no right or wrong way of approaching it.

Again, just submit your writing response as a comment on this blog.

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20 thoughts on “Writing Assignment #2: Analyzing Speech Rhetoric

  1. As many speakers do, JFK used many persuasive speech techniques in his “The Decision to go the Moon” speech in 1961. Repetition is used for the audience to understand the importance of what is being emphasized. An example of this would be when John F Kennedy stated “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” Repetition is shown in the first line “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon I this decade…” In this quote he uses strong words like “challenge, win, decade, and goal” to stress the importance of the matter and to convince the audience. You can sense the importance of this quote by JFK’s emphasis on why we “choose” to do this and what the outcome and benefit of the journey would be.

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  2. The late great Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is best known for his amazing “I Have a Dream” speech from 1963 and for good reason. His iconic “I Have a Dream” speech showed the burning passion he had to help other people. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s speech is great for several reasons. He used an excellent choice of abstract nouns in his speech. A great example of this is when he uses words like “dream” because this word speaks to an individual on different levels. This word speaks to an individual subconsciously because of the emotion it evokes and it just connects with everyone because everyone of us has dreams that we aspire to. His repetition of the phrase “I Have a Dream” gives everyone an image in their head of a world of peace and equality. His choice of words is just one reason why his “I Have a Dream” speech is so iconic. People are also able to connect with his speech because it is spoken with great simplicity, which makes it sound very sincere. Not everyone would be able to connect with his speech if he used too many complicated words that his audience didn’t understand.

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  3. JFK persuasive “The Decision to go Moon” speech in 1961 uses special techniques. President JFK uses repetition to emphasis the importance of the speech and what is being said. In the speech when he says “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things”. By choosing “We” gives a sense of togetherness to the speech. That we as Americans are going to help achieve this goal. He also uses words like “win, goal, energies ” to excite the audience he is speaking to. President Kennedy also uses demonstrative pronouns like “this decade and “that goal” to create a sense of achievability and urgency. His speech leaves the audience with eagerness to find out what will be the outcome and the next steps in getting to the moon because they now feel like it heir mission too.

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  4. John F. Kennedy’s speech regarding the decision to go to the Moon in 1961 is one of the most memorable speeches to this day. His argument flows effortlessly and grasps the attention of the audience, and he does so by using various persuasive techniques. One of Kennedy’s first statements that he makes during his dialogue is quite credible as he refers back to William Bradford who spoke in 1630 of the founding of the Plymouth Bay Colony saying that “all great and honorable actions are accompanied with great difficulty and both must be enterprise and overcome with admirable courage”. In including this plausible fact in his speech, Kennedy further enhances his argument that the United States needs to be apart of the travel to the moon, which encourages the American people to have faith in what he is saying. Also, John F. Kennedy’s simplicity and repetition throughout his speech furthermore emphasizes his passion towards the decision and clarifies to the public how dedicated he is to making it happen. For instance, when JFK states “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard”, he provokes inspiration to the people reiterating that traveling to the moon would make history and gives them a sense of confidence that will hopefully persuade them to believe in the potential success of the United States.

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  5. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is without a doubt iconic. He uses different techniques to make his speech persuasive and appealing to his audience. His use of the word “dream” creates an emotional appeal to everyone listening. It makes this speech very relatable because it invites everyone to think about their dreams as well. The repetition of this word emphasizes the point of his speech and the message of equality and freedom he is speaking about. The language of this speech is very simple and easy to understand which allows him to reach out to more people. He also uses a very sincere tone that helps him connect with his audience. King includes certain phrases that portray the future that makes his dream seem very likely to become a reality. He connects with his audience on an emotional level when he mentions his four kids and the type of world he envisions them to live in. This helps persuade his audience because everyone who has children can understand the hope for a better future for their kids. His use of these different techniques makes his speech persuasive and unforgettable.

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  6. I chose Dr. Martin Luther Kings “I Have a Dream” speech. I feel like Dr. King did an excellent job of using rhetoric when saying this speech. He used the tempo in his voice to really get the crowd to respond positively to what he had to say. He used references to specific people and places as well to better connect the crowd to the point he was trying to get across. Much rhetoric was not need to get that point across at that point in time but Dr. king went above and beyond to make his “I Have a Dream” speech one of if not the most iconic speeches of all time. We can learn a great deal from Dr. King in how we could use the art of rhetoric in our everyday lives. His passion that he expresses in his speech is the passion needed to cause the change he caused. We should all try and live our lives the way he wanted us to, not seeing people by their color but as another human being.

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  7. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr delivered one of the most powerful messages in history with his “I have a dream” speech. Dr. King does a great job of using pathos in his speech to evoke the emotions of his audience. He brings up specific states such as Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi to make the speech very real to his audience. Imagine the feelings that were stirred up in audience members who lived in those states and saw the racism with their own eyes. Dr. King also inspired hope with his speech by dreaming of a future where, “little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as brothers and sisters”, statements like this make Dr. King’s speech so inspiring.

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  8. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave one of the most profound speeches titled “I Have a Dream”. This master piece set the world on its ear with its compassion for equality and “biblical rhetoric.” It brought great attention to the Civil Rights Movement which had been going on for some time. The use of words like dream gave a sense of hope, an idea of a obtainable fantasy. Its simplistic characteristics made it easy to comprehend while the use of future tense enforced the success of Dr. Kings vision. The setting played a big part in the speeches triumph as well. The speech was given at the Lincoln Memorial in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation” which freed slaves. This allowed Dr. King to show that things have been bad and there is something that we can do. The effectiveness of Dr. Kings speech was evident. A year later congress would pass the Civil Rights act which gave African Americans equal rights.

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  9. The speech I chose to analyze is JFK’s speech “The Decision to go to the Moon”. John F Kennedy uses persuasion in his famous speech “The Decision to go to the Moon”. This speech is executed very well and uses the technique of repetition throughout his speech. The speech flows very well while keeping the audience intrigued the entire time. His speech also presents a sense of unity and gives a positive impact on the people. Since this was such a striking moment in history, it makes for a great speech to always be remembered. Repetition occurs as he says “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills”. Repetition indicates how important a statement is. He shows determination as he has goals and sets his mind the achieve them.

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  10. JFK persuasive “The Decision to go Moon” speech in 1961 uses special techniques. President JFK uses repetition to emphasis the importance of the speech and what is being said. In the speech when he says “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things”. By choosing “We” gives a sense of togetherness to the speech. That we as Americans are going to help achieve this goal. He also uses words like “win, goal, energies ” to excite the audience he is speaking to. President Kennedy also uses demonstrative pronouns like “this decade and “that goal” to create a sense of achievability and urgency. His speech leaves the audience with eagerness to find out what will be the outcome and the next steps in getting to the moon because they now feel like it heir mission too. The speech’s simplicity makes it appealing to all types of audiences. The speech makes you want to believe in America as much as President Kennedy did. The passion radiates throughout the speech and repetition helps with that.

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  11. I chose to analyze JFK’s “The Decision to go to the Moon” speech. I think the rhetoric of the speech was successful because of his deliverance of the speech. He was very eloquent in his delivery which helped his cause because it helps draw in the attention of the people. He was also very concise while he was speaking and that allowed him to show the importance of what he was trying to say because he was only saying things that were significant. I also believe JFK was appealing to the American people’s sense of leadership. He spoke of how things won’t always be easy but that we must try to accomplish them. He mentions how America is leading the rest of the world in other things and this too America must lead. But what I think the best part of his speech was, was when he spoke of how going to the moon and into space is not just something for the American people but it is something for all people. This is shows the bigger picture and I think it was influential in making his argument work.

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  12. It is no secret that Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech is one of the most memorable speeches of all time. Dr. King’s use of pathos as a mode of rhetoric during his speech grabs the crowd’s attention and draws them in emotionally. He opens up about his desire for racial equality and peace amongst everyone. Dr. King does an amazing job at getting the audience to empathize with the African American population as he conveys their lifelong battle for proper treatment and equal opportunity. Although Dr. King has been living through some of the most trying times in African American history, he remains hopeful that we as a nation can work together and one day live tranquilly. The majority of scholars agree that Dr. King’s speech is a “master of rhetoric”, being that he was able to use pathos, ethos, and logos to influence and educate such a diverse audience.

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  13. Throughout history many people have given speeches to persuade their given audience. Although they are all different, they are often similar in there persuasive techniques. A perfect example of a famous speech in history is Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963. One example that he uses in this speech is repetition. Throughout the whole speech he repeats saying that “I Have A Dream”. By repeating this statement throughout the whole speech, it gets the audience’s attention. The use of repetition also gives the audience the realization that the speaker really means what he or she is saying. If a speaker is giving a speech and only says something one time, that is not going to stick with the audience and make them think he or she meant it. Another example that Martin Luther King uses in his “I Have A Dream” speech, is the use of his tone of voice. In this speech he has a very confident tone. If a speaker is giving a speech and he or she does not sound confident, the audience is not going to believe in whatever the speaker is trying to make happen. The last example that Martin Luther King uses is his use of futuristic words. Throughout his speech he talks about “one day” and “will be able to”. This gives the audience a sense of optimism that everything he talked about will be able to happen.

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  14. John F. Kennedy’s speech “The Decision to go the Moon” given in 1961, was a persuasive speech given to convince his audience why it was a good idea to travel to the moon. Many speakers use different argument methods for audience acceptance. John F. Kennedy used many rhetorical questions in his speech. Rhetorical questions are used for effect, not for the actual answer. “But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?” In this quote, JFK used 5 different rhetorical questions to make the audience think about each one and why each one is important. He also used repetition, a rhetorical device used for reinforcement of ones ideas. JFK stated “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills…” in this quote we see an example of repetition and we see an insight into John F. Kennedy’s own thought and opinion on the idea and how it will help us as a nation rather than hurt us.

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  15. On August 28, 1963 200,000 people gathered after the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial. This is where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his speech “I Have a Dream.” He spoke about the injustices within our nation when it came to segregation and discrimination of African Americans. With this speech I believe he successfully used ethos, pathos, and logos to show that racism and segregation was not what America was about. As he delivered his speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial he somewhat quoted Lincoln in his speech, “Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the emancipation proclamation.” His quote of Lincoln gave authority to his speech. Lincoln was a powerful president who led Americans throughout the civil war. He gained the trust of America and established a new sense of freedom. Martin Luther King is using the same authority of Lincoln and his view on civil rights. This provides a strong ethos appeal and establishes credibility with his audience. Martin Luther King also uses the Declaration of Independence to show authority with his speech. He quotes, ‘“unalienable rights” of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” With this quote he shows that high forms of authority (the government) are on his side. He stated that the American government neglected on the obligation to all of America. Martin Luther King really shows his credibility by using the authority of a great American and our constitution. I think his use of rhetoric in this speech really worked and allowed him to reach so many people and gave people a new kind of hope.

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  16. A defining moment of his career and of World War II itself, Winston Churchill’s famous speech given to the British parliament stirred emotion and brought forth unity to a worried nation. At this point in World War II, things were not looking good for the British. They were in the process of retreating from mainland Europe after a humiliating defeat in Dunkirk at the hands of the Nazi’s and were facing an invasion. It was of the upmost importance that Churchill was to deliver a rally cry, to every British countrymen, to stay strong and to hold faith, that they would come back from this vicious defeat and bring an end to the tyranny that was the Nazi regime. World War II in itself was such a horrible event but it did bring forth speeches such as this one that are so iconic and archetypal. Churchill creates so much emotion when he makes this speech and by the repetitive use of “we shall”, he creates unity throughout the room. War may be fought by men and by guns but nothing is as powerful as speech itself when it comes to the will to fight and Churchill does a great job of implementing that will into each and every British soldier abroad or at home. Churchill’s use of long sentences bolsters his words and leads them to a climax of meaning and truth. The “finest hour” speech is one of my favorites and will forever be remembered as a speech that rallied a nation in dire need of a will to go on.

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  17. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech is one of the most respected speeches of all time. Dr. King’s use of pathos as a mode of rhetoric in his speech grabs the crowd’s emotional attention. He talks about his want for racial equality and for everyone to get along. Dr. King does an great job at getting the audience to put themselves in the shoes of the African American population as he tells their side of the story, their lifelong battle for proper treatment and equal opportunity. Although Dr. King has been living through some of the most trying times in African American history, he is still full of hope that our nation can come together and prosper. Most scholars agree that Dr. King’s speech is a “master of rhetoric”, because he was able to use pathos, ethos, and logos to influence and educate such an audience.

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  18. John F. Kennedy’s speech on “The Decision to go to the Moon” he uses rhetoric very well. JFK ask rhetorical questions like “why does one climb the highest mountain” and “why does Rice play Texas” as a persuasive argument to justify going to the moon. Rhetorical questions are not meant to be answered directly but are used as a tool to question the current argument. In the speech JFK said “We choose to go to the moon, we choose to go to the moon… not because it is easy but because it is hard.” His emphasis and powerful section of word choice helped make his speech one of the most memorable. The charisma of John F. Kennedy during the speech was the final touch that made the delivery of the speech powerful.

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  19. Dr.Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech is so memorable not only because of his rhetoric but also because of the life he lived. He gave people insight on his deepest fantasy where he evokes vivid imagery of a world without prejudice and racism. He speaks of the future which develops hope for all. This speech changed the lives of many while also changing public speeches from then on. Dr.King uses all three forms of rhetoric (ethos, pathos, and logos) throughout his speech that took the audience on a journey out from in front of the podium he spoke at and into a world where his dream had come true.

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  20. King George VI’s radio address works well as a method to call together the people of Great Britain for many reasons. Among the reasons is that King George VI uses first and third person pronouns, making the speech feel extremely personal and creates an intimate connection between the Speaker and the Listener. The speech is also shorter than the average speech.This creates not only a feeling of sincerity but also a feeling of urgency; appearing as if King George VI does not have any time to beat around the bush and that the fear of war is looming over the country and that they must prepare as soon as possible. King George VI also managed to speak in a tone that felt very down to earth and easy to hear. His tonality certainly had to have positively affect the reception of his words among the folk of Great Britain King George’s use of superlatives are also helpful to his cause. By describing the opposing force with superlatives, it makes it easy for the listener to imagine the picture in their head.

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