Discuss the rhetorical devices Lincoln used in his "Gettysburg Address."Include at least two examples from the speech and explain why he used them.  Im doing an online class and i cant seem to...

Discuss the rhetorical devices Lincoln used in his "Gettysburg Address."

Include at least two examples from the speech and explain why he used them.  Im doing an online class and i cant seem to find the answer to the qusetion.

Expert Answers
edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lincoln begins the speech with an allusion.  The speech was given in 1863, and so when Lincoln begins "fourscore and seven years ago," he is indirectly referring to 1776, the year America declared its independence. Lincoln does this because one of the central issues of the Civil War was the reunification of the country, and he wanted to remind his audience of the work our forefathers did to create the nation that was now divided.

Lincoln chooses diction that elevates the reunification of the country to a sacred undertaking when he uses words like "dedicate," "consecrate," and "hallow."  He is not only dedicating a military cemetery on this day; he is arguing that to end the war before reunification would dishonor the men who had given their lives.

Lincoln also uses repetition of key words to emphasize the importance of the reunification of the United States.  The word "nation" is used five times in this very short address.  Lincoln does this to remind his listeners that we are a nation, not a Union and a Confederacy.  Lincoln also uses the pronoun "we" ten times to underscore that the country needs to be united. 

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Of the many devices used by Lincoln in his address, there are some strong examples that stick out in my mind.  I would say that his use of repetition in "of the people, by the people, and for the people" is quite a deliberate use of repeating the term of "the people."  It helps to create the reminder in the listener that Lincoln's honoring of those who gave "the ultimate sacrifice" did so for us, "the people" of whom our government derives.  It was very clever of him to conclude his speech on this note of repetition.  Additionally, I think another powerful rhetorical device was employing the use of opposites.  Lincoln helps contrast the dead soldiers, ones who gave their lives, to the listener who is amongst the living.  In the process, Lincoln helps to create a sense of scope within the listener who follows his lead by contrasting the reality of the dead with that of the living.  This compels the listener/ reader to be galvanized into action, accepting the premises Lincoln has offered.  The use of contrast and opposing visions helps to allow the reader to better understand Lincoln's scope and goals.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most obvious rhetorical device in this short speech is the anaphora that Lincoln uses at the start of the last paragraph.  He says "we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow."  When you use the same word or words at the start of a bunch of consecutive clauses, that's anaphora.

In this case, Lincoln is using this device to emphasize that the people gathered there were not the important ones.  He was drawing attention to the sacrifices made by the soldiers.

Later on in that paragraph, Lincoln tries to make the same poin when he uses antithesis.  This is where a speaker contrasts ideas by putting them close together.  He says, for example,

The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.

kellove | Student

i think that pathos is a great one because lincoln establishes a bond with the crowd by using pathos