How does Winston Churchill's speech Blood, Toil, Sweat, and Tears convince you of his competence, credibility, and command of the situation?
How would you describe Churchill's tone toward his audience? Why does he avoid any humor or lightheartedness in his speech?
Churchill addresses the House of Commons with a sense of urgency. He opens with stating that he is forming a war cabinet representative of the different political interests to display a unified front against the Germans. His resolution also addresses the fact that the war is going to be protracted, taking place on many fronts. On some level, given the appeasement policy of Neville Chamberlain and the British government before him, Churchill's speech reflects the reality of war and the need for all British citizens to accept it. He does not employ flowery imagery or humor because he is attempting to show his focus and determination to win the war, guiding England to victory. In his mind, there is little to say other than to say that war is inevitable and must be waged. Just as Churchill is preparing his government for war, British citizens must act accordingly. In the attempt to bring a sense of focus and unity to his citizens, Churchill presents a direct solution to the crisis of war which is victory. The focused nature of the speech reveals that great leaders do not have to possess anything but a clear vision that brings individuals into a focused and driven purpose.
Churchill's speech convinces the audience of his competence and credibility by relating in a succinct and clear way the many steps he has already taken to form a new administration. He has included members of all political parties in a broad coalition to lead the War Cabinet and other government ministries. He has undertaken his duties in a swift, fair, and responsible manner, and he relates what he has done to convince his audience of his competence and command.
His tone is serious and resolute. He presents a clear but determined message--that he will fight the Nazis and their allies in every way possible. His message is purposefully simple, and he makes it clear that he will stop at nothing to win. Humor would be out of place in this speech, given the seriousness of the task the British then faced (the speech was given in 1940, at the beginning of the European fighting in World War II).
At the end of this relatively straightforward speech, Churchill uses some poetic language, including the repetition of the words "wage war," to inspire his audience. He also repeats the phrase "British Empire" to remind his audience that they are fighting for nothing less than the continuity of the British people and their way of life.