Can someone please help me organize and develop my my rhetorical analysis paper (shown below) on the structural and paragraph level? I also need help with mechanics.
Rhetorical Analysis of President Obama's Inauguration Speech On January 20, 2009, President Barrack Obama was officially inaugurated and sworn in as the forty-fourth president of the United States of America. The tradition of being inaugurated requires the president to give a speech about the goals they want to reach during their presidency. The president must make a speech that appeals to the audience while being professional. Rhetoric is a useful strategy to utilize in speech making. During President Obama’s inaugural speech,(2009), he remarked “On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics”. His use of “strangled our politics” is an example of using the Argument is War metaphor which on a basic level asserts that there is a win or a loss, in this case he refers to the past administration’s politicians “fighting” against each other’s political party as the winner, and the resulting “strangled politics” or inefficient political system being the loser. By proclaiming an end, he is describing the fight between parties as being over, or metaphorically, the war of inefficient politics or those strangling behaviors will not win again (Lakoff and Johnson 08). Obama uses rhetoric to achieve presenting his message of creating hope and change together in America while fixing the economic and social challenges and issues left behind from the previous president. Barack Obama uses syntax, the rhetorical triangle, and diction to portray his message.
One prominent rhetorical syntax device that Obama uses is parallelism. Obama uses a repetition of words to introduce sentences, or uses them to begin clauses of sentences. Repeating a phrase before each clause is called anaphora. In one of his paragraphs, Obama repeats the word “to” to bring parallel structure. When he says “The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, ” he is making himself seem powerful and influential (The New York Times 2013). He is explaining his desires for the country in a list that is easy to understand and is influential. Another area where he repeats his words is towards the end of the speech when he proclaims “This is the price and the promise of citizenship… This is the source of our confidence… This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed…” (The New York Times 2013). By repeating the phrase “this is the”, Obama is making the statements that follow important. Earlier, Obama talks about how we have a price of responsibility. Saying that these things are the meanings of our citizenship, liberty, and confidence gives the feeling that we must maintain our responsibility to preserve the nation. Obama’s use of parallelism brings the speech together and implies a sense of power and instruction.
A second rhetorical syntax strategy used by Obama is his use of phrases similar to “not only, but also”. Obama uses this strategy to show that there is more than one outcome for each of his propositions. One example is when he says “...not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth” (The New York Times 2013). Barack Obama is telling the audience that we need to take multiple steps in order to grow as a nation. When Obama says “The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity”, he is again showing how more than one cause is and will be responsible for an outcome (The New York Times 2013). When Obama tells the nation about these causes and effects, the audience gives direct orders to try and make the causes possible.
Obama also uses the strategy of allusions. At the very end of Obama's speech, he alludes to a quotation from the father of our nation, George Washington. The quotation talks about how “that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]” (The New York Times 2013). The quotation means that no matter how tough times are, the nation must hope and work together to face the future and embrace it to the best ability. Obama relates this to the rough times going on at the moment he gave the speech to win over the feelings of the audience. The audience is also able to relate to the story of how our nation was created for the current events going on at the moment they listened to the speech. Obama's use of syntax helps emphasize the importance of his goals and ambitions.
Another rhetorical strategy used by Obama, is the rhetorical triangle. The first part of the triangle Obama implements in his speech is ethos. Ethos is the appearance of the speaker. Obama's appearance through rhetoric places him on the same level as the audience. Throughout the speech, Obama uses words and phrases such as “the task before us”, “our nation”, “We the People”, “for us”, and “we will defeat you” (The New York Times 2013). All of the phrases and words involve not just Obama, but the entire nation coming as one. Adding the audience to the commands and promises, Obama is able to steer the audience into the direction that they are in charge of the nation and that they have the power and control to change the nation for the better.
A second part of the rhetorical triangle Obama incorporates in his speech is logos. Logos are using facts, surveys, polls, statistics, and any information possible to validate an argument. Obama mentions how costly health care, failing schools, job shedding, lost housing, and high energy use are all “data and statistics” that are “indicators of crisis” (The New York Times 2013). Using the data and statistics to show how our nation is falling also sparks an emotional reaction from the audience. Proving that a country is failing is a huge and serious issue which everybody in the audience would be concerned about. This not only captures the audiences' attention, but gives them more of a reason to want to do something about it.
Obama refers to historical events to invoke emotion in the readers. In reference to the rhetorical triangle, emotion is called pathos. At the end of Obama's speech, he mentions how “a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath” (The New York Times 2013). This reference to the past relates to anybody in the audience who has lived in the time of slavery or has had relatives who were slaves. This reference sparks emotional attachment to the speech and makes the speech influential and easy to correlate to. Obama's use of the rhetorical triangle appeals to the audience, establishes the speaker, and defines the text.
Obama uses diction to help portray his message. Obama uses modest words like “humbled” and “grateful” to show how honored he is to have been elected president (The New York Times 2013). This modest diction also applies to Obama relating to the audience and their emotions. If a President is too proud, he or she may come off as too powerful. Modesty allows the people to see that Obama is a person just like them, which makes him more identifiable and easier to be convinced by. Obama uses hopeful diction when he uses words such as “light”, “success”, “generate”, “expand”, “ideals”, “ambitions”, “action”, “prosperity”, “journey”, and “freedom” (The New York Times 2013). All of these words relate to completing a goal and having the outcome be the best possible. These words give hope to the nation that they can improve the poor condition of the country. Obama also uses sad and depressing words to represent the turmoil and bad situation that the country is in. Some of these words and phrases include “bad habits”, “toiled”, “fought”, “unpleasant”, “lost”, “shed”, “shuttered”, and “crisis” (The New York Times 2013). Obama uses these words to acknowledge that there is a crisis. Obama uses the hopeful diction to overpower the despairing diction, which results in a speech that is more hopeful than not. The varying diction in Obama's speech sets a hopeful yet slightly despairing tone. In a quotation by Barack Obama on November 4, 2008, he says “That is the true genius of America-that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow” (The New York Times 2013). Obama's inauguration speech mirrors the ideas expressed by that quote. Barack Obama's message in his speech is that through hope and change, we can pull the country out of recession, out of turmoil, and out of any difficult tasks we'll have ahead of us. What we have achieved shows that we can achieve it again, and the only reason these feats were achieved was because we were one nation working together. Obama successfully incorporate rhetoric in his speech to make it emotional, believable, and logical. His speech is a great representation of a well written rhetorical essay
Works Cited Lakeoff, George and Johnson, Mark. “Metaphors We Live By.” (n.d.): n. pag. 1980. Web. 24 Apr. 2015 The New York Times. " President Barack Obama's Full Inauguration Speech 2009.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 18 Jan. 2013. Web. 20 Jan. 2009.
You have done much good analysis here, but your main task in revising this paper, as you note, is structural. One of the easiest areas to address is making the overall plan of the essay more logical.
In your rhetorical analysis, you are looking at two very different aspects of the speech, its content and its style. The three rhetorical proofs from ethos, logos, and pathos are part of the substance of the speech, the overarching strategies used for convincing an audience. The diction of the speech and specific phrases Obama uses are part of stylistic analysis. Currently, these two separate types of persuasive device appear in random order in your essay. A better way to organize it would be to break down your analysis according to the five canons of classical rhetoric, creating a separate heading for each canon:
Introduction: Discuss the rhetorical situation of the speech including when it was given, the nature of its audience, and then very briefly summarize the major topics it addressed, basically just expanding your current introduction by a few sentences. Next you need a transitional paragraph stating that you will be doing a rhetorical analysis of the speech, and giving a brief account of the main rhetorical issues you will cover and the order in which you will cover them.
Invention: This section would include your paragraphs on the argumentative strategies of ethos, logos, and pathos
Disposition: How does Obama organize his speech? What appears at the beginning and how does that set up the ending? How is this persuasive?
Style: This section would incorporate your material on diction (Obama's word choice) and other stylistic devices such as parallelism and the phrase “not only, but also.”
Memory: Your paragraph on Obama's use of allusions would fit under the canon of memory.
Delivery: If you have a video of all or part of the speech, you could look at his gestures and tone of voice, and talk about how they work persuasively.
Conclusion: Take your current conclusion and perhaps add one or two sentences emphasizing what you think were Obama's most effective rhetorical techniques.
For MLA style, follow the link below to the Purdue Online Writing Lab. It has an excellent review of MLA style.