What are the rhetorical and literary strategies and devices in Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address?

Lincoln's literary strategies and devices in the Second Inaugural Address are based largely on his Scriptural allusions, the use of repetition, and a tone which, though it has an awesome gravity in it, also conveys an essential humility. Rather than fix blame or boast of triumph, he focuses upon the need to heal, to rebuild, and to forgive.

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In the opinion of many, the Second Inaugural is Lincoln's greatest speech. It is relatively brief, but it conveys a range of emotions and ideas that capture the essence of not only what the war was about, but what the peace should be about.

It's significant that Lincoln quotes several biblical texts and thereby connects the meaning of the war with history and with spiritual matters. Lincoln was evidently a freethinker but believed in a Divinity and felt that he was endowed by the Creator with a moral mission. Rather than skirt or mitigate the issue of slavery, as had been done in some of his earlier speeches, Lincoln identifies it as an absolute evil that could only have been destroyed by war. Yet he sees the entire nation, in some sense, as having been guilty of this sin.

The emphasis is on...

(The entire section contains 425 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on May 11, 2020