What rhetoric organization is used in John F. Kennedy's inaugural address?
Arguably the most famous line in JFK's inaugural address is an example of what's called antimetabole. This is where a phrase or expression or phrase is repeated, but in a different order. For example:
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.
Anaphora is a rhetorical device that involves the repetition of one or more words at the beginning of consecutive phrases, clauses, or sentences. It's particularly useful for emphasizing a very important point, something that the speaker wants to stay in the audience's memory:
Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us. Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms—and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations. Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the...
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According to the great philosopher, Aristotle, a speaker persuades his or her audience based on three different ideals. First, they evaluate the personal character of the speaker. Next, the speaker tries to put the audience in a certain frame of mind, and finally, they use words in a particular pattern as proof of their claims. The Presidential Inaugural Address is no different. In fact, it an Inaugural Address has a very specific purpose and a very specific, twofold audience-the American public and the global community.
Still, every Presidential Inaugural Address has several distinguished commonalities. First, all of them reference our American past as a means of showing how far we have come and to acknowledge our ancestors and traditions. Also, they acknowledge the levity of the occasion, and lastly, they offer some level of hope for our future as a nation. President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address used a plethora of rhetorical devices to both inspire us to move forward and to allay our fears concerning the Cold War.
The most prevalent rhetorical strategy his speech employed was alliteration, which consists of a repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words. Beginning with the second paragraph, President Kennedy spoke of the "same solemn." In paragraph three, he stressed what "man holds in his mortal hands." He also powerfully emphasized "to friend and foe alike" that we could "Pay any price, bear any burden" for freedom. He continues this strategy to the very last paragraph where he charges the country to "Let us go forth to lead the land we love."
The address also used allusion, which is an indirect reference to a person, place, or event, usually from a literary work or the Bible that is recognized by the reader. Near the beginning of his speech, President Kennedy states, "I have sworn before you and Almighty God," a statement that both acknowledges the seriousness of his presidential responsibilities and the principles on which our country was founded. Also, in the eighth paragraph, the president a metaphorical allusion of "those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside." This reference to Communism and a Communist government is a subtle, yet stark warning from President Kennedy about the danger of not taking these threats to our democracy seriously.
Perhaps the most powerful rhetorical strategies in the address revolve around the President's use of antithesis, a seemingly contrast of ideas using parallel structure to stress a point. For example, in the second paragraph, he states that "We observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom, a symbolic statement that offers a new beginning as well as positive change. These aforementioned rhetorical strategies are by no means exhaustive since the entire address, although brief by most inaugural address standards, are filled with powerful, strategic language that put both our citizens and the world on notice.