John F. Kennedy's Presidency

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What rhetorical devices and purposes are in JFK'S inaugural speech?

Rhetorical devices in JFK's inaugural speech include anaphora, rhetorical questions, and personification. Rhetorical purposes include promoting unity and establishing the United States as a global leader.

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Anaphora is the repetition of words or phrases at the beginnings of successive sentences or clauses for effect. Consider this section of the address:

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 stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths and encourage the arts and commerce.

Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah—to "undo the heavy burdens...(and) let the oppressed go free."

This successive repetition invokes a sense of national unity across party lines, thus linking to an appeal to pathos.

One of the most famous examples of antimetabole is also found in this speech:

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 1040 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 12, 2019
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