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Speech to the Virginia Convention

by Patrick Henry

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Can you provide an example of restatement in Patrick Henry's “Speech to the Virginia Convention”?

Quick answer:

An example of restatement in Patrick Henry's speech, in which he makes the same point in two different ways, is the following:

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts.

Expert Answers

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Restatement is when a writer or speaker rewrites or recasts a previous point in a different way. This is a useful rhetorical device for amplifying or emphasizing an important idea. If an audience doesn't receive or understand the idea through one set of words, they may receive it through another set of words, or through both in combination.

An example of restatement is found in the following passage:

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts.

In the first sentence, Henry is saying that people deceive themselves through holding onto false hopes. In the second sentence, Henry says again that people deceive themselves through false hopes. First, Henry states this as a simple assertion: people have a natural tendency to hope, even if the hopes are misplaced. Then, he restates it by adding imagery to the same idea, painting a picture of us closing our eyes in a refusal to see what is before us. He also evokes Homer's Odyssey when he imagines people listening to the song of the siren—this song would lead sailors to shipwreck and death. Finally, he draws a picture of people turned into "beasts" by hope, implying that relying on the British will transform the colonists into beasts of burden. The restatement amplifies the point that false hope is misleading and destructive.

Another example of restatement is found in this passage:

Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love?

Both sentences make the same point: love and war are incompatible. Britain can't both love the colonists and wage war on them, a point which is emphasized through restatement.

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