Differentiating Between Epideictic and Deliberative Rhetoric Essay

Today rhetoric such as, epideictic and deliberative, is a part of language that is often given a negative connotation. It is usually perceived that corrupt politicians and sales persons use rhetoric in arguments to conceal the truth. In actuality, epideictic and deliberative appeal are rhetoric that should be seen as an important part of language. These kinds of rhetoric can help communicate ones point across and create something easily understood by the audience. Language is powerful and can be used to transform ideas and thoughts.

Epideictic and deliberative appeal are useful tools that makes use of the power of language to more efficiently inform others of what we think, or persuade others of certain ideas. However, being able to distinguish between these two kinds of rhetoric allows one to truly understand the powers of language.

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It is important that Americans are able to distinguish between speech that is epideictic and which is deliberative because it helps Americans recognize the action our leaders want us to be making or emotion that we should be feeling.

Being able to differentiate between these two kinds of rhetoric will make for a better America as our leaders and the citizens of America will be on the same page. In President Roosevelt’s speech “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy” and Senator Robert Taft’s speech “Let Us Stay Out of War”, deliberative and epideictic rhetoric are utilized in both of the speeches in order to better inform the citizens of America on their ideals. Citizens that were not able to distinguish between deliberative and epideictic rhetoric at the times of these speeches did not fully understand the words of their leaders. Not being able to recognize the difference between the two lead to a number of citizens being uninformed about the events occurring in their country. If they had been able to differentiate between the two, these citizens could have contributed to a better America.

Being able to recognize when deliberative appeal is being used in speeches is crucial to ones role as a citizen of America. As American citizens, we have the responsibility of following the directions of our president. Deliberative rhetoric is often used in presidential speeches when the president wants us to take action towards something. In President Roosevelt’s speech “A Date Which Will Live in Infamy”, Roosevelt uses deliberative appeal to call to the American people to take action against the atrocities of Pearl Harbor. In his speech Roosevelt states, “we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost, but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us” (Roosevelt). By saying this, Roosevelt is using deliberative rhetoric to provoke the American people to respond to this ”treachery” and fight for their country.

Roosevelt does this throughout the speech such as when he says, “the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory” and “we will gain the inevitable triumph” (Roosevelt). Roosevelt uses deliberative rhetoric again to entice the American people to unite with each other and gain victory against Japan. Without being able to differentiate between deliberative and epideictic appeal, American citizens would not be able to recognize that Roosevelt isn’t saying these statements off of emotion but is telling them to take action directly. In Senator Robert Taft’s speech “Let Us Stay Out of War”, Taft implements deliberative appeal in his speech to get the American people to stop the U.S. from entering World War II.

When talking about foreign policies that the United States was implementing during the war, Taft states “of course, such a policy is not only vain, but almost inevitably leads to war”(Taft). Taft uses deliberative appeal in this quote to promote his idea of isolationism upon the American people. American citizens who were able to recognize when deliberative appeal was being used in these kinds of speeches allowed them to be in touch with current events and language that was being used. These kinds of citizens are able to make informed decisions, which makes the ability to recognize deliberative rhetoric essential.

Epideictic rhetoric is necessary for American people to recognize because it unifies people under the same emotion or feeling of praise or blame. Unlike deliberative rhetoric, which deals with persuasion and decision-making, epideictic rhetoric mainly aims at praise or blame. If speaking in terms of praise, the speaker will try to make the audience desire to know the man or object of such excellence after hearing the speech. But in terms of blame, the speaker attempts to make the audience know the man or object in order to avoid such evil. Aside from deliberative rhetoric, Roosevelt also utilizes epideictic appeal in his speech. In the opening of his speech, Roosevelt states “no matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory”(Roosevelt).

Roosevelt employs epideictic rhetoric in this quote to give the American the citizens a feeling of confidence. By doing this, Roosevelt unites America under this feeling of needed triumph, and gives them incentive for revenge for the atrocities committed by Japan. Roosevelt continues to do this when he states “our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us” (Roosevelt). Again, Roosevelt uses epideictic rhetoric to make Pearl Harbor a day to remember. Roosevelt wants the American people to have this atrocity as a lasting impression of the crimes that Japan committed against America. Being able to recognize the attitude that should be felt towards Pearl Harbor was a crucial part of the unity that occurred during World War II in America. Roosevelt successfully used epideictic rhetoric to blame the empire of Japan for the terrors of Pearl Harbor, which lead to a national unity under one common enemy. When looking at speeches like President Roosevelt’s and Senator Taft’s, it is often argued that there is no need to be able to distinguish between the epideictic and deliberative rhetoric.

Admittedly, Americans receive the same basic message presented in these speeches if they did not have the ability to differentiate between the two. However, what the opposition does not understand is distinguishing between both types of rhetoric gives people a better understanding of the language used in the speech. When differentiating between epideictic and deliberative rhetoric one establishes a “connection” with the speaker because one receives the true purpose of the speaker’s words. As a result, being able to distinguish between both types of rhetoric is an essential part of fully understanding a leader’s words. It is clear that being able to differentiate between epideictic and deliberative rhetoric in speeches is important for Americans because it allows leaders to directly communicate to the people of America. Today communication is key in our society, and fully understanding the directions of our leaders is important in our country’s success. If the ability to distinguish between both epideictic and deliberative rhetoric were common in America it would create a population of united and well-informed citizens.

Works Cited

Roosevelt, Franklin D. “Roosevelt’s Day of Infamy Speech.” National Geographic Education. National Geographic, 1996-2013. Web. 3 May 2013.

Taft, Robert A. “Let Us Stay Out Of War.” Vital Speeches of the Day 5.8 (1939): 254. Academic Search Complete. Web. 2 May 2013.

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