Annotation of Three Great Speeches Since rhetoric is the art of effective communication, its principles can be applied to many facets of everyday life. “I am a Berliner” is the unforgettable speech that was delivered by John F. Kennedy in front of hundreds of Berliners on the balcony of City Hall in West Berlin on June 26, 1963. It was considered one of the best rhetorical speeches ever given. On May 12, 1962, General Douglas MacArthur gave his Sylvanus Thayer Award Acceptance Address.
Throughout his speech, MacArthur does a great job of stirring emotion, using vivid language, repetition, and metaphors.
On April 3, 1968, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” was one of Kings’ powerful speeches. It remains a noteworthy example of his rhetoric because it was structured around many metaphors. Through the use of people’s opinions, views and emotions through their memorable speeches, these great writers used many rhetorical devices. Some prevalent aesthetic features in John F. Kennedy’s speech, “I am a Berliner,” are his use of personification, allusion and repetition.
After his introduction, Kennedy flows right into a series of statements he perceives to be myths about Communism and follows each of them with “Let them come to Berlin. ” The repetition of this phrase created a feeling of strength and only intensified the idea that Kennedy was determined to convince the people of Berlin of America’s support. Through the rhetorical strategies of repetition, played himself as an insider among the audience, and playing upon emotions of listeners, Kennedy was able to establish himself as not only a powerful force in the States, but intentional as well.
Kennedy also employs an allusion in the great Roman boast “civis Romanus sum” (Kennedy 1963) to add flavor and character to his new boast, “Ich bin ein Berliner. ” Further, the use of his phrase to end both his introduction and conclusion creates symmetry in his speech that the audience would find pleasing. Kennedy also personifies the art of Berlin, saying that it “still lives with…. vitality” (Kennedy 1963), giving Berliners the idea that their city is an organic being with human characteristics, like resilience and determination.
Kennedy uses his rhetoric to encourage democracy amongst Berliners as well as to shed light on the effects of Communism. Kennedy’s speech was not only memorable but also extremely successful in the reaching out to various groups of people. While analyzing MacArthur’s’ speech, one can see many patterns emerge with his use of repetition and metaphors. An example of repetition is the moral mode. Throughout the speech, MacArthur expresses the importance of “Duty, Honor, and Country” (MacArthur 1962). No matter what the soldiers were facing, or how hard things will get, MacArthur wants them to remember the moral code.
Using repetition in a speech would help an audience remember what the speech is about. There are several examples of metaphors in the speech. In his line “your guidepost stands out like a ten-fold beacon in the night” (MacArthur 1962) is a metaphor describing how a person would not be distracted by anything else and that there only mission is to carry the moral code. Another example of a metaphor is at the end of the speech when he says, “When I cross the river my last conscious thought will be the Corps” (MacArthur 1962).
That is a metaphor describing death. MacArthur painted a picture of living and dedicating his life to a general. MacArthur wanted to encourage the soldiers and generals to keep fighting and to live by the moral code. His speech was able to draw in the audience and make it easy for them to relate to MacArthur’s ideas. Martin Luther King uses many metaphors together to construct a whole picture of America as a nation whose severity in sickness is surpassed by its powerful potential for greatness.
He explains his picture of America by using metaphors such as “I would take my mental flight by Egypt and I would watch God’s children in their magnificent trek from the dark dugeons of Egypt through the wilderness on toward the promise land. And spite of its magnificence, I wouldn’t stop there” (King 1968). Dr. King wants to convey that he has strong hopes for America to change its prejudicial ways. He believes that with the help of everyone in their local communities, we can all come together to obtain equality for all people of all races.
The first enunciated in the opening paragraphs, could be called the “sick nation” metaphor. This metaphor is used to portray King’s disgust with the state of a nation which is infected with the disease of racism. He cites numerous instances of this sickness, including not only the injustice of the conditions faced by Memphis’s sanitation workers but also the racism he encountered in Birmingham, Alabama, at the hands of its infamous public safety commissioner, Eugene Connor, who used fire hoses and dogs to attack the people. In his line “I ust want to do God’s will” (King 1968), King uses the Jericho Road metaphor and the parable of the Good Samaritan as a way of urging his listeners to “make America what it ought to be. ” This metaphor describes the state of the nation as a dangerous place where men and women are being tortured for dead on the side of the road. Martin Luther King experienced the mountaintop and saw a view of the Promise Land. He never got to see this side of The Gates, but passed through them the next day. This metaphor reveals King’s hope for the nation to become the Promised Land.
The use of metaphors served to promote King as a Moses type of figure. King’s metaphoric uses are powerfully demonstrated throughout his speech and serves as a road map for his audience to understand reality. These great speeches lifted hearts in the dark times, gave hope in despair, refined the characters of men and women, gave courage to the weary, honored the dead, and changed the course of history. Many politicians and leaders manipulate and influence their audiences using specific rhetorical devices in a manner that’s so effective that the speeches are revered even today.
Work Cited * Kennedy, John F. “Ich Bin Ein Berliner. ” Hope for the Reunification of Germany. Rudolph Wilde Platz. West Berlin, Germany. 26 June 1963. Speech. * King, Marin. “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop. ” Sanitation Workers Strike. Mason Temple. Memphis, Tennessee. 03 April 1968. Speech. * MacArthur, Douglas. “Thayer Award Acceptance Address. ” The Sylvanus Thayer Medal Award. United States Academy. West Point, New York. 12 Mat 1962. Address.
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