Analysis Of First They Came By Robert Niemoller

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Robert Niemoller’s poem, “First They Came…”, and Elie Wiesel’s speech, “The Perils of Indifference”, both deal with the fact that indifference has many consequences. However, there are some clear differences between the two. While each work uses literary devices to portray its message, they use different devices to portray different messages. Niemoller uses anaphora, pauses, and mesodiplosis to convey a regretful, hopeless tone, and Wiesel uses parallelism, rhetorical questions, and juxtaposition to convey a more hopeful tone. Niemoller’s poem “First They Came…” has a regretful tone, and uses various devices to convey a message that if a person is indifferent, it will hurt them in the end. Throughout the poem, Niemoller repeats the phrase, “Because I was not”. This use of anaphora is useful in conveying Niemoller’s message because it shows the reasoning behind Niemoller’s apathy, but does not justify it, showing that he is regretful of his choices. In addition, Niemoller uses pauses to let the impact of his statements sink in. Every time he says, “I did not speak out,” a hyphen follows it, indicating a pause. This gives the reader time to think about how Niemoller didn’t speak out when he knew he should have. It also makes the reader feel like the speaker is taking a pause, as if to reflect on his actions. Finally, Niemoller uses mesodiplosis to show that everyone is the same. The phrase, “they came” is repeated in every stanza, and is the only phrase that is that way. This
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