Plea For Mercy Speech

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In May 1924, two boys, Nathan Leopold Jr. and Richard Loeb, sought to commit the perfect crime: kidnapping and murdering their 14-year-old neighbor, Robert Franks. However, instead of executing the perfect crime, they are apprehended the following day and sentenced to receive the death penalty. Their parents hire a defense attorney to represent Leopold and Loeb in court named Clarence Darrow, who made one of the most influential and well-known speeches against the death penalty: “A Plea for Mercy.” Darrow utilizes historical references, logical and emotional appeals, anaphora, and persona, to convince the court not to employ the death penalty for Leopold and Loebs’ case. Darrow succeeds by showing relationships between past wars and contemporary…show more content…
He suggests that “all of us have a share in it. I have mine. I cannot tell and I shall never know how many words of mine might have given birth to cruelty in place of love and kindness and charity” (64-65). Darrow shows sincerity in his beliefs and owns up to the part he had in these boys’ upbringing through society. By establishing the fact that he is not insulting the court or trying to rationalize murder, Darrow can clearly show he is only trying to stop the court from giving these children an onerous burden they will have to endure--until their deaths. Darrow continues with, “if I should succeed, my greatest hope will be that for the countless unfortunates … I have done something to help human understanding, to temper justice with mercy, to overcome hate with love” (68). Darrow gives the insight he is not doing this only to be paid, he is presenting his argument in the hope of keeping future generations from the gallows. Darrow’s candor and finesse makes the judge take him seriously and thoughtfully consider his arguments. Through Darrow’s persona, the audience believes he is doing this out of the goodness of his heart, and if he can see these killers’ worth, they should be able to as
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