Rhetorical Analysis Of Give Me Death By Patrick Henry

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Rhetoric is the building block of all things said, written, or conveyed, people use it every day – look at any piece of written text whether it be from the last century or the modern day, you’ll find rhetoric featured in at least in one way, shape, or form. To properly understand this, it is useful to look back on popular pieces of media or speeches, for example, the legendary “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”, a speech given by Patrick Henry on March 23rd, 1775 to form a volunteer cavalry to fight in the revolutionary war, which was effective in completing that task. Patrick Henry made his speech so effective through the use of his formal diction, ethics questioning pathos, and his use of ethos to express the exigency of forming the cavalry …show more content…

When it comes to Henry’s speech, he uses pathos to question the everyday norms which people would blindly follow, stating “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” (Henry 2). Explaining that most will ignore what is true, in favor of simplicity and the safety of not questioning what could be wrong but instead only caring about what they are told is wrong or right, is it morally correct to blindly follow? Or is it truly morally correct to question and point out what most would ignore, he also goes on to say “Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation?” which further the idea in the previous sentence, forcing the listeners to question not only their morals but the morals of their government, is it better to be safe than sorry or is it better to fight for what should be? This mixed with his constant mention of God furthers the morality aspect of his …show more content…

In Henry’s case, the use of a rhetorical device called ethos comes into play as a main focus of his speech — Ethos is a rhetorical device that utilizes people’s love for credibility and the idea that one will trust someone more if they can relate to someone they already know, which can include popular figures, historical figures, etc — Henry brings up the biblical figure God, specifically Christianity, which similar to modern day, was one of the most practiced religions in the U.S. – and bringing a figure of such high stature such as God himself into his speech, he gains the trust and attention of the people listening or reading his speech, an example of this being directly stated in his speech, very early on: “fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country.” (Henry 2). This sentence in particular also runs back to both his formal diction and use of ethics to persuade his audience, with the regular formality to - as previously mentioned - gain the respect of his audience, mixed into the question of whether it is ethical. To top it off, questioning if God himself would deem such a thing ethical, gives his audience a rhetorical cocktail that gives Henry the trust and respect of his audience, it also gives him credibility and brings truth to his

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