Rhetorical Analysis Of Robert Kennedy's Speech

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Robert Kennedy’s speech was given during a campaign rally in 1968, he broke the news to a crowd of supporters that MLK had been killed. This speech was analyzed through a PDF copy of the text.
The purpose of RFK’s speech is to inform the audience of MLK’s death, create a sense of comfort and calmness. RFK includes a quote from the poet Aeschylus “In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our despair, against our will comes wisdom through the awful grace of God”(24-30). RFK used this quote to say people may want to stay angry and bitter, but anger will eventually be replaced with wisdom and understanding no matter how much they try to fight it. Kennedy recognizes his audience as Americans, but especially
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In this line, RFK is obviously referring to his brother JFK and implies that he is no stranger to death. The words “white man” show he is addressing the African American community since MLK was killed by a white man, and they were affected the most by MLK’s death. Kennedy’s medium is a speech because it provides a strong sense of intimacy. Kennedy takes advantage of this intimacy, with a direct call to action: “So I ask you tonight to return home, to say a prayer” (35). RFK urged his audience to return home peacefully rather than lash out violently. RFK takes an optimistic stance, he states: “What we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion to others” (32-33). This quote recognizes the impact of MLK’s death, and advocates for the audience to act peacefully because RFK still believes in the civil rights movement.The tone throughout the speech is honest, instead of cowering away from the idea of revenge he confronts it. For example, he says “For those of you who are black ­­considering the evidence evidently is that there were white people who were responsible ­­ you can be filled with bitterness… and a desire for
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