Rhetorical Devices In Faulkner's Speech

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In his address to a Mississippi high school’s 1951 graduating class, William Faulkner relates universal truths about power, fear, and wisdom. Using repetition, syntax, and definition, Faulkner attempts to inspire action among future leaders in the global tension of the twentieth century. Faulkner utilizes repetition in multiple ways. Firstly, he repeats the pronoun “you”: “...you are tired, frightened; you don’t care…”. In doing this, he places responsibility on the audience, which has recently come of age. He also reminds the class that they will one day be old and experienced, as well as run out of time to act. This pressures the listener to become more engaged in their youth, and make the most of their time and ability. Later on, Faulkner uses repetition for plain emphasis. Particularly, in regards to fear, which he characterizes as the most dangerous threat to mankind and the oppressed. His use of the words “fear” and “afraid” in reference to power conveys the idea that fear is…show more content…
His definition of, “Man himself...Man, the individual,” furthers the direct interaction with each member of his audience. When Faulkner describes the, “duty and responsibility of man,” his audience understands that they are directly involved in his vision of the future. Near the end of his speech, Faulkner uses the terms “man” and “you” interchangeably, using diction to reinforce the societal responsibility of the graduating youth. Faulkner’s speech is ultimately about power. His description of the ability of youth, the importance of fear, and tyranny in general convey the different forms of power in society, as well as how it relates to young people. By repeating fear and power as important, abstract forces in the world, Faulkner hopes to prepare his audience of young adults to take action in the youth, with the understanding of their own crucial roles in
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