Rhetorical Analysis of John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address President John F. Kennedy delivered a speech that fueled the hearts of Americans during times of hardship and uncertainty. Kennedy’s usage of rhetorical devices gives his speech the empowering and resolute tone necessary to evoke the emotions of his audience and sway their motives to agree with his own. Kennedy’s usage of asyndetons in his speech facilitate a more intense atmosphere, allowing his words to hammer even harder at the ears of his audience.
Speaking of his generation of American citizens, “ … born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage …” This list provides a connection between Kennedy and the American people that is greatly intensified by Kennedy’s usage of asyndeton. Another notable appearance of asyndeton in Kennedy’s speech is, “Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty. Kennedy’s usage of asyndeton here adds more energy to the speech by abruptly moving from one item to the next. This also places a greater emphasis on the items mentioned, as they are separate from every other item due to the lack of conjunctions. Asyndetons played an essential role in Kennedy’s speech by allowing him to add greater emphasis on the elements in his lists, and by giving his speech a faster, more powerful tone. With the greater emphasis on elements and the faster, more powerful tone, Kennedy was able to evoke the emotions of his audience and persuade them to follow his cause.
Kennedy’s usage of anaphora in his speech provided a means of separating his points so as to place greater emphasis on each individual point, while still tying all of the points together due to the similar starting lines. In paragraphs six through ten, Kennedy repeatedly starts his paragraphs with, “To those …” By separating his points into multiple paragraphs he was able to place a greater emphasis on his topics than he would had he combined them into one paragraph.
However, by using anaphora and beginning each paragraph with the same line, he was able to unite all of his paragraphs as being similar. Kennedy also uses anaphora in paragraphs fourteen through seventeen by beginning with, “Let both sides … ” This allowed Kennedy to add greater emphasis to his points by giving them some separation, but still retain that his points are all concerning the same nations.
The separation of key points in his speech gave Kennedy’s words a greater emphasis, ultimately allowing him to convince his audience to join in his views and goals. In conclusion, John F. Kennedy made use of several types or rhetorical devices in his speech that allowed him to persuade his listeners to agree with his views. Of these rhetorical devices, his use of asyndeton and anaphora play the largest role in persuading his audience, and their usage allowed Kennedy to place a greater emphasis on his words and appeal to the emotions of his audience.