The Declaration of Independence had a single purpose – to declare America’s freedom from Britain’s tyranny. Thomas Jefferson crafted a strongly worded document that served this purpose but it was almost lost in the multiple styles he used. The declaration was intended to communicate the lofty ideals and sacred dreams of the citizens of the United States. Throughout the declaration, Jefferson’s style shifts between formal and informal. At first, his diction is both elegant and personal. In the second part, he turns his criticism of the King and of England up to full blast. By the third section, he is resolute but bitter in his tone. Eventually the different styles of language and tone come together and balance the document that would ultimately declare the freedom of a new nation.
At the beginning of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson’s language is elaborate and elegant. He uses long flowing sentences filled with philosophical concepts, like ‘Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness,’ borrowed from John Locke’s ideas regarding the Natural Rights of Man. His choice of words like ‘self-evident’ and ‘unalienable’ makes the Declaration formal yet he still communicates a very personal message to his audience. When he states, “We hold these truths to be self-evident,” this phrasing shows that Americans believe, like Jefferson, they have rights that are absolute. Also, the term “self-evident” shows that there is an awareness of perspective held by Americans of their value or worth which is not understood by the British. Words like ‘usurpations’ and ‘despotism’ are graceful words that describe graceless situations where the British have behaved in a way well beyond their authority over the col...
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...ance to the British Crown.” Here, they are not only receiving independence from British rule, but they are also receiving many other powers -- such as the power to levy war. Within the last lines of third section, there is a great sense of self-confidence in the spirit of the American people.
Many people think that change occurs only by some great physical effort like war. However, the Declaration of Independence caused change by using words. It stands as the most significant statement this country could ever make in establishing their own identify as a separate people and culture. In the end, Jefferson gives this new world a strong and resolute voice about their future and their goal to become a great nation. Although layered with different styles, Thomas Jefferson’s writing is clear in its purpose and unequivocal in its expectations.
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