Rhetorical Analysis of JFK's Inauguration Speech

John Fitzgerald Kennedy delivered one of the most important American speeches after being sworn in as president on January 20, 1961. His inauguration speech was so influential that it seized the nation’s attention, and quotes from it are still clearly remembered by people today. It is considered one of the best speeches ever written and ever delivered. It presents a strong appeal to pathos, ethos, and logos and accomplishes what any speaker strives for – it speaks straight to the heart of the audience and inspires people.

John F Kennedy was the 35th president of the United States and at 43 years old he was the youngest president to take office. Because of his youth, he stumbled upon much skepticism from his opposition and even a little from his supporters. Kennedy’s inauguration speech was so vital because he needed to make a quick and powerful first impression to America and to the entire world. The address was written to encourage American citizens to get involved with their country and with the issues of the time. This speech reassured the voters that they made the correct choice and informed the country that changes were on there way.

The inaugural speech was arranged so that it flowed easily from start to finish. The first paragraph contains many uses of comparison and contrast. For example, “We observe today not a victory of a party but a celebration of freedom—symbolizing an end as well as a beginning—signifying a renewal as well as change”(Kennedy par 1). There are also examples of cause and effect in the speech. I believe that this is to be expected because of all the deliberations over war. Kennedy used these techniques to make it sound like it was our moral responsibility we should go to war. These are the two basic s...

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...commitments and his plan. By reiterating common knowledge, Kennedy has his audience reflect on known fact in order to drive his message home.

In conclusion, this speech was structured beautifully. Its use of figurative and expressive language makes it an unforgettable speech. Kennedy does a great job of using pathos, ethos, and logos to reiterate his commitment to the American public as well as discuss expected changes. Given the state of the world at the time of his inauguration, the decision to rely so heavily on pathos and ethos was a wise one which got the job done. His use of the rhetoric triangle effectively conveys Kennedy’s plan for America to not only her citizens, but to the world.

Works Cited

Kennedy, John F. “Inaugural Address.” Reading Literature And Writing Argument. Ed. Leah Jewell. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education Inc, 2005. 622- 625.
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