Rhetorical Analysis of Speech John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Speech

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John F Kennedy delivered one of the finest speeches on January 20, 1961 after being sworn into office. His inauguration speech was so powerful that it captured the entire nations attention, and quotes from it are still remembered by people today. It is one of the finest speeches ever written. It provides a strong appeal to pathos, ethos and logos, and it is because of this that people who never heard the speech can quote lines from it.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th president of the United States. He graduated from Harvard, and joined the navy. He worked as a reporter before entering the political arena. He later wrote “profiles in courage” which won the Pulitzer Prize Award. Being that JFK was the youngest president to ever be in office there is no doubt that he encountered a lot of skepticism. This speech had many purposes but most importantly it gave him positive recognition. The inaugural address was written to encourage the American public to get actively involved with their country. It also reassured them that it was not a contest that he won but rather chance at a beginning. This speech reassured the voters that they made the right choice and informed a country that they were going to see some changes.

The inaugural speech was structured so that it flowed. There is a lot of comparison and contrast in the first paragraph of the speech. 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, 1961) There is also some cause and effect in the paper. I think that this is to be expected because of all the discussions on war. He made it sound like because it was our moral responisibility we should go to war. These are the only two main structures that are used through the entire speech but they are used so well that it is not lacking substance with the lacking of structures.

“If a free society can not help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”(Kennedy, 1961) Statements such as these demonstrate how Kennedy appealed to the citizens by simply using reason. The use of logos in his speech was minimal compared to the use of pathos, and ethos.

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