Rhetorical Devices

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Writers use rhetorical devices to help enhance their literary compositions. These devices are found in everything from short stories, to novels, and even poems. They are thoroughly incorporated into Elie Wiesel's Hope, Despair, Memory and Dr. Martin Luther King's Letter from Birmingham City Jail. The rhetorical devices used in Wiesel's speech and King's letter emphasize the idea that one cannot remain neutral in the face of oppression. Rhetorical questions, similes, and repetition are several of the abundant devices that can be located in these remarkable works. Rhetorical questions are very frequently used devices, especially in these two oeuvres. A rhetorical question is a question in which there is an obvious answer, no answer, or is the argument the speaker intends to answer later. These are abundant throughout both pieces. For example, Wiesel says, "How could we ever understand the passivity of the onlookers and - yes - the silence of the Allies?" (Wiesel 2) Wiesel is stating that it is unbelievable that people with good morals, and people who knew better than to let this evil take place, just stood by and did nothing to stop it. Being a bystander while witnessing such a tragedy, and doing nothing about it, is almost as cruel as committing the crime. Rhetorical questions are also plentiful in King's letter as he continues to write: What kind of people worship here? Who is their God? Where were their voices when the lips of Governor Barnett dripped with words of interposition and nullification? Where were they when Governor Wallace gave a clarion call for defiance and hatred? Where were their voices of support when bruised and weary Negro mean and women decided to rise Burkett 2 from the d... ... middle of paper ... ...se helps the audience understand that it is unjust to standby and watch cruelty like this happen. Also, after such a tragedy, it should never be repeated in history. In King's letter, he uses the repetition of the word "when" (King 3-4) to show that until you have experienced the injustice of segregation, it is not fair to scorn the impatience of the African-Americans to receive their rights. These techniques really guide to author in conveying the topic and emotion in a work of literature. In both Wiesel's speech and King's letter the rhetoric devices help to develop the theme that one cannot remain neutral while encountering the oppression of others. Not only is this idea suggested to their specific audiences, but to the world. Just one small stand against a bully can make a huge difference to someone. Take a stand against oppression today. What is the first step?
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