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Imagine being a soldier in a great war, and some of your comrades have been shot down, and there they lay: Dead. Wouldn’t your spirits be lowered? This was the story of the soldiers in the Civil War who watched their friends die and couldn’t do anything about it. On November 19, 1863, the United States was in the middle of a war between the north and the south. This marked the turning point of the way things were ran at that time and it became the symbol of hope for many people who just wanted to be free.
Abraham Lincoln, Former president and also a general in the war, gave a speech to uphold and encourage the spirits of the weary soldiers in his army. The speech was called the Gettysburg Address. Lincoln was very specific and delicate with his tone in order to encourage the weak, acknowledge the deceased, and motivate the detoured.
Lincoln begins his speech by speaking about the past in which the founding fathers established this country in equality. " Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." This was very important because that was exactly the opposite of what was going on in this country during that time. America in the late 1800s was a time of slavery. That was one of the main reasons the Civil War was declared.
Lincoln then continues on to speak of how the war being fought was a test to the nation. " Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure." Lincoln used the word " we" several tines in his speech in order to promote a sense of unity, one of the themes of this speech, and to show that he acknowledges the soldiers as a team. " We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of it, as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live. This we may, in all propriety do." Lincoln makes a big rhetorical shift in the middle of his speech talking about the nation as a whole, and then focusing on the soldiers in general.
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Lincoln’s revady of the speech is two hundred. I believe it was this short because Lincolns audience was the soldiers and he knew that they were tired, weary and discouraged. He wanted to find a way to awaken that drive that hey once had for fighting in the war, because many of the soldiers during this time were taking their things, packing up and leaving to go back home because they jus didn’t want to deal with the stress of the war, the fear of dying and the responsibilities that came with the position.
The use of life and death in this speech showed Lincolns technique of antithesis and an extended metaphor all in one phrase. Lincoln’s repetition of life and death referred to the living and the dead soldiers, and to the living and the dead nation. “ It is rather for us the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us – that form these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom,” Lincoln honors both the living and the dead soldiers. “ … Us the living, we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion-.” He also uses life and death to symbolize the death of the old ways of the nation and the birth or life of the changes that come about after the war. The battle at Gettysburg was an important one for Lincoln and his soldiers because this was the (first out of a long time) battle that they had won. So in a way it was encouragement in itself.
In the ending part of his speech, Lincoln repletion of the word “people” to express tha fact the government functions by the people. Without the people, there is no nation. That goes back to the theme of unity. “ … And that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” Lincoln’s tone goes from sentimental, humble and reverent triumphant and encouraging.
This speech is one thing that contributed to the well being of many of the citizens of America today. Lincoln’s audience was the soldiers, but the effects and the benefits spread down to us and marked us and people to come as “ future reapers of the Gettysburg Address”.