Rhetorical Analysis/ Gettysburg Address Essay

On November 19, 1863 Abraham Lincoln gave a reverent and humbling speech for the soldiers who had given their lives at the battle of Gettysburg for the reform and advancement of the country. He states that the brave men who here gave their last full measure of devotion” should be highly esteemed for the sacrifice they made. Lincoln establishes his ideas through the usage of rhetorical devices such as, an appeal to ethos, parallelism, and juxtaposition.

Lincoln never uses the words “I,” or “you,” to address his audience, but instead uses “we,” “our,” and “us,” to establish ethos and connect with the audience — the North and the South.

He repeats these words through out the entire speech, using similar diction to tie the whole piece together. The phrase “… a final resting place for those who here gave their lives…” demonstrates the use of ethos, as well as pathos, since the vast majority of the audience had suffered the loss of a family member, further developing Lincoln’s bond with the audience.

The use of ethos had a strong effect on the audience, yet the use of parallelism is used at pivotal moments of the speech. When Lincoln states “we cannot dedicate – we cannot consecrate –  we cannot hallow” the parallelism brings the clauses together, which is intended to make a heavy emphasis for the unification of the divided nation. The dashes within the parallel statements create intensity.

The use of juxtaposition is constant through out the piece, to create imagery Lincoln compares life and death . The words “conceived,” and “new birth,” give the living aspect of the text, which later shifts to death using words “unfinished work,” and “last full measure of devotion”.

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