This analysis of the speech “A House Divided” by Abraham Lincoln is constructed around the rhetorical pentagram model.

In the next few pages, we will examine the topic of the speech - the political debate over slavery in the US - and the way the speaker associates this with political treachery and division.

We will present the speaker, Abraham Lincoln, focusing on his reputation at the time of the speech, and on how he tries to present himself with the speech. We will consider the audience of the speech, which is formed by the members present at the Republican Convention, but also by the wider American public and Democratic politicians, whom the speaker mentions in his address.

We will discuss the language the speaker uses, looking at choice of words, the use of rhetorical devices like irony and allusions, and modes of persuasion like ethos and logos.

We will explore the circumstances of the speech, considering the anti-slavery debate in the US, but also the Senate race between Lincoln and his opponent, Senator Stephen A. Douglas.

We will focus on the speaker’s intention of sending a warning to US society and the political class about the consequences of the division created over slavery, of criticizing and accusing certain politicians of a pro-slavery conspiracy, and of discrediting his opponent, Senator Stephen A. Douglas.

You can find the full analysis of Abraham Lincoln's speech in the next pages!