Rhetorical devices

Rhetorical devices are elements of language meant to make the speaker’s statements more memorable and to persuade the audience of the speaker’s arguments. In his inaugural address from 2009, Barack Obama frequently uses enumeration and repetition, direct address, and allusions. Other rhetorical devices used by the speaker are analogy, antithesis, parallelism, imagery, and metaph…

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Allusion

An allusion is a reference to a person or event which the speaker considers relevant to the purpose of his speech.

Barack Obama’s inaugural address from 2009 often draws on American heritage to remind the audience of American values, and because of that there are multiple historical allusions.

For example, the speech begins with allusions to the American people's ancestors and Christian Scripture, to remind American viewers of their roots and core values: “mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors”; “……

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Analogy

An analogy is a type of comparison in which the speaker associates events, people, etc. that he believes have similarities. In the speech, Obama makes an analogy between today’s American soldiers and past ones to suggest tha…

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Antithesis

Antithesis is the combination of opposing phrases or ideas to make a point about the contrast. The most relevant example from the speech is: “On this da…

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Enumeration and repetition

The speaker often relies on enumeration and repetition—which are frequently combined—to list various points and make them easier to remember, while also giving structure to his speech.

For example, the speaker announces an enumeration of various points when he says “everywhere we look, there is work to be done.” This statement is followed by a detailed list of issues America needs to reform, introduce…

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Imagery and metaphors

Barack Obama occasionally uses imagery in his speech, such as when he talks about the American Revolution using a vivid description:

In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned…

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Parallelism

Parallelism refers to situations when the speaker uses several phrases or sentences with the same structure together, like in the following two examples: …

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