Rhetorical devices

Rhetorical devices are language tools meant to make language sound more appealing and make the speaker’s arguments more convincing. Nelson Mandela uses such devices in his inaugural speech to make connections, draw comparisons, and make his ideas memorab…

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Allusions and references

Allusions are indirect references to people, events, art, or literature that are connected with the topics the speaker explores.

For example, Nelson Mandela never mentions the apartheid regime explicitly, but makes several allusions that show his rejection of racial segregation and the discrimination promoted during apartheid: “…as we saw our country tear itself apart in a terrible conflict, and as w…

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Analogy and symbolism

An analogy is a kind of comparison in which the speaker uses one situation to describe another.

For instance, Mandela creates an analogy between South Africans and and trees -representative elements of South Africa’s natural landscape-…

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Direct address

Nelson Mandela uses direct address on various occasions to make the audience feel directly concerned with the ideas he puts forth. At first, he addresses the audience as part of the formal beginning of his speech, including different categories of people: “Your Majesties, Your High…

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Imagery, metaphors, and hyperbole      

Imagery means creating mental images for the audience through the power of descriptive and metaphorical language.

For instance, when the speaker mentions that “humanity has taken us back into its bosom” he creates the metaphor of humanity as a loving mother who embraces South Africa as her child.

In another case, Mandela us…

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Parallelism and tricolon

Tricolon refers to mentioning things in threes to create a more powerful image. There are multiple examples in the speech in which the speaker uses this device. One is: “…reinforce humanity's belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all.”  In this case Mandela wants to emphasise the effects of the first democratic electi…

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Repetition and antithesis

In the speech, you will also notice several instances of repetition which help the speaker to highlight important points and give structure to his ideas. In one example, repetition takes the form of anaphora (using the same word to start sentences): “The time for the healing of the wounds has come. The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come. The time to build is upon us.”This…

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