Rhetorical devices

“The Gettysburg Address” by Abraham Lincoln is remarkable through the use of rhetorical devices like allusion, antithesis, and tricolon.

Rhetorical devi…

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Allusion

An allusion is a reference to an event, a person, or literature that the speaker finds relevant to the issues he explores.

Lincoln begins his address with a double allusion: “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.’”

The use of the…

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Antithesis

The speaker frequently uses contrasts in his address, also known as antithesis. Contrasts are known to attract audiences and to make them pay more attention to what speakers are saying as they move back and forth between opposing ideas.

One example of antithesis is: “as a final resting place for those who died here, that the nation might live.”. This is a powerful contrast between life and deat…

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Imagery and metaphors

Although the speech is short, Lincoln successfully uses metaphorical language to create imagery a couple of times. The speaker associates the nation with a child, creating a personifying metaphor: “…our fathers brought fort…

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Repetition

Repetition is used to make ideas and points more memorable and create a more appealing sound effect. For example, the speaker uses the word “here” seven times in the speech to emphasize the importance of the Gettysburg battle for the Civil War.

He also uses the personal pronoun “we” eleven times to give the audience the impression of shared experiences, val…

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Tricolon and parallelism

The tricolon (also called triple or triad) is a rhetorical device through which speakers list or name three things or actions in a row. The tricolon is meant to add power to words and make them memorable.

One example is: “But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow, this ground.”. This tricolon emphasizes th…

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