This analysis of William Churchill’s “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” speech is inspired by the rhetorical pentagram model. Below you will find a short overview of the main points in our analysis.
In what follows, we look at the topics of the speech – the evacuation of British and French troops from Dunkirk, the warning of a possible Nazi invasion in Britain, and the goal of victory and Britain’s resolve to achieve it.
We present the speaker and his position as the British Prime Minister in the context of World War II and, more specifically, of “Operation Dynamo”, and how these aspects influence the way he relates to the audience.
We also examine the audience – both those who were present in the House of Commons and those who became aware of its contents later.
We analyse how the speaker uses language tools to achieve his intentions. Most of Winston Churchill’s speech is characterised by direct argumentation, as the speaker expresses his ideas in a clear and straightforward manner.
We discuss the circumstances of the speech, looking at World War II and at “Operation Dynamo” at Dunkirk.
Lastly, we explore the speaker’s intentions to inform the audience about the rescue operation at Dunkirk and about the state of the country, to warn about a possible invasion of Germany in Britain, but also to inspire a sense of hope and unity in the audience, and to announce that Britain will seek victory no matter the circumstances. We then connect these intentions with the language tools he uses, the circumstances, and the topics of the speech.
You can read the full analysis of the speech in the next pages.