Language Arts Honors
November 7, 2013
Rhetorical Devices in Obama’s Inaugural Address President Barack Obama has a strong affect over the general public though his use of the rhetorical triangle, pathos, logos and ethos. He uses pathos to pull at the heartstrings of Americans. The president also strategically uses ethos to give credit to multiple things that support his thoughts as the leader of the United States. Logos are slipped in every now and then to link the logical side to the emotional side. One of the better rhetorical devices Obama uses is pathos. Pathos is present most, out of all the rhetorical devices used in his inaugural address. In the first paragraph of his address, he mentions that by being Americans, not by who we are or where we came from, holds us together. “We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional -- what makes us American -- is our allegiance…” (Obama, 1) and this makes everyone, every race, color and religion feel included in this country. During his speech, the president states that freedom is a gift from God, but can only be carried out by the humans He put here. “For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.” (Obama, 1). He uses pathos by including God to get his point across that no matter what religion you are, your God has called upon you to carry out the intended plans. In the very same sentence he also shows the rhetorical device logos. For history is self-evident but never self-executing. This makes people start thinking; he is right, anything that has ever happened in history was not self-executing. We are the ones who carried out the plans. That is the logical side along with the emotional side that gets to people with religion. “The commitments we make to each other through Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security, these things do not sap our initiative, they strengthen us.” (Obama, 2) gives the logical explanation because he backs up the commitments with Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. These things don’t make our government/economy weaker, they make it much stronger. “They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great” (Obama, 2). President Obama has a limited range of logos in his inaugural address, but when he uses it, he accomplishes it very well. He also achieves that same goal with his multiple uses of ethos.
He refers to our founding fathers and the constitution that we live our lives by. “That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared,” (Obama, 2) offers a sense of security by using a credible source that the country is founded on, the Constitution. “Our brave men and