Patrick Henry Speech Rhetorical Devices

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Pages: 5

On March 23, 1775, Patrick Henry, a Son of Liberty and politician, in his speech entitled “Patrick Henry’s Speech in the Virginia Convention, invigorates support for secession from Britain and the willingness to fight for freedom. He validates secession by informing the Convention that Britain is assembling navies and armies to subjugate America, that war is coming and it cannot be ignored, and finally that no efforts of peace can succeed in halting the bloodshed. Through Henry’s use of tone, rhetorical appeals, and rhetorical tools he effectively persuaded Americans to rise up against Britain.
Henry’s passionate and incendiary tone rang through America and engendered militant support for secession and war. Americans are enchanted with the
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His ethos is undeniably something martyrdom is made of as by delivering this speech Patrick Henry was guilty of sedition and would have been executed by Britain if America had not won the Revolutionary war. He admits this in his opening, “I would consider myself guilty of treason,” (1). His patriotism is indubitably proven, “No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism,” (1) even in another line he uses first person pronouns while expressing his patriotism. His credibility is further displayed, “I shall speak for my sentiments freely and without reserve.” (1) in his blunt lack of fear of the disapproval of his fellow Americans in his pursuit of liberty. Patrick Henry rains down a burning hail of logic in his Logos appeal. He outlines very clearly with the simplistic logic that Britain has intentions to bring America to its knees while speaking of the “warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land.” (3) and points out that America is the only potential opponent for which Britain is amassing armed forces as, “She (Britain) has none (Enemies).” (4). He furthers his arguments by not only proving to Americans that Britain is planning an incursion but displays the failures of all petitions and peace efforts by painfully describing all their short comings, “we have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne,” (4). …show more content…
Patrick Henry makes uses of figures of popular literature and mythology to spur America to revolution. He uses Judas the Betrayer’s famous treachery, “Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss.” (3) to allude to Americans that Britain is the same as the treacherous traitor of Jesus. He summons the beguiling, deceitful image of the siren in the metaphor, “listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts.” (2) to further the corrupt and evil image of Britain he has crafted. By aligning in Britain with foul things such as sirens and Judas he fuels the hatred for Britain in the hearts of Americans and by fanning the flames of such loathing he brings America that much closer to liberty and freedom from Britain’s rule. Patrick Henry accentuates his points with dark illustrations of peace composed with rhetorical tools. In order to encourage Americans to pursue the war one must make all other options unfavorable and he does such by contorting the dreams of peace, “Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston!” (5) with negative connotation, tying the idea of peace with Britain to slavery and chains. He continues and strengthens this image, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?” (6) by outlining peace as a deal made with the devil. Henry uses dark imagery