April 24th, 2018
“Rhetorical Analysis of
Obama’s Second Inaugural Speech”
In Former President Barack Obama’s 2013 inaugural speech, Obama uses many rhetorical devices to make sure the audience understand and comprehend what he foresees for the nation. As he takes the stand for his inauguration speech, he stands there for a brief moment, waves at his audience, and thanks them for having elected him. He begins slowly, gradually acknowledging the Cabinet, from the VP, then Chief Justice, the Congress, guests, and finally the citizens of this great nation. With an introduction as composed as this, we as the audience can see he was not only calm, but also very well prepared for the presentation.
As he begins his speech, he uses his prose to give the audience a sense of security, and that he will guide the nation in the right direction. He refers back to some of the most important documents in history, the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence. Using the Declaration to show unity, and reinforces this throughout his speech by not using the pronoun “I”, but rather uses “we”, including himself as a citizen, and not the President. As he continues saying how certain things are self-evident in this world, however we must work together to become a great nation. By including everyone in the actions and efforts that Obama plans to do, he is building his ethos.
However, even though the inclusion of everyone builds his ethos, it also builds pathos throughout his speech. The more Obama includes the audience, the more they embrace what he says. He repeats certain phrases to build the audience up and give the audience a sense of purpose to fight and reinforce his message. By referring to era’s in which people were not given their rights; such as Women’s Rights, LGBT Rights, Black Rights, Obama calls to the nation to make the decisions necessary in order to truly make the phrase “All men are created equally.”
Another aspect of Obama’s speech that provides the audience with excitement would be how when he is about to make a point, Obama begins slowly, and then adds energy and speed to his sentences building up to the point. Once he is ready to say his point, he pauses, allowing everyone to fully grasp what he says.
Obama not only provides us with goals to attain as a nation, he also shows the audience humility to try and ease any opposing minds that may not have voted for him. He brings up having not completed everything he set out to do in his first term, and that even now, having been elected for this term, will still not be over. That it will be the duty of not only him, but of every future leader of this country as well as the nation to attain its goals.
Just as Former President Barack Obama began his speech, Obama uses repetition throughout his conclusion to emphasize his point. One example is referring back to attaining “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” and his reference to the Declaration of Independence. The use of repetition in his conclusion is most clearly seen when he recaps his points by saying “Our journey is not complete until…” That one powerful phrase riles up the audience because he touches on issues that are important to them, such as Gay Rights, Immigration, and Women’s Rights. Lastly, by repeating “You and I” he reinforces the aspect of his speech that stands out the most. That he is not any different from the audience, and that together we can eventually embody the phrase “All men are created equal.”