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Abraham Lincoln

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Autor:   •  May 18, 2011  •  2,515 Words (11 Pages)  •  332 Views

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When thinking about oneÐ'Ѓfs own rhetoric, it is interesting to note the many ways in which one interacts with the audience, make connections, and form that relationship that is crucial to oneÐ'Ѓfs success. For example, when I make a presentation, standing up in front of all the classmates in Rhetoric class, I am also trying to make that very same connection. Ethos plays a large role when speaking before an audience. Right at the very moment of speaking to the audience, I am forming ethos with the classmates and professor because I am speaking about a particular area we share interest.

To be an effective speaker, Michael J. Hyde (2004) stated that speakers must Ð'Ѓgunderstand human character and goodness in their various forms.Ð'Ѓh (Hyde 38) By using ethos as a connecting line, a bridge forms between the speaker and the audience. This bridge is one of understanding and relation. Hyde further explains that Ð'Ѓgdetermining the audienceÐ'Ѓfs beliefs is the key to successful adaptation in terms of building credibility. In this way, ethos dwells not only in the speaker, as Plato and Isocrates would have us believe, but also in the audience.Ð'Ѓh (Hyde 6) Sharing this responsibility connects the audience and speaker.

Abraham Lincoln is one of my favorite historical figures of all time, and I read a number of publications on him whilst studying at universities in Japan and England. Especially of my interest are the speeches he made throughout his political life, with each single word uttered through his mouth overwhelmingly powerful but extremely persuasive, convincing and above all intriguing. Through doing my research for this final paper, Abraham Lincoln has proven to be one of the most well-known and influential rhetoricians of all time. LincolnÐ'Ѓfs ethos was truly reflected through the many speeches he made throughout his career. It became clear that he adjusted the development of this ethos depending on the audience in which he was speaking. He found it useful and powerful to relate to his audience on levels they were familiar. This ability of LincolnÐ'Ѓfs made it possible for him to form connections that other rhetoricians of his time were unable to do, therefore making him more successful. Lincoln made it an obligation to relate to his audience in different ways so that they may better appreciate his character and the contributions he desired to make on their behalf.

In this final paper, I would like to prove LincolnÐ'Ѓfs ability to use ethos in order to appeal to his audience. This rhetorical critique will focus primarily upon his ability to construct himself as a peer to his audience through his use of pronouns, appealing to their religious sensibilities, and providing humor they can all share. Rhetorical analysis and criticism will be given to LincolnÐ'Ѓfs Lyceum Speech, Lincoln-Douglas Debates, The Cooper Union Address, The Gettysburg Address, and The Second Inaugural. Not only will these texts assist in the proof of this thesis, but reference to other material that has been constructed based upon this same argument will be analyzed and used in order to further prove this thesis.

I will begin this rhetorical critique by proving Abraham LincolnÐ'Ѓfs use of pronouns as a way of constructing himself as a peer to his audience. I will utilize several of his works beginning with the Lyceum Speech. When looking closely at the Lyceum Speech, given by Abraham Lincoln, pronouns are particularly noticeable throughout the speech. In the speech, Lincoln states, Ð'ЃgIn the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the American people, find our account running under date of the nineteenth century of the Christian era. We find ourselves in the peaceful possession of the fairest portion of the earth as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climateÐ'Ѓh ( Lyceum Speech). The pronouns noted in this section (we, our, ourselves) truly exemplify LincolnÐ'Ѓfs ability to relate to his audience. He uses these pronouns as a way of constructing himself as a peer to the audience. He wants to relate to them on a similar level so that they may all feel connected. This ability of his is a demonstration of his ethos. At the time that this speech was given, Lincoln was not considered a prestigious individual; therefore this speech works to establish that reputation that was needed to further expand on his political career. This reputation that he was building, helped the audience trust the words that he had spoken to them.

Further in the speech, Lincoln poses a series of questions for the American people to think about. He asks, Ð'ЃgHow then shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the ocean and crush us at a blow?Ð'Ѓh (Lyceum Speech). As Lincoln speaks to his audience, he makes it clear that he is one of them. He wants them to understand that he looks at himself on an equal level. He does not give off the impression that he feels superior. This technique of LincolnÐ'Ѓfs was quite useful and worked to his advantage. It increased his reputation amongst the American people, which is a crucial step to take as a politician.

The way that Abraham Lincoln used pronouns to construct himself as a peer can also be seen in his speech, the Cooper Union Address. Harold Holzer makes apparent in his book, Lincoln At Cooper Union, that Ð'Ѓgfor more than twenty paragraphs he will now show, as he neatly seizes the high ground of the argument with a triplet of possessive pronounsÐ'ЃcLincoln always strove for such rhetorical constructionsÐ'Ѓh (Holzer 124). The following passage taken from the Cooper Union Address demonstrates how Lincoln utilizes these pronouns. Ð'ЃgWe must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do not let them alone.Ð'Ѓh Through this statement, Lincoln utilizes pronouns to construct the idea that he and those in the North must work together as a collective whole. He is not depending solely on them to fulfill the satisfaction of making sure the South does not think they are going to let them get away with the expansion of slavery, but rather that he is equally responsible for taking control of the situation.

The Gettysburg Address can be looked upon as one of the most well-known speeches given by a politician. At this particular time, Lincoln had already become president, but what is so remarkable is that despite his superior status in society, Lincoln still manages to keep himself on the same level as the American people. Lincoln states: Ð'ЃgNow we are engaged in a great civil warÐ'Ѓcwe are met on a great battlefield


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