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A rhetorical device utilizes words in a certain way to convey meaning/convince and is a strategy that stirs emotions within the reader or audience. In many popular speeches, the speaker uses this strategy to cause the audience to agree with their claims or to create a feeling of fervor and intensity throughout the crowd. In the play “Julius Caesar,” Brutus makes a speech to the citizens of Rome about the death of Caesar with the intent of becoming the new ruler. He uses different rhetorical devices to convince the people that Caesar was unfit to rule and talks in a way for the people to clearly understand what he is saying. The techniques used by Brutus are present in other speeches such as John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address (January 1961) and Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech (April 1964). Three rhetorical devices used by the orators, to sway the readers are repetition, parallelism, and pathos.

One effective rhetorical device used to sway the readers in each speech is repetition. In Malcolm X’s speech, “The Ballot or the Bullet” he surveys historic and current obstacles set up to shield dark individuals from casting a ballot and proposes that if these blocks proceed, African Americans should arm themselves against dehumanizing powers. In his speech, he repeats the words “I am not here.” He does this to confirm that his audience understands his purpose is not to discuss religion or differentiate himself from others. His purpose is to discuss equality and how it can make an impact. Malcolm X repeats “human rights” quite a few times as well, to remind the crowd they have the same rights as the Causains and that they are willing to fight for their ability to vote. In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Brutus speaks to the people of Rome about the murder of Caesar and he goes on to justify his [Brutus] actions. Before he began speaking, he attempted to gain the audience’s full attention by repeating ‘Hear, Hear’. Brutus’ use of repetition was to make the people in the crowd listen and be included in his lecture. John F. Kennedy uses the device similarly when describing his intentions as president of the United States. In his inaugural address, he repeats the phrase ‘my fellow citizens’ on two separate occasions. Kennedy’s purpose was to address the citizens of the United States and create a connection with them. The first time, he says: “In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course.” The second time, he says “My fellow citizens of the world ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” Claiming his position as president, John had to gain the people’s trust and show them that they made the right choice voting for him. Using rhetorical strategies he challenged the nations to come together through peace, offering friendship and companionship. The speeches use repetition to make the crowd take away their words and remember the important points that were made.

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Another rhetorical device used in each speech is parallelism. In the play, Julius Caesar, Brutus says “As Caesar loved me, I weep for him. As he was fortunate. I rejoice at it. As he was valiant, I honor him. But, as he was ambitious, I slew him.” Brutus used the technique to neatly show how he loved Caesar, but his ambition would lead to his death. His use of parallelism made his speech effective and persuaded the people to side with him in a matter of minutes. In John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, he says “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” What he wanted to get across was the idea of unity and bettering the country together. His use of parallelism makes his quotes have rhythm & order to them, which causes the reader to think about what he says. JFK continues, “My fellow citizens of the world, ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.” This quote is similar to what he said before, but it opens a dialogue about the extent of freedom in America. In The Ballot or the Bullet, Malcolm X says, “Now speaking like this, it doesn’t mean that we’re anti-white, but it does mean we’re anti-exploitation, we’re anti-degradation, we’re anti-oppression.” This means that the rally they are holding is not to be hateful towards people of the white race but to put a stop to oppression. Malcolm uses parallelism to clarify a possible misconception people had about his intentions and builds on it by saying what he is about. The speeches use parallelism to organize ideas and to make them memorable.

A rhetorical device in each speech that evokes emotion in readers is pathos. Malcolm X states, ‘And you spend so much time barking up the civil-rights tree, you don’t even know there’s a human-rights tree on the same floor’ in his speech. What he meant by this was the administration attempts to stay away from the topic of human rights since it is a greater issue, so they attempt to keep individuals enveloped with social liberties. His use of this quote causes the audience to have feelings against the administration that attempts to divert from the greater picture. In John F. Kennedy’s inaugural speech he said, “People of the developing world were struggling to break the bonds of mass misery.’ He compared a bond to a mass misery which means that being tied is being in misery. Another metaphor he used is “the chains of poverty.” He used the metaphor as a way to describe how bad poverty in America is. This causes the audience to feel deeply upset about what is happening in their country. In Julius Caesar, Brutus says, “Had you rather Caesar were living and die all slaves, than that Caesar was dead, to live all free men?” This makes the crowd begin to open their eyes and learn how Caesar was “ambitious” and want to side with Brutus. All of the speeches use pathos to have an emotional influence on the audience.

In conclusion, the three rhetorical devices used by the speakers, to influence their audiences are repetition, parallelism, and pathos. The speakers used rhetorical devices with a specific goal in mind, to conjure up feelings inside the audience. In numerous speeches, the speaker utilizes the method of rhetoric to persuade and excite the viewers.

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