Gettysburg Address Rhetorical Analysis

On November 19th, 1863, Abraham Lincoln composed one of the shortest yet greatest speeches of all time. In the midst of a Civil war, Lincoln commemorated this address with a hopeful, serious, and empathetic tone. His display of tone can best be seen when he appeals to the audience with ethos and pathos when he announces, “We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live.”

Through the speech, Lincoln never addresses the audience as “you,” instead he uses “we,” “our,” and “us,” to connect with the audience. As President of the United States he addresses the people as one collective group; there is no individual who caused the division between the North and South, however, we must come together as one nation to fix it. He connects with the audience because a majority of the audience had suffered a loss of a family member, further developing a bond between him and his audience.

His compassionate, understanding, and empathetic tone is best supported by the utilization of ethos and pathos. Another place that displayed Lincoln’s tone was in sentence 8 when Lincoln rhetorically parallels and uses a triple by saying, “But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. ” This is significant in that he tells the audience that we should not take any of these actions and that we have to look towards the future. We cannot look back on this mistake, this civil war that should never have happened.

We have to come together as a nation. Lincoln effectively uses these strategies because he hopes that since we have been conceived by liberty that we will be borne by a new freedom for a new nation that will come after the Civil War. This new nation will have a better relationship between its government and its people. Lastly, given that Lincoln had only crafted this speech on the back of an envelope during a train ride, the quality does not reflect the circumstances of its composition.

Lincoln outlined his speech chronologically: past, present, and future. Lincoln begins his speech by contrasting how our nation was “conceived in liberty,” giving life to a united nation yet currently there are many soldiers losing their life by fighting against each other. For the future, Lincoln hopes that the living will help make everything all better and construct a nation that will represent equality with a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Lincoln effectively uses a “full circle ending” in his outline. He alludes to the Declaration of Independence and the birth of our nation and concludes with an allusion to the Declaration of Independence with a reference to a new birth of freedom. The audience can see his call-to-action as he effectively analyzes the past, present, and future. His hopeful tone will hopefully inspire the living to help make our nation a united nation.

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