Rhetorical Analysis of Kennedy's Inaugural Address

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About this sample


Words: 619 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Mar 20, 2024

Words: 619|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Mar 20, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Context and Audience
  2. Appeals to Ethos, Pathos, and Logos
  3. Rhetorical Devices
  4. Impact and Legacy

John F. Kennedy's inaugural address is widely regarded as one of the most powerful speeches in American history. Delivered on January 20, 1961, it marked the beginning of Kennedy's presidency and set the tone for his administration. The speech is remembered for its inspirational and hopeful rhetoric, as well as its call to action for the American people. In this rhetorical analysis, we will examine the strategies and techniques employed by Kennedy to convey his message and connect with his audience.

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Context and Audience

Before delving into the rhetorical analysis of the speech, it is important to consider the context in which it was delivered. Kennedy's inaugural address took place during the height of the Cold War, a time of great uncertainty and fear. The audience consisted of not only the American people, but also the global community, including those living under the shadow of communism. This context is essential to understanding the significance of Kennedy's words and the impact they had on his audience.

Appeals to Ethos, Pathos, and Logos

Kennedy's speech is characterized by a masterful blend of ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos, or the appeal to the speaker's credibility and character, is evident throughout the speech. Kennedy, as the newly elected president, was in a position of authority and his words carried weight. He established his ethos by referencing the founding fathers and invoking the ideals of democracy and freedom.

Pathos, or the appeal to the audience's emotions, is perhaps the most prominent feature of the speech. Kennedy's use of emotive language and imagery evoked a sense of unity and shared purpose among the American people. He spoke of the "torch" being passed to a new generation and called for a "new frontier," effectively capturing the imagination and aspirations of his audience.

Logos, or the appeal to reason and logic, is also present in Kennedy's address. He presented a clear and compelling argument for the importance of American leadership and the need for global cooperation. His references to history and the challenges facing the nation appealed to the audience's sense of reason and rationality.

Rhetorical Devices

Kennedy's speech is replete with rhetorical devices that enhance its persuasiveness and impact. One of the most notable devices is parallelism, or the repetition of similar grammatical structures. For example, in the famous line "ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country," Kennedy employs parallelism to create a memorable and impactful message.

Alliteration is another rhetorical device used by Kennedy to great effect. Phrases such as "peaceful planet" and "struggle for survival" not only create a musical quality to the speech but also emphasize the importance of the ideas being conveyed.

Anaphora, the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses, is also employed by Kennedy. The use of anaphora in lines such as "Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us" serves to emphasize the need for unity and cooperation.

Impact and Legacy

Kennedy's inaugural address had a profound impact on the American people and the global community. It set the tone for his presidency and established him as a charismatic and visionary leader. The speech continues to be studied and analyzed for its rhetorical brilliance and enduring relevance.

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In conclusion, Kennedy's inaugural address is a testament to the power of rhetoric and persuasion. Through a skillful blend of ethos, pathos, and logos, as well as the use of various rhetorical devices, Kennedy was able to inspire and mobilize his audience. His words continue to resonate and serve as a model for effective communication and leadership.

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Rhetorical Analysis of Kennedy’s Inaugural Address. (2024, March 20). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 20, 2024, from
“Rhetorical Analysis of Kennedy’s Inaugural Address.” GradesFixer, 20 Mar. 2024,
Rhetorical Analysis of Kennedy’s Inaugural Address. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 May 2024].
Rhetorical Analysis of Kennedy’s Inaugural Address [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 20 [cited 2024 May 20]. Available from:
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