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Why Revolution Was Needed: Analysis of T. Paine’s and P. Henry’s Speeches

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Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry are both considered the modern fathers of rhetoric, within the contemporary, rhetorical essence. Both of these influential men delivered memorable, effective speeches; these speeches – both arguing the necessity of revolution – employ heavy use of basic rhetorical tools to assist in inspiring a revolt against the tyranny of King George III. Primarily, both men, to achieve the common goal of motivating the public, utilize the tools of repetition, parallelism, aphorism, and analogy to convey their similar claims for the need of public revolution. Paine, within “The Crisis, Article 1”, focuses more on aphorismic appeal to the public, and leans on heavy use of personal analogies, thus leading to a more emotional appeal. Henry, within his speech given at the Virginia House of Burgesses, focuses more on repetition, and parallelism to convey his powerful claim of revolution against tyranny, thus leading to an emotional and logical appeal to the audience. Both men successfully capture the essential need for change within their society, as well as transcend the very public issue of abuse, from tyranny, to the very private issue of manifest destiny.

Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry, though differing slightly in choice of rhetorical tools, share the same basic claim within their speeches; to achieve social and religious freedom, the American people must revolt against the “tyrannical” influence of King George III. Both orators strongly reject the idea of “compromise”, and insist the only long-lasting solution to escape the tyrannical hold of British monarchy lies rooted within revolution. Though both utilize similar claims, different rhetorical tools are employed throughout each speech. Henry primarily utilizes effective use of repetition, insisting he possess “but one lamp by which his feet are guided”, which “is the lamp of experience”. This “lamp” serves as the altruistic, motivated spirit of American dream, compounded by oppression of monarchy. Henry continues his speech by employing inclusive pronouns, serving the purpose of uniting the public, through use of repetition – “we are weak”, “when will we be stronger”. Paine, naturally, appeals to the common man through effective use of aphorism, which gravitates substantial rhetorical success from the expository statement of his speech – “These are the times that try men’s souls”. By targeting the “souls” of the common man, Paine effectively rallies the American people to consider revolution against “the enemy”, British monarchy.

Paine and Henry both continue to develop their ideas through individual rhetorical devices; their audience remains the common man of America. Henry’s attitude becomes more aggressive throughout his speech; he condemns the relaxed attitude of some citizens, and utilizes parallelism to solidify the initial claim of revolution. Henry’s inflammatory tone questions the public, who, “having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not”, and appeals emotionally by paralleling the innate abilities of man’s sight and hearing. Paine, conversely, utilizes strong analogies to sway the common man, emotionally, by implementing strong analogies throughout his speech. Paine accuses the British of being a “thief that breaks into my house, burns and destroys my [property], and kills or threatens to kill me”, due to the British soldiers violating basic laws of privacy by invading homes, raiding businesses, and creating a sense of an “individual villain” – the monarchy of Britain.

The two, timeless, rhetorical speeches given by Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry have survived the test of time, again, and again. Their immortal words will forever echo amidst the cries of Revolution, and the eternal freedom of the American man. By employing effective use of repetition and parallelism, Patrick Henry strategically navigates, emotionally and logically, through the mentality of his audience, probing them to revolt against evil. Thomas Paine implements multiple aphorisms and analogies, which naturally appeal to the emotional state of being of the common man. Both orators successfully convey their individual claims of the importance and necessity of freedom, and achieve rhetorical success as a result of their powerful arguments. Thus, in the immortal words of Patrick Henry, men without intrinsic desire will “indulge in the illusions of hope”, and “shut their eyes against a painful truth”.

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Why Revolution Was Needed: Analysis of T. Paine’s and P. Henry’s Speeches. (2018, December 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved January 29, 2022, from
“Why Revolution Was Needed: Analysis of T. Paine’s and P. Henry’s Speeches.” GradesFixer, 11 Dec. 2018,
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Why Revolution Was Needed: Analysis of T. Paine’s and P. Henry’s Speeches [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Dec 11 [cited 2022 Jan 29]. Available from:
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