Inaugural Speech of President John F. Kennedy: An Analysis
The inaugural speech of President Kennedy is considered to be one of the greatest speeches in American history. In this speech President Kennedy had made use of numerous strategies that can be typified as strategies for persuasive writing. The three sections of rhetorical writing, ethos, pathos, and logos, as proposed by Aristotle, have been meticulously implemented in the speech. The amalgamation of a commanding voice with a voice revealing sympathy and hope along with the other strategies of persuasion has rendered the speech of Kennedy a uniqueness of its own.
President Kennedy started his speech with some credibility, following the method of implementing ethos. He has established the credibility by stating that he has followed the same conventional rules that had been in effect for so many years. His credibility has also been established through the projection of his legitimate responsibility to look after the betterment of the citizens of the U.S, which is at par with the responsibilities carried out by the previous Presidents of the U.S. The line, "For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago" (John F. Kennedy: Inaugural Address, 1961) is a pointer to his legitimate and official credibility.
By implementing the strategy of inclusion of pathos, Kennedy continued his speech by attracting the attention of the American public by using emotionally charged words which related the former to the significance of the speech. The line "...the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans...unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed..." (John F. Kennedy: Inaugural Address, 1961) is an example of the scrupulous usage of pathos.
Kennedy carried on his persuasion by incorporating the element of logos or logic into his speech. He logically conveyed to the American public that "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." Again through his logical approach Kennedy persuaded the people of America to provide shelter and liberty to those men/women who were stuck in communist countries. The usage of the tool of rhetoric in respect of projecting the comparison between the poor socio-economic structure of the communist countries and the prosperity of the U.S has also been practiced by Kennedy as a means of persuasion. And finally, through the use of metaphor in lines like "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you-ask what you can do for your country." (John F. Kennedy: Inaugural Address, 1961) Kennedy did successfully persuade the American public to lend him their unending allegiance in the process of making the U.S a great land to live in.