A rhetorical analysis is “a form of close reading that uses principles of communication, and it is aimed at evaluating” how an author engages an audience using a text (Johnstone, 2008, p. 23). A rhetorical analysis can be prepared for many kinds of texts, shows, movies, and other forms of communicative media with the goal of making statements to the targeted audience. This paper presents a rhetorical analysis of Barack Obama’s March 18 speech.
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The ” Barack Obama’s March 18 speech is one of the most important speeches ” that focused on race (Clark, 2008, para. 1). It is interesting to learn that the orator has been willing to say things in public regarding race. Thus, the thesis statement of the speech revolved around making the US a better nation by fighting racism and promoting co-existence of people from different races.
The context of the speech was reassuring white voters that they did not stand a chance to lose anything based on a statement of a renown Black American Pastor. At the time the speech was presented to the audience, America was preparing to hold presidential elections. Obama was keen on being elected, but he felt that the statement of the Rev.
Wright could negatively impact his election bid. The address could not have come at a better time, bearing in mind that there was a heated debate on electing the first Black American to the presidency. It is worth to note that the current president of the US is known for his excellent communication skills.
As mentioned above, Obama focused on addressing white voters so that they could be sure that they could not be segregated from Black Americans when Obama could be elected. He achieved his objective by combining various communication principles, which were selected and applied to the address in an efficient manner. One of the best rhetorical patterns used by Obama was an allusion, which he used throughout the speech.
For example, he started the address with “We the people” to create a union with the audience (Clark, 2008, para. 7). It is notable that he used quotes from the US Constitution, which showed that he understood and respected the American Constitution. Another form of allusion is demonstrated in how he mentioned the word “democracy” that implied that he acknowledged the importance of upholding democracy in the nation.
The pattern of parallelism is also evident in the speech. It has been “argued by some scholars that the pattern of communication” helps orators to make different messages memorable (Johnstone, 2008, p. 87). In this context, equal terms are applied to communicate similar ideas. In one instance, Obama used “five parallel phases in a collection of 43 words” (Clark, 2008, para. 12). The speech used the pattern of autobiography to reflect on the challenges that are faced by the ordinary people.
However, Obama did it better by reminding the audience that he came from a Black American family, yet he did not despise some people based on their races. The argument proposed by the orator in the address appealed to the audience and informed people that he was also a Black American who was keen on protecting the US Constitution and maintaining institutions that promote democracy in the nation. The speech worked effectively since he received votes from people of all races to become president of the US.
Clark, R. P. (2008). Why It Worked: A Rhetorical Analysis of Obama’s Speech on Race. Web.
Johnstone, B. (2008). Discourse analysis. Malden, MA: Blackwell.