Rhetorical Devices In Patrick Henry's Speech

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“Speech to the Virginia Convention 1775” By Patrick Henry, he argues that Americans have no choice but to take up arms against the British by reminding the country’s leaders of their failed attempts at securing peace and liberty in the past and by confronting them with their current position of danger in the face of the inevitable British invasion. The charged speech delivered at the Virginia Convention on May 23, 1775, is in fact, riddled with antithesis, among other rhetorical devices. By presenting two polar opposite scenarios, Henry challenges his audience to think about their situation, and take action against the great evil that is Great Britain. Henry delivers his most famous line, “Give me liberty or give me death!” Henry makes it clear…show more content…
Henry introduces it with an appeal to logos: “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience.” Henry looks to the betrayals and failed attempts at peace in the past to make assertions about the future of the colonies. Henry tells his audience not to be deceived by Great Britain’s false promises or bullied by Great Britain’s lack of challengers. He even compares Great Britain to Judas Iscariot, the infamous betrayer of Jesus, when he tells his peers to “suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss.” Because the colonies were so revolved around religion, this allusion is extremely successful in making an enemy of Great Britain. Now that the enemy has been clearly established, Henry introduces a series of rhetorical questions aimed to his audience such as: “Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years.” The rhetorical questions prompt the audience to connect the issues that Henry is calling to light to their own lives. There is a high chance of these connections because the attendees called the very convention Henry is speaking at to debate solutions to the problems that Henry is calling to light; once made, these connections it will give Henry more credibility. Henry then goes on to explain more terms that the colonies have exhausted by saying, “We have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have petitioned.” Through this repetition of every attempt at peace that the colonies tried in the past, Henry conveys the tedious and unsuccessful peaceful measures that the colonies have taken in the past. Logically, the next step must be “the storm which is now coming on.” This drawn-out antithesis of past and future functions as Henry’s transition to his stance on the actions that the colonies must

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