Sites about Rhetoric
may know the difference between a simile and a metaphor, but what about
catachresis and aposiopesis? Choose at least five of the figures
of speech defined on the American rhetoric Web site ( http://www.americanrhetoric.com/rhetoricaldevicesinsound.htm)
and see if you can identify them in Martin Luther King Jr.’s or John F.
Kennedy’s speeches. For example, what figure of speech does King use
when he says, “we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check”?
Compare King’s “I Have a Dream” speech (http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/Ihaveadream.htm) with his “Beyond Vietnam—A Time to Break Silence” speech (http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.htm).
How do these speeches differ in arrangement, tone, style, and delivery?
How did the setting (both physical and historical) have an important
impact on the way these two speeches were delivered?
Now listen to John F. Kennedy’s Civil Rights Address at http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/johnfkennedycivilrights.htm.
Make the same comparisons between King’s “Dream” speech and Kennedy’s
Civil Rights Address, but this time focus on audience. How did the
audience of these two speeches differ, and how was the delivery shaped
to reach that audience?
Malcolm X’s “The Ballot or the Bullet” speech (http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/malcolmxballot.htm)
was delivered on Easter Sunday in 1964 at the Audubon Ballroom.
Comparing Malcolm X’s speech with King’s “Dream” speech is an
interesting study in content and form (see “Content/Form” at http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/silva.htm).
You may know that the content of Malcolm X’s speech differs from the
content of King’s, but what about form, or how the content is
delivered? See if you can find both similarities and differences. (For
more background information on Malcolm X and the speech, see
to Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, and to Franklin Roosevelt’s and Ronald
Reagan’s (see links below). Can you identify specific conventions that
these speeches follow? What is the structure of each speech? Consider
the historical context of each of these speeches, the physical setting,
and the audience to which each was addressed (use both www.historychannel.com and www.pbs.orgfor more information). How did these variables affect the way these speeches were delivered?
John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address:
History Channel Web site has this online companion to its series on
JFK, which includes rare photos, video footage, and background
information about the events taking place during his presidency: http://www.historychannel.com/jfk/.)
Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address:
Ronald Reagan’s First Inaugural address: