In her 2004 eulogy honoring former US president Ronald Reagan, former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher distinguishes Reagan as not only a great president but a great American and man. By shedding light on Reagan’s ability to unite a previously divided nation, Thatcher describes Reagan’s leadership and character through figurative language to lighten the mood when discussing the difficult tasks that he faced without corrupting the country. Thatcher also establishes diction in her piece to illustrate how Reagan’s personality played a major role in defining him as a president.
Thatcher asserts “We have lost a great president, a great American, and a great man, and I have lost a dear friend.” She repeats the word “great” in order to emphasize the extent how which Reagan was truly a great president and emphasize his character. By repeating this word, she creates contrast and shifts from a professional tone to a personal tone that shows Thatcher’s personal relationship with the former president by calling him a “dear friend”. Margaret Thatcher also shows the reader a personal side of the eulogy when she calls him, “Ronnie”. By calling him this nickname, it allows the reader to see the close relationship that they had: it shows the depth of their conversations and how well she knew him. It also strengthens her credibility by calling him Ronnie, because it shows how accurate the information she expresses is and also allows the reader to trust her. She also establishes her authority over the rest of the audience by announcing her closeness with the president enough to be able to call him a friend. This also comes again when she says “As Prime Minister, I worked closely with Ronald Reagan…” There Thatcher establishes her credibility as more than a bystander to Reagan’s work. This all adds to Thatcher’s credibility as someone who is honest and sincere about her recalling of the optimistic man that will be missed by all.
Using pathos, Thatcher pulls at the hearts of the audience of disheartened Americans and allies of Reagan to bring respect and sadness to the loss of such a great president. She uses powerful language to describe Reagan such as: “cheerful and invigorating presence,” and “freshness and optimism”. These descriptions contribute to the legacy Thatcher has painted in memory of Ronald Reagan.
In the next paragraph, Thatcher juxtaposes Reagan’s jokes after an assassination attempt, “were evidence that in the aftermath of terror and in the midst of hysteria, one great heart at least remained sane and jocular”. The contrast of “terror” and “hysteria” with “sane and jocular” contributes to the words that will sit with the audience and remember Reagan as the opposite of hysterical. This strengthens the audience’s fondness for Reagan and their grief through diction and juxtaposition. She also uses figurative language as she states “[He invited] enemies out of their fortress and [turned] them into friends.” This language specifies how he could draw his enemies in and engage them to resolve conflict which solved problems efficiently.
Thatcher also summarizes Reagan’s accomplishments and goals in order to remind the world of his effectiveness as president. She states Ronald Reagan “sought to mend America’s wounded spirit, to restore the strength of the free world, and to free the slaves of communism”.