Rhetorical Analysis of Bill Clinton's Speech

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In this speech, ‘If Martin Luther King Were to Appear’, Bill Clinton is using a rhetorical question aimed at the American people to create the message that Americans in general have done a better job in treating people with equality, but if MLK were to return he’d overall still be disappointed with the current state America is in and how America still needs to change for the better. This speech was given to a group of 5,000 ministers but was aimed towards the American population. In this speech Bill Clinton uses the technique of anaphora a couple of times to make sure that he is emphasizing the point he is trying to make in his message. An example of this is: “So in this pulpit, on this day, let me ask all of you in your heart to say: we will….” (MacArthur, pg.498). As seen ‘we will’ is repeated many times as a sense of hope that America really can be changed for the better if everyone were to put an effort in.

Another example: “You did a good job, he would say, voting and electing people…” (MacArthur, pg.494-495). In this quote he is again continuously repeating ‘you did a good job’ to reinforce the fact that the progress the US has made so far is could, but they could still do even better. Besides using repetition, he also uses Pathos a couple of times so he could maybe in a way connect emotionally to his audience. An example: “Told me a story of visiting the family of a young man who had been killed – eighteen years old…” (MacArthur, pg. 495). Bill thinks that through saying a sad story of how an innocent African American was killed due to ruthless racism it may make Americans see that there must be change for the better of their country.

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Another example: “And two people were after him, and they chased him in the car, and they just kept shooting…” (MacArthur, pg.495-496). Right after Bill uses these two examples of pathos, he then tries to reinforce it by using ethos. “The other day on the front page of our paper, the nation’s capital…” (MacArthur, pg.496). He is using this to try and sound fair to the American people and use the expertise he has. To top off this effort he uses logos through a fact he mentions, “more than 37,000 people die from gunshot wounds in this country every year”. He is using this to try to convince the groups of people that mainly pay attention to facts. Bill Clinton was not successful in what he was trying to do looking at how many black people are being racially profiled by the police in this country I would say not. It was still a very bold move because he stood up against everyone else and he tried to solve an ongoing problem for good.

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Rhetorical Analysis of Bill Clinton’s Speech. (2023, March 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 20, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-bill-clintons-speech/
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Rhetorical Analysis of Bill Clinton’s Speech. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-bill-clintons-speech/> [Accessed 20 Jun. 2024].
Rhetorical Analysis of Bill Clinton’s Speech [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Mar 01 [cited 2024 Jun 20]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-bill-clintons-speech/

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