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Rhetorical Analysis of John Lennon's 'Imagine'

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‘Imagine’ presents the argument by John Lennon that world peace is a necessity. This song has become a large part of pop culture, Lennon proves his argument through the use of several different examples of throughout history. He uses rhetorical strategies like ethos, pathos, and logos. ‘Imagine’ is a song about a better world, he sings of peace, equality, and love.

The song’s lyrics contain several references to war, such as “imagine there’s no countries/ it isn’t hard to do/ nothing to kill or die for”. This line shows Lennon’s opposition to war and fighting. Because Lennon was such a well-known musician and was known for being vocal about his opinions, the release of this song made his political views, even more, acknowledged. This feeling from the fans reflects Lennon’s strong sense of ethos. Because they gave and still give Lennon support and promote it so positively, it strengthens his legitimacy. On another note, he again establishes ethos in one of the later stanzas. The line “imagine no possessions/ I wonder if you can” at first seems very contradictory.

The language that Lennon uses in ‘Imagine’ is very straightforward, yet at the same time holds ambiguities. Throughout the song, he suggests that the listener should “imagine” what he envisions, and hopes that he can convince them to then also share them. The repetitive line “you may say I’m a dreamer... but I’m not the only one” is seemingly very open-ended. However, this ambiguity only adds to Lennon’s ethos. It shows his confidence in the fact that he can change the world with his music.

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In the first stanza, the opening line of the song alone is very powerful: “Imagine there’s no heaven, it’s easy if you try, no hell below us, above us only sky”. This evokes much thought from the audience and invites them to think of a world that is foreign to them, and then to imagine the consequences of said changes. Therefore, this creates a strong sense of pathos.

Lennon adds to this sense of friendship and togetherness later in the song with the short phrase “a brotherhood of man”. This creates a bond between Lennon and his audience, the phrase is easily applicable to life because it strives to unite humanity as one, rather than dividing it by wars and other man-made difficulties, according to Lennon. His ability to have such relatable lyrics also contributes to his strong sense of pathos, because it creates a feeling of unity. One of Lennon’s most powerful rhetorical strategies in ‘Imagine’ is his sense of pathos.

John Lennon’s rhetorical argument vying for world peace in his song ‘Imagine’ is very effective. Lennon’s argument is effective because it is applicable in many areas other than world peace, and all generations and types of people can relate to his argument. All of the song’s components correlate to successfully relate his argument to the world. John Lennon was an incredible musician and used his talents to argue his views in his works, and ‘Imagine’ is a great example of how music can truly impact society.

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Rhetorical Analysis of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 4, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-john-lennons-imagine/
“Rhetorical Analysis of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-john-lennons-imagine/
Rhetorical Analysis of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-john-lennons-imagine/> [Accessed 4 Mar. 2024].
Rhetorical Analysis of John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2024 Mar 4]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/rhetorical-analysis-of-john-lennons-imagine/
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