Rhetorical Strategies: Churchill And King Argumentative Essay Samples

Published: 2021-06-18 05:11:43
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Category: Rhetoric, Speech, Men, England, World War 2, Belgium, Appeal, Establishes

Type of paper: Essay

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Winston Churchill, in his "We Shall Fight on the Beaches" speech, and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech still stand as monumental calls to action. Both men use rhetorical strategies that underscore their persuasive abilities, and both men speak authoritatively and convincingly. However, it is King whose gift of rhetorical craft and persuasive ability outdoes Churchill, because of his balanced approach to ethos, logos, and pathos.
In both speeches, King and Churchill establish a strong foundation of ethos from the beginning. For example, Churchill is very specific about details from Great Britain's battles in Belgium against advancing Nazi forces. His specificity and particular knowledge of key aspects on the Belgian front show the listener that Churchill is a man who knows what he is talking about. He has established almost instant credibility. "The Royal Air Force engaged the main strength of the German Air Force, and inflicted upon them losses of at least four to one; and the Navy, using nearly 1,000 ships of all kinds, carried over 335,000 men, French and British, out of the jaws of death and shame, to their native land and to the tasks which lie immediately ahead" (Churchill, 3). Doubtless, Churchill establishes a firm, convincing footing with his listener, but his diction is lengthy and long-winded throughout his speech, a quality which is detrimental to the speech's message. At times, its wordiness tends to lose its listener, as Churchill recounts the details of the British evacuation in the face of certain doom by the Nazi's offensive.
Similarly, King establishes ethos with his audience by referencing President Lincoln, whose Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves. In so doing, King also shows that he knows his subject matter. By speaking about the black man's experience of injustice and discrimination, he also establishes credibility with his listeners who are presumably mostly black. "There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights" (King, 2). King is thoroughly familiar with the shame that the black man has endured.
Clearly, both King and Churchill are intelligent, reasonable men. Their appeals to logos show that their arguments are based on keen analysis of overwhelming circumstances, and a subsequent call to action based on their analyses. For instance, Churchill spends a great deal of time describing the British and French engagement with Nazi forces in Belgium -- and commends the British soldiers, especially the Air Force, for their valorous service. His persuasive ability is well-composed and rational. It is hard not to argue against the numbers he cites, and the fact that British forces were left exposed due to the Belgian surrender.
Likewise, King's rhetoric is a call for justice. He cautions, however, that the struggle for equality and democracy must not be tainted by violent protest. "We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate into physical violence" (King, 3). This rhetorical strategy has a distinctive appeal to reason. Indeed, King shows that black people must abide by reason, and not succumb to violence -- or irrational behavior in their efforts to achieve equality.
Finally, it is the pathos of King's speech that is especially appealing. He draws from a vast emotional reservoir, as his refrain echoes: "I have a dream" His message is not obscured by wordiness or potentially lost due to inattentiveness. His sense of pathos is both urgent and concise. He keeps his language simple and clear, thus avoiding the possibility of losing the listener's interest. "We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality" (King, 3). This aspect of his pathos is especially appealing because of its relevance to today's tragic police shootings.
Both King and Churchill show excellent command of rhetorical strategies. However, whereas King is short and pithy, Churchill is long-winded and overly-detailed. Churchill's speech is mired in lengthy stories, whereas King keeps his speech brief, but also gives it a sense of appealing emotional momentum. Moreover, King's speech is as relevant today at it was in 1963, and its emotional refrain has become a mantra for all generations -- both black and white.

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