Barack Obama’s Victory Speech: What rhetorical devices does he use and what is the intended effect?
When Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech to thousands of Americans in 1963, nobody would have thought that one day America will be led by a black president. In November 2008, 45 years later, Barack Obama was elected as the first African American president in the history of the United States. From that day on he represented the dream come true of millions of his fellow citizens. In his victory speech, Barack Obama makes use of multiple rhetoric devices, in order to catch the people’s attention, make them strive for his goals and predominantly call for unity.
By a frequent use of the third person plural pronouns “we”, “us” and “our(s)”, Obama creates a sense of community and also puts himself on ...view middle of the document...
All of these devices, used to speak on behalf of the audience, create a strong feeling of unity.
Furthermore, Obama chooses the rhetorical devices of anaphora and epiphora cleverly. Throughout his whole speech, he repeats motivating starts and endings of sentences. Being confronted with phrases like “It’s the answer”, “Yes we can”, “This is our” and “we are one” over and over again, the audience is lead through Obama’s speech and can follow its multiple purposes more easily. Especially the epiphora “Yes we can”, which he uses towards the end of his speech, sticks in the people’s minds. By placing a problem that needs to be solved in the future beforehand, Obama conveys the feeling that everything can be solved with the combined strength of unity even more.
Additionally, Obama makes use of several climaxes. In doing so he underlines the great importance of the here and now and that changes will be made from now on: “tonight, on this day, in this election, at this defining moment”. Again, Obama includes the audience by using the pronoun “our”: “This is our moment”, “This is our time”. The climaxes also put emphasis on the fact, that changes in America will start from now on and that everyone will be part of it. Obama gives also some examples to make his plans more concrete: “.. new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair”. By giving examples, Obama makes his visions tangible for his audience.
With the help of numerous rhetorical devices, Barack Obama’s victory speech is a memorable and historically valuable one. After he successfully completed his election campaign, his prominent slogan “Yes we can” was internalized by Americans. Even if there are many challenges to face and problems to be solved, the citizens of the United States of America are keen to face them, encouraged and motivated by their President’s words. Welded together as a strong unit, the moment to lead America into a liveable nation for everyone has come.