An Analysis of Barack Obama's Speech 'The Great Need of the Hour'

Baseer, Abdul; Alvi, Sofia Dildar
January 2012
Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research in Business;Jan2012, Vol. 3 Issue 9, p617
Academic Journal
This paper explores the art of the use of rhetorical devices and linguistic spin in Barack Obama's popular speech, 'The Great Need of the Hour' (2008). While Obama's linguistic spin has been investigated through transitivity systems given by Halliday, the use of his rhetorical devices has been approached through Aristotle's three-stage model of Ethos, Pathos, Logos. The analysis and interpretation explores the means through which he became successful in persuading the masses assemble around him. These rhetorical and linguistic features have been used as tools for analysis as these are connected to the ideational function, fairly appropriate for the analysis and interpretation of political language. In this speech, Obama stressed the need of brotherhood, personal responsibility, and social justice among the African-American community in the United States of America. Olive (2008) declaring this a remarkable address at Martin Luther King's Ebenezer Baptist Church opines that Obama wonders if the African community in America sticks honestly to the message of humanity that Dr King preached. This paper shows that Obama uses the elements of Ethos and Pathos in his speech quite recurrently and employs material processes of action and event as well as mental process of affection to physically congregate the people around him. It seems that he is much fascinated in using circumstance of location, both spatial and temporal, and circumstance of reason to make his words more objective and dependable.


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