An Analysis of Rhetorical Devices in the Declaration of Independence

Updated August 1, 2022

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An Analysis of Rhetorical Devices in the Declaration of Independence essay

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The Declaration of Independence is a work composed in part by Thomas Jefferson. The composition provides supporting details to lead to the conclusion that the United States of America is declaring their independence from Great Britain. Written in 1776, it is one of the most well-known documents in America. Jefferson uses many different devices to get his point across. Using antithesis, allusion and repetition, Jefferson plays the aspects of ethos, pathos, and logos to his advantage, which inspires his audience to do exactly what the document is written about – declare independence from Britain. Jefferson uses ethos to appeal to the audience. By using this, he forces the audience to question what the right decision would be, which leads to the audience believing that what he is saying is ethical. He uses allusion to incorporate ethos by alluding God when he says, “that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” (Jefferson, 112) This causes the reader to think about how God would be unhappy with how Britain was treating them. Pathos is displayed in this document by the many times Jefferson uses strong words such as “abolishing” and “harass.” These cause the audience to feel strong emotions, some of these negative against Britain and some positive towards independence.

Logos, or logical appeal, is used quite a lot in this document. By listing all of the ways Britain has wronged America, Jefferson enforces that Britain is in the wrong. He uses multiple instances for explanation, such as when Britain “waged war against” (Jefferson, 114) the US. By using repetition, Jefferson solidifies the fact that Britain is in the wrong. His continuous use of “He has” (Jefferson, 113 114), he being the King of England, emphasizes the number of things that Britain has done to betray America. Some of these rhetorical devices were more successful than others. For example, the repetition in “he has” is clear and distinct, and the audience realizes what Jefferson is doing, which results in them getting more enthusiastic about it. However, some rhetorical devices were used less distinctly, such as when Jefferson uses antithesis in his statement, “Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.” (Jefferson, 115) Since this use is less obvious, the audience may be less prone to agree with it. In all, this document is a great collection of many different rhetorical devices. Through the use of the three rhetorical devices ethos, pathos, and logos, Jefferson brings to life the issue at hand and offers a solution backed up by evidence and emotional input. Jefferson clearly used everything at his fingertips when writing this to make the document the most persuasive it could be. It is apparent that his intent was satisfied, since America declared independence from Britain and has been a free country for over 200 years.

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An Analysis of Rhetorical Devices in the Declaration of Independence. (2022, Aug 01). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/an-analysis-of-rhetorical-devices-in-the-declaration-of-independence/

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