Patrick Henry “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” Speech Rhetorical Analysis Essay
Throughout Patrick Henry’s “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” speech in 1775, the arguments about the unfair ways that the colonies were living through under the British were depicted in prolific and influential writing style. The ending of the British Crown’s exploitation of the thirteen colonies, as well as Patrick Henry’s and many other American colonist’s revolutionary ideas were encouraged and elaborated through the speech. Various rhetorical devices such as anastrophe, parallelism, and allusion was used in the speech to provide logical appeals to the ‘sir’ who is King George.
Patrick Henry uses anastrophe in the beginning of his speech to display the emotions felt in deciding whether or not, as a colonist, should he/they should go against their ‘majesty of heaven’; He applied rhetorical devices like anastrophe to support the subject of ‘freedom or slavery’. Patrick Henry starts off with a nice warming tone, furthermore then transfers on to a more demanding tone. Specifically for creating the impacting statement towards the audience, in describing the fury and anger one as a colonist may feel as living under King George’s rule.
Anastrophe is presented to emphasize the hesitation Henry had when deciding between fighting for his rightful rights or continue to be loyal to King George, that he considers as his ‘majesty of heavens’. “Should I keep back my opinions at such a time through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty towards the majesty of heavens, which I revere above all earthly kings. ” Allusion is created in these few sentences: “Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. we are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of the siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty. ” Mr. Henry uses this usage of allusion to allow the reader to think that he’s trying to go against the King. It’s similar to the example of Prometheus going against his master Zeus. It also refers to how Circe attracts men to her island and turns them into monsters, that sends a message concerning how the British is doing the same as Circe.
The British is luring the colonists with false hope, then turning them into slaves of their command. In addition to allusion, Patrick Henry provides the feelings colonists feel through Parallelism as a rhetorical question. “Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.
” The use of the rhetorical question isn’t actually going to be answered, instead, he’s trying to get the audience, in particular, his fellow colonists, to keep in mind about being able to know the truth, the real truth. He wanted to stop the colonists from being blinded from the real truth, to stop allowing the British to brainwash them, and to come into reality of what actually is going on. Having the ability to know about the truth motivates Henry so much that he shall strive for it no matter what it shall cost him (Patrick Henry).
Patrick Henry then emphasized a metaphor to appeal ethos to the audience, “I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. ”; this quote allows one to see the comparison between the common experience of the function of a lamp to the way experience can guide one into the future. Patrick Henry demonstrated through allusion, how the colonists are trapped in the British’s trap. He’s trying to let the colonists understand the change over the past ten years on how they, the colonists, had allowed the British and “Crown” to control and ‘puppet’ them.
“And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House… it will prove a snare to you feet. Suffer not yourself to be betrayed with a kiss…” This appeal of pathos was also proven through how vile and horrid the British were towards the colonies. ‘Snare to your feet’ was used to represent the trap that the British had set up to catch the delusional colonists.
The colonists were also misled through being fed with false hope, in addition, the petitions that the colonists wished for were basically ignored and thrown to the side. He stated: “Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. ” Patrick Henry had also supported that thought through “Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. ” In which, he’s basically trying to say that the colonists have been trying to get the British to enforce change politely, however the ‘Crown’s’ reply wasn’t pleasant.
The British had just ignored them repeatedly. The colonies have tried anything to achieve a change, options such as petitions, furthermore, those efforts were lead to the act of avoidance from their ‘majesty of heaven’. This meant that Patrick Henry had wanted his fellow colonists to understand that their last resort is war, and they have to fight back. In which, “ Sir we have done everything that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. ” supports that thought. This metaphor with the literal storm and war demonstrates that this storm shall be major and life impacting.
In addition, their rage from having their petitions ignored and rejected only leads to the more reason why they should fight back; “Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. ” Patrick Henry also calls for action, mentioning that they need to fight for their freedom, because it won’t be presented to them on a silver plate. “… we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight!
An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us! ” Despite their invulnerability to the British, if they wish for liberty, they must fight for it. In addition, the only ones that could help them gain their independence and rights are themselves because no one will fight their war for them. However, if they leave the British to do as they please, then the colonists will really become slaves and prisoners of the British. “There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! … give me liberty or give me death!
” Pathos is being depicted through these last few words, as well as parallelism, to elaborate the emotional connection so that the colonists would understand that Patrick Henry would rather die, than live without liberty. It also compares the two subjects of liberty or death; either a chance of liberty in the war against great Britain or death, basically which meant that they would be living under British rule as slaves and not having freedom. Overall, Patrick Henry had elaborated through his speech the purpose to raise a militia, to defend the colonists form the unfair ruling of the British.
He raised this issue towards his fellow colonists mainly to try to gain their support in fight the war against Great Britain, their ‘majesty of heaven’. Through the entire speech, Patrick Henry had used various rhetorical devices, such as parallelism, metaphor, anastrophe, and pathos, to support his idea about having the revolution. The impacting line towards the end of the speech “… but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! ” emphasizes the subject and what the colonists should fight for.