Rhetoric Examples

Rhetoric

When someone uses language to effectively argue a point, or uses language to effectively impress an audience, it is called rhetoric. Speakers and writers who employ rhetorical speech often make use of rhetorical devices, such as repetition or rhetorical questions.

Examples of Rhetoric:

In his "I Have a Dream" speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. makes effective use of repetition as a rhetorical device, when he repeats the phrase, "I have a dream":

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today!


In addition, to the effective use of repetition, Martin Luther King, Jr. makes use of allusion as he references the idea of the "American dream" and quotes the Declaration of Independence.

He further makes use of figurative language, as he describes the metaphorical table of brotherhood and the "heat of oppression" that will become an "oasis of freedom" (implied metaphor of Mississippi as a desert).


In his Sonnet, "Death Be Not Proud," John Donne makes effective use of rhetorical devices, including the personification of death and a rhetorical question, as he addresses Death:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee

Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;

For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow

Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.

From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,

Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,

And soonest our best men with thee do go,

Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.

Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,

And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,

And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well

And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?

One short sleep past, we wake eternally

And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

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