Patrick Henry’s Persuasion

Patrick Henry was successful in persuading the colonists to form a revolt against the king through the “Speech in the Virginia Convention” by using rhetorical questions and repetition. Rhetorical questions are questions that are asked without anticipating an answer. Patrick Henry uses several rhetorical questions throughout his speech to make the people reflect amongst themselves. An example of a rhetorical question in his speech is “Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?”(Henry). He asks if they are going to hope for the king to treat them fairly and wait until they are enslaved to take action. For this quote, Henry uses pathos, which is the persuasive technique that targets the audience’s emotions. This makes the audience want to fight to protect their freedom instead of hoping for the best. Another one of Henry’s many rhetorical questions is, “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?”(Henry). Although it was clear he was not expecting an answer, Henry asks the people if keeping peace is more important than fighting for their freedom and preventing slavery. This quote uses ethos, which is the technique that targets ethical appeals. By using this quote, Henry shows that he certainly believes it is only right that they fight for their freedom from Britain. This informs the people of what is right and what should be done in order to prevent slavery. Patrick Henry effectively conveys his point by using rhetorical questions to get the audience thinking.

Another persuasive device Patrick Henry effectively uses is repetition. Repetition is the restating of words or phrases in order to add intensity. Patrick Henry repeats himself several times in order to emphasize parts of his speech he feels is important and should be remembered. An example of repetition in Henry’s speech is, “We must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight!”(Henry). Patrick Henry uses repetition of this phrase in order to show how important it is that the people fight against Britain for their rights. He uses the persuasive technique of logos, because it shows it is only logical that the people fight. The people become inspired by his enthusiasm and repetition. This is another way Henry has incorporated reiteration in his speech, “Let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!”(Henry). In this quote, Henry is saying that the war is inevitable and they should just let it come. This uses the persuasive technique of ethos because the Henry is telling the crowd that it is only right if they allow the war to come. The people understand his reasoning through his repetition and are encouraged to allow the war to happen. Patrick Henry uses reiteration in order to emphasize important thoughts on a specific topic. The success of Patrick Henry’s“Speech in the Virginia Convention” was made possible through his use of persuasive devices, including rhetorical questions and reiteration.


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