Gettysburg Address Essay

Roughly twelve score and ten words would epitomize the world’s view on Freedom, Liberty, and the futility of War is inconceivable except for the fact that it IS the Gettysburg address and delivered by Abraham Lincoln.

Though it is futile to try and decipher the beauty of the speech, it is pertinent to make some observations about the qualities that have made it an all time classic example of brevity and spirit.

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The speech has a melodic flow, almost a lyrical quality to it.  Cold facts and sentences are avoided. Instead the human emotions attached to each event or political stand are focused upon. The words used are commonplace keeping in view the audience of the event.

It is important to look at the length of the sentences employed by Lincoln in the speech. It is a kind of magic to observe that this highly influential speech is not even 10 sentences or 300 words in length. The aim of the speech was pretty clear and that was to acknowledge the past, explain the present and set the tune for the future, not in the short term, but in the long term for all posterity (which is possible only for statesmen and not politicians)

The first sentence that gives the background for the United States as was envisioned by the founding fathers is of decent length, hardly 30 words. In subsequent two sentences, which are also of similar length, Lincoln acknowledges the Civil war that threatened the very concept of United States of America and how the war seems to have ended with heavy losses, which has to be regretted.

Then comes a watershed sentence that “it is fitting” to do so. This shortest sentence of the speech sets the tone for the fact that the speech is not a delivery aimed at tha particular occasion, soon to be forgotten.

The next two sentences are two contrasts (“Can not consecrate”- “have consecrated it”) of staccato length.

The next staccato sentence (another contrast “little note or long remember”- “can never forget”) that is used as the launch pad for the future related oration.

The penultimate is a short sentence but beautiful in its grace and as poised as an eagle about to take flight.

The last and the longest sentence is the ultimate epitome of freedom and a plea to take inspiration from the valiant deeds of the soldiers of any hue who ever put down their lives for their country. In this sentence, the idea of Freedom, the greatness of Lincoln or the vision of Democracy (depending on what the reader is seeking out) takes its majestic uninterrupted flight and to this day, these words define, glorify and inspire the ideal of Democracy in the four corners of the world (surveying the world like the symbolic American Eagle).

The variation in the length of the sentences of this short (yet, great) speech aid in the almost lyrical quality and dispense of long explanations by creating an emotional symphony (which compensates for any explanation and helps in instant identification of the direction and the vision of the speaker)

It is ironic that the speech itself (in one of its contrasts) inversely predicts the permanence of the speech. How very true.

 

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