JFK Literary Analysis Essay

JFK used many literary devices in his inaugural address, including parallelism, antithesis, metaphor, and alliterations. These devices added a sense of rhythm and tone to his address, while helping get his message across to the audience in an easier to understand way. I would say one of John F Kennedy’s favorite devices was antithesis. His famous phrase in this speech was “ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. ” This is an example of antithesis, which is the contrasting of opposite ideas within a phrase.

Another use of this device is “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate. ” This provide an understanding of contrasting ideas for the audience. Even the first sentence in the speech can be considered an antithesis.

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“… not a victory of party but a celebration of freedom. ” This shows the old world politics vs the politics JFK envisioned, not a partisan world, but a common good of freedom being won. Another device JFK really utilized in this speech is parallelism.This device is used to strike home points to audiences, and the way he delivers these in the speech really help the audience grasp the points of his political existence.

“We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe” can be considered parallelism because of the repetition of the word ‘any’ throughout the multiple phrases. This kind of phrasing also helps the audience sort through the message a bit easier, and helps stick the message in their minds. Another device JFK uses well metaphor.

In one sentence he uses metaphor twice, saying “a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion…” These devices really help the audience visualize these issues as vivid, raw examples from the wars that were going on at the time. It was a common theme to use military examples because of the circumstances and the fact that people knew what was going on oversees. Overall, John F Kennedy uses literary devices in multiple different ways to really help expand his ideas and drive them into people’s heads in a different way than they had been presented previously.


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