In the Speech to the Virginia Convention given by Patrick Henry he displays his deep understanding of rhetoric in a very persuasive speech. Patrick Henry uses ethos, allusions, and syntax as elements of persuasion in his speech. Patrick Henry begins his persuasive speech with a couple examples of ethos in his first two sentences. “Mr. President: No ma thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. In this quote, Patrick Henry is building up his credibility by, explaining that he is as much of a patriot as anyone; as well admirer of the very intelligent men who have spoke prior than him. Patrick Henry is demonstrating that he acknowledges and understands the opposition’s views so that when he contradicts them his points are valid.
“But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope that it will not to be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen, if entertaining as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. After commencing the speech by flattering the audience, he goes on to state that he does not agree with them, and in his opinion they’re mistaken. Patrick Henry initiated his speech using ethos so that the audience understands that he is credible, and his arguments are valid. Patrick Henry uses allusions to explain to his audience what is happening, as well as what the consequences were, and will be.
“We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. This allusion refers to Greek Mythology where the siren’s seductive song would lure sailors to wreck their boats on coastal rocks. Henry compares this allusion to the issue at hand which is whether to see past the British’s poor treatment of the colonists or be mindful of the truth and secede. The speaker is essentially saying to his audience that it is easy to close your eyes and be lured to what sounds promising to avoid the difficult truth. The second example, “Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. ”
This allusion is a biblical reference to when Jesus’ disciple Judas betrayed him with a kiss to the and. Patrick Henry is comparing this allusion with thee British and how they’re betraying by their poor treatment that is pushing them away. This biblical reference is also very effective because at the time most of Great Britain and the colonist were Christian and had strong beliefs in Jesus and the Bible. Henry uses allusions to show that tragedy will be inevitable unless they separate. These allusions both are used as pathos because the appeal to the audience’s emotions, they trigger a fear of a tragic ending for the colonist.
In his speech, Patrick Henry persuades his audience even further by his astonishing use of syntax. Throughout his whole speech, Henry asks a numerous amount of rhetorical questions, he does this to show his acknowledgement of the counter arguments so that he can address them and effectively contradict them. Another use of the rhetorical questions is to represent members in his audience that are either confused, or neutral. Henry recognizes the undecided members of the audience so he can answer any questions they might have, or counter any doubts.
Another purpose for Henry asking so many rhetorical questions is so that he can ironically contradict those being asked by the opposing side, The speakers use of syntax helps him create a nice flow for his speech that makes it easy for the audience to listen to and understand. In conclusion, you can see that Patrick Henry is a great writer and public speaker, his use of literary elements to persuade his audience was very effective. It’s not that hard to realize why he is considered to be one of the best writers/ public speaker in our nation’s history.