Philip Choo

Professor Jolley

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English 1101

3 December 2017

Ronald Reagan’s Speech Rhetorical Analysis

            On June 12, 1987 President Ronald
Reagan came to the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin to give a speech to the
citizens of that city. Reagan’s speech is in response to a major problem that
has affected Berlin in a terrible way. The problem is that Berlin is divided
into two by a physical wall, East and West Berlin; however, the wall is also a
symbolic barrier between democracy and communism. So, Reagan’s primary goal of
preparing this speech is to not only convince Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin
Wall, but to unify Europe and to put an end to communism. In President Reagan’s
speech, he is able to effectively use ethos, logos, and pathos to persuade
Gorbachev to tear down the wall and convince the German people to persevere
even stronger for the sake of their freedom from communism.

            Reagan is able to effectively use
ethos because at the beginning of his speech he immediately establishes that he
is a credible source and that he should be listened to because he is the
President of the United States. An example of this is when Reagan says, “Twenty
four years ago, President John F. Kennedy visited Berlin, and speaking to the
people of this city and the world at the city hall. Well since then two other
presidents have come, each in his turn to Berlin. And, today, I, myself, make
my second visit to your city.” By saying this, Reagan is able to effectively
use himself as a credible source because as being the President of the United
States he is able to gain information of the state and condition of Germany
from the many resources that have been handed to him. Also, by saying that he
has visited Berlin before makes him a credible source because he has actually
seen the condition of Berlin firsthand. Another example that Reagan uses is the
following sentence, “We come to Berlin, we American Presidents, because it’s
our duty to speak in this place of freedom.”  By quickly establishing that he is the
President of the United States and saying that it his job to go to places that
have gained freedom, he is able to prove his credibility to his audience and further
persuade them. Reagan makes great use of using himself as credible source as
being the President of the United States and being an eye-witness to the
condition of Berlin.

             Another major rhetorical device that Reagan presents
in his speech is logos. He uses this appeal throughout his whole speech as he gives
cold hard facts about how democracy presents a better future, while communism
is still struggling. One example that Reagan provides is when he says, “Japan
rose from ruin to become an economic giant. Italy, France, Belgium — virtually
every nations in Western Europe saw political and economic rebirth; the
European Community was founded.” This is a logos appeal because Reagan is
presenting facts about the other democratic countries and how they successfully
developed and flourished as a country. Then on the other hand, Reagan goes on
to describe the communist countries and how they developed. “In the Communist
world, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards of
health, even want of the most basic kind – too little food.” This fact proves
to the audience that living in a communistic country leads to an unsuccessful
society that is struggling to move forward, while a democratic country will
lead to a society that will continue to keep moving forward with success.
Reagan’s use of cold hard facts to clearly show the major differences between
living in a country that is democratic or communistic.

            The last major rhetorical device
that Reagan uses to emotionally appeal to his listeners is pathos. The speech as
a whole does appeal to the audience’s emotions because it makes them feel joy
and hope for a better future; however, Reagan also establishes his own emotions
through parts of his speech. The first example is Reagan’s ability to
emotionally appeal to his audience, this is shown when he says, “From
devastation, from utter ruin, you Berliners have, in freedom, rebuilt a city
that once again ranks as one of the greatest on earth.” As the audience hears
this, it invokes an emotional appeal of joy and success. After the war Germany
was in ruins, but after years of re-development and reform, West Berlin gained
their freedom, which enabled them to get back up on their feet from all the
struggles that were placed on them. This quote also invokes a sense of hope on
the audience because once East Berlin is free from the Communistic regime, East
and West Berlin will once again be unified and have an even better future to
come. Another example of pathos that Reagan uses in his speech is when he says,
“To those listening in East Berlin, a special: Although I cannot be with you, I
address my remarks to you just as surely as to those standing here before me.
For I join your fellow countrymen in the West, in this firm, this unalterable
belief: Es gibt nur ein Berlin.” When
the audience hears this, the people catch a sense of sorrow from the President
because he feels sorry for the people who are trapped by the wall in East
Berlin. This also makes the audience feel sad too because when the wall was put
up, families and friends were separated from each other for many years. In
Reagan’s speech he effectively uses pathos to catch the audience’s attention by
saying all the successes that have happened and will happen in the future, which
invokes an emotional appeal of joy, success, hope, and sorrow.

            In President Reagan’s speech, the
audience is able to fully understand his purpose for coming to Berlin. His main
purpose was to put an end to the communism and create a more free democratic
state, while trying to persuade Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. The
reason the audience is able to understand Reagan’s purpose for his speech is
because he successfully implements the three major rhetorical devices of ethos,
logos, and pathos to further prove his credibility, propose facts to further
prove his argument, and providing an emotional appeal to captivate the
audience’s emotions. 


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