Philip ChooProfessor JolleyEnglish 11013 December 2017Ronald Reagan’s Speech Rhetorical Analysis On June 12, 1987 President RonaldReagan came to the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin to give a speech to thecitizens of that city. Reagan’s speech is in response to a major problem thathas affected Berlin in a terrible way. The problem is that Berlin is dividedinto two by a physical wall, East and West Berlin; however, the wall is also asymbolic barrier between democracy and communism. So, Reagan’s primary goal ofpreparing this speech is to not only convince Gorbachev to tear down the BerlinWall, but to unify Europe and to put an end to communism. In President Reagan’sspeech, he is able to effectively use ethos, logos, and pathos to persuadeGorbachev to tear down the wall and convince the German people to persevereeven stronger for the sake of their freedom from communism.
Reagan is able to effectively useethos because at the beginning of his speech he immediately establishes that heis a credible source and that he should be listened to because he is thePresident of the United States. An example of this is when Reagan says, “Twentyfour years ago, President John F. Kennedy visited Berlin, and speaking to thepeople of this city and the world at the city hall.
Well since then two otherpresidents have come, each in his turn to Berlin. And, today, I, myself, makemy second visit to your city.” By saying this, Reagan is able to effectivelyuse himself as a credible source because as being the President of the UnitedStates he is able to gain information of the state and condition of Germanyfrom the many resources that have been handed to him.
Also, by saying that hehas visited Berlin before makes him a credible source because he has actuallyseen the condition of Berlin firsthand. Another example that Reagan uses is thefollowing sentence, “We come to Berlin, we American Presidents, because it’sour duty to speak in this place of freedom.” By quickly establishing that he is thePresident of the United States and saying that it his job to go to places thathave gained freedom, he is able to prove his credibility to his audience and furtherpersuade them. Reagan makes great use of using himself as credible source asbeing the President of the United States and being an eye-witness to thecondition of Berlin. Another major rhetorical device that Reagan presentsin his speech is logos. He uses this appeal throughout his whole speech as he givescold hard facts about how democracy presents a better future, while communismis still struggling.
One example that Reagan provides is when he says, “Japanrose from ruin to become an economic giant. Italy, France, Belgium — virtuallyevery nations in Western Europe saw political and economic rebirth; theEuropean Community was founded.” This is a logos appeal because Reagan ispresenting facts about the other democratic countries and how they successfullydeveloped and flourished as a country.
Then on the other hand, Reagan goes onto describe the communist countries and how they developed. “In the Communistworld, we see failure, technological backwardness, declining standards ofhealth, even want of the most basic kind – too little food.” This fact provesto the audience that living in a communistic country leads to an unsuccessfulsociety that is struggling to move forward, while a democratic country willlead 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 betweenliving in a country that is democratic or communistic. The last major rhetorical devicethat Reagan uses to emotionally appeal to his listeners is pathos.
The speech asa whole does appeal to the audience’s emotions because it makes them feel joyand hope for a better future; however, Reagan also establishes his own emotionsthrough parts of his speech. The first example is Reagan’s ability toemotionally appeal to his audience, this is shown when he says, “Fromdevastation, from utter ruin, you Berliners have, in freedom, rebuilt a citythat once again ranks as one of the greatest on earth.” As the audience hearsthis, it invokes an emotional appeal of joy and success. After the war Germanywas in ruins, but after years of re-development and reform, West Berlin gainedtheir freedom, which enabled them to get back up on their feet from all thestruggles that were placed on them. This quote also invokes a sense of hope onthe audience because once East Berlin is free from the Communistic regime, Eastand West Berlin will once again be unified and have an even better future tocome. 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, Iaddress 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 unalterablebelief: Es gibt nur ein Berlin.
” Whenthe audience hears this, the people catch a sense of sorrow from the Presidentbecause he feels sorry for the people who are trapped by the wall in EastBerlin. This also makes the audience feel sad too because when the wall was putup, families and friends were separated from each other for many years. InReagan’s speech he effectively uses pathos to catch the audience’s attention bysaying all the successes that have happened and will happen in the future, whichinvokes an emotional appeal of joy, success, hope, and sorrow. In President Reagan’s speech, theaudience is able to fully understand his purpose for coming to Berlin. His mainpurpose was to put an end to the communism and create a more free democraticstate, while trying to persuade Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. Thereason the audience is able to understand Reagan’s purpose for his speech isbecause he successfully implements the three major rhetorical devices of ethos,logos, and pathos to further prove his credibility, propose facts to furtherprove his argument, and providing an emotional appeal to captivate theaudience’s emotions.