Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death, 1775

In 1775, Patrick Henry tried to convince the colonists of Virginia, who were the most powerful, wealthiest, and a substantial population in the colonies, not to wait to talk or negotiate a peaceful resolution to the aggressiveness of the British toward the colonies. In Patrick Henry’s iconic speech “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death,” he stood up to the Virginia colonists with a speech that came from his heart and mind.  Patrick Henry explained to his listeners that the British soldiers were coming for war and not to negotiate.

Patrick  Henry appeals to the minds and hearts of colonists to believe that freedom is worth the price of one’s life. Subjugation is not an option. Without liberty death is preferable.  Without personal power there is no life.  When there is no power over personal choices, there can be no life of one’s own.  Patrick Henry exclaims the powerful statement “Give me liberty or give me death!” (Patrick Henry) is an example of parallelism because it’s a repeated use of grammatical structure in the sentence (Give me).

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  Patrick Henry is crying out to the Virginia colonists that if he will not be able to have freedom he would rather die.  Patrick Henry’s demand for freedom required him to decide to go down fighting for it.  Patrick Henry firmly declared “There is no retreat but in submission and slavery!  Our chains are forged!” (Patrick Henry) is a statement of imagery because it paints a clear picture of continued slavery beneath the feet of the British crown.  Patrick Henry did not want to just negotiate like the Virginia colonists insisted upon doing.  He was willing to fight for his freedom and was willing to explain that to the colonists.  Where there is no independence there is no life. Allow me to have my own rights or let me rest in peace.

  Without the rights that automatically come with living your own life there would be no life at all.  Patrick Henry asks the salient question “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?” (Patrick Henry)  can be categorized as pathos because it is emotional because many people have a strong hatred against slavery.  Patrick Henry is a thorough voice to the Virginia colonists, helping to decide if living is really worth slavery at the time or is it better to just die fighting for freedom.

  Patrick Henry continues to explain that the British will not allow them independence.  Patrick Henry proclaims “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.” is a form of allusion because it refers to the song of the siren.  Patrick Henry inquires the colonists to open their eyes to the truth that the war had already begun.  He is certain that the stalling by the British will lull the colonists into a false sense of hope and peace, just like the siren song until it’s too late and the colonists will become like animals mastered by the powerful British.

Entitle me to my human rights or let me die. Patrick Henry’s electrifying final words, “give me liberty or give me death!” (Patrick Henry) confirms that a just freedom can be held securely only by those who are willing to risk everything to preserve it.  His speech showed a powerful spirit of courage.  Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, stated that courage is a virtue that faces death for a good cause.  Henry’s words were delivered in the classical style of public speaking motivated the colonists to go to war against the British.  He was convincing that it would be necessary to fight and risk death in order to remain free.


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