Rhetorical Analysis of Donald Trump’s Inaugural Speech

Rhetorical situations precede the occurrence of rhetorical analysis. Therefore, getting a proper understanding of the rhetorical analysis can assist in the analysis of the text. Identification and the analysis of rhetorical situations help one compose writings that meet the needs of the audience, takes care of a given setting, and effectively conveys the intended message (Rush 12). The rhetorical situation constitutes five basic elements. The first one is a text, which is the actual communication. Second is the author/ speaker − this is the person making the communication. Then there is the audience, who are the addressees of the communication. Purpose entails different reasons: there is communication between the authors and the audience. Finally, a setting is a place, time, and environment under which the communication is passed across.

Rhetorical Analysis

In his inaugural speech, Trump employs the effective use of the three categories of proof that are centered on rhetoric. The speaker makes exclusive reliance on the use of pathos. A critical observer would repeatedly note that Trump loses credibility during his inaugural address (Rush 17). For example, his speech gives one the impression that Trump is part of the average or poor population when in the actual sense he is a billionaire. He further manipulates the emotions of the audience when he successfully manages to cast himself as an outsider who is not part of the establishment and is seeking to overturn the exploitative traditions of the establishment, yet by taking the oath of office, he has become part of the establishment. That is based captured when he says: “For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost.”

The speaker also effectively applies the use of logos in his speech through the application of populist sentiments. Nearly all his sentences have the word ‘we’ and ‘together.’ This was meant to appeal to the audience that he has come to liberate them from all the problems they faced. For example, just after introducing former presidents present, he begins using his populist phrases. “We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people. Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come. We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.”

Trump also uses a sarcastic tone when addressing the audience because he wanted to pass a specific message to his supports and rivals. He chides the immediate former President Obama when he says that time had come when the people will have to take the leadership of the country themselves as opposed to relegating it to the few individuals based in Washington. The statement meant that previously, the ordinary people had no say in the political decisions of their country despite being the sovereign owners of the nation. “January 20th, 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation.”

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Trump uses an appealing voice in the speech to seek or secure the approval of the crowd ostensibly for political reasons. Throughout the speech, the tone of his speech is meant to specifically appeal to the emotions of the audience, who are his supporters. The crowd does not disappoint because every statement he makes is followed by cheers.

On top of that, the author also uses a solemn attitude when delivering the speech. Throughout the speech, he uses strong and solemn words to denote that a time for change had truly arrived. Statements like “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” Further, to be overly solemn in that statement, he also employs the use of emphasis by repeating the word stop twice in the same sentence.

Other stylistic devices have been used, such as repeated use of short sentences. Trump has used numerous short sentences in his speech to capture the attention of the audience, just like it happened with his campaign slogans. He uses sentences such as “We will make America wealthy again. We will make America proud again. We will make America safe again.”

“The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.” The speaker effectively uses figurative hyperbole in the speech to evoke the response and emotions of the audience. The phrase “ripped from their homes” is an exaggeration of how the wealth of the middle class in America has been taken away and redistributed across the other nations.

Donald Trump also appears to challenge the traditions of former presidents of starting by congratulating the outgoing head of state for the good work he has done during his tenure in office. With all the good intentions he had when thanked President Obama for the facilitating peaceful transfer of power, he further goes ahead to negate the message of gratitude with some nasty side sweeps of the failures of past admirations.

In conclusion, the inaugural speech of President Donald Trump will go down in history as one of the speeches that mesmerized the crowd by the use of direct and thinly veiled statements that were meant to score political capital. The speech was a thriller to his supporters as well as a bane to his political nemesis.


Work Cited

Rush, Kyle Alexander. “Influence of the Presidential Inaugural Address on Audience Perceptions of Candidate Image and the State of the Nation.” 2017, pp.10-25.