Analysis of “Gettysburg Address” by Lincoln
Gettysburg Address was a speech made by Lincoln on Nov. 29, 1863 in
Pennysyvania during a ceremony dedicating a battlefield as a national military cemetery.
The speech is focused on the main idea that the forefathers of America have brought forth a new nation with high principles, and many brave men have fought to death to uphold these principles and that all the people shall carry on and devote themselves to the unfinished task those dead soldiers had began. The speech is made up of three sections, the typical classic syllogism. The first part provides the basis on
which the remainder of the speech depends...the birth of the nation. (in the past) The second part indicates the purpose of the event and the comment on sacrifice by the soldiers for the protection of the child-nation. The third and final part sets forth the task for the listeners.and for the future. The nation has survived this first major test, now they must work hard to see whether it could resurrect from the ashes of the battlefields, and grow to the full promise of maturity.
Abraham Lincoln’s primary goal in his speech is to try and motivate the audience to dedicate themselves to saving their nation. His support for this argument comes from the nation’s history, current conflict, and future destiny.
The speech only lasted two minutes, but it is one of the most renowned oration ever made in English history. Lincoln got his point across in this short time because of his witty and skillful handle of words, sentences and figures of speech.
Lexically speaking, there is the powerful diction in Lincoln’s speech. For example, “dedicate” is repeated seven times in the speech to indicate the dead soldiers’ devotion and commitment to the survival of the nation and the living people’s determination to
carry out the unfinished task remaining before them. The careful use of literary English, such as “bring forth, conceived, proposition” etc. also adds force and strength to the speech.
Lincoln applies such words as “our, we, us, nation, and the people,etc”in his
discourse to allude to a sense of togetherness and the strength therein. Meanwhile, those words are meant to convey an evocative message among the audience and to create a unity between North and South.
Lexically speaking, there is the alternation of simple sentences, compound sentence and complex sentence. It is easy to find out the various sentences patterns in
the oration. For example, readers are met with the simple sentence, the appositive sentence, the attributive sentence, the objective sentence and the forth.
As far as the figures of speech are concerned, many are worth mentioning here. First of all, the speech is particularly characterized by the strategical use of parallelism. The expressions or sentences like “so conceived, so delicated; we can’t
consecrate, we can’t delicate, we can’t hallow this ground; it is for us---, proper and
fitting” are the strong evidence. They help to make the oration rhythmic, symmetrical and balanced.
What’s more, he used biblical reference at the very beginning. “Fourscore and seven years” is just the analogue of “three score and ten”, which is said to be the allotted life span of human beings. In this way, the orator attempted to mean that a nation at the age of 87 was a very young one, that the nation was bound to grow to its maturity.
Antithesis is another spectacular device in the sentences like -----. The speaker implied that what they said here was of no consequence in history compared with what the dead had done: the upholding the propositions and the promoting of liberty and freedom.
“Gettysburg Address” is an appeal to humanity in order to preserve a unified country devoted to the ideas of democracy, liberty and justice. In two minutes, Lincoln was able to fill the listeners with the principles, resolutions and the hope of giving birth to a new free state and a government of the people, by th epeople and for the people.
Abraham Lincoln’s epic speech Gettysburg Address is a seamless example of how
an orator can use different techniques to convey an evocative message. It is really one of the masterpiece in the world for its accuracy and succintness in meaning and its conciseness and depth in thoughts. No wonder that Edward said that he would be glad
if he could flatter himself that he came as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as Lincoln did in two minutes.