Style,Memory, and Delivery


In his 1863 address, President Abraham Lincoln utilized variousstylistic devices to express his ideas. For example, he used allusionto make reference to both the Bible and the Declaration ofIndependence. In fact, words such as ‘fourscore,` ‘devotion,`‘new birth,` ‘consecration,` ‘hallow` make reference to thereligious text. Furthermore, the statement that &quotall men arecreated equal&quot makes obvious reference to the Declaration ofIndependence in 1776 (Leff &amp Goodwin, 2000). The application ofallusion adds to Lincoln’s message since he invokes his listeners’trust in the other texts to convince them of his other arguments. Thespeaker also employs contrast by stating how the soldiers “gavetheir lives” so that the “nation might live.” He also remarkedthat the world would neither “remember” nor “forget” (Leff &ampGoodwin, 2000). The use of contrast adds to his message by inspiringthought and perspective.

The speaker achieves rhythm by using triples such as “of thepeople, by the people, for the people” (Leff &amp Goodwin, 2000).Lincoln attained clarity since his speech lasted for only twominutes. Therefore, he used relatively few words to make his point.He also achieved vividness by using alliteration and anaphora. Inparticular, alliteration is shown by terms such as “new nation”and “poor power” (Leff &amp Goodwin, 2000). On the other hand,anaphora is manifested by the repeated mentions of “we.”

Lincoln`s speech is well-adapted to an oral style due to the use ofresounding words to command an audience`s attention. For example,&quotFourscore and seven years ago&quot is mentioned instead ofstating &quotEighty-seven years ago” (Leff &amp Goodwin, 2000).The vowel sound [o:] is emphasized in words such as ‘fourscore’,‘God’, ‘of’, and ‘for’ for maximum audience impact. Ifound the speech more effective when it was read aloud than when itwas read silently. This is because the address contains only 275words that can be read at a medium pace for less than three minutes.Furthermore, pauses can be used effectively at key turning points tobuild suspense and create a dramatic effect (Leff &amp Goodwin,2000). Reading both versions helps to show the value of usingstylistic language since it highlights the differences in impact andemotion. It also emphasizes the power of rhetorical appeals toconvince and incite an audience.


Leff, M.&amp Goodwin, J. (2000). Dialogic Figures and DialecticalArgument in Lincoln`s Rhetoric. Rhetoric and Public Affairs, 3(1),59-69.