Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Rhetorical Analysis Essay 

2016 was an election year in the United States that was arguably linked to major controversies and high tempos considering the candidates who made it to the ballot. The outgoing administration, the Obamas, were clear on the stand that they took as they displayed their full support for Democrat candidate Hillary Clinton while opposing the possibility of her opponent Trump heading to the White House. One of the many speeches that Michelle Obama narrates her disapproval of Donald Trump was her October 14, 2016, speech in New Hampshire where she described her disgust at the possibility of electing a president who had little regard for the welfare of women. While addressing voters at New Hampshire, Michelle Obama utilizes aspects of rhetorical appeals to convince the audience against voting in Donald Trump by including ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos. 

The first element that the then First Lady used to persuade the listeners about the threat of electing Donald Trump was through the use of the appeal to reason. Referred to as the concept of logos in Greek, this type of appeal focuses on the message to get the audience into believing in the reason that the speaker is presenting. The speaker frequently uses statistics when referring to major issues pertaining the stakes involved in the presidential election. In her support for Hillary Clinton, Mrs. Obama states that Clinton is the preferred candidate following her track record of traveling around the world and being involved in diplomatic talks in many instances. She states, “She’s traveled to 112 countries, negotiated a ceasefire, a peace agreement, a release of dissidents. She spent 11 hours testifying before a congressional committee” (Obama, 2016). The use of statistics and numeric figures, in this case, serves to create an appeal to reason where the first lady was trying to enable the audience to conceptualize her stand (University Writing Center, 2010).

The speech at New Hampshire regarding the outcome of the election is also focused on the appeal to the credibility of the argument. In the whole speech, the speaker does not take sides as she explicitly emphasizes that Hillary Clinton is the preferred candidate compared to her opponent Donald Trump. She states, “see; we know that Hillary is the right person for the job because we’ve seen her character and commitment not just in this campaign, but over the course of her entire life” (Obama, 2016). The speaker uses a sharp tone in explaining her stand to the listeners to follow along with the stand that she takes. Mrs. Obama describes Trump to be unfit by referring frequently to the manner in which she has been quoted demeaning women, a vice that she claims is morally wrong. The utilization of this appeal by taking a stand regarding an opinionated issue such as the election of a presidential candidate serves to emphasize the reason why her position is correct. 

It is also worth considering that the speaker utilizes the appeal to suffering in her persuasion speech in convincing New Hampshire voters to consider Hillary Clinton as opposed to Donald Trump in their presidential choice. Obama states that there will be agony for children, women, and girls because Trump did not value the need to pass good morals and respect to these groups and the first lady decided to take up this weakness to convince the voters against the Republican candidate. She states that the world is bound to suffer from the bad example that Trump was going to illustrate when considered for the top job. She claims “Because consider this: if all of this is painful to us as grown women, what do you think this is doing to our children” (Obama, 2016)? The question, in this case, is meant to threaten the public about the challenge of selecting Trump for the presidency. 

The last feature that Mrs. Obama uses in convincing her audience about the need to choose Clinton over trump is through the presentation of the speech in a timely manner. The primary focus in the delivery of the speech was on what the audience believed in, and which they were on the verge of being denied if they opted for trump as their president (University Writing Center, 2010). Having been a narration that was made barely a month to the election, the speaker frequently quotes on the need for the voters to make a sound decision more than ever. She makes it appear as though it is necessary for the voters to turn up because the speech is timely so as to ensure that the reader is convinced to make a focused choice during the election. 

In summary, it is clear that Mrs. Obama uses a variety of appeals to convince the listener at New Hampshire to consider Hillary Clinton as opposed to Trump for the presidency. The four element of appeal that are included are the concepts of ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos, all of which are integrated in a coherent manner to illustrate the author’s stand. Overall, the speaker succeeds in the use of rhetorical examples to get the voted into believing in her sentiments. 


Obama, M. (2016, October). The full transcript of Michelle Obama’s powerful New Hampshire speech. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/14/michelle-obama-speech-transcript-donald-trump

University Writing Center. (2010). What are logos, ethos, pathos, and kairos? A Rhetoric with Readings. Retrieved from https://louisville.edu/writingcenter/for-students-1/handouts-and-resources/handouts-1/logos-ethos-pathos-kairos