Thursday, June 23, 2011

Research Paper on Gettysburg

Gettysburg Research Paper

Ideas are selected based on the purpose and context of the speech, and articulated by techniques which present them most effectively. The contrasting ways in which values and attitudes can be presented are evident in the different perspectives on the value of patriotism presented in Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and Emma Goldman's Address to the Jury. Similarly the attitude to war displayed in Lincoln's speech is contrasted by the sombre undertones of Paul Keating's eulogy for The Unknown Soldier. These values and attitudes contrast because of the differing purpose and context of each speech.

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was delivered during the American Civil War, in 1863, at a cemetery, after a multitude of soldiers had perished. He was there to dedicate a new military cemetery, but his real purpose was to reassure the people, inspire the soldiers and proclaim the desired future. The speech has been considered by some as simple war propaganda and it was not very well received at the time. Yet the ideas presented, like the future direction of the nation, and the values of patriotism and democracy that resonate so clearly in the brief speech, cannot be so easily dismissed.


The structure of the address is central to its clarity. It moves clearly and logically from the past, to the present, and onto the future. In doing this, he identified himself with his audience, then payed respect to those who had died, and moved on to inspiring the audience. His choice of diction to emphasize this structure is also significant. When speaking of the present he uses phrases like "we are" and "we have", identifying himself with his people. This technique also allows him to articulate the future, democratic direction of the country, an idea that needed to be included to reassure the people of the validity of the civil war.

Lincoln uses repetition effectively to express the main themes and ideas. When speaking of the present and the civil war he uses the word great three times emphasizing the "great civil war", "great battlefield" and later the "great task". The idea of war as being "great" contributes to the reception of the speech as pure propaganda, but it must be labelled this to inspire the troops, thus executing the purpose of the speech. The word "people" is also repeated three times in the last sentence, emphasizing the democratic ideals they are fighting for. By repeating these words he inspires his people, underlining what it is they are fighting in, and what exactly they are fighting for.

Patriotism and Democracy are values also explored by Emma Goldman in her Address to the Jury, but they are articulated very differently. This is due mainly to the contrasting contexts. Whereas Lincoln was speaking to his people as leader, Goldman is addressing a jury as defendant, in the midst of a world war in 1917. While this speech is quite a logical, sophisticated and well expressed argument, it can be read as the self serving, self praising of a self proclaimed martyr.

Goldman appeals to patriotism in a different manner to Lincoln. She recognizes this to be a prevailing value in the time of war, and also recognizes that she may be considered unpatriotic (charges of conspiracy are rarely becoming for a patriot), but attempts to make the jury understand her interpretation of patriotism. She uses historical references to prove her point, by stating that "those who fought and bled for your liberties were in their time considered as being against the law". She then alludes to the American War of Independence "they carried out their ideas by throwing tea into the Boston Harbor." The theme of patriotism is prominent in the speech, as Goldman sees that as a fault the jury will perceive in her, and acts to address it, articulating the idea differently to Lincoln, but equally effectively.

Similarly, Goldman questions the democratic values of her audience. She uses rhetorical questions to make the audience truly respond, if only mentally, to her words, to question the validity of the charges against her. She pleads, "Is there only one kind of resistance?" "Shall free speech and free assemblage, shall criticism and opinion " which even the espionage bill did not include " be destroyed? Shall it be trampled underfoot?" Her use of erotesis is masterful here as the questions beg obvious, but difficult answers.

Goldman continues to appeal to the inherent values of her audience. The white male jury were all probably patriotic, democratic and Christian, so this is the next value Goldman targets. She uses Biblical references to articulate her appeal to these values, comparing herself to Jesus when she asks the jury to, "Bear in mind that he was put to death by those who considered his views as being against the law", and asking, "Are we to be held responsible for something which is as unchangeable and unalienable as the very stars hanging in the heavens unto time and all eternity?" It becomes clear that through erotesis, historical and biblical allusions Goldman has articulated her ideas to target the foremost goals of her audience.

Lincoln's view of patriotism was a conventional one, of a man doing his duty for his county, yet Goldman challenged this value, claiming that the greatest patriots were those who rebelled against the system. In Keating's Eulogy for the Unknown Soldier, he takes the conventional approach for the value of patriotism, yet his attitude towards war differs greatly form Lincoln's, as a reflection of his context.

Keating's purpose was obviously to give a eulogy for this anonymous soldier, years after his death, as a national event. Some might have seen this as a politician snatching an opportunity to attain public support, as this was a national event. The context is vastly different from that of Lincoln's and Goldman's. Ironically, it was the only speech that occurred outside wartime, and yet devoted the most attention to the subject. It also occurs decades after each speech, as the changing values and attitudes reflect the changing society.

The speech draws an interesting comparison to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, as Keating uses emotive language to describe war as "terrible" while Lincoln described the civil war as "great". He cumulatively lists the words, "mad, brutal, awful", juxtaposing these with "Great War", criticizing the nature of war, and also how it was originally portrayed. He then adds phrases with negative connotations like "military and political incompetence" and "waste of human life" to forcefully remind the audience that this was no Great War, but and ugly, unfortunate disaster.

Following this idea, Keating changes the tone using paradox. After exploring the tragedy of war, he contrasts the loss with what we have gained from war. He speaks of what we have learnt. "It was a lesson about ordinary people and the lesson was that they were not ordinary", and what we have been given. "His tomb is a reminder of what we have lost in war and what we have gained" before going on to describe the legend, faith and understanding we have been given by his sacrifice. It is an idea much touted at Anzac Day Ceremonies, and thus is perfect for this service, and it is eloquently articulated through Keating's use of paradox. It is this appeal to patriotism that shows that this value remains important even in this modern context.

Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Goldman's Address to the Jury and Keating's Eulogy for the Unknown Soldier all articulate the same ideas differently. Through use of techniques like erotesis, cumulative listing, and repetition the speakers addressed the values of patriotism and democracy, and their attitude to war in contrasting ways.
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