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The rhetorical features of Margaret Thatcher’s Essay

This speech gets its ideational message across, yet is emotive and interpersonal in that Thatcher is using lists and contrasts to convey her message. The style is upbeat with little pause as Thatcher uses a teleprompter to aid a more lucid performance affording greater, apparent, eye contact with the audience as most of her speeches are pre-planned and delivered using notes. Thatcher’s Conservative Party audience is friendly, needing little persuasion when criticising Labour and the unions, yet interpersonally they do need to persuade the electorate that they present a more reasonable position than their opponents.

By using rhetorical techniques in this way they hope to project a positive rather than negative image. Not only is political rhetoric performed live, sometimes it is broadcast on the television giving a channel of mass-communication for the speaker. Television advertising also uses three-part lists to sell products or services. Take the Heize advertisement up until the mid 1990’s with Beanz Meanz Heinz slogan, or a Mars a day helps you work, rest and play both very successful long running advertising campaigns, and both using three-part lists.

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Evangelical preachers also can use three-part list in their delivery while stepping outside their melodic sermon, into narrative dialogue. Televangelists use the mode of television to deliver persuasive speeches using three part lists as in the passage performed by Roberts and Beenman (Thompson: Maybin & Mercer P157), explaining God’s direction when fulfilling human “emotional needs, material needs, physical needs”.

Thompson also explains that the speaker “artificially detached” themselves from the main flow of the sermon gives them time to deliver the message as forcefully as possible. Stepping outside the story to explain events is common in many types of narrative to add another dimension to the tale. The estate agent story (Maybin & Mercer P22) shows a man bragging about a recent deal to a friend. The estate agents seller is an elderly sick woman who is in a nursing home and needs to sell her house.

The buyer’s wife has talked with the estate agent and he is relating the story of what happened to a friend. He is telling the whole story digressing from the narrative to add his comments which are in brackets: “Yes we have to lay down new floors, the rugs are no good (the rugs happen to be in good shape) we have to … ” This is a type of aside to the audience that would be used in the theatre to keep the story on track, and “informing the people reading or viewing the work about the character’s thoughts”, (Wikipedia definition).

Thatcher steps outside her storyline with the comment: “For years council after council has been hijacked by socialist extremists”. This gives us further information as to the Conservative’s interpersonal view of the Labour party, but does not add any ideational information to the story of Community Charge that Thatcher is talking about. Like the estate agent story, Thatcher has had time to choose her moment and audience, which is not always the case in everyday conversation. The Conservative Party audience is polite and cooperative.

Thatcher does not have to try out the speech on the audience or justify her statements as she is preaching to the converted; however she does bring the additional emotive information of the continuing, extreme, socialist councils by stepping outside the main storyline as everyday narrators can do. Journalism uses rhetorical techniques. The register is different from television evangelism but the aim is the same to get the ideational message across while using interpersonal rhetorical techniques to persuade.

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Nick Robinson the BBC’s political correspondent, talks on the subject of news reporting. “We’ve got to start with the who, the what, the how before we get into the why they’re telling us this and what’s going to happen next”. (Nick Robinson Interview: The Guardian Sept 5th 2005). Robinson uses a three part list to give impetus to what he is saying, explaining that it is important to establish from the outset the nature of the conversation. Rhetorical techniques used for reporting are different to a news presenter such as BBC’s Hugh Edwards.

Edwards delivery is largely impartial and ideational while Robinson’s is interpersonal and inquiring: putting the two together helps give structure and textual meaning to the political coverage in the programme. We can liken this coverage to the narrative technique of stepping outside the storyline, a kind of Alta-ego, where a central figure (Edwards) hands over to an outside correspondent (Robinson) who generates rhetorical questions in such forms of three part lists and contrasts, suggesting different courses that events could take. Educationalist C Kuyendall at a New Orleans convention uses call and response in her address.

This technique relies on prosody and intonation to help build images as well as set-up questions that spurs reaction from the audience, for example Kuyendall’s states: “with a little more | in-spir-ra-| tion” followed by “was I right about that one? ” (Alright) (laughter) (U210 Cassette 3 Band 9 ‘Rhetoric and persuasion’). She starts by contrasting in a three-part list: “I don’t care large or small, I don’t care how young or old, I don’t care what race or colour, my audience is required to follow the rules of my culture”. Kuyendall is addressing one meeting consisting, of two groups; her conservative friends and her loose friends.

Kuyendall stands outside the two groups taking a holistic view: By telling one group to nod in agreement to what she is saying and the other group to signal affirmation by saying right on, amen or whoop, she brings the two groups together cementing the two parties with a common religious bond. By recognising differences between the two parties in the hall, Kuyendall has openly contrasted the two sides and taken a conciliatory stance. Response and call of Pentecostal religious rhetoric can be seen in other facets of Western society: The pantomime or punch and judy.

Oh no he didn’t; we are conditioned and have learnt that the response to this call is oh yes he did. At a rock concert Are you alright! (yes). Ironically the opposite of call and response is the rhetorical question used in both oratory and everyday narrative that is not expected to be answered. We can see Halliday’s view that “Language is a social and cultural construct” clearly here. Our experiences and cultural background tell us when to respond appropriately to the given call. Transposing this into the arena of political rhetorical would be the preferred response of, polite, measured applause.

There is little verbal interaction in rhetoric but that is not to say it is not dialogic. By comparing rhetoric with language outside planned public speeches, we can see people use elements of rhetoric in everyday talk, but there needs to a given framework or “shared knowledge and experience between speakers” (Maybin & Mercer P11) in order for these techniques to work. Propp and Labov suggest that a storyline can elucidate a common theme and interpersonal function, contained in such as hero and villain which transcend boarders.

In order to remember a speech or story we have to give it a situation using a recognizable storyline framework that with an opening, middle and strong ending that signals a change in interlocutor. Finally, if we accept Atkinson’s suggestion that answers in rhetoric conversation are a reaction from the audience to show a measure of acceptance or rejection, then we can conclude that rhetoric and everyday talk can dove-tail regardless of how illogical some facets of everyday utterance can be.

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References: Maybin et. al : 1996 Using English from Conversation to Cannon. Routledge in association with the OU. U210 Study Guide 3. U210 VC1 Band 3 Open University Audio Cassette 3, Graddol et. al : Describing Language 1994. OU Press. Crystal: The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language Second Edition 2003 Cambridge University Press. Sykes: 1982 Concise Oxford English Dictionary 7th Ed. Oxford University Press.

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The rhetorical features of Margaret Thatcher's Essay
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This speech gets its ideational message across, yet is emotive and interpersonal in that Thatcher is using lists and contrasts to convey her message. The style is upbeat with little pause as Thatcher uses a teleprompter to aid a more lucid performance affording greater, apparent, eye contact with the audience as most of her speeches are pre-planned and delivered using notes. Thatcher's Conservative Party audience is friendly, needing little persuasion when criticising Labour and the unions, yet
2021-07-13 02:39:06
The rhetorical features of Margaret Thatcher's Essay
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