Archive for the ‘Rhetorical Analysis’ Category

In the midst of working on my final research paper, I found a pattern between Millennials attitudes and the job skills employers are looking for and the transferable jobs skills tutors bring with them. I’m interested to get the results back from what the undergraduates have to say. As for me, I’m not sure where I fall in the midst of this research. I’m not the most technologically-dependent person. Being attached to my cell phone isn’t a necessity for me. If I text it is out of absolute necessity. I don’t do Instagram, Pintrest, or Twitter. I rarely make Facebook status updates anymore, and I don’t have time to watch Youtube videos. If I watch TV, I do it online, and having cable isn’t part of my budget so I don’t DVR HBO shows.

My attitude is one of a Millennial though. I collaborate; I delegate; I think I’m entitled; I know I’m privileged; I’m liberal; I demand instantaneous results even when technology fails to work.

So where does that place me in terms of being a researcher commenting on the millennial generation? I’m objectively placed. This generation is my generation, but I see its flaws and inconsistencies. I see how much my generation wants to engage with each other through social media comments and social justice activism. I want to place writing tutors at the forefront of these activities so they are primed to get the jobs they deserve.

When I took this quiz, I scored a 79. Not extraordinarily high. I still consider myself fairly entitled, however. I am entitled to have an higher education, and in gaining that degree, I am entitled to have a full-time job with benefits. Entitled has negative connotations though. Enabled is perhaps a better word. I’m enabled by my constant connection to the ever-shifting trends of social media to promote my ideas, my content, my beliefs. I can create a brand that’s marketable; I can network, but most of all, I can hope my talents will not go unnoticed.



Three parallel elements of the same length occurring together in a series.

  • Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.
  • I came; I saw; I conquered.


Use of a word with two others, with each of which it is understood differently. A combination of grammatical parallelism and semantic incongruity, often with a witty or comical effect.

  • Rend your heart, and not your garments.
  • You held your breath and the door for me.
  • We must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang separately.


Repeating a word, but in a different form in close proximity.

  • With eager feeding food doth choke the feeder.
  • You try to forget, and in the forgetting, you are yourself forgotten.


Ending a series of lines, phrases, clauses, or sentences with the same word or words.

  • You will find washing beakers helpful in passing this course, using the gas chromatograph desirable for passing this course, and studying hours on end essential to passing this course.
  • What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny compared to what lies within us.
  • We are born to sorrow, pass our time in sorrow, end our days in sorrow.


Repetition at the end of a line, phrase, or clause of the word or words that occurred at the beginning of the same line, phrase, or clause. The beginning and the end are the two positions of strongest emphasis in a sentence, so by having the same word in both places, you call special attention to it.

  • Nothing is worse than doing nothing.
  • A lie begets a lie.
  • Water alone dug this giant canyon; yes, just plain water.
  • To report that your committee is still investigating the matter is to tell me that you have nothing to report.


Reversing the order of repeated words or phrases (a loosely chiastic structure, AB-BA) to intensify the final formulation, to present alternatives, or to show contrast.

  • Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.
  • When the going gets tough, the tough get going.
  • Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.


Repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of successive clauses, sentences, or lines commonly in conjunction with climax and parallelism.

  • We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.


The repetition of the last word (or phrase) from the previous line, clause, or sentence at the beginning of the next to generate the sake of beauty or to give a sense of logical progression.

  • I was at a loss for words, words that perhaps would have gotten me into even more trouble.
  • The love of wicked men converts to fear,/That fear to hate, and hate turns one or both/To worthy danger and deserved death.
  • In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.


A comparison made by referring to one thing as another.

  • No man is an island.
  • The mind is but a barren soil; a soil which is soon exhausted and will produce no crop, or only one, unless it be continually fertilized and enriched with foreign matter.


An explicit comparison, often (but not necessarily) employing “like” or “as.”

  • Her hair was like gravy, running brown off her head and clumping up on her shoulders.
  • The air-lifted rhinoceros hit the ground like a garbage bag filled with split pea soup.


Reference to something or someone by naming one of its attributes.

  • The orders came directly from the White House.
  • The pen is mightier than the sword
  • The IRS is auditing me? Great. All I need is a couple of suits arriving at my door.


A whole is represented by naming one of its parts

  • The rustler bragged he’d absconded with five hundred head of longhorns.
  • If I had some wheels, I’d put on my best threads and ask for Jane’s hand in marriage.
  • I should have been a pair of ragged claws/Scuttling across the floors of silent seas


General term describing when one part of speech governs two or more other parts of a sentence. For example, two different words linked to a verb or an adjective which is strictly appropriate to only one of them.The main benefit of the linking is that it shows relationships between ideas and actions more clearly.

  • Fred excelled at sports; Harvey at eating; Tom with girls.
  • Nor Mars his sword, nor war’s quick fire shall burn/The living record of your memory.
  • Alexander conquered the world; I, Towson.


Reference to abstractions or inanimate objects as though they had human qualities or abilities.

  • England expects every man to do his duty.
  • The coffee is strong enough to get up and walk away.
  • Snow and wind howled through the streets.


Use of words to imitate natural sounds of the word being described.The written language retains an aural quality, so that even unspoken your writing has a sound to it.

  • Someone yelled, “Look out!” and I heard a loud screech followed by a grinding, wrenching crash.
  • Plop, buzz, ribbit, slam, sizzle, etc.


Rhetorical exaggeration for emphasis or effect. In formal writing the hyperbole must be clearly intended as an exaggeration, and should be carefully restricted.We are a society of excess and exaggeration. Handle hyperbole like dynamite, and do not blow up everything you can find.

  • My vegetable love should grow/Vaster than empires, and more slow;/An hundred years should got to praise/Thine eyes and on thine forehead gaze;/Two hundred to adore each breast,/But thirty thousand to the rest.
  • I’ve told you a million times not to exaggerate.


The use of a word in a context that differs from its proper application in an alien or unusual way.

  • The podcast included a soundseeing tour of London’s theatre district.
  • I will speak daggers to her.
  • The little old lady turtled along at ten miles per hour.


Placing two ordinarily opposing terms adjacent to one another. usually in an adjective-noun  or adverb-adjective relationship, and is used for effect, complexity, emphasis, or wit

  • The sounds of silence
  • The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read, / With loads of learned lumber in his head
  • I must be cruel only to be kind


Similarity of structure in a pair or series of related words, phrases, or clauses to show that the ideas in the parts or sentences are equal in importance. Parallelism also adds balance and rhythm and, most importantly, clarity to the sentence.

  • Ferocious dragons breathing fire and wicked sorcerers casting their spells do their harm by night in the Forest of Darkness.
  • I have always sought but seldom obtained a parking space near the door.
  • Singing a song or writing a poem is joyous.


Juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas (often, although not always, in parallel structure). Human beings are inveterate systematizers and categorizers, so the mind has a natural love for antithesis, which creates a definite and systematic relationship between ideas

  • It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.
  • It can’t be wrong if it feels so right.
  • Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more.
  • That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind


Arrangement of words, phrases, or clauses in an order of ascending power, weight, or importance. In addition to arranging sentences or groups of short ideas in climactic order, you generally should also arrange the large sections of ideas in your papers climatically. Always begin with a point or proof substantial enough to generate interest, and then continue with ideas of increasing importance. That way your argument gets stronger as it moves along, and every point hits harder than the previous one.

  • Miss America was not so much interested in serving herself as she was eager to serve her family, her community, and her nation.
  •  The concerto was applauded at the house of Baron von Schnooty, it was praised highly at court, it was voted best concerto of the year by the Academy, it was considered by Mozart the highlight of his career, and it has become known today as the best concerto in the world.


Yoda-speak that departs from normal word order for the sake of emphasis.

  • The helmsman steered; the ship moved on; yet never a breeze up blew.
  • Enter the forest primeval.


Leaving out conjunctions between clauses, often resulting in a hurried rhythm or vehement effect.

  • On his return he received medals, honors, treasures, titles, fame.
  • I came; I saw; I conquered.
  • We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardships, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
  • But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.


Adding additional conjunctions to slow tempo or rhythm.

  • They read and studied and wrote and drilled. I laughed and played and talked and flunked.
  • We have not power, nor influence, nor money, nor authority; but a willingness to persevere, and the hope that we shall conquer soon


The repetition of ideas in inverted order (a-b-b-a) to make an X.

  • Polished in courts and hardened in the field. Renowned for conquest, and in council skilled.
  • He labors without complaining and without bragging rests.
  • Judge not, lest ye be judged.


Omission of a word or short phrase easily understood in context.

  • The average person thinks he isn’t.
  • John forgives Mary and Mary, John.

Aristotle defined rhetoric as “the ability to see or identify in any given circumstance the available means of persuasion.” Thus, rhetoric is the art of argument and discourse to convince other of what we believe. There are three avenues of persuasion.

  • Logos, or logic
  • Pathos, or emotional appeal
  • Ethos, or trustworthy charisma and authority

A good writer knows how to use these persuasive avenues in relation to the audience. This concept is called the rhetorical triangle consisting of the author, the text, and the audience. Learn more about the rhetorical triangle by watching the video produced by David Wright at Furman University.

For examples of these three forms of persuasion and how they factor into your audience, view Dr. Wheeler’s argument for not putting a dog in the microwave or allowing children to play with power tools.

If you decided, “Hey! I need some one to give me money” you’d probably choose all three forms of persuasion and still not be effective at convincing the bank, your parents, or a stranger on the street. That’s where Schemes, Tropes, and Repetition come into play. These three techniques can artfully change the patterns of sentence structures and the meanings of words. There are hundreds of these in existence. Refer to Silva Rhetoricae or A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices or Daily Writing Tips for a complete list.  To get you started, consult the upcoming list of terms, definitions, and examples for Schemes, Tropes, and Repetition. Use these tactics to manipulate and enhance your language for delivering an effective bottom-line message. Knowing how to manipulate these rhetorical devices means you have great mastery over the English language. I have to commit these to memory for several of my graduate classes, so if you want to be a master wordsmith (or a total nerd) you can do the same.

If you’re unfamiliar with these Schemes, Tropes, and Repetition techniques, I’d be more than happy to answer your questions about their appropriate usage. Just drop me a message in the comments section, or you can email me using the form below!

On December 19, 2013, Target unveiled a press release regarding unauthorized access to payment card data that may have impacted certain guests making credit and debit card purchases in its U.S. stores. Approximately 40 million credit and debit card accounts may have been impacted between Nov. 27 and Dec. 15, 2013.

Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel delivered a message on December 20, 2013 stating:

We take this crime seriously. It was a crime against Target, our team members, and most importantly, our guests. We’re in this together, and in that spirit, we are extending a 10% discount – the same amount our team members receive – to guests who shop in U.S. stores on Dec. 21 and 22. Again, we recognize this issue has been confusing and disruptive during an already busy holiday season. We want to emphasize that the issue has been addressed and let guests know they can shop with confidence at their local Target stores.

Target released further media updates regarding the security breach from December 20, 23, 24, and 27 with a final update on January 10, 2014. The media updates surrounding Target’s security for credit card payments were both professional and timely. Both the media updates and the CEO’s statement reflects the emotions of his readers, which ranged from fearful, outraged and discomforted. The press releases all had language that reassured the reader that the issue was being addressed and would swiftly be resolved. Formatting for the press releases and released statement was easy for the eye to skim and the bottom line message was included within the first paragraph.

Then I received this email on January 15, 2014.

Original E-mail from Target received on January 15, 2014

Dear Target Guest,
As you may have heard or read, Target learned in mid-December that criminals forced their way into our systems and took guest information, including debit and credit card data. Late last week, as part of our ongoing investigation, we learned that additional information, including name, mailing address, phone number or email address, was also taken. I am writing to make you aware that your name, mailing address, phone number or email address may have been taken during the intrusion.
I am truly sorry this incident occurred and sincerely regret any inconvenience it may cause you. Because we value you as a guest and your trust is important to us, Target is offering one year of free credit monitoring to all Target guests who shopped in U.S. stores, through Experian’s® ProtectMyID® product which includes identity theft insurance where available. To receive your unique activation code for this service, please go to and register before April 23, 2014. Activation codes must be redeemed by April 30, 2014.
In addition, to guard against possible scams, always be cautious about sharing personal information, such as Social Security numbers, passwords, user IDs and financial account information. Here are some tips that will help protect you:

  • Never share information with anyone over the phone, email or text, even if they claim to be someone you know or do business with. Instead, ask for a call-back number.
  • Delete texts immediately from numbers or names you don’t recognize.
  • Be wary of emails that ask for money or send you to suspicious websites. Don’t click links within emails you don’t recognize.
Target’s email communication regarding this incident will never ask you to provide personal or sensitive information.
Thank you for your patience and loyalty to Target. You can find additional information and FAQs about this incident at our website. If you have further questions, you may call us at 866-852-8680.
Gregg Steinhafel
Chairman, President and CEO

Rhetorical Analysis

“Should I be concerned?” was my first question. My original reading was that the situation was more serious. Taking the time to read this was a conscious effort on my part. I thought since it was a one page email with bullets I would have time to read this. I didn’t realize it would spawn an entire rhetorical analysis. Since it was addressed to me (I am a Target guest), I thought my personal information was a risk for being stolen. There was a sense of urgency in the language of this email. “Criminals forced their way into systems” immediately sets off red flags and fire alarms in my head. I figured this was especially urgent since the CEO (or the CEO’s ghostwriter) took the time to craft the email.

This topic had already been on my radar screen since both my sisters received letters from the credit union the three of us use. They were informed that they would be sent new debit cards because they had shopped at Target between November 27 thru December 15.  As for me, I had already checked my bank and credit card statements before receiving this email and nothing seemed amiss. My next question was, “Should I register for Experian’s Protect My Id product. Figuring it wasn’t necessary, I have instead chosen to be more cognizant and vigilant about the ways to protect myself from scams and identity theft.

After a close reading, I’ve determined that Target is still working on the investigation regarding the security system hacking that happened a month ago. I don’t have anything to be concerned about and can ignore the email, but not the rhetoric. Another reason why I wasn’t emotionally invested in taking the suggested action is that the idea wasn’t altogether sticky.

Made to Stick SUCCESs Analysis

(Click here to read more information on what makes an idea “sticky”).

I had to read this email several times to get a sense for the bottom-line message. Since this email raised more questions than answered them, I didn’t think the email was Simple. The email fulfilled the Unexpected category in a positive and negative way. I wasn’t expecting the security breach investigation to still be  ongoing. I also didn’t expect Target to provide a free identity protection service. A suggestion to make this email more Concrete would be to explain the process that forensic computer security investigators used to uncover what the hackers did. Since there weren’t any concrete details such as statistics on how many customers have been affected or helped, I didn’t think the email had much Credibility in terms of satisfying Target customers. The Emotional bent to the email was lost with business cliches such as “truly sorry” and “sincerely regret any inconvenience.” However the bulleted list does appeal to my self-interest to protect myself against identity theft. This email could have been a Story with a creativity plot that addressed the breakthrough needed to find out that Target’s security had been hacked. The opportunity to describe what was being done to solve the problem in an innovative way was also missed.


V for Vendetta

Posted: December 10, 2013 in Rhetorical Analysis

Listen for all the rhetorical devices

Prezi Presenation


The mantra Ferris Bueller has in the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off when he says, “Life goes by pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile you may miss it” applies, strangely enough, to grammar. Reading, writing, and speaking are things people do on a constant basis. Since these actions go by so fast, people fail to recognize how parts of speech work together to create memorable rhetoric. For the purposes of this rhetorical analysis, the rules of grammar do not matter: the effect of grammar on the rhetoric in James Joyce’s “The Dead” is the primary focus.

Plot Summary

“The Dead” describes a well-attended Christmas party that leads the main character, Gabriel Conroy, to reflect his relationship with his wife, himself, and his country. The reflection, written in a stream of consciousness form, shows a succession of ideas constantly moving in time without regard for logical sequences or syntactic structure. The internal thought process culminates with an epiphany, a sudden reversal marking a change in view sparked from a commonplace experience. In Gabriel’s case, this commonplace experience is watching his wife fall asleep in their bed and watching the snow fall outside his window.

From Plot to Style.

This scenario’s description causes Joyce to parse down the language until it becomes a minimal palette of words, images, and emotions.  The use of imagism creates a lack of subjective or objective words or phrases especially those that do not contribute to the presentation. In Dubliners, Joyce attempts to describe life as it is—au naturel—with personal, powerful stories that contain charged imagery and gripping descriptions. Doing so captures Ireland’s tumultuous time in the early 20th century through brief sketches. In “The Dead,” Joyce emphasizes a sense of unrest in the internal monologue that leads up to an intense catharsis through sentence structure and verb tense. The short story culminates with a push for Gabriel to journey westward to Galway, away from Dublin’s bustling, noisy urban dirtiness.

Rhetorical Analysis

Gabriel’s Self-talk

The sentence “Perhaps she had not told him all the story” continuing through the end of the paragraph with the words “Yes, yes: that would happen very soon” marks the boundaries of Gabriel’s internal monologue featuring future tense and simple sentences. A series of fragments connected by asyndeton (a purposeful lack of coordination) within this stream-of-consciousness summarizes everything that happened in the plot up to this point. Gabriel’s musings end with coordination showing the relation between the deaths of Michael Furey and Aunt Gloria. In both cases, Gabriel’s detached distance contrasts from the text surrounding this internal monologue.

Gabriel’s Relationship with his Wife

The rest of the selection is written in past tense, which shows Gabriel’s shift in his belief system: the memory of the former dead is seeping into the present, affecting his view on Dublin, and inspires a drive to leave the city. This belief system is represented through simple sentences except in two instances. The sentence with compound elements (in this case, contains “and”) describing Gabriel’s action towards his wife—“He stretched himself cautiously along under the sheets and lay down beside his wife”—lacks a sexually charged association because a previous passage with a compound-complex sentence structure describes Gabriel looking at his wife as someone else’s lover. The passage—“His curious eyes rested long upon her face and on her hair: and, as he thought of what she must have been then, in that time of her first girlish beauty, a strange, friendly pity for her entered his soul”—describes how Gabriel had never been (and could never be) intimately involved with his wife the same way as Michael Furey. These two examples feature parataxis (copious amounts of coordination) to show the relationship between two people.

Gabriel’s Relationship with Himself

The simple sentences used throughout the rest of the passage are not short, staccato ones. They are fattened with additional parts of speech. Joyce favors prepositions, adverbials, and direct objects as his sentence fillers. The details Joyce inserts contain concepts that jump from one to the next without transitions; however, subordination shows connections and relationships between thought processes. The result is a fluid style that mimics the falling snow and its oppressive nature on Gabriel, Ireland, and all the living and the dead. This effect is seen in two examples found at near the conclusion of the selected passage where repetition is used in conjunction with hyperbaton (inversion of the natural syntax).

The text reads: “It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves.” In addition to repetition of the word “falling” and hyperbaton used on the words “falling” and “softly,” parallelism is used for climactic emphasis. The ending repetition features a jarring faulty coordination with the words “farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves” that breaks up the rhythm of the sentence. Where the faulty coordination is placed seems appropriate however because Joyce uses the choppy style to describe “the dark mutinous Shannon waves.” The same repetition and inversion is also found in the short story’s final sentence: “His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.” In this section, the prose is not formulaic: new information is not sequential and comes in random spurts and bursts. Previously “known” information would seem irrelevant if not for Joyce’s effective use of repetition.


Joyce’s use of stylized sentence structure, poignant prepositions, and rolling repetition in “The Dead” portrays a psychological bend in a belief statement. Gabriel’s moment of realization that we (as a collective humanity) are bound to a circle of life and death is the reader’s realization too. This notion creates a sense of catharsis through John Keats’ view on negative capability, which is a feeling of being comfortable with the unknown. Both the reader and Gabriel have to accept factors and happenstances in their lives that are beyond one’s control.

Gabriel’s stream of consciousness leads to a single epiphany: we’re all going to die, so we might as well make the most of it. Gabriel doesn’t have a “Hakuna Matata. It means no worries” reaction to this realization—he obsessively turns scenarios over into his mind until he becomes brooding and pensive. Only the concept of going westward snaps him out of his funk. Movement equates to freedom. Freedom equates to persistence. Persistence equates to “the descent of [the dead’s and the living’s] last end” in James Joyce’s “The Dead.” The descent, just like the falling snow, is universal no matter what direction humanity travels.

V for Vendetta is a film that reveals the story of a man called V who wants to eliminate a totalitarian government run by Adam Sutler. V’s plan is fueled by the need to revenge the dehumanizing torture that was done to him during medical experiments that Sulter authorized. To achieve his anarchist tactics, V convinces, manipulates, and coerces various characters in the film to take part in the plot to blow up modern-day Parliament on the fifth of November. These actions are modeled after on a conspiracy plot devised in 1605 to blow up Parliament on November the fifth as a way to protest the Protestant-run government of England.

One of these protestors with extremist ideals was Guy Fawkes. By donning a Guy Fawkes mask, V embodies the principle that individuals have the right to change the conditions of their government if they see fit. One character who joins his cause is Evey Hammond. V transforms Evey’s submissive persona into one of strength by torturing her in the same way the medical experiments tortured him. Because of his actions, Evey comes to understand V’s rationale and decides to assist him in his plot to destroy the totalitarian government’s regime. In V for Vendetta, rhetorical devices allow words to appear strategically placed within the screenplay’s dialogue: the rhythm of repetition creates propaganda, and the familiarity of allusions produces memorable elements.

The question “Who is that masked man?” is a recurring theme throughout V for Vendetta. In a voiceover at the beginning of the film, Evey compares V’s principles to Guy Fawkes’ principles claiming that the audience should “remember the idea not the man;” therefore, V becomes not a man but a mantra. Upon meeting V after being nearly raped by Fingermen (Sulter’s police force), Evey asks “Who are you?” and V turns the question into irony with the statement “Who? Who is but the form following the function of what and what I am is a man in a mask.” The exchange of dialogue then becomes similar to an Abbot and Costello routine when Evey counters with “Well, I can see that” and V continues to avoid revealing his identity by saying, “Of course you can. I’m not questioning your powers of observation I’m merely remarking upon the paradox of asking a masked man who he is.” As a result, the answer that determines V’s role remains ambiguous. Is V a masterful instigator of a revolutionary movement? Is he a manipulator of pawns for a just cause? Is he a revengeful victim of the government that oppresses him? Just who is that masked man, anyway?

V defines himself using the following dramatic description containing 48 words that begin with the letter ‘v’ to form a coherent statement to identify V’s rationale for his actions:

Voilà! In view, a humble vaudevillian veteran, cast vicariously as both victim and villain by the vicissitudes of Fate. This visage, no mere veneer of vanity, is a vestige of the vox populi, now vacant, vanished. However, this valorous visitation of a by-gone vexation stands vivified and has vowed to vanquish these venal and virulent vermin van guarding vice and vouchsafing the violently vicious and voracious violation of volition. The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta, held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it is my very good honor to meet you and you may call me V.

This single definition contains many devices, which help identify V’s characterization. For example, the use of the repeated words beginning with the letter ‘v’ is alliteration, and this device demonstrates musicality and a poetic command of language. The way V manipulates language pinpoints his character as a well-spoken individual with a flair for the dramatic. When compared to other rhetorical techniques used by various characters in the film, V’s prove to be more powerful than angry shouts, louder than gunfire, and more lethal than bullets.

The speech itself becomes a symphony filled with layered meanings. For example, the repetition of the ‘v’ sound is makes V’s definition of himself sound harsh despite the word choice’s elegance and sophistication. This paradox suits not only the way the character identifies himself but also the way he defends Evey from the Fingermen using what a minor character in the film calls “nothing but your bloody knives and your fancy karate gimmicks.” The use of alliteration also demonstrates V’s impressive vocabulary. Hyperbaton is included in this vocabulary when he states, “in view a humble vaudevillian veteran cast vicariously.” This device demonstrates V’s flair for the dramatic because the surprising arrangement mimics V’s flamboyant style seen both when he fights with his knives and when he carries out his plans that move the Britain’s desensitized population into revolution. Finally, in addition to containing archaic language, the phrase “a vestige of the vox populi” is an allusion to Guy Fawkes’ principle of acting as the voice of the people.

The allusion to Guy Fawkes and his plot to blow up Parliament appears numerous times in V for Vendetta. For instance, V refers to Guy Fawkes as “a great citizen [who] wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory” in his speech to London’s population. Additionally,  the saying “A penny for the Guy” as well as the poem “Remember, remember the fifth of November/ The gunpowder treason and plot/ I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot” refer to Bonfire Night, which is also known as Guy Fawkes Day. On this day, people in Britain make bonfires to mark Guy Fawkes’ attempt to destroy Parliament.

V refers to this celebration as “the day that is sadly no longer remembered.” The fact that this momentous occasion is censored demonstrates the power of Sulter’s government to eliminate history, music, literature, cinema, artwork, and religion from the public’s awareness and identity. V alludes to Guy Fawkes, in addition to other references, as a tactic to insert these enlightening references back into society. One way V does this is by creating the Shadow Gallery, which holds a hoard of cultural treasures that he saved from Sutler’s censorship and preserved in museum-like setting. On screen, a series of famous paintings are visible. These include John William Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shalott, Edvard Munch’s Puberty, Titian’s Bacchus and Ariadne, and William Blake’s Elohim Creating Adam. (Trivia for V for Vendetta) As background music, the jukebox in the Shadow Gallery plays Julie London’s “Cry me a River” while movie posters such as White Heat and Mildred Pierce decorate the walls. (Movie Connections for Vendetta)

The Lady of Shalott 1888 by John William Waterhouse 1849-1917

Another way V inserts forgotten culture into society is by inserting famous quotations into his dialogue with another character. For example, while V is defending Evey from the Fingermen he uses two quotations from Shakespeare’s plays. The first is from Macbeth (“The multiplying villainies of nature do swarm upon him…/distaining fortune/with his brandish’d steel, which smoked with bloody execution.”) The second is from Richard III (“And thus I clothe my naked villainy/ with old odd ends stolen forth from holy writ/ and seem a saint when most I play the devil.”) In conversations with Evey, V uses a quotation from Twelfth Night (“Conceal me what I am, and be my aid/ for such disguise as haply shaped shall become/ the form of my intent”) as well as another quotation from Macbeth (“I dare do all that may become a man/ who dares do more is none.”) V’s flair for the dramatic as well as his desire to insert these cultural references into society attributes to these references. Finally, V refers to a character, the Ghost of Christmas Past, who appears in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and this reference recalls Ebenezer Scrooge’s memory of his childhood, which relates to V’s desire to restore the past to the present.

Repetition also occurs in the rhetorical devices within the dialogue. Anadiplosis calls attention to the words by reinforcing them through repetition of the last word of a sentence in the beginning of the next. V uses this device to express the idea that when forming a group, a mass of individuals under one philosophy is a potential threat to a system of government with the statement “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” This philosophy’s structure is a stylistic reaction to Sutler’s use of anadiplosis in his motto “Strength through unity. Unity through faith.” Similarly, during his speech to London’s population, V uses anadiplosis as a way to catch his audience’s attention by using Sutler’s speaking style that has conditioned them to follow his totalitarian government. However, V inserts his own revolutionary ideas within the style using the statement:

Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there?

V uses epistrophe and anaphora in a way that repeats the theme of “Who is that masked man?” The epistrophe appears in a conversation with Evey when V states, “There is a face beneath this mask, but it is not me. I am no more that face than I am the muscles beneath it, or the bones beneath them. By using the repeated word ‘beneath,’ V evokes the image that he is a character layered in complexity. The word ‘beneath’ also gives the impression V does not consider himself a human being but rather a manifestation silenced outcries, trapped thoughts, and stifled dissent: he is the single voice of a revolution waiting to happen. A similar idea is expressed in the anaphora “Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.” In the quotation, the use of climax in combination with the anaphora of the repeated word ‘beneath’ demonstrates the fact that ideas are invincible no matter what weapon is used against them.

Sutler’s harsh speaking style differs from V’s poetic style. The reason for this is Sutler relies heavily on parallelism so that the ideas he wishes to present to his people all seem of equal, emphatic important. Some examples of Sulter’s outraged cries of parallelism include the following three:

  1. What we need right now is a clear message to the people of this country. This message must be read in every newspaper, heard on every radio, seen on every television
  2. Tonight, I give you my most solem vow: that justice will be swift; it will be righteous, and it will be without mercy
  3. I want this country to realize that we stand on the edge of oblivion. I want every man, woman, and child to understand how close we are to chaos. I want everyone to remember why they need us!

However, V mimics Sutler’s style in his speech to London’s population saying, “I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine, the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition.” The structure attracts his audience’s attention because Sulter uses the same technique; however, V also ridicules Sulter’s ineffective, antagonistic speaking style. In reference to Adam Sulter, V claims, “He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent.” Finally, the last sentence of V’s speech features parallelism that morphs into a rallying cry for action against Sutler’s government:

But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot.

Additionally, V uses parallelism in the statement “I have something for you, Chancellor: a farewell gift for all the things you have done, for the things you might have done, and for the only thing you have left” before he has Creedy murder Sutler as punishment for his political and humanitarian crimes. The parallelism in the phrase “have done, might have done, have left” combined with anaphora, which is V’s signature use of repetition, by repeating the words “for the things.”

V’s rhetorical devices become part of V’s masked persona as a man with a message he wants people to act upon. Therefore, his rallying cry that manipulates Sulter’s message must be unforgettable, which is why he relies on devices that use repetition. For example, V relies on anadiplosis to call attention to his message by reinforcing certain words. In addition, he uses anaphora more effectively than Sulter because V’s style sounds convincing whereas Sulter’ creates an abusive bombardment words. In the opening voiceover monologue, Evey uses both these repetition devices (anadiplosis and anaphora) combined with climax for emphasis to make the assertion that V is a man in the statement

You cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it, or hold it: ideas do not bleed, they do not feel pain, they do not love. And it is not an idea that I miss, it is a man. A man that made me remember the Fifth of November. A man that I will never forget.

In the statement, Evey claims human beings have the ability to craft ideas that have the power to bring about drastic change in a way that is more powerful than a passive act, a vengeful act, or a violent act. The masked man, V, is a complex trinity. He is a man; he is an idea, and he is a symbol. Combined, V represents the fact that one person can manipulate and change a country’s strict, regulated order using words and actions and a few explosives.