Rhetorical Analysis: Declaration of Independence 10/1/1

In Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence he uses literary devices to help convey his message. Through his use of diction, imagery, details, language, and syntax Jefferson is really able to get his message across to his audience in a clear and orderly manner. He also uses ethos, pathos, and logos to improve his writing.


In the Declaration of Independence he uses a specific type of word choice. He uses more formal wording and he does this because of the formal presentation and seriousness of the situation in which he is describing. He uses words such as dissolve, abolish, usurpations, and fatiguing to really enhance the text. This creates a sort of serious mood for the audience. Jefferson’s tone is very formal and serious about what he is talking about. He is not looking to maybe persuade his audience of the cruel and bitter treatment of his people that came from Great Britain. He is very adamant about his argument and uses these words to help prove his point.


Jefferson’s use of imagery helps the audience really understand the way things worked when he was in Great Britain and how it became completely necessary to dissolve the political bands between Britain and the United States. “He has refused Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.” This makes people develop this image of the King sitting on his thrown while people are not even given the necessary needs for living. “He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.” This helps develop this image of the King putting these people in these awkward and uncomfortable situations just to make it difficult to pass laws and make it so that it is not worth putting up a fight and they should just give into the King’s desires.


Details play a key role in making a good argument. Jefferson’s use an abundance of detail to help prove his point. “…long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism…” using this statement as a starting point to describe the “long train of abuse” provides the reader with this sense that Britain has been cruel and unfair and abusive. He uses the fact that the King will not even approve the necessary laws for the public good. He neglects the needs of the people and makes it impossible for them to get anything approved or changed. He also explains that the King has refused to make it possible for someone else to be elected and take his place. Detail after detail Jefferson is able to show his audience that Great Britain has been treating them poorly. He is not repetitive in his wording and sentences he merely conveys the point with an abundance of important details.


Jefferson has a very scholarly tone to his wording and overall approach to his writing. He uses descriptive, complicated, and sophisticated language to help the reader understand the seriousness of his writing. He makes himself seem very intelligent because of his language and the way he states things. He doesn’t simply say, the King of Great Britain is mean and we want to be independent, he uses words like cruel, perfidy, tyranny, desolation, dissolved, and deaf to show his scholarly wording. This helps the audience understand that Jefferson is a highly educated person and knows what he is talking about.


Jefferson constructs his sentences very delicately. He uses simple, compound, and declarative sentences to prove his point. He mostly uses compound sentences such as, “He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.” His use of compound sentences helps cram that mass amount of important detail into Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence. They are compound but not wordy or overdone. His sentences are developed in a way that make sense and move the argument along very smoothly.


Logos was used throughout this piece by stating what needs to be done because of the things that had happened with Great Britain. Jefferson states things such as the fact that the Government must meet these requirements and not mess with them and if they do it is the people’s duty to enforce these rules and abolish whatever is causing the problem. He then states how Great Britain has violated all of these rules and this is why they must become independent from Britain. He further explains that because of the way Great Britain has treated them that they must do these things in order to be treated fairly and one of the things is being independent and he uses examples to back this up.


Appealing to your audience requires you to organize the argument in a way that is easy to understand and has reliable resources and establish a common ground with the audience. Jefferson uses precise and clear examples to prove his point. Saying the King will not pass any laws for him and his people. The fact that the King ignores them and doesn’t really pay attention to them is unfair and cruel. The King refuses to give up his position on the thrown. He refuses to change for the good of the people. Jefferson gives good examples that appeal to the reader.


Putting emotion into your argument can also be a very good way to persuade your audience to believe what you are saying is valid. Jefferson uses certain words that put emotion into it such as cruel, destructive, uncomfortable, fatiguing and death. These words can put a certain feeling into the writing. It makes the audience have a sympathetic feeling towards these people and that the King was cruel and destructive and made the people uncomfortable. This gives the reader the sympathetic emotion and with this it is a convincing argument.



Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence uses many literary devises and the use of ethos, pathos, and logos to help with his argument. Abundant detail usage is in the Declaration of Independence that helps provide a overall feeling for the reader. Imagery, diction, language, and syntax are also included in the argument, which then helps persuade the audience that Great Britain is treating these people poorly and that they deserve to have their independence.

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