Rhetorical Analysis Of Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God

Decent Essays
Garrett Walshe
Professor Joycelyn Bell
RHET 1302.008
2 October 2017

Edwards “Sinners” Rhetorical Analysis
Imagine you are a Puritan, it is the Great Awakening, and one of the most well-known preachers of the time is telling you that there is a good chance you are going to hell. Without some serious skills in persuasion, this statement wouldn’t mean anything. Jonathan Edwards ' "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" speech was extremely effective in persuading the Puritans to take their religious beliefs more seriously due to his use of many rhetorical devices such as: figures of speech, repetition and sound, syntax, and the triangle of rhetoric - ethos, pathos, and logos. The people were getting distracted by things other than religion
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Next, we see Edwards use of repetition and sound. He used polysyndetons - the use of coordinating conjunctions in a rapid succession. He uses the word “and” to keep the attention and focus on due to how many ands there are, there could be a multitude of outcomes that could result. “The waters are constantly rising, and waxing more and more mighty; and there is nothing but mere pleasure of God, that holds the waters back” (Edwards 6). He also uses anaphora – the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses. “[N]othing to lay hold of to save [themselves], nothing to keep the flames of wrath, nothing of [their] own, nothing that [they] ever have done, nothing that [they] can do” to save them from anything God wants to happen to them (Edwards 6). His use of the word “nothing” burns into the Puritans’ brains that no matter what they do, they cannot change what God decides should happen. He also uses sound to his advantage. “[T]he fiery floods of the fierceness and wrath of God” focuses and highlights the meaning of what is being said (Edwards 6). Syntax is another profound way to emphasize a point. Parallel structure, rhetorical questions, and isocolons are found throughout the speech. “But, alas! instead of one, how many
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