Wheatley's Patriotic Poem Essay

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American independence was achieved through the unification of colonists against the British crown. This unity required cooperation among the colonies and support for the newly formed Continental Army. George Washington was the general of the Continental Army and was expected to meet the expectations of colonists eagerly awaiting freedom. To encourage the general in his endeavors, poet Phillis Wheatley wrote “To His Excellency General Washington.” Using literary devices in the poem, Wheatley promotes the merit of the American Revolution. By using allusion, Wheatley emphasizes the worth of the American Revolution. Wheatley accomplishes this goal by alluding to figures in mythology and describing their attributes. The poet was familiar…show more content…
In conjunction with allusion, the diction of Wheatley’s poem supports the value of the American Revolution. Wheatley uses many sophisticated words in her writings due to her extensive education. Literary critic Anne Applegate surmised that because of this background, in Wheatley’s poems, “Her diction is highly stylized and elevated.” (124). While this word choice often works to emphasize a specific attribute about a person or an idea, in the case of Wheatley’s poem to George Washington her diction simultaneously creates the impression that the American Revolution is an honorable cause. This effect is evidenced by Wheatley’s diction in passages such as, “Celestial choir! enthron’d in realms of light, Columbia’s scenes of glorious toils I write,” (1-2) and, “Thee, first in peace and honours, -we demand The grace and glory of thy martial band” (25-26). The wording of these passages is not only elegant, but works to reveal that the efforts of Americans in their war against Britain are glorious and beautiful. Wheatley’s diction in her poem to George Washington makes it a source of personal encouragement for the general, while publicly proclaiming the dignity of the American Revolution to the entire world. Overall, the diction of “To His Excellency General Washington,” by Phillis Wheatley, promotes the worth of the American Revolution. Along with other literary devices, Wheatley uses

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