Patrick Henry’s Speech to the Virginia Convention: Allusions, Rhetorical Question, Pathos

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Patrick Henry’s Speech to the Virginia Convention: Allusions, Rhetorical Question, Pathos

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Allusions in Patrick Henry's Speech
  • Rhetorical Questions in Patrick Henry's Speech
  • Pathos in the Speech in the Virginia Convention
  • Conclusion


This passage was written by Patrick Henry before the revolutionary war at the Virginia Convention. Henry uses many different strategies to help his writing. In this passage, Henry uses Allusions, Rhetorical questions, and Pathos strategies to convince the colonists with second thoughts about the revolution to support the revolution. Henry uses Allusions to make references to the audience, Rhetorical question to make the audience see what is logical to pick the right thing, and pathos to give the audience emotions.

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Allusions in Patrick Henry's Speech

An allusion is when the author uses a well known reference from outside of the reading. Henry uses allusions because it references something that the ad Dian exists can relate to or understand. Henry uses an allusion when he says “and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beast”. A siren is referenced in greek mythology as a dangerous creature that would lure sailors to their death. Another Allusion Henry uses is when he says “having eyes see not, and having ears hear not”. This is a quote that comes out of Ezekiel from the bible.

Rhetorical Questions in Patrick Henry's Speech

A rhetorical question is a question that does not have an answer or a question that does not need to be answered because it has an obvious answer. Rhetorical questions are used in this reading to help make the reader agree more to the point being made. Henry uses a rhetorical question when he says “lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?”. This is a rhetorical question because no one would do nothing if there enemy was hurting them. Another rhetorical question was when henry said “ But when shall we be stronger ? Will it be the next week , or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? ”. The Answer again is obviously no because no one gets stronger when there enemy gains an advantage over them.

Pathos in the Speech in the Virginia Convention

Pathos is a persuasive strategy used to make some feel emotional or something appeals to their emotion. Henry uses Pathos to make the people have anger towards Britain. Henry uses pathos when he says “Give me liberty, or give me death”. Henry shows how much emotion he feels from the British that he would rather be dead than live with british rule. This plays with the audiences emotions to make them want freedom. Pathos is also used when Henry says “our brethren are already in the fields”. This makes the audience feel that people just like them are already fighting in the war.


For the colonist who do not want to go to war, Henry uses Allusions, rhetorical questions, and pathos to convince them to join the war. Each of the straddles helps the reader notice that the colonist need independence. Allusions are used to make reference the audience can understand. Rhetorical question has a logic to them which make the reader see what is correct and incorrect. Pathos lets the audience get emotional. Without these strategies, the speech may not be convincing enough.

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