Analysis of General Patton’s Speech Made Before D-Day
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General Patton’s speech to troops made before D-Day is persuasive. By the use of sound bites, macho rhetoric, empathy, emotive language, humour and emphasis he managed to empower the troops who were going into battle. Sound bites are used so that when the troops go out to fight they have something to remember. These are short bits of speech or text that become phrases. ‘Americans despise cowards.’; ‘Death must not be feared. Death in time, comes to all men.’, and ‘The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared.’ These sound bites create a sense of patriotism and give them something to help them emotionally get through the war. All the troops who fought in the D-Day landings would have wanted to be known as manly. That is why General Patton used macho rhetoric to create that feeling. ‘The real hero is the man who fights even though he is scared.’ This would have also given them confidence in the people who they were fighting next to and that if they got into trouble they would help. This also shows them that even though they are scared they are still ‘real’ men and so they can be proud of fighting for their country. ‘… The fastest runner, the toughest boxer …’ this creates the feeling of the troops being butch and strong when in reality they weren’t all. This would have given them false hope as they would have thought that they had a chance against the enemy when a lot of them actually didn’t.
However General Patton’s speech gave them hope to go into battle holding their heads high. General Patton also used empathy to create a sense of unity and that he actually cares about what happens to them. ‘If he says he’s not, he’s a liar’ this shows how everyone’s been through what each soldier will go through. This shows that no one is special and that everyone gets scared and worried. This creates the feeling of everyone being in it together and will support each other. ‘They are not supermen.’ General Patton is trying to break down the fear. If they know everyone isn’t perfect and they all go through the same feelings and fears it gives them more confidence in themselves. It also shows that General Patton himself isn’t ‘super’ or more important than them and therefore makes them trust in him. Emotive language is also used to create feelings of anger and patriotism among the soldiers. ‘kick the living shit out…’ This makes the soldiers feel angry and aggressive towards the enemy and therefore makes them want to fight them and to kill them. ‘…an ounce of sweat will save a gallon of blood.’ This makes them want to work hard so that they can save their comrades. He’s making them feel as though they can save their friends and fellow soldiers if they work hard, when in actual fact if they work hard and put themselves at the front they are more likely to get killed themselves.
‘Son, you granddaddy rode with the Great Third Army and …’ this creates the feeling of patriotism and that they will be able to be proud of what they achieved and what they sacrificed when the war is over. This makes them want to fight even more as they want their children and grand children to be proud of them. Humour is used to try to stop the soldiers thinking about their fears. ‘…enemy’s balls.’ This is not only creating humour but it is also creating aggression towards the enemy. This would have broken down the fear of the soldiers as it is similar to imagining someone naked where you are nervous or scared. It makes the enemy seem more vulnerable than the soldiers stood in front of General Patton. General Patton puts emphasis on the word ‘WE’ this creates a feeling of unity and that they are going into this war together. This makes the soldiers feel safe and can trust General Patton and their fellow comrades. The emphasis also makes the speech seem aggressive and patriotic. This would have helped the soldiers feel united. The words ‘Americans’ and ‘You’ also create the feeling of patriotism, especially when ‘Americans’ is repeated several times.
This makes the soldiers feel that the whole of America is backing them a supporting their struggles. Over all General Patton’s speech is persuasive as it tries to break down the fear of the soldiers by using Humour, Macho Rhetoric and Empathy. He also creates a feeling of unity among the troops by using Emphasis and Empathy. A feeling of patriotism is also created by using Emotive Language and Sound Bites. This all in all creates a positive feeling and allows the troops to go into battle feeling prepared and having something to pull them through the dark and tough times that would be felt during battle.