Response on Queen Elizabeth’s speech to the troops at Tilbury
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There often comes a point in the history of a nation when its people must stand and fight or be vanquished at the hands of their enemies. In such cases when battles draw near, it is frequently necessary for great leaders to rise up and compel their followers to stay strong in the face of adversity. Awaiting a Spanish invasion, in 1588 Queen Elizabeth I attempted to rally her troops assembled at Tilbury. To rouse their emotions and stir them to fight, the queen appealed to her troops’ sense of honor, duty, and patriotism. In order to gain the trust of her subjects and prove the strength of her resolve, Queen Elizabeth I uses powerfully vivid language and a myriad of stylistic techniques.
One of the key elements in the development of Queen Elizabeth I’s purpose is her use of poignant diction. She calls her people “loving” and “faithful” to create in them a sense of devotion to their matriarch. By getting the soldiers to feel loyal to the queen, Elizabeth I can more easily rally them to her cause. She associates the concept of war with honor so that the combatants can feel pride in doing their civic duty in protecting their homeland. She sharply criticizes those cynics who fear the “treachery” of England’s armed forces, and, in so doing, she hopes that they can place their trust in her as she claims to do in them. Additionally, she makes the concept of sacrifice seem honorable, as she knows that the imminent battle will cost many lives. It is clear that she feels a general sense of hesitation, so she attempts to praise her people by emphasizing the disparity of England and Spain. Characterizing the Spanish as “tyrants” and “enemies of God,” she draws a stark contrast between the invading forces and her honorable countrymen.
The use of language and the conjuring up of images demonstrates her purpose of boosting morale and showing her own will to persevere. Although Queen Elizabeth I’s outward appearance is perceived as “weak and feeble,” she more than makes up for her lack of physical might by having a “heart of a king,” which effectively shows her willingness to lead her troops to victory. While it is a king who is more often associated with the ability to fight, Queen Elizabeth I intimates to her audience that her passion for her country surpasses any deficiency that may come with being a woman. Elizabeth uses phrases such as “to live or die amongst you all,” and “even in the dust” to display her eagerness to give up her life for her people and ultimately her country. These images taken as a whole are used to instill patriotism in the listeners.
Another central component of her address is the syntax employed in the phraseology. Queen Elizabeth I exploits parallelism by saying she will serve as a “general, judge, and rewarder” in exchange for virtuous conduct. Repetition unifies the speech in her direct address to “[her] loving people.” By repeating the phrase, her emphatic calls to arms are personal and immediate.