Response Essay: “The Gettysburg Address”

Response Essay:

This certain edition is a guide through the tradition of liberal arts across the curriculum, in the classroom and beyond its confines. The edition offers diverse readings in business, social sciences, economics, humanities and education. The eleventh edition offers a new view on composing and reading across various media. Specifically, it offers over a hundred essay selections from prominent writers and thinkers, with every essay carefully chosen to encourage effective writing and provoke critical thinking. This response keenly looks at the effectiveness of the use of emotion and ethics in establishing a powerful argument as outlined in Abraham Lincoln’s The Gettysburg Address in chapter two, and agrees with Muller that the understanding of the audience in essential in the choosing of the tone for a powerful writing.  

As Muller outlines, in appealing to the emotions of the target audience in writing, time is of an utmost importance, and therefore, it is important to go as quickly as possible to the point and wrap up the discussion when the audience are still in an emotional roller coaster. In that short argument, the author outlines that it is important to take a stand on an issue, clarify your claim, have your audience in mind and develop the tone of the writing. To start with, Lincoln’s address was less than fifteen lines and took only two minutes in total. He understood that his audience were mourners and would therefore not appreciate a very long speech. Secondly, in the first line, he takes his claim that he was on the side of those opposing slavery because the nation had been built upon the principle of liberty and idea that all men are created equal. These are the key attributes of such a short seech, because in a sentence, everyone knows his claim and in the same line Lincoln manages to defend his claim by arguing that freedom was at the core of the nation’s foundation.

Just as Muller observes in this edition, to make the audience agree with certain points, it is important to outline some elements or tasks that appeal to both the audience and the speaker. Indeed, in the second paragraph of his address, Lincoln turns the minds of the audience to the task at hand, which is burying those who had died fighting in the civil war. The respect for the dead is a universal attribute present in every civilized culture. Therefore, although it is not highlighted in the address, the reader would have in the back of their minds that even the warring factions would have respected the dead even at a time of war. In building his claim further, Lincoln upholds the actions of the dead by highlighting that the world will never forget what the dead had died trying to achieve, namely, securing the freedom of the nation. Just as Muller outlines in his text, the tone is what carries the audience along. Lincoln establishes a tone of resolution that makes the ending of his short speech both powerful and memorable. A tone is important for any writing because it is often what attracts the audience to a piece of work. In this essay, Lincoln establishes his tone on the second paragraph and steadily builds on it to the point that by the end of the speech, it’s a tone of resolve bordering on defiance.

The last four lines to the end of the short speech are important for the address, just like the opening remarks. The speaker urges the people to be galvanized by the death of the departed to finish the task that they had started. He alsso persuades the audience to take the chance to secure the freedom of the then divided nation and declares that the government shall not perish from the earth. What he essentially does is to strengthen the resolve of the people who would otherwise have been scared by the death of those soldiers. On the contrary, one is led to feel that the people have a greater desire to act now that they have been tasked to fight for a greater and noble task than themselves, the survival of their nation. This way, in very few sentences, Lincoln manages to rally the people behind a noble task and uses the death of their comrades to increase their commitment to the war for freedom.

In chapter two, Muller sets out to discuss effective arguments in reading and writing. The Gettysburg address is a masterpiece when it comes to the understanding of the language of argument and justification. This response agrees with the author that the tone and the prose are very essential in building up a strong argument. In a speech composed of very few lines, this essay by Lincoln manages to capture the mood of the audience, establish his claim and defend his position and ultimately gather the people and project them towards a common destiny with a tone of resolve and maybe even defiance. Therefore, this is an example of a short essay with powerful lines, where every sentence is carefully chosen and therefore makes it ideal for any student who is in the process of learning how to write. The essay is essential for chapter two in his text since the chapter deals with reading and writing effective arguments. Thus, it can be stated that there is no better essay to address the language of argument in writing than The Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln.