Analysis: George W. Bush - Address to a Terrified Nation

Presentation / Essay (Pre-University), 2011

5 Pages


Address to a Terrified Nation

In his memorable crisis speech George Bush aspires to encourage the American citizens after the attacks on September 11, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, he aims to convince the audience of the official American anti-terror policy in order to defend freedom and justice of democratically elected governments - not only America - which were under the attack of a terrorist organization demanding radical targets. To get a better insight into Bush´s aims it is inevitable to analyse his deployed stylistic and rhetoric devices.

In the first paragraph Bush refers to the strength of the United States despite the past attacks. His aim is to encourage the fellow citizens by using basically several symbols and metaphors as you will see.

First of all, Bush describes the character traits of the American people by appealing several groups, such as the passengers in the airplanes and the rescuers on the destroyed locations. These character traits are described by using the signal words “courage” (l. 5) and “endurance” (l. 6). So Bush shows that the Americans are not intimidated by these terror attacks and continuously hardworking to save people from the destroyed places.

Moreover, Bush deploys three symbols, i.e. “flags” (l. 7), “candles” (l. 8) and “blood” (l. 8). The flags are representing the American patriotism to believe in the strength of one´s own country. The candles give an impression of the losses that have been made in the past days. They are a commemorance of the killed people. The blood puts an emphasis on the injuries and pain of the victims. So Bush is not only encouraging by referring to the good aspects of the American citizens but also mentioning the bad aspects that America has overcome due to its strength and bravery.

The word “prayers” (l. 8) reveals an allusion of God by drawing the focus on the religious aspect. Bush appeals to various religions by mentioning their characteristic languages: “in English, Hebrew, and Arabic” (ll. 8-9). English stands for the Western world, therefore, for Christianity. Hebrew is the language of Jewish people and Arabic is mainly spoken by Muslim people. So by this allusion Bush shows the importance of the religion in the past events, as it was a radical religious group which is responsible for the attacks. But by including the Arabic citizens into this speech he distances from widespread prejudices against Muslim people as he shows their same emotional involvement into the happenings like the other religions. Therefore, he is not blaming any religion opposed to prejudices.

In addition, Bush clarifies that America is meant to be the unity of different people with different religions.

The above mentioned thesis of Bush´s aims to encourage the citizens is proved by reference to the emotional language conveyed by the metaphors and symbols in the first paragraph.

In the second paragraph Bush considers the defense of freedom as an American duty or task.

Firstly, he uses the verb “called” (l. 13). America is like a soldier whose order is “to defend freedom” (ll. 13-14). So the American anti-terror policy is considered to be obligatory and inevitable - it has to be done. Bush tries to justify his future plans to fight against terror as if they are essential.

Secondly, Bush deploys a pun: “Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done.” (ll. 14-16). The focus is drawn to his assurance that justice will be brought to the enemies on either way, it does not matter how it will be done but it will be done. It is obvious that according to Bush´s policies the end is justified by the means.

So in this paragraph Bush endeavors to convince the citizens of his foreign policy to exterminate terror by doing justice.

The third paragraph is structured by antithesis to show that this war is on a higher dimension which America itself has never experienced before.

“Americans have known the casualties of war - but not at the centre of a great city on a peaceful morning” (l. 21-23). The attacks are considered to be an ambush because of the fact that America was not knowing and expecting any kind of attacks. Furthermore, these events took place on American ground which was only experienced once in its history. The enemies are, moreover, seen as cowards for attacking a great city with a huge amount of unsuspecting civilians. So these attacks are revealed as an act of ambushing and coward cruelty.

“Americans have known surprise attacks - but never before on thousands of civilians.” (ll. 24-25). This antithesis proves the above mentioned explanation. But it also gives further impressions of its enormous effect on killing many innocent citizens.

“All of this was brought upon us in a single day - and night fell on a different world […]” (ll. 25-28). It was not only an attack to America but also to the world the terrorists are coming from. The personification of night that is falling on their world shows the negative impressions and images about their countries after these attacks as their societies were heavily criticised due to their lack of freedom, justice and equality. The night, furthermore, conveys a dark atmosphere and represents the fear that is felt towards people from these countries.


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Analysis: George W. Bush - Address to a Terrified Nation
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Tharusan Thevathasan (Author), 2011, Analysis: George W. Bush - Address to a Terrified Nation, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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