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“The Indispensable Opposition” Rhetorical Anaylsis Essay

Walter Lippmann, author of “The Indispensable Opposition” informs his audience on the importance of everyone having freedom of opinion in society. He persuades his audience through diction which gives his piece a specific tone, and the use of pronouns that familiarize himself with his audience. Lippmann’s diction sets the tone for his entire piece. The first example of this is located in the first paragraph, Lippmann says, “Thus, the defense of freedom of opinion tends to rest not on its substantial, beneficial, and indispensable consequences …” (Lippmann P.1) Lippmann gives the audience a sense of importance behind freedom of opinion when reading this. He does this through his word choice. Using three words that have similar definitions right after one another is putting emphasis on the urgent tone. The effect of giving his audience a feeling of urgency helps persuade them into thinking that the freedom of opinion is significant, and there must be a great deal of precautions taken to help preserve it. Later in the piece, Lippmann uses the exact same setup of three tone words right next to one another in a single sentence. These words may have different meanings than the first examples, but they too have an effect on the audience.

Lippmann uses “magnanimous, noble, and unselfish” to give a generous tone when talking about our society. The author is trying to tell the audience that the only reason why “we” as a society fight for the freedom of opinion for each and every person is because we are generous people. He wants to persuade the audience into thinking that this is wrong. We should be fighting for this freedom to help better everyone’s opinion including our own. The effect of this is that the audience may begin to understand and support the author’s purpose, and cause them to realize how we are fighting to uphold this freedom for the wrong reasons. The tone of this piece affects the audience immensely. Lippmann uses familiar pronouns that connect the audience and himself. In the first sentence of the fifth paragraph, Lippmann states, “We miss the whole point when we imagine that we tolerate the freedom of our political opponents as we tolerate a howling baby next door, as we put up with blasts from our neighbor’s because we are too peaceful…”

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