Parallelism: Figure of balance identified by a similarity in the syntactical structure of a set of words in successive phrases, clauses, sentences; successive words, phrases, clauses with the same or very similar grammatical structure. This figure often occurs public address with others such as antithesis, anaphora, asyndeton, climax, epistrophe and symploce.

Examples

"Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty."

-- John F. Kennedy, Presidential Inaugural Address

"I've tried to offer leadership to the Democratic Party and the Nation. If, in my high moments, I have done some good, offered some service, shed some light, healed some wounds, rekindled some hope, or stirred someone from apathy and indifference, or in any way along the way helped somebody, then this campaign has not been in vain."

-- Jesse Jackson, 1984 Democratic National Convention Address

"We have seen the state of our Union in the endurance of rescuers, working past exhaustion.  We've seen the unfurling of flags, the lighting of candles, the giving of blood, the saying of prayers -- in English, Hebrew, and Arabic."

George W. Bush, 9-20-01 Address to the Nation on Terrorism



"This nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

-- Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address (delivered by Jeff Daniels)

Note: This parallelism is used in conjunction with epistrophe.

"The Ireland of 1963, one of the youngest of nations and the oldest of civilizations, has discovered that the achievement of nationhood is not an end but a beginning. In the years since independence, you have undergone a new and peaceful revolution, an economic and industrial revolution, transforming the face of this land while still holding to the old spiritual and cultural values. You have modernized your economy, harnessed your rivers, diversified your industry, liberalized your trade, electrified your farms, accelerated your rate of growth, and improved the living standard of your people."

-- John F. Kennedy, Address to the Irish Parliament

"We do not come as aggressors. Our war is not a war of conquest; we are fighting in defense of our homes, our families, and posterity. We have petitioned, and our petitions have been scorned; we have entreated, and our entreaties have been disregarded; we have begged, and they have mocked when our calamity came. We beg no longer; we entreat no more; we petition no more. We defy them."

-- William Jennings Bryan, Cross of Gold Address

Note: The first three sentences comprise the first parallelism used in conjunction with anaphora. The the next three sentences constitute a second parallelism also in conjunction with anaphora.

President Josiah Bartlet: "More than any time in recent history, America's destiny is not of our own choosing. We did not seek, nor did we provoke, an assault on our freedoms and our way of life. We did not expect, nor did we invite, a confrontation with evil. Yet the true measure of a people's strength is how they rise to master that moment when it does arrive. But every time we think we have measured our capacity to meet a challenge, we look up and we're reminded that that capacity may well be limitless. This is a time for American heroes. We will do what is hard. We will achieve what is great. This is a time for American heroes and we reach for the stars. God bless their memory. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. Thank you."

-- delivered by Martin Sheen, from the TV series The West Wing, Season 4, Ep. 1

Rhetorical Figures in Sound

Online Speech Bank

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American Rhetoric.
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