A Neo-Aristotlean Analysis Of ‘Their Finest Hour’

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Topic: A Neo-Aristotlean analysis of ‘Their Finest Hour’ When Winston Churchill succeeded Neville Chamberlain as Prime Minister of Great Britain in the summer of 1940, he inherited an unenviable situation and a seemingly insurmountable set of circumstances: Britain, weary after only a year of warfare, stood alone against the might of Hitler's Germany, staring down the barrel of defeat. France and the European lowlands had been invaded by Germany a month earlier, meaning that only a narrow channel of water now separated the Nazi's from Britain. Russia meanwhile, still enjoyed civil diplomatic relations with the Germans- Operation Barbarossa still a year away from taking effect. And Pearl Harbour, which would essentially signal America's entry into the war, was even farther away. And so, it was clear that “the time when Britain could 'do anything' was over. It now needed someone to instead tell it that 'something must be done.'” (Oliver, 1987, p.204) That man would be Churchill and the purpose of this essay will be to critically analyze his 'Finest Hour' speech- one of many he delivered during this critical juncture- using the Neo-Aristotlean approach. For Churchill remains a divisive and polarizing: To some he is a hero and to others a murderer. But it is difficult for anyone who has studied his speeches to argue against his masterful oratory. Before beginning the analysis, it is important to describe the Neo-Aristotlean approach to rhetorical analysis and what it entails. Herbert Wichelns layed the original foundation when he wrote that necessary elements for Neo-Aristotlean criticism included: “the Speaker's personality as a conditioning factor, the public character of the man, a description of the speaker's audience, the leading ideas with which he supplied his hearers- his topics, the motives to which he appealed, the nature of the proofs he offered, the
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