President Barack Obama’s farewell address serves as a symbolic end to an eight-year tenure as president of the United States. The standard themes in Obama’s public addresses have been hope and change, and the president continues to elaborate on those here. While describing accomplishments of his administration and thanking important people, Obama uses his last address as president to craft a narrative in three strands—past, present, and future—meant to inspire civic engagement in his audience. I use Burke’s dramatistic pentad to discover how Obama rhetorically motivates his listeners towards this end. President Obama creates a sense of empowerment and audience identification with past American heroes by initially using purpose as a driving force, later emphasizing agency, and finally focusing on the agents who can accomplish the purpose. Obama’s farewell address illustrates the importance of presidential farewell addresses to shape the politics to follow, in this case by persuading citizens to engage in democratic processes.
Dunn, R. Chase
"“The Future is in Good Hands”: A Pentadic Analysis of President Barack Obama’s Farewell Address,"
Kaleidoscope: A Graduate Journal of Qualitative Communication Research: Vol. 17, Article 7.
Available at: https://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/kaleidoscope/vol17/iss1/7