Queen Elizabeth’s speech invigorated the troops and ensured her faith in them and her capability as a leader through the use of repetition, juxtaposition, persuasion, amplification and diction. In the beginning sentence Elizabeth includes herself in the fight by using “we” thereby establishing a common ground with the troops. She uses emotional argument to instill a sense of nationalism. Elizabeth repeatedly refers to her people affectionately with phrases like “my loving people” (line 1) or “my faithful and loving people” (line 5).
By complementing the soldiers, asserting nationalism, and giving them a purpose, she inspires them to proudly defend England. Queen Elizabeth reference’s God and country throughout the speech, evoking a strong sense of English patriotism through the use of repetition. The Queen juxtaposes her “weak and feeble” (line 14) form as a woman, to her strong spirit and bravery, likened to that of a king of England, thus further appealing to the audience’s nationalism. She elevates her status above the oppressing sexism of the times, she suggests that she is as capable of success as any shrewd, hard-stomached king.
When speaking of the defense of the county, the Queen proposes that she herself will fight amongst them, Elizabeth repeats “myself” as amplification of her dedication to her country. Elizabeth places her full trust in her people, denouncing any thought of distrust. Her unwavering trust is a reassurance to her people. She does not feel the need to control and regulate her subjects for fear of rebellion, she gives them the power to defend and protect the homeland. Her people respect her for this and remain loyal to her. The final persuasion is promise of “rewards and crowns” (line 21) for those concerned with monetary and influential matters.
The Queen promises to reward for valour and virtue on the battlefield. The repetition of “your” in the closing sentence serves as an appraisal and importance of the troops. Elizabeth uses the value of trust, nationalism, faith, relation, and material reward as a means to convince her troops to defend their homeland. By assimilating herself as their equal and asserting her willingness to give everything for her country, she makes the idea of dying in battle more comfortable to the soldiers. She gives them a cause, and they rise to the occasion.
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Queen Elizabeth I gave this speech to her troops in August 1588, as they were gathered at Tilbury, Essex, one of the counties in the East Anglia region of England and one of the mainstays in the Tudor kingdom and very close to London. Her troops were assembled prior to defending the southern coast against the expected invasion from Spain. Although the Spanish Armada had not been successful in invading on first attempts, it was feared further invasion might occur from Dunkirk, so troops kept at the ready. On the day of making this speech the Queen moved among her troops to demonstrate her allegiance to them before asking for their allegiance in return. Accompanied by loyal Earls she displayed her own armor, presenting herself as a warrior and a very powerful leader who possessed determination and valor.
Historians believe that her appearance was actually even more important than her speech as her battle dress clearly showed her ready for a battle giving congruency to her words. Elizabeth did inspire her troops and a loyalty from her subjects that also enabled her to remain safe and protected from uprising.
The expected invasion never came and the troops were stood down two days later.