Pentadic Analysis Of The Statue Of Liberty

Essay, Research Paper

A Pentadic Analysis of the Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is one of the most well know symbols of the United States, across the world. For this reason I chose to analyze the dramatic effect it creates, and what methods it implores to invent this “universal” meaning. It is one of the strongest visual representations of the ideals which our country is founded upon. I intend to defend the argument that the Statue of Liberty posses the power of persuading human thought using the terms encompassed in Kenneth Burke’s Pentad, shaping the definition of “America” for people through out the world.

The Statue of Liberty was originally a gift to the United States from France, back in the late 1800’s. The massive structure is one of the first images of America seen be people entering the country through Ellis Island. In the previous century, most of the immigrants who sought refuge on the shores of “the land of the free, and the home of the brave” entered our boarders through the immigration office of Ellis Island. It became an image associated with the political freedom and hope of making a better life the United States offers to people spanning the globe. Back in 1976, a project to renovate the statue was undertaken, and named after the man who over saw the work. It was called the Lee Iacocca Project, who was at the time the Chief Executive Officer of Chrysler Motor Corporation. When remodeling the “Lady of Liberty”, bronze was used to repair the deteriorating copper metal which it was originally built from. The symbol of justice similarly is represented as a woman, eluding to the protective nature they both provide in watching over the citizen’s of the United States.

Burke’s Pentad includes five categories, which help classifying arguments as dramatic actions. The first part is the “act”; What is done by the unit? The second part of his evaluation is the “scene”; What is the history behind the “act”? The third category of Burke’s Pentad is the “agent”; Who is the source of the message? How the “agent” accomplishes its “act” is defined as the “agency” in the fourth term of the Pentad. The final piece to Burke’s analysis is to the define the “purpose” of the action.

After applying the Pentad to the “dramatic action” performed by the Statue of Liberty, I identified the following five aspects as the elements of the Burkian Pentad:

Act: The act performed by the statue is the representation of the “American Dream”

Scene: The scene of the action is the historical struggle our the United States endued to achieve political freedom

Agent: The agent of the act is the government of the United States

Agency: The agency, or means of executing this act is visual representation of the statue herself, and the location it has

Purpose: The purpose of the statue is to inspire the hope of freedom and a better life, and a reminder to all of her citizens what they are entitle to, all thanks to the struggles of the men who founded her great


The most dominant theme of the Pentad, when applied to the Statue of Liberty is the “act” itself. All of the other parts of the Pentad are grounded in the “act”. The significance of the “act” is defined by the historical struggle of creating a nation founded upon the pursuit of independence. The statue, itself, communicates this message to the world, and at the same time carries out the “purpose” she performs in the representation of our deeply grounded belief in the preservation of freedom.

She performs the rhetorical act of persuading people around the world into remember the ideals our nation was founded upon, while at the same time providing hope for a better life. Her visual image carries such a strong presence that without any oratorical deliberation, the purpose of her message is already accomplished.


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