The peripeteia, an analysis of reversal speeches by Barbara Bush, Richard Nixon, and Lyndon B. Johnson
In accomplishing a triumphant occurrence of peripeteia the person or persons involved must present proof that the proposed outcome is good, and that those who are making the proposition are also good and worth trusting. Aristotle said that "speakers themselves are made trustworthy by three things; for there are three things, besides demonstrations, which make us believe. These are intelligence, virtue, and good will." He also believed that ethical proof "is wrought when the speech is so spoken as to make the speaker credible; for we trust good men more and sooner, as a rule, about everything."
This thesis will analyze three speakers in separate situations in their quest to complete peripeteias. Through their speeches each of them not only had to show that a circumstance was in need of turning, but that they had the intelligence, virtue, and good will that Aristotle believed a speaker needed to convince their audiences that there was truth in their words. The speakers and speeches to be examined are, Barbara Bush's commencement address to Wellesley College in 1990, Lyndon B. Johnson's Right to Vote speech in 1965, and Richard Nixon's Checkers speech from the 1952 presidential campaign.