Bob’s Rhetoric

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Bob’s Rhetoric


Mark Fahey

English 1301, Section 284

Felicia Dz


The rhetorical analysis of One Love by Bob Marley is easily understood if broken down. The rhetoric of the song has been broken down into three parts; ethos, pathos, and logos. Clarifying each part of the rhetoric meaning from the song is a key skill in explaining the rhetorical analysis. In more detail, things like audience, the artist, content, and the message of the song are a critical part of the analysis of the song. Critical thinking is applied to each one of these components and come together to form a rhetorical analysis of the song ‘One Love’.

Bob’s Rhetoric

Bob Marley’s song One Love has a depth in its meaning coming from the heart and soul of the man himself. Being able to break this song down and read what is in-between the lines is a way of understanding the ethos, pathos, and logos of the song. Who the man really is and what his views are, are elaborated through the rhetorical skills used. Ethos, pathos, and logos are what make up the rhetoric of the song. Knowing who the audience is, the content, form, and the message of the song are other major aspects of the rhetorical analysis of ‘One love’ by Bob Marley. Relating things that were going on at the time the song came out gives a better understanding of what the message is.

In 1977 the song ‘One Love’ by Bob Marley was released, Marley’s home country was going through a major significant change for peace at this time ( | The Official Site of Bob Marley., 2011). The song is “Deeply based in the technique of moral persuasion” (Bob Marley's Song One Love, 2005). An occasion that could have given Bob the opportunity to persuade others to come together and make peace was an incident Bob Marley was involved in. Bob was a victim in a gun shooting a year before the song was released (Career Time Line). He was shot with a few of his friends but they have all recovered fully (Career Time Line). The song ‘One Love’ encourages us to set aside the fighting, the differences, and have us united as one to help those that are down when you are up (Merhab, B., 2011).

Bob Marley has always had a kind sense in his lyrics, and his “image represents freedom” (Ras, 2008). A good point to provide his ethos was “Indigenous cultures throughout the world relate to his music, the humility and the gentleness of his melodies and lyrics” (2008). He has always been known as a thoughtful man of good words and is liked by many people. The creation of this ‘One Love’ message from Bob is easily related to millions of individuals. His credibility is high because he has so many followers that have similar beliefs that he has and relate to what he talks about in his songs. By this, Marley has a variety of discourse communities; another tool used by writers to help influence his rhetorical meaning. In his song ‘One Love’ Bob Marley shows he is knowledgeable because he recognizes the fighting and the selfishness going on in the world and explains what we should do and what is right. He has created a whole entire movement from his powerful music that people still listen to today even though he died years ago. You can see that his inspiring messages have been carried on if you look around and you’ll see people wearing shirts, bracelets, and other things that have quotes from his songs on them.

When a writer is writing his thoughts, he usually has a direct purpose such as teaching or defending an opinion. ‘One Love’ is a defending approach to what is good for the people and how they should come together to fight against the bad. He exhorts to the “Holy Armageddon” (ONE LOVE Lyrics - BOB MARLEY., 2011) in One Love which is believed to mean the end of time and he says we need to come together to make peace because it could lead us to the end of time if we don’t stop being selfish, and stop the violence. Along with thoughts and beliefs, religion also plays a role in Bob Marley’s writing and persuasion. Praising is something that is obvious in this song as he says “Give thanks and praise to the Lord and I will feel all right.” (2011) Bob is saying the people need to be delighted by coming together in a peaceful manner instead of being selfish. When Bob says “Is there a place for the hopeless sinner, who has hurt all mankind just to save his own?” (2011) he is referring to the selfishness in the world. Bob Marley believes the people should help one another because we are as one, and need to be together as ‘One Love’.

In every rhetorical analysis there must be a directed audience, or a specific discourse community. It is believed the audience for the song ‘One Love’ is people that may be causing corruption. Those individuals who care about fighting against all odds and corrupting the earth are being criticized by Bob Marley himself. Bob mentions in the song that he is “pleading to mankind” (ONE LOVE Lyrics - BOB MARLEY., 2011) so it could be just the world as a whole. Bob Marley values the need to come together and be one instead of only doing things that benefit just yourself, and could possibly cause harm to others. For those that are causing the corruption, he warns them that the end will be near. The power and violence being created in the world will one day over lap one another and create a disaster that cannot be replaced or forgiven. Even though Bob makes it clear that he is speaking to mankind, the message in the song can still influence people in their families, groups of friends, or any other group of people that could potently experience a time of selfishness or fighting among them.

Bob Marley has created this message of One Love so we remember to “Find our rhythm again, taking the time to stop and reflect on the beauty that surrounds us” (Ras., 2008). The song itself ‘One Love’ by Bob Marley is basically saying we need to be thankful of the lord and praise him. It also sends another rhetorical message that will make you feel better when advice is needed. In the quote, “Is there a place for the hopeless sinner who has hurt all mankind just to save his own? Believe me.” (ONE LOVE Lyrics - BOB MARLEY., 2011) the meaning of the line refers to the opinion of a place where the bad people or “hopeless sinner” (2011) go, and those who have “hurt all mankind just to save his own” (2011). Marley also believes we need to come together to fight against the end; or referred to as the “Holy Armageddon” (2011). Bob also connects his religion to his lyrics by stating there is no doom when “the Man” (2011) comes and there is no hiding place from him. When he says “the man” (2011) he is referring to the lord or God. When he mentions the “Holy Armageddon” (2011) it persuades people to come together. As he says that there is no “Holy Armageddon” (2011), which is represented as the end of time, Bob Marley believes people should fear it. The phrases “One Love and “One Heart” are what he believes as all of mankind as one whole coming together, setting aside their differences, stop fighting, and make peace with each other peace. There is a little sorrow in the song ‘One Love’ but it is mainly filled with hope and joy of creating this message One Love. The little sorrow is in the fact that he mentions the “hopeless sinner” (2011) and that there are some out there that have “hurt all mankind just to save his own” (2011).

In rhetorical sense, this song is one you could consider to fall under the reggae genre. Different genres have different meanings or characteristics of a rhetorical analysis. Bob mainly gives hope that if we come together, thank and praise the lord it will make everything better. By doing so, the actually tone of his voice in the song seems mostly happy because he believes he has the solution to our problem of selfishness. You can tell he truly does believe in his song from his soothing, smooth voice and calm rhythm; which appeals to his audience more. The tones and beats used by a performer relates to the discourse community being targeted. This helps the performer stretch the message out easier by having a common ground with the public. Also the form and content corresponds well as he gives a problem in one chorus of the song, and within the next line has the solution. In this flow, ‘One Love’ gives a complete understanding of the issues Bob Marley has an opinion on. It’s easy to understand what he really wants and thinks is right when it comes to breaking the lyrics into rhetorical analysis.

During this time of controversy, a song such as ‘One Love’ helped to send a great message to all of mankind to provide peace to one another. It is a good guidance for those of you who are looking for the better of the world by not having a selfish attitude. His message can easily, and always will, be carried on for the time it was released to present day in anytime that fighting and selfishness occurs in the world.


Bob Marley's Song One Love. (2005). rasta man vibration. Retrieved October 11, 2011,

from | The Official Site of Bob Marley. (2011). | The Official Site of

Bob Marley . Retrieved October 11, 2011, from

Career Time Line. (n.d.). angelfire. Retrieved October 11, 2011, from

Merhab, B. (2011, September 5). Bob Marley's One Love message lives on. Australian and

World News – Main Stories - ninemsn News. Retrieved October 11, 2011, from

ONE LOVE Lyrics - BOB MARLEY. (2011). Song Lyrics. Retrieved October 11, 2011, from

Ras. (2008, January 15). Bob Marley One Love Message Burning Strong Worldwide | Rasta

Seed. Rasta Seed Rastafarian Jamaican Reggae Merchandise and Information. Retrieved

October 10, 2011, from


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