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Updated May 29, 2023

Understanding the Power of Perclusio: Exploring a Rhetorical Device


When it comes to effective communication, the use of rhetorical devices plays a crucial role in capturing the attention of the audience and conveying a message with impact. From the use of metaphors to the art of repetition, these devices have been employed by speakers and writers throughout history to create persuasive and memorable content. In this article, we will delve into the world of rhetoric and explore the intriguing rhetorical device of perclusio, analyzing its purpose and providing accurate examples of its usage.

Unveiling Perclusio

Perclusio, derived from the Latin word "percludere" meaning "to enclose" or "to conclude," is a rhetorical device that involves the strategic placement of a word, phrase, or idea at the beginning and end of a passage or speech. Also known as "enclosing" or "concluding device," perclusio serves to emphasize and reinforce a key concept, leaving a lasting impression on the listener or reader.

The Purpose of Perclusio

The primary purpose of perclusio is to create a sense of closure and unity, effectively framing the content contained within. By enclosing an idea within the opening and closing statements, speakers and writers can highlight its significance and encourage the audience to pay closer attention. This device helps to reinforce the central message or theme, leaving a lasting impact on the audience's perception and understanding.

Examples of Perclusio in Action

To better understand the application of perclusio, let's explore a few accurate examples:

Example 1: Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech

In his historic speech, Martin Luther King Jr. utilized perclusio to emphasize his vision for racial equality and justice. He began his speech with the recurring phrase "I have a dream," which encapsulated the hopes and aspirations of the civil rights movement. King then concluded his speech by repeating the phrase once again, leaving the audience with a powerful sense of unity and purpose.

Example 2: Shakespeare's "Macbeth"

Shakespeare skillfully employed perclusio in his tragedy "Macbeth" to convey the destructive consequences of ambition. In Act 1, Scene 1, the three witches chant, "Fair is foul, and foul is fair," highlighting the theme of deception and moral confusion. This phrase is repeated throughout the play, most notably in Act 4, Scene 1, where it serves as a conclusion, reinforcing the tragic nature of Macbeth's actions and the inversion of traditional values.

Example 3: Steve Jobs' Stanford Commencement Speech

During his renowned Stanford Commencement Speech in 2005, Steve Jobs employed perclusio to inspire the graduating students. He began by recounting three stories from his life, each ending with the phrase "Stay hungry, stay foolish." By enclosing his speech with this powerful message, Jobs emphasized the importance of curiosity and risk-taking, urging the graduates to remain open to new opportunities and embrace their passions.

The Impact of Perclusio

Perclusio, as a rhetorical device, holds a significant impact on the audience. By strategically enclosing key ideas, phrases, or words within the opening and closing statements, speakers and writers can effectively create emphasis, enhance memorability, and reinforce the central theme or message. Perclusio helps to guide the audience's understanding, leaving a lasting impression that resonates far beyond the initial encounter.


In the realm of rhetoric, perclusio stands as a powerful device that aids in the creation of impactful communication. By employing this technique, speakers and writers can enclose significant ideas within their discourse, leaving a memorable mark on their audience. From Martin Luther King Jr.'s inspiring speech to Shakespeare's timeless plays, perclusio has proven its ability to captivate and engage. So next time you are crafting a persuasive speech or writing a compelling piece, consider harnessing the power of perclusio to leave a lasting impact on your audience.

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