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What Is a Peroration?

By A. Leverkuhn
Updated May 23, 2024
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A peroration is a specific category of rhetoric or communications that many describe as a conclusion or completion of a speech or piece of writing. This kind of communication often acts as a synthesizing summary of what has been previously said or written. Although the peroration is useful in some kinds of communication, it is less evident in informal communications that often end abruptly or spontaneously.

Typically, the peroration is where the speaker or writer summarizes the ideas that they have focused on throughout their presentation. This can include clarifying some of the more lengthy or complicated parts of a monologue, or otherwise providing a concise list of arguments, data points, or other ideas that the speaker or writer is trying to communicate. In many cases, the peroration functions as a persuasive element of communication, where the speaker or writer makes an additional attempt at reaching out to an audience effectively.

One excellent example of a peroration stands out in modern English-speaking societies. This phenomenon is called a closing statement, and is common in courtrooms and other legal venues. Attorneys have made use of this convention for centuries, and it is a powerful part of their overall presentations in legal arguments.

Legal closing statements and other kinds of perorations may use certain rhetorical devices or strategies. One of these is often called parallelism. In this kind of rhetorical strategy, the speaker outlines previous ideas by using several congruent phrases that complement each other in terms of length, style, or word choice. This technique may help make a peroration more effective in terms of reaching an audience.

Other strategies for perorations might include listing, where a speaker or writer tries to enumerate previous ideas in an almost technical fashion. This doesn’t usually include actual recitation of numbers, but may include additional body language like ticking off or enumerating items by counting on the fingers. Alternately, the speaker may make one single emotional appeal crafted for a specific persuasive result, either by using powerful language to evoke an ethos, or by making a combined appeal to reason and the issues that he or she feels will resonate with an audience. For example, politicians in many countries will include perorations at the ends of campaign speeches, which will often include references to specific "hot button" issues, language geared toward a unique relationship with a constituency, or other similar kinds of appeals.

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