Rivers of Blood

This study guide will help you analyze an extract of Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech. In addition to help with your analysis, you can find a summary of the text and ideas for putting it into perspective.

Presentation of the text

Title: "Rivers of Blood" (1968)

Sender: Enoch Powell

Genre: Speech

Enoch Powell (1912-1998) was a British politician and Conservative Member of Parliament. He served as Shadow Defence Secretary but was removed from his position the day after he delivered the “Rivers of Blood” speech. In the speech, he criticized mass immigration to the UK and made racist and xenophobic comments. 

This analysis is based on an extract of Powell’s full speech, which can be found in the textbook Everyone is Here – New Shapes of Diversity and Belonging in Britain. It is also important to note that the margin numbers found in this version refer to paragraphs, not lines. Thus, our references refer to paragraphs. 

Extract 

Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 

Antithesis

Powell uses antithesis to highlight the differences between the UK population and immigrants:

While, to the immigrant, entry to this country was admission to privileges and opportunities eagerly sought, the impact upon the existing population was very different… They found themselves made strangers in their own country. (paragraph 13)

Here, he contrasts the situation of immigrants, whom he considers privileged, with the situation of native British people, whom he sees as persecuted and victims.

Powell’s use of antithesis helps him...

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Rivers of Blood

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