Interesting Literature

A Short Analysis of Mark Antony’s ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen’ Speech

By Dr Oliver Tearle (Loughborough University)

Mark Antony’s ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen’ speech from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is a masterclass of irony and the way rhetoric can be used to say one thing but imply something quite different without ever naming it . Mark Antony delivers a funeral speech for Julius Caesar following Caesar’s assassination at the hands of Brutus and the conspirators, but he is only allowed to do so as long as he does not badmouth the conspirators for their role in Caesar’s death.

Antony’s references to Brutus as an honourable man subtly and ingeniously show that Brutus is anything but honourable, while also serving to show that Caesar was not the ambitious man Brutus has painted him to be.

The best way to analyse this key speech from the play is to go through it, summarising it section by section.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;

famous speech analysis essay

I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.

Mark Antony has ‘read the room’ and knows the mood among the crowd: they still support the assassination of Julius Caesar and so side with Brutus and the other conspirators.

Mark Antony treads carefully, brilliantly going against their expectations and reassuring him that he is simply there to deliver a funeral oration, not to take the dead general’s side (it’s worth remembering that Julius Caesar was a general, not an emperor: although he was called Caesar, he wasn’t ‘a’ Caesar, the name given to later emperors of Rome in his honour).

The evil that men do lives after them; The good is oft interred with their bones;

Daniell notes helpfully that these lines, which have become much more famous thanks to Shakespeare’s play, are proverbial and their sentiment (albeit with different wording) predate Shakespeare.

The meaning is obvious enough: when people die, the bad things they did often stick in people’s memories, while their good deeds are forgotten. As Antony goes on to say, ‘So let it be with Caesar’.

Immediately, then, he is cleverly saying that he is happy for everyone to focus on Caesar’s bad points and forget the good the man did; but in referring to the latter, he is subtly reminding them that Caesar did good as well as evil things. (By the way, a note on scansion or metre: because Mark Antony is addressing the crowd using blank verse or unrhymed iambic pentameter , ‘interred’ should be pronounced as three syllables, not two.)

So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus Hath told you Caesar was ambitious: If it were so, it was a grievous fault, And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.

Mark Antony now takes up Brutus’ words about Julius Caesar and responds to them. He doesn’t contradict Brutus, but instead uses the subjunctive ‘If’: ‘If it were so’. He refuses to say that Caesar was ambitious, but grants that if it were true, it was a terrible fault.

The purpose of this is to cast doubt on the very idea that Caesar was ambitious (supposedly the very reason for his assassination), but in such a way that doesn’t rub the crowd (which still supports Brutus) up the wrong way. He then goes on to point out, however, that if Caesar was ambitious, he’s now dead, so has ‘answer’d’ or paid the penalty for his fault.

Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest– (For Brutus is an honourable man; So are they all, all honourable men) Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral.

Mark Antony makes a performative gesture to Brutus’ supposed generosity in letting him, Mark Antony, speak at Caesar’s funeral. He says that such generosity is a sign of Brutus’ honour: he, and the rest of the conspirators, are ‘honourable men’.

He was my friend, faithful and just to me: But Brutus says he was ambitious; And Brutus is an honourable man.

Antony now slowly begins to ease in some praise for Caesar, but keeps it personal to him, rather than making grand, universal statements about Caesar’s good qualities: he was his friend, and faithful and just to him . But then, Brutus says Caesar was ambitious, and Brutus is honourable, so ‘I guess I was wrong (but I know I’m not)’. Obviously this last bit is implied, not spoken aloud – but that’s what Mark Antony is building towards.

He hath brought many captives home to Rome Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill: Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?

Let’s look at what Caesar did: he took many enemies prisoner and brought them here to Rome, and these captives’ ransoms, when paid, helped to make Rome rich. Does this seem ‘ambitious’ behaviour to you?

When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept: Ambition should be made of sterner stuff: Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; And Brutus is an honourable man.

When the poor of the city suffered, Caesar wept with pity for them. Hardly the actions of an ambitious man, who should be harder-hearted than this! But Brutus says Caesar was ambitious, and Brutus is honourable, so … it must be true … right? Note how Antony continues to sow the seeds of doubt in the crowd’s mind.

You all did see that on the Lupercal I thrice presented him a kingly crown, Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition? Yet Brutus says he was ambitious; And, sure, he is an honourable man.

Antony reminds the Romans that at the festival of Lupercalia (held in mid-February, around the same time as our modern Valentine’s Day; so just a month before Caesar was assassinated), he publicly presented Julius Caesar with a crown, but Caesar refused it three times (remember, he was ‘just’ a general, a military leader: not an emperor). Again, Antony appeals to the crowd: does this seem like the action of an ambitious man?

I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke, But here I am to speak what I do know.

Although he clearly is disproving what Brutus claimed of Caesar, Antony maintains that this isn’t his aim: he’s merely telling the truth based on what he knows of Caesar.

You all did love him once, not without cause: What cause withholds you then, to mourn for him?

Antony reminds the crowd of Romans that they all loved Caesar once too, and they had reasons for doing so: Caesar was clearly a good leader. So why do they now not mourn for him in death? (Note Antony’s skilful use of ‘cause’ twice here: they loved Caesar with good cause, but what cause is responsible for their failure to shed a tear at his passing?)

O judgment! thou art fled to brutish beasts, And men have lost their reason. Bear with me; My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar, And I must pause till it come back to me.

Observe the clever pun on Brutus’ name in ‘brutish beasts’: Antony stops short of calling Brutus a beast, but it’s clear enough that he thinks the crowd has been manipulated with violent thugs and everyone has lost their ability to think rationally about Caesar. The mob spirit has been fomented and everyone has made Caesar, even in death, the target of their hatred.

Mark Antony brings his ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen’ speech, a masterly piece of oratory, to a rousing end with an appeal to personal emotion, claiming that seeing Rome so corrupted by hatred and blinded by unreason has broken his heart. He concludes, however, with a final line that offers a glimmer of hope, implying that if Rome would only recover itself, he would be all right again.

You can watch Damian Lewis reciting this famous speech here .

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2 thoughts on “A Short Analysis of Mark Antony’s ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen’ Speech”

We are going into drama soon and will be studying this speech. You have brought to my attention aspects I had noticed, even though I have taught it for years. Thanks!

Thanks for the comment, Pam – that’s praise indeed! I hope you have a fruitful discussion :)

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Analyzing Famous Speeches as Arguments

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Comprehend spoken and written sentences and paragraphs using advanced vocabulary terms from textbooks, newspapers, student readers and magazines.

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  • Concepts Careers where language and cultural competence are important Community events, performances, exhibits that relate to the target culture Language (vocabulary, grammar, sound system) to exchange information about school, activities, friends Products, artifacts, and perspectives Students know… How to scan authentic materials (newspapers, articles, websites, magazines, TV) for products and perspectives of the culture Products, artifacts, and perspectives Students know… Songs, dances, visual artwork from the target culture Products, artifacts, and perspectives Students know…Contemporary and traditional artifacts from daily life (e.g., toys, sports equipment, clothing) Products, artifacts, and perspectives Students know…Informational materials (e.g., menus, schedules, ads, graphics) Social interactions, practices, and perspectives Students know… How to scan authentic materials (newspapers, articles, websites, magazines, TV) for practices and perspectives of the culture Vocabulary and cultural knowledge to “survive” in the language
  • Competencies Accomplish simple “survival” tasks such as ordering food, exchanging money, buying goods or services. Ask and answer questions about their daily lives Create a project (e.g., poster, haiku) related to how a product is related to the culture studied Identify and talk about well known landmarks from the target culture Initiate, sustain, and close a conversation about a person or event Interact in cultural contexts with appropriate verbal and nonverbal expressions Interview in person or electronically native speakers about school life, social and political issues Name local, national, and global opportunities where language skills are used Obtain information (through interviews with native speakers, texts, films, and websites) and demonstrate the similarities and differences found Obtain information and participate in age appropriate cultural experiences/simulations Participate in service learning if speakers of the language studied are in the local community Talk about well known holidays and celebrations

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Traditionally, teachers have encouraged students to engage with and interpret literature—novels, poems, short stories, and plays. Too often, however, the spoken word is left unanalyzed, even though the spoken word has the potential to alter our space just as much than the written.  After gaining skill through analyzing a historic and contemporary speech as a class, students will select a famous speech from a list compiled from several resources and write an essay that identifies and explains the rhetorical strategies that the author deliberately chose while crafting the text to make an effective argument. Their analysis will consider questions such as What makes the speech an argument?, How did the author's rhetoric evoke a response from the audience?, and Why are the words still venerated today?

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Home — Essay Samples — Social Issues — Martin Luther King — Rhetorical Analysis of Martin Luther King’s Historic Speech

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Rhetorical Analysis of Martin Luther King's Historic Speech

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Speech Analysis #1: How to Study and Critique a Speech

The Speech Analysis Series is a series of articles examining different aspects of presentation analysis. You will learn how to study a speech and how to deliver an effective speech evaluation. Later articles will examine Toastmasters evaluation contests and speech evaluation forms and resources.

  • How to Study and Critique a Speech
  • The Art of Delivering Evaluations
  • Modified Sandwich Technique for Evaluations
  • Evaluation Forms, Tools, and Resources
  • Toastmasters Evaluation Contests

The first in the series, this article outlines questions to ask yourself when assessing a presentation . Ask these questions whether you attend the presentation, or whether you view a video or read the speech text. These questions also apply when you conduct a self evaluation of your own speeches .

The Most Important Thing to Analyze: The Speech Objectives

Knowing the speaker’s objective is critical to analyzing the speech, and should certainly influence how you study it.

  • What is the speaker’s goal? Is it to educate , to motivate , to persuade , or to entertain ?
  • What is the primary message being delivered?
  • Why is this person delivering this speech ? Are they the right person?
  • Was the objective achieved ?

The Audience and Context for the Speech

A speaker will need to use different techniques to connect with an audience of 1500 than they would with an audience of 15. Similarly, different techniques will be applied when communicating with teenagers as opposed to communicating with corporate leaders.

  • Where and when is the speech being delivered?
  • What are the key demographic features of the audience ? Technical? Students? Elderly? Athletes? Business leaders?
  • How large is the audience?
  • In addition to the live audience, is there an external target audience ? (e.g. on the Internet or mass media)

Speech Content and Structure

The content of the speech should be selected and organized to achieve the primary speech objective. Focus is important — extraneous information can weaken an otherwise effective argument.

Before the Speech

  • Were there other speakers before this one ? Were their messages similar, opposed, or unrelated?
  • How was the speaker introduced ? Was it appropriate?
  • Did the introduction establish why the audience should listen to this speaker with this topic at this time ?
  • What body language was demonstrated by the speaker as they approached the speaking area? Body language at this moment will often indicate their level of confidence .

The Speech Opening

Due to the primacy effect , words, body language, and visuals in the speech opening are all critical to speaking success.

  • Was a hook used effectively to draw the audience into the speech? Or did the speaker open with a dry “ It’s great to be here today. “
  • Did the speech open with a story ? A joke ? A startling statistic ? A controversial statement ? A powerful visual ?
  • Did the speech opening clearly establish the intent of the presentation?
  • Was the opening memorable ?

The Speech Body

  • Was the presentation focused ? i.e. Did all arguments, stories, anecdotes relate back to the primary objective?
  • Were examples or statistics provided to support the arguments ?
  • Were metaphors and symbolism use to improve understanding?
  • Was the speech organized logically ? Was it easy to follow?
  • Did the speaker transition smoothly from one part of the presentation to the next?

The Speech Conclusion

Like the opening, the words, body language, and visuals in the speech conclusion are all critical to speaking success. This is due to the recency effect .

  • Was the conclusion concise ?
  • Was the conclusion memorable ?
  • If appropriate, was there a call-to-action ?

Delivery Skills and Techniques

Delivery skills are like a gigantic toolbox — the best speakers know precisely when to use every tool and for what purpose.

Enthusiasm and Connection to the Audience

  • Was the speaker enthusiastic ? How can you tell?
  • Was there audience interaction ? Was it effective?
  • Was the message you – and we-focused , or was it I- and me-focused ?
  • Was humor used?
  • Was it safe and appropriate given the audience?
  • Were appropriate pauses used before and after the punch lines, phrases, or words?
  • Was it relevant to the speech ?

Visual Aids

  • Were they designed effectively?
  • Did they complement speech arguments ?
  • Was the use of visual aids timed well with the speaker’s words?
  • Did they add energy to the presentation or remove it?
  • Were they simple and easy to understand ?
  • Were they easy to see ? e.g. large enough
  • Would an additional visual aid help to convey the message?

Use of Stage Area

  • Did the speaker make appropriate use of the speaking area?

Physical – Gestures and Eye Contact

  • Did the speaker’s posture display confidence and poise?
  • Were gestures natural, timely, and complementary ?
  • Were gestures   easy to see ?
  • Does the speaker have any distracting mannerisms ?
  • Was eye contact effective in connecting the speaker to the whole audience?

Vocal Variety

  • Was the speaker easy to hear ?
  • Were loud and soft variations used appropriately?
  • Was the speaking pace  varied? Was it slow enough overall to be understandable?
  • Were pauses used to aid understanding, heighten excitement, or provide drama?
  • Was the language appropriate for the audience?
  • Did the speaker articulate clearly?
  • Were sentences short and easy to understand?
  • Was technical jargon or unnecessarily complex language used?
  • What rhetorical devices were used? e.g. repetition, alliteration, the rule of three , etc.

Intangibles

Sometimes, a technically sound speech can still miss the mark. Likewise, technical deficiencies can sometimes be overcome to produce a must-see presentation. The intangibles are impossible to list, but here are a few questions to consider:

  • How did the speech make you feel ?
  • Were you convinced ?
  • Would you want to listen to this speaker again?
  • Were there any original ideas or techniques?

Next in the Speech Analysis Series

The next article in this series – The Art of Delivering Evaluations – examines how best to utilize speech evaluation skills as a teaching tool.

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  • Speech Analysis #4: Evaluation Forms, Tools, and Resources
  • Speech Analysis #3: Modified Sandwich Technique for Evaluations
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40 comments.

I absolutely loved this article. It gave me a major idea of what to write on my speech critique. Great information, organized, and detailed!

Great post. I have to say, it was when I started to do exactly what you say that my skills took off.

If anyone wants to go farther, just teach a class on public speaking. You do not need a degree to teach continuing ed. It will help you, as some of my students who went on to teach to improve even more. This is because not only are you observing your students for these points. You are actually teaching them how to attain some of these skills.

oh my god….thank you!! i had no idea where to even start my speech analysis!

Excellent article. Will refer members of my club to it.

Dear Eugenia You refer to “members of your club” and I wanted to know an online public speaking club. Does this exist. Regards Berty

Your article is very informative. Hope you post more tips on writing a speech and how to analyse it!! 😎

Thanks for providing this information. I am writing an essay critiquing my own speech in third person. A tough task, but these pointers made it easier. Thank you.

i loved this information very much.now i am preparing for my examination and i think this article will help me to get good mark. thanks

Great summary/overview on basic things to evaluate while listening to a speech. Will be very much helpful when i have to do evaluations for speech class!

Thank you sooooo much for this article!! This is helping me soooo much for my speech analysis!

Thank you so so much! You are awesome and very helpful plus amazing too!

Great job once again! I liked the clarity with which these concepts were explained. Self explanatory and useful for both novice and advanced speakers. Keep it up!

Such a great article, thank you! It truly helped

I have to look at this for a class project and really learned some new tips from this.

This helped immensely; thank you so much!

thank you, you helped me a lot

Best article I found for speech critique and analysis. Definitely a place to come back for speech resource.

Thank you Andrew, great articles and valuable information. I recently joined a Toastmaster’s group and this will really help. Once I figure out how to “tweet” I will be “tweeting” this site to Kwantlen University Students and Alumni.

I absolutely loved this article it gave me a major idea of what to write on my speech critique great information, organized, and detailed!

Fantastic article. For someone that is new to Taostmasters this gives me at least an idea of how I should approach giving an evaluation…frigthening me more than giving a speech!! Thanks!

hi Andrew, this is a great article for someone who is a beginner to evaluate a speech. thanks a lot. -Venkat

very informative article will certainly help me to develop my speech technique.

Thus really helpful…we always read text resurfacely I gained alot from this article. now I know where to start when I want to present information through speech to the public

thank you this helped me vey much.

thanks a lot this just help me with my paper. you explain it better than my teacher

I am a toastmaster who loves to compete. I believe these articles will help me help other to deliver their speeches and both of us can grow.

Hi Andrew Dlugan, i am really happy to come across your site as new trainee in the public speaking and writing profession. i am programmer but i have passion for writing especially poems.Do you have any advice or resources to help me survive in the world of speaking and writing.

Thank You, Best Regards, Lawal Abdulateef Olawle

I came here looking for a speech review but reading this article helped me a lot in my opening speech. I hope many people who are having trouble in analysing there speech they should really open this website. Thank you

This is a helpful source to me. Thanks a lot

Great article. I am preparing to critique a public speaking competition this weekend and I found this article quite helpful Thanks a lot

Hi Andrew, May I use your article in our club newsletter? It is particularly timely as we approach the contest season in Toastmasters. I will source it to your web site and also include a link under the Articles about speaking of our club website.

John Sleigh Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia

Amazing breakdown of how to not only analysis a speech but to also push yourself that inch further to get more scope for marks. I really recommend this webpage. Thank you

Thank you for this amazing information, your 6 minutes guide is great and I am learning so much with it.

Really GREAT JOB! thanks so much! Best! Rasha

I really love this and would want more of this

This information was very informative and knowledgeable.Thank you.

Your articles are very thorough. I really enjoyed reading the first one.

Can you give me some examples of relevant puns used in speeches?

One more treasure trove on the internet. Thanks for sharing DLugan.

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How to Study and Critique a Speech -A quick How to for #College Students: https://t.co/z9z7ODho2n by @6minutes — @cdbond Oct 28th, 2015
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Speech Analysis #1: How to Study and Critique a Speech https://t.co/yOHzQQvuqt by @6minutes — @SleimanSkaf Apr 20th, 2016
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ELA  /  12th Grade  /  Unit 4: Famous Speeches

Famous Speeches

Students analyze and interpret speeches, honing their rhetorical analysis skills and deepening their understanding of how authors use particular strategies to effectively communicate their ideas to a given audience.

  • Text and Materials

Key Knowledge

Unit summary.

 In Unit 4, students will refine the skills required for rhetorical analysis. Students will analyze and interpret samples of purposeful writing, in this case speeches, then identify and explain the author’s use of rhetorical strategies. This process includes understanding what an author is saying, how an author is saying it, and why an author is saying it. When we read written texts rhetorically, we are always asking, “What are these words on the page doing ?” along with, “What do these words say ?” Reading instruction will increase students’ appreciation of audience as a complex and varied concept. Students should develop the capacity to anticipate and consider interpretive responses different from their own.  This unit focuses on four goals:

  • Describing the rhetorical situation: Intersection between speaker, audience, and purpose
  • Identifying an author’s complex and specific purpose for an intended audience with specific needs and values
  • Identifying rhetorical appeals (within—but more specifically than—logos, ethos, and pathos)
  • Analyzing common rhetorical strategies, including diction, figurative language, syntax, exemplification, tone through patterns (repetition, contrast, juxtaposition), and shifts in patterns.

While we have provided links to text versions of these speeches, it is highly recommended that teachers also employ audio versions of the speeches at various times throughout the unit. Hearing, in addition to reading, the speeches can aid in rhetorical analysis.

Texts and Materials

Some of the links below are Amazon affiliate links. This means that if you click and make a purchase, we receive a small portion of the proceeds, which supports our non-profit mission.

Core Materials

Speech:  “The Whiskey Speech” by Judge Noah Sweat

Speech:  “Purple is the Noblest Shroud” by Empress Theodora

Speech:  “A More Perfect Union” by Barack Obama

Speech:  “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” by Patrick Henry

Speech:  “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat” by Winston Churchill

Speech:  “Pearl Harbor Speech” by Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Speech:  “Ain't I a Woman?” by Sojourner Truth

Speech:  “Why Sit Ye Here and Die?” by Maria Stewart

This assessment accompanies Unit 4 and should be given on the suggested assessment day or after completing the unit.

Download Content Assessment

Intellectual Prep

Suggestions for how to prepare to teach this unit

Intellectual Prep for English Lessons

  • Read and annotate each of the speeches for this unit.
  • Identify video or audio versions of speeches if necessary. (There are many options available online, so we are not listing them here and will leave it to the teacher’s discretion.)
  • Review the basics of rhetorical analysis by reading What Do Students Need to Know About Rhetoric? by Hepzibah Roskelly.
  • Depending upon your level of familiarity with the CollegeBoard AP English Language and Composition exam, you may wish to spend more time exploring other resources on the College Board AP English Language and Composition Course website.
  • Read FRQ 2 in the CollegeBoard 2018 AP English Language and Composition Free-Response Questions .
  • Read the CollegeBoard 2018 AP English Language and Composition Sample Student Responses and Scoring Commentary for FRQ 2.
  • Read the Chief Reader Report on Student Responses: 2018 AP English Language and Composition Free-Response Questions .

Essential Questions

The central thematic questions addressed in the unit or across units

  • Rhetorical Analysis: What is the author saying? How is the author saying it? Why is the author saying it this way?

Writing Focus Areas

Specific skills to focus on when giving feedback on writing assignments

Students will be focused on the reading skill of rhetorical analysis and the corresponding writing skill of staying focused on the task of sharing these analyses as they craft their essays. Thus, the primary areas of focus will be (1) students’ idea development, specifically the ability to effectively convey comprehensive reasoning through writing, and (2) students’ crafting of an essay that contains all of the necessary parts of a rhetorical analysis.

Spiraling Literary Analysis Writing Focus Area

  • Analysis: Demonstrates effective and comprehensive reasoning
  • Analysis: Effectively and smoothly incorporates evidence
  • Focus on Task: Comprehensive and consistently appropriate to the task, purpose, and audience

Related Teacher Tools:

Grades 9-12 Composition Writing Rubric

Literary terms, text-based vocabulary, idioms and word parts to be taught with the text

Literary Terms

rhetorical situation, devices, appeals, Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle, logos, ethos, pathos, tone, organization, compare/contrast, diction, parallelism, antithesis

Content Knowledge and Connections

Fishtank ELA units related to the content in this unit.

Students will read speeches on a wide variety of topics, such as World War II, women’s rights, abolitionism, racial relations in America, the Eastern Roman Empire, and temperance. Some background knowledge on these topics will be helpful for students’ comprehension.

Previous Fishtank ELA Connections

  • Students have experienced some basic rhetorical analysis in both 9th and 10th grade composition courses.

Identify the rhetorical situation and explain its significance.

Identify the appeals present within the text and the devices/strategies used to generate that appeal.  

Identify the appeals present within a text and the devices/strategies used to generate that appeal.

  • “The Whiskey Speech”
  • “Purple is the Noblest Shroud”

Analyze how an author uses devices to generate an appeal and ultimately achieve his or her purpose. 

Analyze the rhetorical choices Obama makes to develop his argument. 

Analyze the rhetorical choices Henry makes to develop his argument. 

Draft an analysis that demonstrates effective and comprehensive reasoning.

Analyze the rhetorical choices Churchill makes to develop his argument.

Analyze the rhetorical choices Roosevelt makes to develop his argument.

  • “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat”
  • “Pearl Harbor Speech”

Compare and contrast rhetorical strategies in speeches by Churchill and Roosevelt.

Evaluate how both authors use specific devices to develop the central idea or purpose of the speech.

Analyze the rhetorical choices Churchill or Roosevelt makes to develop his argument.

Draft an effective introduction that establishes the rhetorical situation and provides a comprehensive thesis describing the rhetorical techniques the author uses to achieve his purpose.

Analyze the rhetorical choices Truth makes to develop her argument.

Analyze the rhetorical choices Stewart makes to develop her argument.

  • “Ain't I a Woman?”
  • “Why Sit Ye Here and Die?”

Compare and contrast the rhetorical strategies employed by Sojourner Truth and Maria Stewart in their speeches.

Assessment  – 2 days

Complete an optional extension project by writing a speech on a topic of his or her choosing.

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Common Core Standards

Core standards.

The content standards covered in this unit

Language Standards

L.11-12.1 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

L.11-12.2 — Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

L.11-12.3 — Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

L.11-12.6 — Acquire and use accurately general academic and domain-specific words and phrases, sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.

Reading Standards for Informational Text

RI.11-12.1 — Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.

RI.11-12.2 — Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.

RI.11-12.3 — Analyze a complex set of ideas or sequence of events and explain how specific individuals, ideas, or events interact and develop over the course of the text.

RI.11-12.5 — Analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the structure an author uses in his or her exposition or argument, including whether the structure makes points clear, convincing, and engaging.

RI.11-12.6 — Determine an author's point of view or purpose in a text in which the rhetoric is particularly effective, analyzing how style and content contribute to the power, persuasiveness, or beauty of the text.

RI.11-12.7 — Integrate and evaluate multiple sources of information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words in order to address a question or solve a problem.

Speaking and Listening Standards

SL.11-12.1 — Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 11—12 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

SL.11-12.2 — Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.

SL.11-12.3 — Evaluate a speaker's point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric, assessing the stance, premises, links among ideas, word choice, points of emphasis, and tone used.

SL.11-12.6 — Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

Writing Standards

W.11-12.1 — Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

W.11-12.4 — Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.

W.11-12.5 — Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.

W.11-12.6 — Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products in response to ongoing feedback, including new arguments or information.

The God of Small Things

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famous speech analysis essay

The Daring English Teacher on Teachers Pay Teachers Secondary ELA resources Middle School ELA High School English

My Favorite Speeches for Rhetorical Analysis: 10 Speeches for Middle School ELA and High School English

Teaching rhetorical analysis is one of my absolute favorite units to complete with my students. I love teaching my students about rhetorical strategies and devices, analyzing what makes an effective and persuasive argument, and reading critical speeches with my students. Here is a quick list of some of my favorite speeches for rhetorical analysis.

My Favorite Speeches for Rhetorical Analysis

I absolutely LOVE teaching rhetorical analysis. I think it might be one of my favorite units to teach to my high school students. There are just so many different text options to choose from. Here is a list of some of my favorite speeches to include in my rhetorical analysis teaching unit.

10 Speeches for Teaching Rhetorical Analysis

1. the gettysburg address (abraham lincoln).

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Some notable things to mention in this speech include allusion and parallel structure. To make your analysis more meaningful, point out these devices to students and explain how these devices enhance the meaning of the text.

Teaching Resource : The Gettysburg Address Rhetorical Analysis Activity Packet

2. Lou Gehrig’s Farewell Speech (Lou Gehrig)

This speech is one that many of my athletes love to analyze, and it is an excellent exemplar text to teach pathos. And like The Gettysburg Address, it is short. This is another speech that you can read, analyze, and even write about in one class period.

When I use this speech in my class, I have students look for examples of pathos. Mainly, I have them look at word choice, tone, and mood. How does Lou Gehrig’s choice of words affect his tone and the overall mood of the speech?

3. I Have a Dream (Martin Luther King,  Jr.)

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In the classroom, it is important to point out the sermonic feel to the speech and also to have your students look for calls to action and pathos. Have your students look for tone, allusions, and word choice to help them notice these rhetoric expressions throughout it.

Teaching Resource : I Have a Dream Close Read and Rhetorical Analysis

4. Speech at the March on Washington (Josephine Baker)

This is another important speech that held a lot of importance for the changes that needed to be made in America. The speech is a shorter one, so in the classroom, it will not take as long to analyze it, and students can understand the significance of the use of rhetoric in a shorter amount of time than some other speeches.

When teaching this speech, I like to remind my students to search for devices that portray an excellent example of the pathos that is so present in this speech. Some of these devices could be mood, repetition, and diction.

5. Steve Jobs’ Commencement Speech (Steve Jobs)

My Favorite Speeches for Rhetorical Analysis

In class, it is good to have your students annotate and analyze the speech just as they have done for the others. The organization of the speech will help them to notice the similarities and differences between each point Jobs makes.

6. Space Shuttle Challenger (Ronald Reagan)

This speech represents a strong sense of pathos as a movement to help the American people cope with loss after the deaths of the astronauts aboard the Challenger. It is another speech that is not too long, so it should not take a long time to both analyze and annotate the entire speech.

When teaching this speech in class, be sure to mention how pathos is the driving force behind the speech, through the tone and the diction. How does Reagan use emotion to focus on the astronauts as humans, rather than solely focusing on the tragedy?

7. The Perils of Indifference (Elie Wiesel)

This speech is a good one to teach because it both makes students question their own lives, but also how the world works. The speech relies on pathos, and a little ethos too, to get the audience to feel the full effect of the tragedy of the Holocaust and what the speaker went through. It is a long speech so it may take longer for the students to fully grasp all the details that make it such a persuasive speech.

When I teach this speech, I like to have students annotate every place they notice an example of pathos, and then have them explain why in their annotations this makes them feel an emotion. The same with the ethos, and then we can further analyze the rest together.

8. 9/11 Address to the Nation (George W. Bush)

This speech shows another example of the use of pathos in the midst of a tragedy. The President wanted to show the American people how much he was feeling for those lost in the tragedy of 9/11. It is not a long speech, but the amount of emotion within the words is significant for students to notice.

When teaching this speech, it is essential that students look very closely at each part of it, noticing each piece that reveals tone, mood, and other literary devices. How do the different devices add to the pathos of the speech?

FREE TEACHING ACTIVITY : September 11 Address to the Nation Sampler

Teaching Resource : September 11 Address to the Nation Rhetorical Analysis Unit

9. We are Virginia Tech (Nikki Giovanni)

This speech is probably the shortest speech on this list but provides one of the most emotional and pathos-filled rhetoric. This describes another tragedy that is spoken about with pathos to give the audience a safe feeling after such an emotional thing. Students can spend time analyzing the different devices that make the piece so strong in its emotion.

In the classroom, make sure your students make a note of the repetition, and what that does for the speech. Does it make the emotion more impactful? How does it make the audience feel like they are a part of something bigger?

10. Woman’s Right to the Suffrage (Susan B. Anthony)

This is another short speech that holds a lot of power within it. A lot of students will enjoy reading this to see how much the country has changed, and how this speech may have some part in influencing this change. It is a great speech to help teach logos in the classroom, and it will not take a long time to analyze.

Make sure your students notice, and they also understand, the use of allusions within the speech. These allusions help to establish the use of logos, as Anthony wants the use of American historical documents to show how logical her argument is.

Ready-For-You Rhetorical Analysis Teaching Unit

Rhetorical2BAnalysis2BCover 1

You might also be interested in my blog post about 15 rhetorical analysis questions to ask your students.

Teaching rhetorical analysis and speeches in the classroom is a great way to teach informational text reading standards.

Rhetorical Analysis Teaching Resources:

These resources follow reading standards for informational text and are ideal for secondary ELA teachers.

  • Rhetorical Analysis Unit with Sticky Notes
  • Ethos, Pathos, Logos: Understanding Rhetorical Appeals\
  • Rhetorical Analysis Mini Flip Book

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40 famous persuasive speeches you need to hear.

famous speech analysis essay

Written by Kai Xin Koh

famous persuasive speeches highspark cover image

Across eras of calamity and peace in our world’s history, a great many leaders, writers, politicians, theorists, scientists, activists and other revolutionaries have unveiled powerful rousing speeches in their bids for change. In reviewing the plethora of orators across tides of social, political and economic change, we found some truly rousing speeches that brought the world to their feet or to a startling, necessary halt. We’ve chosen 40 of the most impactful speeches we managed to find from agents of change all over the world – a diversity of political campaigns, genders, positionalities and periods of history. You’re sure to find at least a few speeches in this list which will capture you with the sheer power of their words and meaning!

1. I have a dream by MLK

“I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification – one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today. I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. This will be the day, this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father’s died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!”

Unsurprisingly, Martin Luther King’s speech comes up top as the most inspiring speech of all time, especially given the harrowing conditions of African Americans in America at the time. In the post-abolition era when slavery was outlawed constitutionally, African Americans experienced an intense period of backlash from white supremacists who supported slavery where various institutional means were sought to subordinate African American people to positions similar to that of the slavery era. This later came to be known as the times of Jim Crow and segregation, which Martin Luther King powerfully voiced his vision for a day when racial discrimination would be a mere figment, where equality would reign.

2. Tilbury Speech by Queen Elizabeth I

“My loving people, We have been persuaded by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit our selves to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery; but I assure you I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects; and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved, in the midst and heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all; to lay down for my God, and for my kingdom, and my people, my honour and my blood, even in the dust. I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already, for your forwardness you have deserved rewards and crowns; and We do assure you on a word of a prince, they shall be duly paid. In the mean time, my lieutenant general shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble or worthy subject; not doubting but by your obedience to my general, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over these enemies of my God, of my kingdom, and of my people.”

While at war with Spain, Queen Elizabeth I was most renowned for her noble speech rallying the English troops against their comparatively formidable opponent. Using brilliant rhetorical devices like metonymy, meronymy, and other potent metaphors, she voiced her deeply-held commitment as a leader to the battle against the Spanish Armada – convincing the English army to keep holding their ground and upholding the sacrifice of war for the good of their people. Eventually against all odds, she led England to victory despite their underdog status in the conflict with her confident and masterful oratory.

3. Woodrow Wilson, address to Congress (April 2, 1917)

“The world must be made safe for democracy. Its peace must be planted upon the tested foundations of political liberty. We have no selfish ends to serve. We desire no conquest, no dominion. We seek no indemnities for ourselves, no material compensation for the sacrifices we shall freely make. We are but one of the champions of the rights of mankind. We shall be satisfied when those rights have been made as secure as the faith and the freedom of nations can make them. Just because we fight without rancor and without selfish object, seeking nothing for ourselves but what we shall wish to share with all free peoples, we shall, I feel confident, conduct our operations as belligerents without passion and ourselves observe with proud punctilio the principles of right and of fair play we profess to be fighting for. … It will be all the easier for us to conduct ourselves as belligerents in a high spirit of right and fairness because we act without animus, not in enmity toward a people or with the desire to bring any injury or disadvantage upon them, but only in armed opposition to an irresponsible government which has thrown aside all considerations of humanity and of right and is running amuck. We are, let me say again, the sincere friends of the German people, and shall desire nothing so much as the early reestablishment of intimate relations of mutual advantage between us—however hard it may be for them, for the time being, to believe that this is spoken from our hearts. We have borne with their present government through all these bitter months because of that friendship—exercising a patience and forbearance which would otherwise have been impossible. We shall, happily, still have an opportunity to prove that friendship in our daily attitude and actions toward the millions of men and women of German birth and native sympathy who live among us and share our life, and we shall be proud to prove it toward all who are in fact loyal to their neighbors and to the government in the hour of test. They are, most of them, as true and loyal Americans as if they had never known any other fealty or allegiance. They will be prompt to stand with us in rebuking and restraining the few who may be of a different mind and purpose. If there should be disloyalty, it will be dealt with with a firm hand of stern repression; but, if it lifts its head at all, it will lift it only here and there and without countenance except from a lawless and malignant few. It is a distressing and oppressive duty, gentlemen of the Congress, which I have performed in thus addressing you. There are, it may be, many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead of us. It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war, into the most terrible and disastrous of all wars, civilization itself seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have always carried nearest our hearts—for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free. To such a task we can dedicate our lives and our fortunes, everything that we are and everything that we have, with the pride of those who know that the day has come when America is privileged to spend her blood and her might for the principles that gave her birth and happiness and the peace which she has treasured. God helping her, she can do no other.”

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson of the USA delivered his address to Congress, calling for declaration of war against what was at the time, a belligerent and aggressive Germany in WWI. Despite his isolationism and anti-war position earlier in his tenure as president, he convinced Congress that America had a moral duty to the world to step out of their neutral observer status into an active role of world leadership and stewardship in order to liberate attacked nations from their German aggressors. The idealistic values he preached in his speech left an indelible imprint upon the American spirit and self-conception, forming the moral basis for the country’s people and aspirational visions to this very day.

4. Ain’t I A Woman by Sojourner Truth

“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman? … If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.”

Hailing from a background of slavery and oppression, Sojourner Truth was one of the most revolutionary advocates for women’s human rights in the 1800s. In spite of the New York Anti-Slavery Law of 1827, her slavemaster refused to free her. As such, she fled, became an itinerant preacher and leading figure in the anti-slavery movement. By the 1850s, she became involved in the women’s rights movement as well. At the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention held in Akron, Ohio, she delivered her illuminating, forceful speech against discrimination of women and African Americans in the post-Civil War era, entrenching her status as one of the most revolutionary abolitionists and women’s rights activists across history.

5. The Gettsyburg Address by Abraham Lincoln

“Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.” With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”

President Abraham Lincoln had left the most lasting legacy upon American history for good reason, as one of the presidents with the moral courage to denounce slavery for the national atrocity it was. However, more difficult than standing up for the anti-slavery cause was the task of unifying the country post-abolition despite the looming shadows of a time when white Americans could own and subjugate slaves with impunity over the thousands of Americans who stood for liberation of African Americans from discrimination. He urged Americans to remember their common roots, heritage and the importance of “charity for all”, to ensure a “just and lasting peace” among within the country despite throes of racial division and self-determination.

6. Woman’s Rights to the Suffrage by Susan B Anthony

“For any State to make sex a qualification that must ever result in the disfranchisement of one entire half of the people is to pass a bill of attainder, or an ex post facto law, and is therefore a violation of the supreme law of the land. By it the blessings of liberty are for ever withheld from women and their female posterity. To them this government has no just powers derived from the consent of the governed. To them this government is not a democracy. It is not a republic. It is an odious aristocracy; a hateful oligarchy of sex; the most hateful aristocracy ever established on the face of the globe; an oligarchy of wealth, where the right govern the poor. An oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the ignorant, or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured; but this oligarchy of sex, which makes father, brothers, husband, sons, the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters of every household–which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects, carries dissension, discord and rebellion into every home of the nation. Webster, Worcester and Bouvier all define a citizen to be a person in the United States, entitled to vote and hold office. The only question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being persons, then, women are citizens; and no State has a right to make any law, or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities. Hence, every discrimination against women in the constitutions and laws of the several States is today null and void, precisely as in every one against Negroes.”

Susan B. Anthony was a pivotal leader in the women’s suffrage movement who helped to found the National Woman Suffrage Association with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and fight for the constitutional right for women to vote. She courageously and relentlessly advocated for women’s rights, giving speeches all over the USA to convince people of women’s human rights to choice and the ballot. She is most well known for her act of righteous rebellion in 1872 when she voted in the presidential election illegally, for which she was arrested and tried unsuccessfully. She refused to pay the $100 fine in a bid to reject the demands of the American system she denounced as a ‘hateful oligarchy of sex’, sparking change with her righteous oratory and inspiring many others in the women’s suffrage movement within and beyond America.

7. Vladimir Lenin’s Speech at an International Meeting in Berne, February 8, 1916

“It may sound incredible, especially to Swiss comrades, but it is nevertheless true that in Russia, also, not only bloody tsarism, not only the capitalists, but also a section of the so-called or ex-Socialists say that Russia is fighting a “war of defence,” that Russia is only fighting against German invasion. The whole world knows, however, that for decades tsarism has been oppressing more than a hundred million people belonging to other nationalities in Russia; that for decades Russia has been pursuing a predatory policy towards China, Persia, Armenia and Galicia. Neither Russia, nor Germany, nor any other Great Power has the right to claim that it is waging a “war of defence”; all the Great Powers are waging an imperialist, capitalist war, a predatory war, a war for the oppression of small and foreign nations, a war for the sake of the profits of the capitalists, who are coining golden profits amounting to billions out of the appalling sufferings of the masses, out of the blood of the proletariat. … This again shows you, comrades, that in all countries of the world real preparations are being made to rally the forces of the working class. The horrors of war and the sufferings of the people are incredible. But we must not, and we have no reason whatever, to view the future with despair. The millions of victims who will fall in the war, and as a consequence of the war, will not fall in vain. The millions who are starving, the millions who are sacrificing their lives in the trenches, are not only suffering, they are also gathering strength, are pondering over the real cause of the war, are becoming more determined and are acquiring a clearer revolutionary understanding. Rising discontent of the masses, growing ferment, strikes, demonstrations, protests against the war—all this is taking place in all countries of the world. And this is the guarantee that the European War will be followed by the proletarian revolution against capitalism”

Vladimir Lenin remains to this day one of the most lauded communist revolutionaries in the world who brought the dangers of imperialism and capitalism to light with his rousing speeches condemning capitalist structures of power which inevitably enslave people to lives of misery and class stratification. In his genuine passion for the rights of the working class, he urged fellow comrades to turn the “imperialist war” into a “civil” or class war of the proletariat against the bourgeoisie. He encouraged the development of new revolutionary socialist organisations, solidarity across places in society so people could unite against their capitalist overlords, and criticised nationalism for its divisive effect on the socialist movement. In this speech especially, he lambasts “bloody Tsarism” for its oppression of millions of people of other nationalities in Russia, calling for the working class people to revolt against the Tsarist authority for the proletariat revolution to succeed and liberate them from class oppression.

8. I Have A Dream Speech by Mary Wollstonecraft

“If, I say, for I would not impress by declamation when Reason offers her sober light, if they be really capable of acting like rational creatures, let them not be treated like slaves; or, like the brutes who are dependent on the reason of man, when they associate with him; but cultivate their minds, give them the salutary, sublime curb of principle, and let them attain conscious dignity by feeling themselves only dependent on God. Teach them, in common with man, to submit to necessity, instead of giving, to render them more pleasing, a sex to morals. Further, should experience prove that they cannot attain the same degree of strength of mind, perseverance, and fortitude, let their virtues be the same in kind, though they may vainly struggle for the same degree; and the superiority of man will be equally clear, if not clearer; and truth, as it is a simple principle, which admits of no modification, would be common to both. Nay, the order of society as it is at present regulated would not be inverted, for woman would then only have the rank that reason assigned her, and arts could not be practised to bring the balance even, much less to turn it.”

In her vindication of the rights of women, Mary Wollstonecraft was one of the pioneers of the feminist movement back in 1792 who not only theorised and advocated revolutionarily, but gave speeches that voiced these challenges against a dominantly sexist society intent on classifying women as irrational less-than-human creatures to be enslaved as they were. In this landmark speech, she pronounces her ‘dream’ of a day when women would be treated as the rational, deserving humans they are, who are equal to man in strength and capability. With this speech setting an effective precedent for her call to equalize women before the law, she also went on to champion the provision of equal educational opportunities to women and girls, and persuasively argued against the patriarchal gender norms which prevented women from finding their own lot in life through their being locked into traditional institutions of marriage and motherhood against their will.

9. First Inaugural Speech by Franklin D Roosevelt

“So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and of vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. And I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days. … More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment. Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. There are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped merely by talking about it. We must act and act quickly. … I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken Nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption. But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis — broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.”

Roosevelt’s famous inaugural speech was delivered in the midst of a period of immense tension and strain under the Great Depression, where he highlighted the need for ‘quick action’ by Congress to prepare for government expansion in his pursuit of reforms to lift the American people out of devastating poverty. In a landslide victory, he certainly consolidated the hopes and will of the American people through this compelling speech.

10. The Hypocrisy of American Slavery by Frederick Douglass

“What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. To him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mock; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy – a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour. Go search where you will, roam through all the monarchies and despotisms of the Old World, travel through South America, search out every abuse and when you have found the last, lay your facts by the side of the everyday practices of this nation, and you will say with me that, for revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy, America reigns without a rival.”

On 4 July 1852, Frederick Douglass gave this speech in Rochester, New York, highlighting the hypocrisy of celebrating freedom while slavery continues. He exposed the ‘revolting barbarity and shameless hypocrisy’ of slavery which had gone unabolished amidst the comparatively obscene celebration of independence and liberty with his potent speech and passion for the anti-abolition cause. After escaping from slavery, he went on to become a national leader of the abolitionist movement in Massachusetts and New York with his oratory and incisive antislavery writings. To this day, his fierce activism and devotion to exposing virulent racism for what it was has left a lasting legacy upon pro-Black social movements and the overall sociopolitical landscape of America.

11. Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

“You may write me down in history With your bitter, twisted lies, You may trod me in the very dirt But still, like dust, I’ll rise. Does my sassiness upset you? Why are you beset with gloom? ’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells Pumping in my living room. Just like moons and like suns, With the certainty of tides, Just like hopes springing high, Still I’ll rise. Did you want to see me broken? Bowed head and lowered eyes? Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries? Does my haughtiness offend you? Don’t you take it awful hard ’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines Diggin’ in my own backyard. You may shoot me with your words, You may cut me with your eyes, You may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise. Does my sexiness upset you? Does it come as a surprise That I dance like I’ve got diamonds At the meeting of my thighs? Out of the huts of history’s shame I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain I rise I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling I bear in the tide. Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the slave. I rise I rise I rise.”

With her iconic poem Still I Rise , Maya Angelou is well-known for uplifting fellow African American women through her empowering novels and poetry and her work as a civil rights activist. Every bit as lyrical on the page, her recitation of Still I Rise continues to give poetry audiences shivers all over the world, inspiring women of colour everywhere to keep the good faith in striving for equality and peace, while radically believing in and empowering themselves to be agents of change. A dramatic reading of the poem will easily showcase the self-belief, strength and punch that it packs in the last stanza on the power of resisting marginalization.

12. Their Finest Hour by Winston Churchill

“What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, “This was their finest hour.””

In the darkest shadows cast by war, few leaders have been able to step up to the mantle and effectively unify millions of citizens for truly sacrificial causes. Winston Churchill was the extraordinary exception – lifting 1940 Britain out of the darkness with his hopeful, convicted rhetoric to galvanise the English amidst bleak, dreary days of war and loss. Through Britain’s standalone position in WWII against the Nazis, he left his legacy by unifying the nation under shared sacrifices of the army and commemorating their courage.

13. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf

“Life for both sexes – and I looked at them (through a restaurant window while waiting for my lunch to be served), shouldering their way along the pavement – is arduous, difficult, a perpetual struggle. It calls for gigantic courage and strength. More than anything, perhaps, creatures of illusion as we are, it calls for confidence in oneself. Without self-confidence we are babes in the cradle. And how can we generate this imponderable quality, which is yet so invaluable, most quickly? By thinking that other people are inferior to oneself. By feeling that one has some innate superiority – it may be wealth, or rank, a straight nose, or the portrait of a grandfather by Romney – for there is no end to the pathetic devices of the human imagination – over other people. Hence the enormous importance to a patriarch who has to conquer, who has to rule, of feeling that great numbers of people, half the human race indeed, are by nature inferior to himself. It must indeed be one of the great sources of his power….Women have served all these centuries as looking-glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size. Without that power probably the earth would still be swamp and jungle. The glories of all our wars would be on the remains of mutton bones and bartering flints for sheepskins or whatever simple ornament took our unsophisticated taste. Supermen and Fingers of Destiny would never have existed. The Czar and the Kaiser would never have worn their crowns or lost them. Whatever may be their use in civilised societies, mirrors are essential to all violent and heroic action. That is why Napoleon and Mussolini both insist so emphatically upon the inferiority of women, for if they were not inferior, they would cease to enlarge. That serves to explain in part the necessity that women so often are to men. And it serves to explain how restless they are under her criticism; how impossible it is for her to say to them this book is bad, this picture is feeble, or whatever it may be, without giving far more pain and rousing far more anger than a man would do who gave the same criticism. For if she begins to tell the truth, the figure in the looking-glass shrinks; his fitness in life is diminished. How is he to go on giving judgment, civilising natives, making laws, writing books, dressing up and speechifying at banquets, unless he can see himself at breakfast and at dinner at least twice the size he really is?”

In this transformational speech , Virginia Woolf pronounces her vision that ‘a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction’. She calls out the years in which women have been deprived of their own space for individual development through being chained to traditional arrangements or men’s prescriptions – demanding ‘gigantic courage’ and ‘confidence in oneself’ to brave through the onerous struggle of creating change for women’s rights. With her steadfast, stolid rhetoric and radical theorization, she paved the way for many women’s rights activists and writers to forge their own paths against patriarchal authority.

14. Inaugural Address by John F Kennedy

“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility–I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it–and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man. Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

For what is probably the most historically groundbreaking use of parallelism in speech across American history, President JFK placed the weighty task of ‘asking what one can do for their country’ onto the shoulders of each American citizen. Using an air of firmness in his rhetoric by declaring his commitment to his countrymen, he urges each American to do the same for the broader, noble ideal of freedom for all. With his crucial interrogation of a citizen’s moral duty to his nation, President JFK truly made history.

15. Atoms for Peace Speech by Dwight Eisenhower

“To pause there would be to confirm the hopeless finality of a belief that two atomic colossi are doomed malevolently to eye each other indefinitely across a trembling world. To stop there would be to accept helplessly the probability of civilization destroyed, the annihilation of the irreplaceable heritage of mankind handed down to us from generation to generation, and the condemnation of mankind to begin all over again the age-old struggle upward from savagery towards decency, and right, and justice. Surely no sane member of the human race could discover victory in such desolation. Could anyone wish his name to be coupled by history with such human degradation and destruction?Occasional pages of history do record the faces of the “great destroyers”, but the whole book of history reveals mankind’s never-ending quest for peace and mankind’s God-given capacity to build. It is with the book of history, and not with isolated pages, that the United States will ever wish to be identified. My country wants to be constructive,not destructive. It wants agreements, not wars, among nations. It wants itself to live in freedom and in the confidence that the peoples of every other nation enjoy equally the right of choosing their own way of life. So my country’s purpose is to help us to move out of the dark chamber of horrors into the light, to find a way by which the minds of men, the hopes of men, the souls of men everywhere, can move forward towards peace and happiness and well-being.”

On a possibility as frightful and tense as nuclear war, President Eisenhower managed to convey the gravity of the world’s plight in his measured and persuasive speech centred on the greater good of mankind. Using rhetorical devices such as the three-part paratactical syntax which most world leaders are fond of for ingraining their words in the minds of their audience, he centers the discourse of the atomic bomb on those affected by such a world-changing decision in ‘the minds, hopes and souls of men everywhere’ – effectively putting the vivid image of millions of people’s fates at stake in the minds of his audience. Being able to make a topic as heavy and fraught with moral conflict as this as eloquent as he did, Eisenhower definitely ranks among some of the most skilled orators to date.

16. The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action by Audre Lorde

“I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself. My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you. But for every real word spoken, for every attempt I had ever made to speak those truths for which I am still seeking, I had made contact with other women while we examined the words to fit a world in which we all believed, bridging our differences. What are the words you do not have yet? What do you need to say? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? Perhaps for some of you here today, I am the face of one of your fears. Because I am a woman, because I am black, because I am myself, a black woman warrior poet doing my work, come to ask you, are you doing yours?”

Revolutionary writer, feminist and civil rights activist Audre Lorde first delivered this phenomenal speech at Lesbian and Literature panel of the Modern Language Association’s December 28, 1977 meeting, which went on to feature permanently in her writings for its sheer wisdom and truth. Her powerful writing and speech about living on the margins of society has enlightened millions of people discriminated across various intersections, confronting them with the reality that they must speak – since their ‘silence will not protect’ them from further marginalization. Through her illuminating words and oratory, she has reminded marginalized persons of the importance of their selfhood and the radical capacity for change they have in a world blighted by prejudice and division.

17. 1965 Cambridge Union Hall Speech by James Baldwin

“What is dangerous here is the turning away from – the turning away from – anything any white American says. The reason for the political hesitation, in spite of the Johnson landslide is that one has been betrayed by American politicians for so long. And I am a grown man and perhaps I can be reasoned with. I certainly hope I can be. But I don’t know, and neither does Martin Luther King, none of us know how to deal with those other people whom the white world has so long ignored, who don’t believe anything the white world says and don’t entirely believe anything I or Martin is saying. And one can’t blame them. You watch what has happened to them in less than twenty years.”

Baldwin’s invitation to the Cambridge Union Hall is best remembered for foregrounding the unflinching differences in white and African Americans’ ‘system of reality’ in everyday life. Raising uncomfortable truths about the insidious nature of racism post-civil war, he provides several nuggets of thought-provoking wisdom on the state of relations between the oppressed and their oppressors, and what is necessary to mediate such relations and destroy the exploitative thread of racist hatred. With great frankness, he admits to not having all the answers but provides hard-hitting wisdom on engagement to guide activists through confounding times nonetheless.

18. I Am Prepared to Die by Nelson Mandela

“Above all, My Lord, we want equal political rights, because without them our disabilities will be permanent. I know this sounds revolutionary to the whites in this country, because the majority of voters will be Africans. This makes the white man fear democracy. But this fear cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the only solution which will guarantee racial harmony and freedom for all. It is not true that the enfranchisement of all will result in racial domination. Political division, based on colour, is entirely artificial and, when it disappears, so will the domination of one colour group by another. The ANC has spent half a century fighting against racialism. When it triumphs as it certainly must, it will not change that policy. This then is what the ANC is fighting. Our struggle is a truly national one. It is a struggle of the African people, inspired by our own suffering and our own experience. It is a struggle for the right to live. During my lifetime I have dedicated my life to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons will live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal for which I hope to live for and to see realised. But, My Lord, if it needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Apartheid is still considered one of these most devastating events of world history, and it would not have ended without the crucial effort and words of Nelson Mandela during his courageous political leadership. In this heartbreaking speech , he voices his utter devotion to the fight against institutionalised racism in African society – an ideal for which he was ‘prepared to die for’. Mandela continues to remind us today of his moral conviction in leading, wherein the world would likely to be a better place if all politicians had the same resolve and genuine commitment to human rights and the abolition of oppression as he did.

19. Critique on British Imperialism by General Aung San

“Do they form their observations by seeing the attendances at not very many cinemas and theatres of Rangoon? Do they judge this question of money circulation by paying a stray visit to a local bazaar? Do they know that cinemas and theatres are not true indicators, at least in Burma, of the people’s conditions? Do they know that there are many in this country who cannot think of going to these places by having to struggle for their bare existence from day to day? Do they know that those who nowadays patronise or frequent cinemas and theatres which exist only in Rangoon and a few big towns, belong generally to middle and upper classes and the very few of the many poor who can attend at all are doing so as a desperate form of relaxation just to make them forget their unsupportable existences for the while whatever may be the tomorrow that awaits them?”

Under British colonial rule, one of the most legendary nationalist leaders emerged from the ranks of the thousands of Burmese to boldly lead them towards independence, out of the exploitation and control under the British. General Aung San’s speech criticising British social, political and economic control of Burma continues to be scathing, articulate, and relevant – especially given his necessary goal of uniting the Burmese natives against their common oppressor. He successfully galvanised his people against the British, taking endless risks through nationalist speeches and demonstrations which gradually bore fruit in Burma’s independence.

20. Nobel Lecture by Mother Teresa

“I believe that we are not real social workers. We may be doing social work in the eyes of the people, but we are really contemplatives in the heart of the world. For we are touching the Body Of Christ 24 hours. We have 24 hours in this presence, and so you and I. You too try to bring that presence of God in your family, for the family that prays together stays together. And I think that we in our family don’t need bombs and guns, to destroy to bring peace–just get together, love one another, bring that peace, that joy, that strength of presence of each other in the home. And we will be able to overcome all the evil that is in the world. There is so much suffering, so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our sacrifice are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the action that we do. It is to God Almighty–how much we do it does not matter, because He is infinite, but how much love we put in that action. How much we do to Him in the person that we are serving.”

In contemporary culture, most people understand Mother Teresa to be the epitome of compassion and kindness. However, if one were to look closer at her speeches from the past, one would discover not merely her altruistic contributions, but her keen heart for social justice and the downtrodden. She wisely and gracefully remarks that ‘love begins at home’ from the individual actions of each person within their private lives, which accumulate into a life of goodness and charity. For this, her speeches served not just consolatory value or momentary relevance, as they still inform the present on how we can live lives worth living.

21. June 9 Speech to Martial Law Units by Deng Xiaoping

“This army still maintains the traditions of our old Red Army. What they crossed this time was in the true sense of the expression a political barrier, a threshold of life and death. This was not easy. This shows that the People’s Army is truly a great wall of iron and steel of the party and state. This shows that no matter how heavy our losses, the army, under the leadership of the party, will always remain the defender of the country, the defender of socialism, and the defender of the public interest. They are a most lovable people. At the same time, we should never forget how cruel our enemies are. We should have not one bit of forgiveness for them. The fact that this incident broke out as it did is very worthy of our pondering. It prompts us cool-headedly to consider the past and the future. Perhaps this bad thing will enable us to go ahead with reform and the open policy at a steadier and better — even a faster — pace, more speedily correct our mistakes, and better develop our strong points.”

Mere days before the 4 June 1989 Tiananmen Square uprising, Chinese Communist Party leader Deng Xiaoping sat with six party elders (senior officials) and the three remaining members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the paramount decision-making body in China’s government. The meeting was organised to discuss the best course of action for restoring social and political order to China, given the sweeping economic reforms that had taken place in the past decade that inevitably resulted in some social resistance from the populace. Deng then gave this astute and well-regarded speech, outlining the political complexities in shutting down student protests given the context of reforms encouraging economic liberalization already taking place, as aligned with the students’ desires. It may not be the most rousing or inflammatory of speeches, but it was certainly persuasive in voicing the importance of taking a strong stand for the economic reforms Deng was implementing to benefit Chinese citizens in the long run. Today, China is an economic superpower, far from its war-torn developing country status before Deng’s leadership – thanks to his foresight in ensuring political stability would allow China to enjoy the fruits of the massive changes they adapted to.

22. Freedom or Death by Emmeline Pankhurst

“You won your freedom in America when you had the revolution, by bloodshed, by sacrificing human life. You won the civil war by the sacrifice of human life when you decided to emancipate the negro. You have left it to women in your land, the men of all civilised countries have left it to women, to work out their own salvation. That is the way in which we women of England are doing. Human life for us is sacred, but we say if any life is to be sacrificed it shall be ours; we won’t do it ourselves, but we will put the enemy in the position where they will have to choose between giving us freedom or giving us death. Now whether you approve of us or whether you do not, you must see that we have brought the question of women’s suffrage into a position where it is of first rate importance, where it can be ignored no longer. Even the most hardened politician will hesitate to take upon himself directly the responsibility of sacrificing the lives of women of undoubted honour, of undoubted earnestness of purpose. That is the political situation as I lay it before you today.”

In 1913 after Suffragette Emily Davison stepped in front of King George V’s horse at the Epsom Derby and suffered fatal injuries, Emmeline Pankhurst delivered her speech to Connecticut as a call to action for people to support the suffragette movement. Her fortitude in delivering such a sobering speech on the state of women’s rights is worth remembering for its invaluable impact and contributions to the rights we enjoy in today’s world.

23. Quit India by Mahatma Gandhi

“We shall either free India or die in the attempt; we shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery. Every true Congressman or woman will join the struggle with an inflexible determination not to remain alive to see the country in bondage and slavery. Let that be your pledge. Keep jails out of your consideration. If the Government keep me free, I will not put on the Government the strain of maintaining a large number of prisoners at a time, when it is in trouble. Let every man and woman live every moment of his or her life hereafter in the consciousness that he or she eats or lives for achieving freedom and will die, if need be, to attain that goal. Take a pledge, with God and your own conscience as witness, that you will no longer rest till freedom is achieved and will be prepared to lay down your lives in the attempt to achieve it. He who loses his life will gain it; he who will seek to save it shall lose it. Freedom is not for the coward or the faint-hearted.”

Naturally, the revolutionary activist Gandhi had to appear in this list for his impassioned anti-colonial speeches which rallied Indians towards independence. Famous for leading non-violent demonstrations, his speeches were a key element in gathering Indians of all backgrounds together for the common cause of eliminating their colonial masters. His speeches were resolute, eloquent, and courageous, inspiring the hope and admiration of many not just within India, but around the world.

24. 1974 National Book Award Speech by Adrienne Rich, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde

“The statement I am going to read was prepared by three of the women nominated for the National Book Award for poetry, with the agreement that it would be read by whichever of us, if any, was chosen.We, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, and Alice Walker, together accept this award in the name of all the women whose voices have gone and still go unheard in a patriarchal world, and in the name of those who, like us, have been tolerated as token women in this culture, often at great cost and in great pain. We believe that we can enrich ourselves more in supporting and giving to each other than by competing against each other; and that poetry—if it is poetry—exists in a realm beyond ranking and comparison. We symbolically join together here in refusing the terms of patriarchal competition and declaring that we will share this prize among us, to be used as best we can for women. We appreciate the good faith of the judges for this award, but none of us could accept this money for herself, nor could she let go unquestioned the terms on which poets are given or denied honor and livelihood in this world, especially when they are women. We dedicate this occasion to the struggle for self-determination of all women, of every color, identification, or derived class: the poet, the housewife, the lesbian, the mathematician, the mother, the dishwasher, the pregnant teen-ager, the teacher, the grandmother, the prostitute, the philosopher, the waitress, the women who will understand what we are doing here and those who will not understand yet; the silent women whose voices have been denied us, the articulate women who have given us strength to do our work.”

Adrienne Rich, Audre Lorde, and Alice Walker wrote this joint speech to be delivered by Adrienne Rich at the 1974 National Book Awards, based on their suspicions that the first few African American lesbian women to be nominated for the awards would be snubbed in favour of a white woman nominee. Their suspicions were confirmed, and Adrienne Rich delivered this socially significant speech in solidarity with her fellow nominees, upholding the voices of the ‘silent women whose voices have been denied’.

25. Speech to 20th Congress of the CPSU by Nikita Khruschev

“Considering the question of the cult of an individual, we must first of all show everyone what harm this caused to the interests of our Party. Vladimir Ilyich Lenin had always stressed the Party’s role and significance in the direction of the socialist government of workers and peasants; he saw in this the chief precondition for a successful building of socialism in our country. Pointing to the great responsibility of the Bolshevik Party, as ruling Party of the Soviet state, Lenin called for the most meticulous observance of all norms of Party life; he called for the realization of the principles of collegiality in the direction of the Party and the state. Collegiality of leadership flows from the very nature of our Party, a Party built on the principles of democratic centralism. “This means,” said Lenin, “that all Party matters are accomplished by all Party members – directly or through representatives – who, without any exceptions, are subject to the same rules; in addition, all administrative members, all directing collegia, all holders of Party positions are elective, they must account for their activities and are recallable.””

This speech is possibly the most famed Russian speech for its status as a ‘secret’ speech delivered only to the CPSU at the time, which was eventually revealed to the public. Given the unchallenged political legacy and cult of personality which Stalin left in the Soviet Union, Nikita Khruschev’s speech condemning the authoritarian means Stalin had resorted to to consolidate power as un-socialist was an important mark in Russian history.

26. The Struggle for Human Rights by Eleanor Roosevelt

“It is my belief, and I am sure it is also yours, that the struggle for democracy and freedom is a critical struggle, for their preservation is essential to the great objective of the United Nations to maintain international peace and security. Among free men the end cannot justify the means. We know the patterns of totalitarianism — the single political party, the control of schools, press, radio, the arts, the sciences, and the church to support autocratic authority; these are the age-old patterns against which men have struggled for three thousand years. These are the signs of reaction, retreat, and retrogression. The United Nations must hold fast to the heritage of freedom won by the struggle of its people; it must help us to pass it on to generations to come. The development of the ideal of freedom and its translation into the everyday life of the people in great areas of the earth is the product of the efforts of many peoples. It is the fruit of a long tradition of vigorous thinking and courageous action. No one race and on one people can claim to have done all the work to achieve greater dignity for human beings and great freedom to develop human personality. In each generation and in each country there must be a continuation of the struggle and new steps forward must be taken since this is preeminently a field in which to stand still is to retreat.”

Eleanor Roosevelt has been among the most well-loved First Ladies for good reason – her eloquence and gravitas in delivering every speech convinced everyone of her suitability for the oval office. In this determined and articulate speech , she outlines the fundamental values that form the bedrock of democracy, urging the rest of the world to uphold human rights regardless of national ideology and interests.

27. The Ballot or The Bullet by Malcolm X

“And in this manner, the organizations will increase in number and in quantity and in quality, and by August, it is then our intention to have a black nationalist convention which will consist of delegates from all over the country who are interested in the political, economic and social philosophy of black nationalism. After these delegates convene, we will hold a seminar; we will hold discussions; we will listen to everyone. We want to hear new ideas and new solutions and new answers. And at that time, if we see fit then to form a black nationalist party, we’ll form a black nationalist party. If it’s necessary to form a black nationalist army, we’ll form a black nationalist army. It’ll be the ballot or the bullet. It’ll be liberty or it’ll be death.”

Inarguably, the revolutionary impact Malcolm X’s fearless oratory had was substantial in his time as a radical anti-racist civil rights activist. His speeches’ emancipatory potential put forth his ‘theory of rhetorical action’ where he urges Black Americans to employ both the ballot and the bullet, strategically without being dependent on the other should the conditions of oppression change. A crucial leader in the fight for civil rights, he opened the eyes of thousands of Black Americans, politicising and convincing them of the necessity of fighting for their democratic rights against white supremacists.

28. Living the Revolution by Gloria Steinem

“The challenge to all of us, and to you men and women who are graduating today, is to live a revolution, not to die for one. There has been too much killing, and the weapons are now far too terrible. This revolution has to change consciousness, to upset the injustice of our current hierarchy by refusing to honor it, and to live a life that enforces a new social justice. Because the truth is none of us can be liberated if other groups are not.”

In an unexpected commencement speech delivered at Vassar College in 1970, Gloria Steinem boldly makes a call to action on behalf of marginalized groups in need of liberation to newly graduated students. She proclaimed it the year of Women’s Liberation and forcefully highlighted the need for a social revolution to ‘upset the injustice of the current hierarchy’ in favour of human rights – echoing the hard-hitting motto on social justice, ‘until all of us are free, none of us are free’.

29. The Last Words of Harvey Milk by Harvey Milk

“I cannot prevent some people from feeling angry and frustrated and mad in response to my death, but I hope they will take the frustration and madness and instead of demonstrating or anything of that type, I would hope that they would take the power and I would hope that five, ten, one hundred, a thousand would rise. I would like to see every gay lawyer, every gay architect come out, stand up and let the world know. That would do more to end prejudice overnight than anybody could imagine. I urge them to do that, urge them to come out. Only that way will we start to achieve our rights. … All I ask is for the movement to continue, and if a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door…”

As the first openly gay elected official in the history of California, Harvey Milk’s entire political candidature was in itself a radical statement against the homophobic status quo at the time. Given the dangerous times he was in as an openly gay man, he anticipated that he would be assassinated eventually in his political career. As such, these are some of his last words which show the utter devotion he had to campaigning against homophobia while representing the American people, voicing his heartbreaking wish for the bullet that would eventually kill him to ‘destroy every closet door’.

30. Black Power Address at UC Berkeley by Stokely Carmichael

“Now we are now engaged in a psychological struggle in this country, and that is whether or not black people will have the right to use the words they want to use without white people giving their sanction to it; and that we maintain, whether they like it or not, we gonna use the word “Black Power” — and let them address themselves to that; but that we are not going to wait for white people to sanction Black Power. We’re tired waiting; every time black people move in this country, they’re forced to defend their position before they move. It’s time that the people who are supposed to be defending their position do that. That’s white people. They ought to start defending themselves as to why they have oppressed and exploited us.”

A forceful and impressive orator, Stokely Carmichael was among those at the forefront of the civil rights movement, who was a vigorous socialist organizer as well. He led the Black Power movement wherein he gave this urgent, influential speech that propelled Black Americans forward in their fight for constitutional rights in the 1960s.

31. Speech on Vietnam by Lyndon Johnson

“The true peace-keepers are those men who stand out there on the DMZ at this very hour, taking the worst that the enemy can give. The true peace-keepers are the soldiers who are breaking the terrorist’s grip around the villages of Vietnam—the civilians who are bringing medical care and food and education to people who have already suffered a generation of war. And so I report to you that we are going to continue to press forward. Two things we must do. Two things we shall do. First, we must not mislead the enemy. Let him not think that debate and dissent will produce wavering and withdrawal. For I can assure you they won’t. Let him not think that protests will produce surrender. Because they won’t. Let him not think that he will wait us out. For he won’t. Second, we will provide all that our brave men require to do the job that must be done. And that job is going to be done. These gallant men have our prayers-have our thanks—have our heart-felt praise—and our deepest gratitude. Let the world know that the keepers of peace will endure through every trial—and that with the full backing of their countrymen, they are going to prevail.”

During some of the most harrowing periods of human history, the Vietnam War, American soldiers were getting soundly defeated by the Vietnamese in guerrilla warfare. President Lyndon Johnson then issued this dignified, consolatory speech to encourage patriotism and support for the soldiers putting their lives on the line for the nation.

32. A Whisper of AIDS by Mary Fisher

“We may take refuge in our stereotypes, but we cannot hide there long, because HIV asks only one thing of those it attacks. Are you human? And this is the right question. Are you human? Because people with HIV have not entered some alien state of being. They are human. They have not earned cruelty, and they do not deserve meanness. They don’t benefit from being isolated or treated as outcasts. Each of them is exactly what God made: a person; not evil, deserving of our judgment; not victims, longing for our pity ­­ people, ready for  support and worthy of compassion. We must be consistent if we are to be believed. We cannot love justice and ignore prejudice, love our children and fear to teach them. Whatever our role as parent or policymaker, we must act as eloquently as we speak ­­ else we have no integrity. My call to the nation is a plea for awareness. If you believe you are safe, you are in danger. Because I was not hemophiliac, I was not at risk. Because I was not gay, I was not at risk. Because I did not inject drugs, I was not at risk. The lesson history teaches is this: If you believe you are safe, you are at risk. If you do not see this killer stalking your children, look again. There is no family or community, no race or religion, no place left in America that is safe. Until we genuinely embrace this message, we are a nation at risk.”

Back when AIDS research was still undeveloped, the stigma of contracting HIV was even more immense than it is today. A celebrated artist, author and speaker, Mary Fisher became an outspoken activist for those with HIV/AIDS, persuading people to extend compassion to the population with HIV instead of stigmatizing them – as injustice has a way of coming around to people eventually. Her bold act of speaking out for the community regardless of the way they contracted the disease, their sexual orientation or social group, was an influential move in advancing the human rights of those with HIV and spreading awareness on the discrimination they face.

33. Freedom from Fear by Aung San Suu Kyi

“The quintessential revolution is that of the spirit, born of an intellectual conviction of the need for change in those mental attitudes and values which shape the course of a nation’s development. A revolution which aims merely at changing official policies and institutions with a view to an improvement in material conditions has little chance of genuine success. Without a revolution of the spirit, the forces which produced the iniquities of the old order would continue to be operative, posing a constant threat to the process of reform and regeneration. It is not enough merely to call for freedom, democracy and human rights. There has to be a united determination to persevere in the struggle, to make sacrifices in the name of enduring truths, to resist the corrupting influences of desire, ill will, ignorance and fear. Saints, it has been said, are the sinners who go on trying. So free men are the oppressed who go on trying and who in the process make themselves fit to bear the responsibilities and to uphold the disciplines which will maintain a free society. Among the basic freedoms to which men aspire that their lives might be full and uncramped, freedom from fear stands out as both a means and an end. A people who would build a nation in which strong, democratic institutions are firmly established as a guarantee against state-induced power must first learn to liberate their own minds from apathy and fear.”

Famous for her resoluteness and fortitude in campaigning for democracy in Burma despite being put under house arrest by the military government, Aung San Suu Kyi’s speeches have been widely touted as inspirational. In this renowned speech of hers, she delivers a potent message to Burmese to ‘liberate their minds from apathy and fear’ in the struggle for freedom and human rights in the country. To this day, she continues to tirelessly champion the welfare and freedom of Burmese in a state still overcome by vestiges of authoritarian rule.

34. This Is Water by David Foster Wallace

“Our own present culture has harnessed these forces in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom. The freedom all to be lords of our tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the centre of all creation. This kind of freedom has much to recommend it. But of course there are all different kinds of freedom, and the kind that is most precious you will not hear much talk about much in the great outside world of wanting and achieving…. The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day. That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.”

Esteemed writer David Foster Wallace gave a remarkably casual yet wise commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2005 on the importance of learning to think beyond attaining a formal education. He encouraged hundreds of students to develop freedom of thought, a heart of sacrificial care for those in need of justice, and a consciousness that would serve them in discerning the right choices to make within a status quo that is easy to fall in line with. His captivating speech on what it meant to truly be ‘educated’ tugged at the hearts of many young and critical minds striving to achieve their dreams and change the world.

35. Questioning the Universe by Stephen Hawking

“This brings me to the last of the big questions: the future of the human race. If we are the only intelligent beings in the galaxy, we should make sure we survive and continue. But we are entering an increasingly dangerous period of our history. Our population and our use of the finite resources of planet Earth are growing exponentially, along with our technical ability to change the environment for good or ill. But our genetic code still carries the selfish and aggressive instincts that were of survival advantage in the past. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million. Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain inward-looking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space. The answers to these big questions show that we have made remarkable progress in the last hundred years. But if we want to continue beyond the next hundred years, our future is in space. That is why I am in favor of manned — or should I say, personned — space flight.”

Extraordinary theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author Stephen Hawking was a considerable influence upon modern physics and scientific research at large, inspiring people regardless of physical ability to aspire towards expanding knowledge in the world. In his speech on Questioning the Universe, he speaks of the emerging currents and issues in the scientific world like that of outer space, raising and answering big questions that have stumped great thinkers for years.

36. 2008 Democratic National Convention Speech by Michelle Obama

“I stand here today at the crosscurrents of that history — knowing that my piece of the American dream is a blessing hard won by those who came before me. All of them driven by the same conviction that drove my dad to get up an hour early each day to painstakingly dress himself for work. The same conviction that drives the men and women I’ve met all across this country: People who work the day shift, kiss their kids goodnight, and head out for the night shift — without disappointment, without regret — that goodnight kiss a reminder of everything they’re working for. The military families who say grace each night with an empty seat at the table. The servicemen and women who love this country so much, they leave those they love most to defend it. The young people across America serving our communities — teaching children, cleaning up neighborhoods, caring for the least among us each and every day. People like Hillary Clinton, who put those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, so that our daughters — and sons — can dream a little bigger and aim a little higher. People like Joe Biden, who’s never forgotten where he came from and never stopped fighting for folks who work long hours and face long odds and need someone on their side again. All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do — that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be. That is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack’s journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope. That is why I love this country.”

Ever the favourite modern First Lady of America, Michelle Obama has delivered an abundance of iconic speeches in her political capacity, never forgetting to foreground the indomitable human spirit embodied in American citizens’ everyday lives and efforts towards a better world. The Obamas might just have been the most articulate couple of rhetoricians of their time, making waves as the first African American president and First Lady while introducing important policies in their period of governance.

37. The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama

“I’m not talking about blind optimism here — the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t think about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a millworker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. Hope — Hope in the face of difficulty. Hope in the face of uncertainty. The audacity of hope! In the end, that is God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation. A belief in things not seen. A belief that there are better days ahead.”

Now published into a book, Barack Obama’s heart-capturing personal story of transformational hope was first delivered as a speech on the merits of patriotic optimism and determination put to the mission of concrete change. He has come to be known as one of the most favoured and inspiring presidents in American history, and arguably the most skilled orators ever.

38. “Be Your Own Story” by Toni Morrison

“But I’m not going to talk anymore about the future because I’m hesitant to describe or predict because I’m not even certain that it exists. That is to say, I’m not certain that somehow, perhaps, a burgeoning ménage a trois of political interests, corporate interests and military interests will not prevail and literally annihilate an inhabitable, humane future. Because I don’t think we can any longer rely on separation of powers, free speech, religious tolerance or unchallengeable civil liberties as a matter of course. That is, not while finite humans in the flux of time make decisions of infinite damage. Not while finite humans make infinite claims of virtue and unassailable power that are beyond their competence, if not their reach. So, no happy talk about the future. … Because the past is already in debt to the mismanaged present. And besides, contrary to what you may have heard or learned, the past is not done and it is not over, it’s still in process, which is another way of saying that when it’s critiqued, analyzed, it yields new information about itself. The past is already changing as it is being reexamined, as it is being listened to for deeper resonances. Actually it can be more liberating than any imagined future if you are willing to identify its evasions, its distortions, its lies, and are willing to unleash its secrets.”

Venerated author and professor Toni Morrison delivered an impressively articulate speech at Wellesley College in 2004 to new graduates, bucking the trend by discussing the importance of the past in informing current and future ways of living. With her brilliance and eloquence, she blew the crowd away and renewed in them the capacity for reflection upon using the past as a talisman to guide oneself along the journey of life.

39. Nobel Speech by Malala Yousafzai

“Dear brothers and sisters, the so-called world of adults may understand it, but we children don’t. Why is it that countries which we call “strong” are so powerful in creating wars but so weak in bringing peace? Why is it that giving guns is so easy but giving books is so hard? Why is it that making tanks is so easy, but building schools is so difficult? As we are living in the modern age, the 21st century and we all believe that nothing is impossible. We can reach the moon and maybe soon will land on Mars. Then, in this, the 21st century, we must be determined that our dream of quality education for all will also come true. So let us bring equality, justice and peace for all. Not just the politicians and the world leaders, we all need to contribute. Me. You. It is our duty. So we must work … and not wait. I call upon my fellow children to stand up around the world. Dear sisters and brothers, let us become the first generation to decide to be the last. The empty classrooms, the lost childhoods, wasted potential-let these things end with us.”

At a mere 16 years of age, Malala Yousafzai gave a speech on the severity of the state of human rights across the world, and wowed the world with her passion for justice at her tender age. She displayed tenacity and fearlessness speaking about her survival of an assassination attempt for her activism for gender equality in the field of education. A model of courage to us all, her speech remains an essential one in the fight for human rights in the 21st century.

40. Final Commencement Speech by Michelle Obama

“If you are a person of faith, know that religious diversity is a great American tradition, too. In fact, that’s why people first came to this country — to worship freely. And whether you are Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh — these religions are teaching our young people about justice, and compassion, and honesty. So I want our young people to continue to learn and practice those values with pride. You see, our glorious diversity — our diversities of faiths and colors and creeds — that is not a threat to who we are, it makes us who we are. So the young people here and the young people out there: Do not ever let anyone make you feel like you don’t matter, or like you don’t have a place in our American story — because you do. And you have a right to be exactly who you are. But I also want to be very clear: This right isn’t just handed to you. No, this right has to be earned every single day. You cannot take your freedoms for granted. Just like generations who have come before you, you have to do your part to preserve and protect those freedoms. … It is our fundamental belief in the power of hope that has allowed us to rise above the voices of doubt and division, of anger and fear that we have faced in our own lives and in the life of this country. Our hope that if we work hard enough and believe in ourselves, then we can be whatever we dream, regardless of the limitations that others may place on us. The hope that when people see us for who we truly are, maybe, just maybe they, too, will be inspired to rise to their best possible selves.”

Finally, we have yet another speech by Michelle Obama given in her final remarks as First Lady – a tear-inducing event for many Americans and even people around the world. In this emotional end to her political tenure, she gives an empowering, hopeful, expressive speech to young Americans, exhorting them to take hold of its future in all their diversity and work hard at being their best possible selves.

Amidst the bleak era of our current time with Trump as president of the USA, not only Michelle Obama, but all 40 of these amazing speeches can serve as sources of inspiration and hope to everyone – regardless of their identity or ambitions. After hearing these speeches, which one’s your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!

Article Written By: Kai Xin Koh

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Abraham Lincoln’s Speech “The Gettysburg Address” Essay

Introduction, analysis of the speech, the significance of the speech, works cited.

Lincoln is one of the most renowned presidents of the United States. He was an inspiring leader and his speeches still speak to people’s hearts. Lincoln’s speeches have been used by many people who pursued different goals (Peatman 203). Thus, presidents of the USA, leaders of other countries and even filmmakers often refer to Lincoln’s words (Peatman 203).

One of his speeches used most often is the Gettysburg Address. It appeals to people’s hearts and focuses on the greatest values cherished by Americans. Admittedly, the speech may mean different things to different people. I would like to analyze the speech to understand what it means for me and why it has such an effect on me.

In the first place, it is necessary to note that it quite a brief but very appealing address to the nation. In just one paragraph, Lincoln revealed basic values of democracy. He focused on major values, equality and liberty (Lincoln n.p.). The speech contains many bright metaphors that appeal to people’s hearts.

For instance, Lincoln notes that even though they came to dedicate the cemetery to brave soldiers of the Civil War, they could not “consecrate” the land as the men “living and dead” had consecrated it with their blood (Lincoln n.p.). The President calls the cemetery a “resting place” for courageous soldiers who deserve the rest after their great labors (Lincoln n.p.). Admittedly, these literary devices make the speech memorable and touching.

It is remarkable that Lincoln speaks a lot about the nation. Thus, he starts his speech with mentioning first settlers who “brought forth… a new nation, conceived in liberty” (Lincoln n.p.). The nation and liberty are two central topics in the Gettysburg Address. The President stresses that it is the responsibility of people to protect gaining of their ancestors. The first settlers started the nation cherishing principles of liberty and the Civil War was the period when the nation got “a new birth of freedom” (Lincoln n.p.).

The inspiring leader reminds the great purpose of the horrible Civil War that took lives of thousands of brave men. Importantly, the President does not employ the concept of the country that implies territories and natural resources. He utilizes the concept of the nation, in other words, people who are the primary value for him. This is very important as people are more willing to follow the leader who cares about them, not some lands.

It is also noteworthy that Lincoln uses first person plural. He does not say that somebody has to do something for the nation. He stresses that he and people who are present (as well as the entire nation) have to act and struggle for liberty. Lincoln inspires people as he shows his readiness to act. Therefore, the President is the model and people are eager to follow him.

The brief analyses has shown major characteristics of the speech and it is easy to understand what it means for me and why. In the first place, the speech is a call for action. I believe the speech is a great reminder for people including me. When reading the speech, I become inspired and I am ready to act.

I understand that many people died for what they believed in and I had to contribute to the society that was created with so many sacrifices. Of course, no one asks me to give my life for the nation but I am sure that I will be ready to do a lot to help the nation flourish. When reading Lincoln’s speech, I understand that every American has to think about his contribution to the development of the society instead of simply consuming goods and services. The speech is a call for action for me.

It is also clear why the speech has such an effect. I know that the words helped people reconcile with their losses and brought hope to their hearts. The President mentions sacrifices and justifies them. Admittedly, it is simply impossible to remain indifferent to such a call for action.

Apart from this, the speech is also a reminder of the central value cherished by Americans. Liberty is one of the most important things for a person. I believe the speech is must-read for all in the US society. Admittedly, there are instances when liberties are limited and democracy is not fully manifested even in the US society. There is still racism and prejudice.

However, I think that the speech can remind people of the importance of this democratic value. I guess the speech reveals the essence of the nation as people came to the new world for liberty and freedom from European conventions and restriction.

It is but natural that liberty is what all generations of Americans have valued. Lincoln’s speech reveals this long for liberty and freedom. Therefore, people (especially those in power) have to read the speech every morning before they start making decisions. They have to remember that the nation needs liberty, otherwise, it will cease to exist.

Finally, the speech for me is also a reminder of the great history of the Americans who managed to create such a strong nation. The speech addresses only one episode of the American history but this episode is very suggestive. The USA is the country where people managed to win the battle for their liberties. First, the liberties were mere manifestations in some documents but gradually people managed to bring them to life.

The speech also addresses the major value and the struggle for it. When reading the speech, I personally, think of the Civil war, and the struggle for slavery abolition, the Civil Rights movement and a variety of stories concerning the struggle of people for their rights. I do not think Lincoln could predict how many more people would die before true liberty could reign in the country. However, in his speech he touched the subject and justified people’s sacrifice.

On balance, it is possible to note the speech is one of the brightest examples of oratory as it achieves its aim. It inspires people to struggle for their rights. For me, the speech is a reminder of people’s sacrifice, a brief account of the American history and a call for action. I am willing to contribute to development of the society and I believe that I will make my contribution. I also think I will face certain obstacle and I may even lose hope. However, reading the famous speech of Lincoln will inspire me to act and pursue my goals.

Lincoln, Abraham. The Gettysburg Address . 2013. Web.

Peatman, Jared. The Long Shadow of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. Carbondale, IL: SIU Press, 2013. Print.

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  • Battle Analysis: The Battle of Gettysburg
  • The Battle of Gettysburg: History, Strategies and More
  • Abraham Lincoln's Public Appearance
  • Abraham Lincoln: A Legacy of Freedom
  • Barack Obama's Family History
  • Dwight D. Eisenhower: World War II Hero and U.S. President
  • Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Key Elements of Representing the Self-Improvement Process
  • James Madison’s Leadership Qualities

The Power of Persuasion: how Gatorade’s Slogan Captures the Essence of Sports Culture

This essay about Gatorade’s iconic slogan “Is it in you?” explores how it transcends traditional marketing to embody the ethos of sports culture. Introduced in 1997, the slogan effectively positions Gatorade not just as a beverage, but as a symbol of the resilience, strength, and determination inherent in athletes. It challenges the consumer to reflect on their own inner qualities and aligns the drink with the pursuit of athletic excellence. The slogan’s rhetorical power lies in its simplicity and dual meaning, resonating both as a physical intake and a metaphor for internal qualities necessary for success. The essay also discusses how Gatorade leverages visual endorsements from renowned athletes to strengthen its brand identity, making the drink synonymous with peak performance and recovery. Through this slogan, Gatorade markets both a product and an ideal, emphasizing that it is essential for anyone striving to realize their potential in sports.

How it works

When Gatorade coined its famous slogan “Is it in you?” back in 1997, it wasn’t just introducing a new tagline—it was embedding itself into the cultural fabric of athletics. This slogan goes beyond a simple marketing phrase; it serves as a rallying cry that resonates with the ethos of athletes around the world, encapsulating the spirit of determination and endurance. This analysis examines how Gatorade’s slogan captures the essence of sports culture and contributes to its brand identity, transforming the way consumers perceive sports beverages.

Gatorade has consistently positioned itself not just as a product but as an integral part of the sports narrative. The development of the slogan “Is it in you?” was a strategic move to highlight the intrinsic connection between the drink and the athlete’s internal drive and perseverance. This question does not merely ask if Gatorade is physically inside the athlete, but rather, it calls into question the presence of the qualities that Gatorade embodies: resilience, strength, and the relentless pursuit of victory.

The success of this slogan can be attributed to its deeply motivational nature. It challenges athletes to reflect on their own inner strength and determination, aligning the product with the inner qualities that sports enthusiasts aspire to exhibit. By doing so, Gatorade transcends the typical consumer product categorization, becoming a symbol of athletic excellence and ambition. This slogan encourages athletes to push their limits, suggesting that consuming Gatorade is synonymous with nurturing the qualities that make great athletes.

Moreover, the rhetorical power of the slogan lies in its simplicity and its evocative appeal. The structure of the phrase “Is it in you?” is open-ended, prompting an internal dialogue. It’s a clever play on words—on one hand, it references the physical consumption of the beverage, and on the other, it metaphorically speaks to the ingredients of success that must come from within the athlete. This dual meaning not only enhances the memorability of the slogan but also reinforces the message that Gatorade is essential for anyone striving to unleash their potential in the realm of sports.

The emotional resonance of the slogan is amplified by its widespread use in advertising campaigns featuring renowned athletes. These figures are often seen reaching for a bottle of Gatorade during their most challenging moments, thereby visually associating the drink with peak performance and recovery. The presence of Gatorade in contexts of extreme exertion and triumph sends a powerful message that the brand is a key component in the quest for athletic success. It subtly suggests that the qualities that define greatness are indeed “in” the athletes who choose Gatorade, thereby making it a part of their essential gear.

In conclusion, Gatorade’s slogan “Is it in you?” effectively captures the essence of sports culture by aligning the brand with the core attributes of dedication and excellence in athletics. It’s more than a marketing tool; it’s a philosophical inquiry that challenges athletes to introspect and recognize their potential. By intertwining the product with the identity and aspirations of its consumers, Gatorade has not only marketed a beverage but has also sold an ideal. This slogan remains a testament to the powerful role that effective branding can play in not just shaping consumer behavior but in becoming a part of the consumer’s identity and lifestyle. Through clever wording and emotional engagement, Gatorade ensures that it is not just seen as fuel for the body, but also as inspiration for the spirit.

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Why Donald Trump ended up praising Hollywood’s most famous cannibal

During an angry speech in New Jersey, Trump allowed his exaggerations to overflow.

famous speech analysis essay

When Donald Trump is not reading the teleprompter, it’s hard to know what you’re going to get. Perhaps you’ll get the standard angry riffs about the things Trump has been saying he is angry about for the past nine years. Perhaps you’ll get an anecdote about how a big, strong man came up to Trump, tears in his eyes, and thanked the former president — “Sir, thank you!” — for what he did on whatever issue Trump had just talked about.

Or perhaps, as was the case in New Jersey this weekend, you’ll get a bit of praise for the murderous cannibal from the movie “Silence of the Lambs.”

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“The late, great Hannibal Lecter is a wonderful man,” Trump said — a sentence that has, it seems safe to assume, never before been uttered by a current or former American president. He prefaced this comment by asking whether anyone had seen the aforementioned movie. It would be safe to assume that perhaps Trump hadn’t, given his description of Lecter as “wonderful,” except that he then made reference to the final scene in the film, in which Lecter is about to murder someone. After mentioning that scene, Trump for some reason offered Lecter his congratulations.

One might justifiably wonder how this subject came up and why. The answer is uncomplicated in the way that Trump’s “sir” stories are.

Trump had just finished describing President Biden as a moron, worse than the 10 worst presidents in U.S. history combined.

“We’re supposed to cherish the office of president,” Trump said. “You don’t do what he did to try and win votes” — that is, serve as president as your predecessor racks up criminal indictments. (Trump frames this as proactive targeting by Biden, of course, but it isn’t.) Then Trump pivoted to his need to win back the White House in November.

“The biggest thing we have is we have millions of people here that are criminals,” he said. “We really — I mean, they’re criminals.”

“Send them back!” someone in the crowd shouted.

“Think of it: Venezuela just announced — and they had a new number was 67 now it’s 72 percent — 72 percent they’re down in crime because they took their gangs, their gang members, they took a lot of their criminals and they moved them into the United States of America,” Trump continued. “Jail populations all over the world are way down and these” — Trump searched for the best word for a moment — “ fools back there, the press, the fake news — they don’t want to report it.”

“You know why they’re down?” he continued. “Because they’re sending people in their jails into the United States. From Africa, from Asia, from all over the world. They’re emptying out their jails into the United States.”

The media isn’t reporting that crime in Venezuela is down 72 percent or that countries are emptying their jails into the United States because those things are not true, and we, unlike candidates for the presidency, are duty-bound to present information accurately.

The Venezuela thing was assessed by PolitiFact. The drop in crime was far smaller than Trump suggests because of several factors, including that the poor economy leaves less opportunity for criminals. There is no evidence that the government is sending criminals to the United States, and, in fact, most migration out of Venezuela is to nearby countries.

The idea that other countries, like those in Africa and Asia, are sending prison populations to the United States is more obviously baseless. How does that work, exactly? Not rhetorically, obviously; it’s clear how warnings about non-White people from exotic places are meant to land with the audience. But practically. Streams of 737s taking off from Lagos and landing in Tijuana?

It’s just an exaggeration, pushing the rhetoric further and further. If you accept that the media is lying to you and that there is evidence that Venezuela is shipping people north, then why not take it further? Why not believe, say, that China is building an army inside the United States?

Trump’s exaggerations had not yet peaked, of course.

“They’re emptying out their mental institutions into the United States, our beautiful country,” he continued. “And now the prison populations all over the world are down. They don’t want to report that. The mental institution population is down because they’re taking people from insane asylums and from mental institution — you know what the difference is, right? An insane asylum is a mental institution on steroids.”

Well, the difference really is that the former sounds scarier and more pejorative than the latter, so it has fallen out of favor. But scarier and pejorative is exactly what Trump is going for. And what better way to do that than to remind people of perhaps the scariest resident of a mental institution in American popular culture?

“‘Silence of the Lamb,’” Trump said. “Has anyone ever seen ‘The Silence of the Lambs’?”

And here we go.

“The late, great Hannibal Lecter is a wonderful man,” Trump continued. “He oftentimes would have a friend for dinner. Remember the last scene? ‘Excuse me, I’m about to have a friend for dinner’ as this poor doctor walked by. ‘I’m about to have a friend for dinner.’ But Hannibal Lecter, congratulations. The late, great Hannibal Lecter.”

And that was it. This was all off teleprompter, mind you, so there was no careful tying of the story back to the purported immigrant threat or to some evidence that, say, Thailand had sent the residents of a mental hospital to some swing state. Just a little riff on how scary this one guy from a movie is.

But Trump did put a fine point on the anecdote in the abstract.

“We have people that are being released into our country that we don’t want in our country,” Trump said, again using the baseless verb “released” to imply that it was part of some intentional effort. “And they’re coming in totally unchecked, totally unvetted, and we can’t let this happen. They’re just destroying our country.”

Once again, from the crowd: “Send them back!”

“And we’re sitting back,” Trump continued, “and we better damn well win this election ’cause if we don’t, our country is going to be doomed. It’s going to be doomed.”

It’s all apocalypticism. Everything is a slippery slope, and we’re all nearly at the bottom, all the time, in all ways. This is and has long been Trump’s pitch to voters, either that the United States is doomed because of the current president or (as was offered in 2020) that the collapse will occur imminently should he lose his position. The nuance comes only from how far Trump is willing to take it.

Praising Hannibal Lecter’s cannibalism is further than usual.

Election 2024

Get the latest news on the 2024 election from our reporters on the campaign trail and in Washington.

Who is running? President Biden and Donald Trump secured their parties’ nominations for the presidency . Here’s how we ended up with a Trump-Biden rematch again.

Key dates and events: From January to June, voters in all states and U.S. territories will pick their party’s nominee for president ahead of the summer conventions. Here are key dates and events on the 2024 election calendar .

Abortion and the election: Voters in about a dozen states could decide the fate of abortion rights with constitutional amendments on the ballot in a pivotal election year. Biden supports legal access to abortion , and he has encouraged Congress to pass a law that would codify abortion rights nationwide. After months of mixed signals about his position, Trump said the issue should be left to states . Here’s how Biden’s and Trump’s abortion stances have shifted over the years.

famous speech analysis essay

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famous speech analysis essay

  • Defence and armed forces
  • Military equipment, logistics and technology

New Golden Age of shipbuilding as new UK-built warships boost Navy building programme to up to 28 ships and submarines 

With up to 28 warships and submarines in the pipeline, backed by defence spending rising to 2.5% of GDP, Britain is seeing a new Golden Age of shipbuilding.

famous speech analysis essay

Image of a multiple ships sailing in formation

  • Defence spending boost driving new Golden Age of shipbuilding
  • Defence Secretary announces Royal Navy shipbuilding programme to rise to up to 28 ships and submarines to deliver a more secure future
  • Up to six new amphibious warships for the Royal Marines to be built in the UK

With up to 28 warships and submarines in the pipeline, backed by defence spending rising to 2.5% of GDP, Britain is seeing a new Golden Age of shipbuilding, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps will say today [Tuesday].  

Speaking at the annual Sea Power Conference in central London, the Defence Secretary will announce that up to six new state-of-the-art warships will be built in the UK to strengthen Royal Marines special operations, as part of the Government’s plan to deliver a secure future for families across the United Kingdom. 

Backed by defence spending rising to 2.5% of GDP by the end of the decade, the announcement means that there are now up to 28 warships and submarines planned or in build to benefit the Royal Navy.  

Defence Secretary, Grant Shapps said:

With up to 28 ships and submarines being built or in the pipeline, this is a new Golden Age for British shipbuilding.   The new vessels for the Royal Marines will help our brave Commandos fight the conflicts of the future.  This is all possible because this government has committed to spending 2.5% of GDP on defence by the end of the decade, as part of our plans to deliver a more secure future for you and your family.

The Defence Secretary will also announce that HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark will not be scrapped or mothballed before their planned out of service dates of 2033-2034.

Today’s new ships are known as Multi Role Support Ships (MRSS) - specialist warships designed to rapidly deliver the famous Royal Marines Commando Force onto coastlines around the world to conduct special operations.   

It brings the total number of UK-built ships and submarines in the pipeline to benefit the Royal Navy to up to 28, with Type 26 and Type 31 in Scotland, Astute and Dreadnought submarines in Barrow-in-Furness, and Fleet Solid Support ships in Belfast and Devon.   

The First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Ben Key, said:

I am delighted that the Secretary of State has cemented the future of our Royal Marines by committing to this new class of up to six amphibious vessels. These will be the most capable amphibious warships the nation has ever owned, designed to be fully interchangeable with our closest allies in Europe, and in NATO. I also pay tribute to the sterling service of the two Type 23 frigates that were announced for retirement today - collectively they have deployed worldwide, conducted dozens of live operations, and have far surpassed their expected service life. While always sad to pay off such fine warships, their decommissioning marks the next stage of our reinvestment in new, more modern frigates.

MRSS will be highly flexible warships, able to deploy on a wider variety of operations, and designed to carry vehicles, aircraft, insertion craft and a broad range of uncrewed systems for complicated missions. They will also be able to act as primary casualty receiving ships, providing urgent medical care to our forces wherever they are deployed.

The MOD has entered the first, or Concept, phase of the MRSS Programme and will work with industry as part of early market engagement ahead of developing the vessel design.

In line with the National Shipbuilding Strategy, there will be up to six MRSS built overall, which will replace current capabilities, including the two Landing Platform Docks, three Landing Ship Dock (Auxiliaries) and the Aviation Support Ship RFA Argus, in the early 2030s.     

Defence Equipment & Support CEO, Andy Start said:

With the MOD’s new Integrated Procurement Model in place and DE&S undergoing its biggest transformation in a decade we are aiming to be faster, more efficient, more innovative, more integrated and more productive when delivering new equipment such as the Multi-Role Support Ships for the Royal Marines. Our MRSS team has already begun engaging with the potential shipbuilding market to lay the groundwork for this versatile and essential future capability.

The Defence Secretary will also announce that HMS Argyll and HMS Westminster, that have a combined service of 63 years, will be retired. HMS Argyll has been sold to BAE Systems and will be used within the UK’s vibrant shipbuilding sector, supporting apprentice training in line with the Government’s agenda on skills and shipbuilding capacity.

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Four young people pulling faces while tasting red wine at a black-tie event

Why are we so snobby about other people’s weddings?

Weddings are once-in-a-lifetime statements of wealth, taste and social capital. Maybe it’s human nature to want to dissect them

A non-exhaustive list of things I have arbitrarily strong feelings about when it comes to weddings: headbands, the number of bridesmaids (more than five is too many), espresso martinis (should be banned), Mr Brightside (argh!), “hats optional” (an edict both stuffy and stressful), any kind of day-after event.

I’m hardly alone in my convictions. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of things other people tell me they find tasteless: naked dresses , lab-grown diamonds, wedding hashtags, too many speeches, not enough speeches, asking for a Peloton.

The point is, people love to gossip about weddings – some of us more than others, and I include myself in that group. We know these opinions are absurd and also possibly ungrateful when we’ve been invited to a party that reportedly costs on average $304 a person in the US, which is certainly more than I’ve ever spent on a friend. It’s fun to play armchair critic when it comes to a public spectacle, and find out if your idea of what’s cool diverges wildly from someone else’s – but occasionally, the conversation can veer towards snootiness.

This kind of commentary – which would see you branded a ghastly snob in any other context – is somehow fair game when it comes to weddings. It’s not often I hear someone say their friend wore a tacky dress to a party; I’ve absolutely heard people make that kind of comment about a friend’s wedding dress. It isn’t lost on me that often the highest compliment given to a wedding is that it was “classy”.

Why do weddings inspire this level of judgment and critique? “A wedding is this massive once-in-a-lifetime celebration, and it is a place where people are going to spend,” says Elise Taylor , a writer at Vogue who covers weddings. The average cost of a US wedding in 2023, according to the Knot, was $35,000 (and much more in large cities like New York, where it was $63,000). “It’s really everyone saying: this is the best, this is my dream, this is what I want to put forth into the world,” says Taylor. And if you put it forth, people will judge.

Weddings say a lot about how a couple wants to be perceived, and the potentially saggy gap between what they arrange and how it lands can be the locus of huge anxiety. One bride, who asked not to be named, was taken aback by the flower budget of a friend’s wedding; the bride hadn’t planned on spending anywhere near as much. “She’ll probably come to my wedding and be like, ‘You absolute paupers, you’ve scrimped.’”

It’s not really our fault that we’re snobby about weddings; or at least, we didn’t start it. Stephanie Coontz , a historian whose book Marriage, A History, was cited in the US supreme court decision on marriage equality, explains that weddings have historically reinforced class divisions. It was difficult to marry into another class, she says, while marriage for the elite was about expanding economic and political power. Weddings were “a way of underlining their power, of underlining their social connections, of exhibiting to others just how wonderful an alliance this would be”.

In the 19th century, the aspirational middle classes, scouring penny papers for tidbits about aristocratic weddings, began to imitate high-society affairs. Many of the wedding traditions we’ve inherited today stem from this flurry of social climbing. Take the white dress, commonly thought to symbolise purity; in fact, it signified wealth. Queen Victoria (also the trendsetter behind the three-tiered wedding cake ) married Prince Albert in an ivory Spitalfields silk wedding dress, and suddenly, everyone wanted one. White dresses were costly to make and clean, explains Coontz: “To wear white was to say, ‘I can afford to wear a dress that I either have to have cleaned very expensively or that I will never have to wear again.’” In 1949, Coontz notes, Brides magazine was still assuring brides that a fabulous white gown would make them “queen of the day”.

Today, many of us gobble up the weddings of the merely rich and chic as if they were famous. Taylor says that Vogue Weddings emerged from the giddy reaction to their coverage of royal weddings. Weddings are “deeply fun to gossip about”, she says. “Vogue Weddings is kind of the extension of that culture that we all participate in. It’s just online.” Her team picks weddings that will get people talking: those featuring celebrities, of course, but also naked dresses or a bride who wore jeans.

Pre-internet era, we used to only see the weddings we actually went to; now, it’s possible to see the weddings of probably everyone we’ve ever known – and many we’ve never even met. Some wedding enthusiasts are all for this kind of visibility. “If you’re getting married, and you feel comfortable with it, you should just be public on Instagram for that weekend,” says Tatiana Bravo, 30, who works in tech and estimates that she has attended up to 30 weddings. “Because the reality is everybody wants to creep on other people’s weddings, even people they don’t really even know.”

After all, many of us would argue it’s just human nature to want to dissect such a big event. “It’s kind of like, do you enjoy gossip? And if anyone tells you no, that’s a lie,” says Molly Levine, 26, a product manager from New York, who has seven weddings to attend this year. “It’s a proven thing – it’s easier to connect with other people when you’re gossiping.”

Wedding criticism falls into two categories: criticism about things that affect you and criticism about things that do not. The first area might include such common gripes as wedding sprawl (the additional events that mushroom up around a wedding) or the growing expense of attending a wedding as a guest. The second is really an evaluation of taste, “one of the more emotional, and socially ostracising, dimensions of the class systems in which we live”, as the British writer Nathalie Olah puts it in her book Bad Taste .

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What is considered “good taste” varies – for some, a staggeringly expensive “classic” wedding in a petticoat-white Connecticut church might be the standard; for others, only a louche “anti-wedding” (2024’s hottest wedding trend , in which couples shirk tradition in favour of a party that’s more authentically them) at their favourite Brooklyn restaurant will do. Either way, when we call a wedding tasteful, it’s an appraisal of a couple’s financial, cultural and social capital – and an expression of our own. This is where the cheap shots about ugly bridesmaids’ dresses come in.

Discussions about the champagne’s vintage dry up pretty quickly, though. Talking about what actually happened at the wedding is juicier. Etiquette can inspire endless hot wedding takes. Bravo mentions the fraught exercise of picking bridesmaids; Levine says she and her friends debate “what’s appropriate”: Can you decline to attend extra events? Do you give a gift if you’re also spending hundreds on a plane ticket? Guest comforts are another popular topic. Were there enough bartenders to prevent a scrum? Were plus-ones allowed? Often, just as more money means nicer flowers, more money means better looked-after guests. As Xochitl Gonzalez writes in an Atlantic piece about wedding planners: “It costs a lot to make something look nice; it costs even more to make it feel nice – to make sure all your guests are comfortable, and well fed, and entertained … Unlike bags or jewelry, you can’t really knock off a nice wedding.”

Speak now : A Guardian guide to the realities of a modern wedding

You don’t have to be an influencer to get free wedding stuff .

There was no time for a wedding – so we eloped

If you want a cheaper wedding , here’s how to do it

Couples break down their wedding costs and debt

How to host a sustainable wedding – including picking a second-hand dress .

‘Shopping for a wedding dress mostly sucked’

But perhaps the worst thing you can say about a wedding is that it wasn’t fun. The kind of expensive wedding planning that undergirds a seamless guest experience helps, but ultimately a fun wedding comes down to the people. I love to talk about the frothy parts of a wedding, but the only thing I really care about is the seating plan; I want to make new friends and scream-sing Angels with them, while celebrating a couple we all adore. As Coontz says: “Before they became a tool of class exclusion, weddings were really about and at their best can still be about … bringing two different sets of communities or friendship networks together.”

The loveliest wedding I ever went to was precisely that. I do remember the exquisite dahlias filling the airy modernist pavilion and the pan con tomate canapés, but it was an old Irish tradition of warming the rings that has really stuck with me. The guests passed the rings around, then back to the couple; this journey made them not just a symbol of the couple’s love for each other, but also of our love for them. That’s what connected this glorious mix of people from different countries who might never have even crossed on the street; we came together, we bonded, and we had a bloody good time.

We might all have snobby tendencies, but most of us are more invested in connecting with one another. A great wedding is fun – and so is a good gossip. What better way to keep a party going than by talking about it?

  • Well actually
  • Speak now: the truth about weddings

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