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Devree Richhart Period 3 SLCC English 1010 Rhetorical Analysis Draft 1

You Are Not Special For my rhetorical analysis, I chose a speech not only important for my future, but for my peers as well. It is the You Are Not Special commencement speech given by David McCullough at the 2012 Wellesley High School Graduation. The message of this speech is clear. It focuses on the saying that none of us are special because everyone is. You see, if everyone is special, then no one is. This speech definitely focuses on modern day life, and achieves to persuade the readers that it is intended for. David McCullough relates this speech with the graduating class that is being presented to. He uses Pathos, and intellectual vocabulary to persuade his audience. At the beginning of the speech, David goes off on a side tangent about weddings. He uses it to his advantage. He relates weddings with the importance of commencement. Even though commencement is a great forward-looking ceremony, weddings are also a painstakingly huge part of life. Sadly, half of them end in divorce, and thats where David turns it back to commencement. He states, And then theres the frequency of failure: statistics tell us half of you will get divorced. But this ceremony...commencement... a commencement works every time. From this day forward... truly in sickness and in health... you will stay forever graduated from high school, you and your diploma as one, till death do you part. By relating the two ceremonies as one, he connects with the audience by using his rhetorical technique. Throughout the speech he repeats the saying, You are not special proving the importance of the phrase. At the first of the speech, it was perceived as a negative connotation, but towards the end of the speech, there was an acceptance to the negative saying. He uses Pathos by connecting with the audience and pulling at their heartstrings when they hear the saying.

Devree Richhart Period 3 SLCC English 1010 Rhetorical Analysis Draft 1

David persuades the audience with his intellectual vocabulary. Using Logos, he states factual evidence that persuades the audience he is speaking to. To explain to the graduates that they really are not that special, he states, Even if youre one in a million, on a planet of 6.8 billion that means there are nearly 7,000 people just like you. By saying this it shows his strong credible sources that he uses to his advantage. He is aggressive with his word choice. There is no mercy when he speaks; he just says it how it is. The following quote from this speech is one for the books, If youve learned anything in your years here I hope its that education should be for, rather than material advantage, the exhilaration of learning... I also hope youve learned enough to recognize how little you know... how little you know now... at the moment... for today is just the beginning. Its where you go from here that matters. Pathos is strongly affective here when David uses repetition of the word hope. It gives the notion that if you havent done what he is suggesting you to do, you have let him down. No one likes letting anyone down, so it gets the point across that they reall y dont know everything even though they have successfully completed high school. In a way, he is telling them what they should be thinking about for their futures. Throughout the speech, David connects with the audience by giving examples that they can relate to. He talks about Ugg boots, and the expression YOLO. He also frequently critiques and criticizes the graduates. He states, Now, before you dash off and get your YOLO tattoo, let me point out the illogic of that trendy little expression-because you can and should live not merely once, but every day of your life. Rather than You Only Live Once, it should be You Live Only Once... but because YLOO doesnt have the same ring, we shrug and decide it doesn't matter. When David says that they should live everyday of their lives, he is bashing the expression for its stupidity. By now, its easy for him to insult his audience without them taking

Devree Richhart Period 3 SLCC English 1010 Rhetorical Analysis Draft 1

offense because he has been telling them that they are not special the whole time. Now he takes it a little farther by telling them that what they have been saying is the most idiotic saying you could possibly think of. Also, when he says that we decide it doesnt matter, he shows how nonchalant we can be with our word choice. He is saying this to a group of graduates that should be considering their word choice because it imperative for their future. To prove his point, David reminds his audience again that they are not special. At the end of his speech he says this, Climb the mountain not to plant your flag, but to embrace the challenge...And then you too will discover the great and curious truth of the human experience is that selflessness is the best thing you can do for yourself. The sweetest joys of life, then, come only with the recognition that youre not special. Because everyone is. The restatement of his claim is not only the truths of having selflessness, but is important advice for life. When he says that they should embrace the challenge, the meaning is so vast that they perceive it to mean many different things. It makes the audience think of what they really feel is challenging in their lives and what they can do to make more enjoyable experiences. David uses multiple calls to action in his speech. He isnt suggesting ideas to his audience, but rather telling them what they need to do. He tells them to read all the timedream big, and work hard. Without these calls to action he wouldnt have any purpose to his speech. The purpose of the whole speech is to tell the graduating class that they need to get up and work hard to succeed in life. They arent special because no one is. They are just like everybody else and he isnt trying to sugar coat it. David states negative descriptions and he is blunt about it, but it catches the attention of his audience. Even though his audience was forced to listen to this speech, he uses his time to teach and uplift the graduates in a harsh, but positive way. When watching the video of David giving this speech, he uses humor to acknowledge that

Devree Richhart Period 3 SLCC English 1010 Rhetorical Analysis Draft 1

he really is only trying to give good advice and help the graduates, because commencement is only one small step in their lives.

Devree Richhart Period 3 SLCC English 1010 Rhetorical Analysis Draft 1

References McCullough, D. (2012). Wellesley High grads told: Youre not special. Retrieved from http://theswellesleyreport.com/2012/06/wellesley-high-grads-told-youre-not-special/

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