Madeleine Albright Commencement Speech Rhetorical Analysis

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Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Albright's Call to Action: Strive for a Better World
  • Women Fighting for Change: Albright's Inspiration
  • Conclusion


Madeleine Albright’s commencement speech was obviously directed towards the young graduates of Mount Holyoke College. Albright, in her speech, utilized certain words and phrases to motivate the graduating women to move forward with their lives. Madeleine Albright commencement speech rhetorical analysis shows how she encouraged them to gather up courage to achieve what they have always wanted to achieve and to fight for themselves and their country. She conveys her message to the audience by using the events after some of the most historical events and encounters with women in other countries to motivate the graduating class.

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Albright's Call to Action: Strive for a Better World

Albright uses what occurred after important historical events to motivate the audience to always do more than what is expected, don’t just sit there and let everything be “okay”. She uses the destruction of the Berlin Wall to prove that we learned to use the Berlin Wall to help us in the present and future. People are now “striving to create a future for Europe”, because of the Berlin Wall. As humans, we have learned from past events to create a better world for not only ourselves, but for everyone else/others. Albright also uses the events of the U.S. being threatened by nuclear weapons to motivate the audience to strive and do more, and analyze past events to prepare themselves for what may happen in the future. She says that instead of just sitting there and not doing anything, we now are “working to…ban nuclear explosions forever”. The use of being threatened by dangerous weapons motivates the audience to always look out for themselves. Albright uses memorable historical events to encourage her audience to strive and prosper for themselves, while helping others.

Women Fighting for Change: Albright's Inspiration

Albright utilizes another strategy up her sleeve: her past experiences with women from other countries. She utilizes this to motivate her audience to fight for themselves and others. She mentions women that she has met in Guatemela who fight to put “an end to discrimination and abuse”. Those women fight for the discrimination and abuse to stop because it is an issue they face constantly. Women are constantly being mistreated and abused, especially during this time period. The women want to make change! It encourages the audience that they too are able to fight for themselves and face any obstacles that may stand in the way. Albright also uses the women in Sarajevo to inspire the audience that they can take on anything. The women in Sarajevo fight “to rebuild their shattered society”. To some, rebuilding a society may seem impossible, but the women in Sarajevo still fight to have a better society. Those women are mentioned in Albright’s speech to motivate her audience to always fight for what may even seem impossible; relating back to other stories told. The women are encouraged to try and succeed in anything they fight for. Albright uses women from countries who are struggling to encourage her audience to fight for what they hope to achieve.


Albright uses historical events and women from other countries to motivate her audience to fight for themselves and all others. She hopes to inspire the graduating class of 1997 to move from college and start fighting for situations that can have an impact on themselves and many others. Albright encourages her audience to graduate from college and have success in achieving in what they are striving to be. 

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