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The Effective Use Of Rhetoric Is A Key Part Of Speeches

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The effective use of rhetoric is a key part of speeches as they evoke emotions and persuade the audience; enabling the orator to establish their focus whilst creating a sense of trust and transparency. A key example of this is reflected within both Anwar Sadat’s and Noel Pearson’s speeches as they align their employment of rhetoric to sew the chasms that were created through the conflicts of the past. Although both orators share a common goal, Sadat’s ‘Speech to the Israeli Knesset (1977)’ emphasises the necessity to forget past grudges and vendettas to pave a way for future generations. Pearson’s ‘An Australian History for us all (1996)’, acknowledges the discrimination and the need to reconcile with the past and present for a more harmonious and hopeful vision of the future. Although the orator’s context and implementation of language are vastly different, both speeches attempt to unite and persuade the audience to change perceptions.

Sadat’s Speech to the Israeli Knesset addresses the spread of hatred due to tradition and war whilst rebutting the necessity for revenge. In a context where both countries are highly religious, Sadat’s use of religious references is another endeavour to unite individuals together and compel them to look over past prejudices and hatred. Sadat appeals to the audience’s ethos by establishing a religious context then inaugurating his own spiritual credentials as a man of faith reflected through the biblical allusions “the Gracious and Merciful” and “Peace and Mercy of God Almighty … may peace be for us all”, connecting himself to God as he, himself is in pursuit of peace. The irony of “destructive wars launched by man to annihilate his fellow man” outlines the ramifications of war as well as its meaninglessness result where there are “neither victor nor vanquished”. The accumulation of negative emotive language in “breeding generations on concepts of total rift and deep-rooted animosity” evokes a sense of pathos within the audience as Sadat breaks down the boundaries between both Israeli/s and Arabs alike as he paints a graphic picture of the consequences of the conflict. Sadat attempts to persuade his audience that a lasting resolution is possible as well as establishing a basis for international peace by building on a hope of bilateral peace between two nations.

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Similarly, Pearson’s “An Australian History for us all” highlights the need to reconcile in order to progress and the necessity for a country and its people to embrace change. The incorporation of historiography within his speech reveal the intellectual purpose and audience of Pearson, but also builds on Pearson’s desires to confront and evoke reactions from those he quotes and importantly, provoke those views he does not agree with. The religious allusion “nevertheless owned the country as their God-given heritage” allows Pearson to connect with the audience through biblical allusion as God himself represents justice. By highlighting that the country was “God-given” Pearson was able to accentuate the depravity of the situation as the act of colonising Australia is an act against God. To further heighten this notion, Pearson embeds the letters of William Cooper ‘… taking of rightful belongings…’ allowing the audience to relive the atrocities and injustices of the war. It is when Pearson’s gradual shift into a first-person narration, that the passion, conviction and commitment to a history “for all of us” that lies at the centre of Pearson’s presentation becomes provocative. The exposition “How do we as Indigenous people respond to the legacy of colonialism and that brutal, troubled, culture by which we were dispossessed” reinforces his self-confessed “observations” of the perspectives on the matter of guilt, identity and history. Pearson’s emotional appeal to the audience conveys a message of hope for society to collectively take responsibility for the actions of past generations and inspires change for a world built on mutual respect.

A unique speech structure enhances the orator’s employment of rhetoric and ultimately constitutes to the link between the audience and the orator. Sadat’s ’Speech to the Israeli Knesset’ use of a circular structure, where the speech initiates with a religious reference “In the name of God” and concludes with a religious reference as well “may God be my witness.”, reinforces the main thematic concerns of peace and justice. Adding dynamism and gravitas to his delivery, Sadat’s utilisation of anaphora “I have come”, is an attempt to unify his own country on foreign territory in a time of warfare, adds to the authenticity of his speech as it shows his willingness to place himself in a position of jeopardy merely to prove the sincerity of his determination to achieve peace. On the other hand, rather than a circular structure and reinforcement of key concepts, Pearson’s ‘An Australian History for us All’ takes on a dramatic feature and as his speech becomes more personal and direct. Pearson’s humble “observations” introduced in the first paragraph is juxtaposed with his challenges and use of sarcasm “…to properly comprehend a balanced and perhaps even conservative critique on how we might deal with our history, he might care to read Robert Hughes rather than the opinion polls”. The concluding section of the speech builds a greater narrative of guilt, identity and the importance of these issues in a post-colonial Australia entices Pearson and his audience.


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