Margaret Atwood’s Spotty-Handed Villainesses (1994) and Anwar Sadat’s Statement to the Knesset (1977) are both speeches worthy of critical study because of their fascinating ideas and values.
“There was a little girl
Who had a little curl
Right in the middle of her forehead;
When she was good, she was very, very good,
And when she was bad, she was horrid!”
Atwood begins her speech with an anecdote and quotes this famous nursery rhyme to gain a personal connection with her audience and to introduce the subject of her speech – women in literature. Atwood established herself as a controversial writer, bringing her radical views such as feminism to the centre of political discussion. Throughout the speech Atwood explores the changing role of women in society through their portrayal in literature and how these roles have changed through time.
Throughout Spotty-handed villainesses, Atwood uses many language features and techniques that help her complex ideas get through to the audience. Atwood’s use of a relaxed, humorous and personal tone means she can connect more with the audience allowing her to express to them her complex ideas and values on women in literature. Colloquialisms make Atwood’s speech more accessible to the audience and the humour of hem is engaging – “flogging a few dead horses”. Although Atwood’s values can cause her to be seen as a feminist, she rejects this stereotype by using the colloquial term “sex bomb” which would usually not be used by a feminist. The use of question and answer “What is a novel?” cause the audience to think about what she is saying and also allows the reader to explain the concept. The use of a humorous metaphor and religious allusion comparing to job of a novelist to God’s creation of the world “one detail at a time” emphasises the difficulty of writing and appeals to the religious beliefs of the audience. The speech has a distinct chronological...