Essay- Great Speeches

Topics: Morality, Sociology, Logic Pages: 4 (1205 words) Published: March 18, 2011
“A great speech, rational or emotional, has the power to influence, challenge or persuade more than one audience.” Write an essay response supporting your argument to this statement in a close analysis of how three speeches have been crafted. Roman rhetorician Quintilian once commented, “And what, after all, is an orator? Not a good speaker, but a good person speaking well..." Great speeches influence, challenge or persuade audiences from any context because they are messages ‘good' people have imparted upon human society to urge moral and social progress. Some orators such as Socrates focus on logical argument, whilst others such as Lincoln and Levertov use the emotional powers of their rhetoric. However, they all expound universally appreciated values such as truth, freedom and peace. As such, whether or not they are received well in their own contexts, they continue to influence, challenge or persuade audiences due to the timeless relevance of their moral message.

More than two millennia ago, Socrates attacked the materialistic human condition, driving society’s moral progress in his exertion of the values of truth and virtue. Socrates sought to bring Athens out of a state of material ignorance and help its citizens recognise the ultimate importance of morality and truth, sacrificing his life in this attempt. Though booed and jeered by his Athenian jury, Socrates did not die in vain, for his speech continues to challenge modern audiences. This is because these values are still relevant to today’s society. By contrasting “Death, exile, disgrace”, which are denounced as the evils of the average man, to the “far greater evil” of injustice, which his prosecutors committed upon him, Socrates establishes a dichotomy between morality and mortality, the latter raised above the former. This upheaval of virtue over life continues to influence man’s sense of moral progress, because the conflict between material and moral values inherently emerges in all human...
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