How Does a Speech Maintain Interest Through Rhetorical Treatment of Human Aspirations and Beliefs

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All great speeches evoke emotions and provoke thought in order to engage their audience. Through rhetorical treatment of human aspirations and beliefs speakers are able to ignite thought, stir emotions and in some cases even inspire their audiences to take action. This concept is evident in Paul Keating’s speech ‘Funeral For An Unknown Soldier’ (1993) and even more so in Noel Pearson’s speech ‘An Australian History For All Of Us’ (1996). The following interpretation of these two prescribed speeches will show how each speaker has used rhetorical devices to inspire emotion, thought and action but firstly it is important to know the context of these speeches in order to understand the impact they have on their audiences.

Both of these speeches were delivered at times when the topics concerned were very prominent in Australian society. This gave the speakers an advantage when trying to engage their audiences. Paul Keating’s speech was intentionally delivered on Armistice Day, in honor of all the unidentified “men and women who laid down their lives for Australia” in World War One, because of the deeply rooted cultural significance it already held. At this time Australian people did not support war and because of this Keating made sure to clearly acknowledge that the war itself was a “mad, brutal” event that should not be a source of pride but at the same time the individuals themselves were extraordinary people who’s legacy we should always honor. To commemorate this event the remains of a single unknown soldier was brought home to symbolise the many men and women whose bodies remained unidentified.

Noel Pearson, one of Australia’s most influential Aboriginal leaders, delivered his speech to a highly distinguished academic audience at a time when Australia was struggling with “moral and political turbulence” regarding “guilt about Australia’s colonial history”. Pearson expresses his own thoughts on Aboriginal reconciliation and the necessary steps that need to

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