Rhetorical Analysis of Ellen DeGeneres's Commencement Speech

Topics: Commencement speech, Graduation, New Orleans Pages: 3 (1151 words) Published: February 12, 2014

Ellen’s Commencement Speech Rhetorical Analysis
Graduation caps fly into the air, cheers erupt, and diplomas are received. This is a typical graduation day. Not only did these ceremonial events take place for Tulane University's class of 2009, but Ellen DeGeneres was there to congratulate them as well! This class was dubbed the "Katrina Class" for being survivors of the devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Katrina was named one of the deadliest Hurricanes, causing more than 1,836 deaths. Tulane University is located in New Orleans, Louisiana, where the most significant amount of deaths took place and 80 percent of the city was destroyed. These graduates have survived a lot , and Ellen wants to congratulate them on their achievements. In Ellen’s commencement speech to the Tulane University class of 2009, the use of rhetorical questions, allusions, metaphors, and hyperbole gives the graduates a time to reflect upon their years at the University, connecting with the speaker, and maintain a light the mood by the use of comedy. The road to success for Ellen had a very tragic beginning. Her girlfriend was killed in a car accident and Ellen was living a meager life. She had many questions, but had nobody to ask. Ellen uses this anecdote to quickly explain a tragic event in her life. By letting the audience into a personal part of her life, she connects to them emotionally. This shows the audience that she is comfortable. Ellen this appeals to pathos; The sentences about her losing her significant other are very tragic, so her audience is sympathetic towards her. “And I was living in a basement apartment, I had no money, I had no heat, no air, I had a mattress on the floor and the apartment was infested with fleas. And I was soul-searching,...” is a climax towards her important realization about herself. Ellen’s soul searching eventually leads to her comedic success. This is a first hand example for the graduates: that sometimes terrible things lead...
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