Rhetorical Analysis of Randy Pausch's Last Lecture

Topics: Randy Pausch, Carnegie Mellon University, Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams Pages: 4 (1660 words) Published: November 17, 2013
“Hypothetically, if you knew you were going to die and you had one last lecture, what would you say to your students?” That is how Professor Randy Pausch, from Carnegie Mellon, began his last lecture, a speech entitled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” while in fact he was dying of Pancreatic Cancer. He knew he only had months left to live and put together this last lecture to read to his students. His lecture focuses in on points such as the importance of: making sincere apologies, not whining, being gracious and being humble. To stress his thoughts and views on life and following one’s dreams, Randy Pausch used a great amount of repetition, metaphors, allusion, humor, ethos, and pathos in his last lecture.

Randy Pausch went to Brown University and transferred to Carnegie Mellon to get his PHD. He taught at the University of Virginia and eventually taught at Carnegie Mellon. He was a professor of computer science and human computer interaction and design at Carnegie Mellon. His impressive credential showcases his credibility and establishes ethos. Although Pausch was well-educated and attended prestigious schools and he does not talk down to his audience or try to impress them. Pausch was motivational and inspirational, he used examples from his own life to show that even if you fail at something to pick yourself back up the same way that he did, which made him all the more credible. This is evident when Pausch says: “When I was eight my family took the pilgrimage to Disneyland in California, and it was this incredible experience, the rides and the attractions and everything, and I said ‘Gosh, I’d like to make stuff like that when I get older.’ So I graduated from college and I tried to become an Imagineer—these are the people who make the magic—and I got a lovely rejection letter. And then I tried again after graduate school, and I kept all those rejection letters over the years… but then the darndest thing happened. You know, I worked hard and worked...
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