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Adichie Commencement Speech Essay

Autor:   •  January 15, 2018  •  Essay  •  1,134 Words (5 Pages)  •  295 Views

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Analytical Essay – Commencement Address

Feminism is an ideology that accentuates the societal importance and individual value of women. Since ancient times, women have been discriminated by men, wherefore the feminists intend to oppose the male supremacy in society. The very thing is what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie endeavours in her speech at Wellesley College in 2015.

Adichie opens the graduation ceremony with a Commencement Address, where her primary focus is feminism. For that reason, Adichie is the sender of this speech. She is a Nigerian feminist and writer, who addresses her speech to Wellesley College, a private women’s liberal arts college in the USA. The intended receivers are, therefore, the attendees of the graduation (and especially the young women graduating). However, the speech, if it reaches a wider public, can also be addressed to another implicit receiver – namely, everybody interested in the matters of feminism.

The preamble of Adichie’s speech focuses on how she, as a little girl, experienced gender inequality in Nigeria – “… he looked at me and said dismissively, ‘You don’t know what you are talking about, you’re a little girl”  (p. 7, l. 41-43). By using a personal experience, she expresses already from the beginning, that she is a reliable spokesman (or woman), who knows the essence of the issue because she experienced gender inequality herself. Later in the speech, Adichie tells about how Adichie’s use of makeup lead her to experience other ways of gender inequality. In the end of the speech, she motivates the graduates to not let others dictate how women should live their lives.

There are a several ways that Chimamanda Adichie argues for her main point and with that also engaging the reader into the subject of feminism. For instance, Adichie’s subjective use of personal experiences – “So, I have not told you this anecdote as a way illustrate my discovery of gender injustice (…) I already knew that the world does not extend women the many courtesies that it extends to men” (p. 8, l. 55-71). By using such phrase, Adichie appeals to the empathy of the young graduating women of Wellesley – and it might be easier for them to understand and identify themselves with what Adichie experienced in her younger years. Another way that Adichie includes the attendees in the subject is by using inclusive language. This is being illustrated by the use of personal pronouns like “I”, “we” and “you” in her expressions -  “We can not always bend the world into the shapes we want but we can try, we can make a concerted and real and true effort. And you are privileged that… (p. 9, l. 188-191) In this way, Adichie appeals to the emotions of the reader in which she tries to tell the audience that they all have a responsibility if they want to make women as equal as men. This is known as the mode of persuasion, pathos.


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