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J.K. Rowling Commencement speech

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by

Karley Wright

on 28 September 2012

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Transcript of J.K. Rowling Commencement speech

By Braden Tucker
& Karley Wright Rhetorical devices Assignment:
J.K. Rowling Commencement Speech The purpose of this speech is to celebrate and congratulate the graduating class of Harvard 2008.
We know this because graduation speeches are more often than not meant to see off the graduates on a good note and to let them know how important they were to making the school a better place. We also know this because she says at the beginning of her speech "President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates."(Rowling) Purpose Kind Occasion Audience Tone Personification Allusion Parallelism Periodicity Rhetorical Questions Antithesis Hyperbole Simile The occasion for this speech is a graduation ceremony. This is because Rowling refers to the graduating students, their school years at Harvard and the effect they had on the school. This speech is a motivational speech.
It is so because it is meant to drive out a moral to the students. She gives encouraging words to make them proud of their accomplishments such as "On this wonderful day when we are gathered together to celebrate your academic success" (Rowling). The tone of this speech ranges from celebratory to serious with hints of humor. We know it is humorous because there are lots of funny references to her series "Harry Potter" included such as "This liberating discovery enables me to proceed without any fear that I might inadvertently influence you to abandon promising careers in business, the law or politics for the giddy delights of becoming a gay wizard." (Rowling). We know it is serious also because there are frequent references to torture victims, poverty, execution and the seizing of power unjustly. This shows that she wants to convey another world outside of school that they, no doubt, will be entering after graduation. The target audience of this speech are the graduates, their families, and their teachers. This is because it is a commencement address and J.K. Rowling also mentions the audience in her speech: "President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, proud parents, and, above all, graduates."
(Rowling) Literary & Rhetorical Devices http://harvardmagazine.com/2008/06/the-fringe-benefits-failure-the-importance-imagination (Original speech) Rowling doesn't use personification many times in her speech but when she does it is effective. She uses "climbing out of poverty" to describe how she lived as a child although her parents didn't want her to experience it. This is effective because she wants to get her point across and this draws her listeners in. http://www.google.ca/imgres?um=1&hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&sa=N&rls=org.mozilla:enUS:official&biw=1920&bih=864&tbm=isch&tbnid=-Cz8ApNnDdabnM:&imgrefurl=http://suite101.com/article/jk-rowlingsharvardspeecha56274&docid=y3aVolNFuHO04M&imgurl=http://images.suite101.com/396007_com_rowlingharvard.jpg&w=475&h=303&ei=hRxiUKKoOYs8QS824Ew&zoom=1&iact=rc&dur=2498&sig=108147368299049682453&page=1&tbnh=114&tbnw=154&start=0&ndsp=58&ved=1t:429,r:6,s:0,i:89&tx=78&ty=47 Sources In Rowling's speech, she uses allusions frequently. Most of these are either referring to her years at school or, more likely, to "Harry Potter". For example, she says "Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red banners and convince myself that I am at the world’s largest Gryffindor reunion." (Rowling) to make the speech more personal. Rowling uses parallelism like "The power of human empathy, leading to collective action, saves lives, and frees prisoners." (Rowling) to emphasize her point and add a climactic feel. "She had just had to give him the news that in retaliation for his own outspokenness against his country’s regime, his mother had been seized and executed." (Rowling). In this quote, Rowling has used periodicity to draw out an effect of both sadness and suspense. Rowling uses rhetorical questions to segway into a more serious topic in her speech. "So why do I talk about the benefits of failure?" (Rowling) This question gets the audience thinking. Not only because it is an irregular topic but because it is a thoughtful question. The quote "One might use such an ability to manipulate, or control, just as much as to understand or sympathize." (Rowling) uses
an effective antithesis because it shows the power that we as human beings have and
the choices we can make with that power. Positioning "I was convinced that the only thing I wanted to do, ever, was to write novels." (Rowling)
This quote uses positioning well because
it sounds more personal and it also
begins to elaborate on Rowling's personal story. "Hardly had my parents’ car rounded the corner at the end of the road than I ditched German and scuttled off down the Classics corridor." (Rowling). This quote if a good example of hyperbole because Rowling is obviously exaggerating and would have waited a while longer before switching her classes. "Unlike any other creature on this planet, humans can learn and understand, without having experienced. They can think themselves into other people’s places. Of course, this is a power, like my brand of fictional magic, that is morally neutral." (Rowling). This quote compares our abilities to learn and understand the magic in the world of Harry Potter, which many people would find simpler and more interesting. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1d8Fm-cTZ1bf0hfIy72wHKxn8PCQz29gAEbTn-lCJ2AY/edit (google doc)
Full transcript