Throughout the United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s speech to the graduating female class of Mount Holyoke College, she elaborates upon how she used her knowledge and education to benefit more than herself. She covers a wide variety of topics such as nuclear weapons, women’s role in society, and the ramifications of perseverance through her use of diction, evidence, and repetition. Albright shares her experiences and the changes she’s made in countries all around the world to show that the graduates have the potential to do the same. She sheds light upon how these women should not stop impacting the world around them just because they have graduated.
One of the first topics Albright addresses in her speech is concerning the impact nuclear weapons have on society. She uses her knowledge of the type of audience she is speaking to to her advantage by describing the weapons as “child-maiming (19).” This brutish use of diction was chosen specifically because she knew she would be presenting to future mothers and how it would grab their attention for the rest of her lecture. She also made sure to incorporate the juxtaposition of nuclear weapons and children to heighten the emotions of her crowd. Albright also includes how “because of U.S. leadership, nuclear weapons no longer target our homes (15-16),” and how “we could relax (16),” but digresses on to explain how she is involved with helping to ban nuclear weapons forever. Doing so supports her opinion on the topic by revealing to her audience of women that just because residents are safe, doesn’t mean the rest of the world is too. If resources, such as U.S. leadership, are available, they should be used to end the use of these barbaric weapons permanently.
She also uses the terminated fighting in Bosnia to support her claim and how they could avoid making sure it never resurfaces, but “instead, we are renewing our commitment, and insisting that the parties meet theirs (22-24).” This statement implies the upcoming movements Albright is behind to guarantee safety in this country. By including this choice in her speech, Albright displays to her audience how seemingly mere actions have the ability to expand and impact society on a greater scale. Moreover, Albright analyzes the status of women throughout history and in today’s society through the use of credible evidence. She includes how women have obtained a substantial amount of rights and how they “could now lower [our] voices and-as some suggest- sit sedately down (38-39).” This statement refers to the obstacles women in the past have had to overcome and it’s society’s duty not to settle. Although women in the U.S. have made considerable changes concerning their rights, many groups of women in other countries do not have that luxury. Albright describes her experiences in Sarajevo, Burundi, Guatemala, and Burma to her audience by explaining how women in these countries are not treated fairly. For example, in Guatemala, Albright “talked to women striving to ensure that their new peace endures and is accompanied by justice and an end to discrimination and abuse (56-59).” This information supports her claim because it provides a model of women from around the world who are exercising what Albright is preaching to her audience . Additionally, Albright discloses “these women have in common a determination to chart their own path (64-65),” and they are using their voices to better the environment around them.
Furthermore, towards the end of her speech, Albright discusses the possible repercussions of the path she has just informed her audience with. Albright concluded four of the last five paragraphs of her speech with the phrase, “and persevere.” By doing so, she is taking the unfavorable events she has just shared with her audience, such as distractions and critics, and reassures that they have the strength to conquer them. Albeit, perseverance is not the easiest thing to achieve, Albright is emphasizing it in her lecture to show how it is imperative when wanting to make a difference in the world. In addition, Albright begins to address her audience as “you” numerous times as she nears the end of her speech. The use of “you” exposes the audience and persuades them into applying her speech to factors of their own lives. This tactic is used to provide a sense of intimacy between the speaker and the listener in order to inflict a lasting impact. Lastly, woven into her speech was the repeated phrase, “we could,” which was then followed by an idle action that she counteracts in the following sentence. One example of this is “we could stop there. Instead, we are pursuing a broader prosperity (32-33).” This quote summarizes her entire speech by parading her theme of the steadfastness women should embody.In conclusion, the choices Albright made in her speech regarding the graduating class of Mount Holyoke College effectively convey her message to the audience by emphasizing the major matters at hand. Her use of diction concerning nuclear weapons dramatically impacts her audience by accentuating the danger they still inflict on society. Albright’s experiences were adequately used to inspire the graduates by providing evidence to show how women from countries around the globe are making their mark. Lastly, the repetition utilized at the end of her lecture highlights the importance of harnessing dynamic potential to transform society. Hence, Albright’s use of diction, evidence, and repetition encapsulates the entirety of the message of perseverance she is trying to propagate.