What makes the selected speeches worthy of critical study? Margaret Atwood’s Spotty-Handed Villainesses (1994) and Anwar Sadat’s Statement to the Knesset (1977) are both speeches worthy of critical study because of their fascinating ideas and values. “There was a little girl Who had a little curl Right in the middle of her forehead; When she was good, she was very, very good, And when she was bad, she was horrid! ” Atwood begins her speech with an anecdote and quotes this famous nursery rhyme to gain a personal connection with her audience and to introduce the subject of her speech – women in literature.Order now
Atwood established herself as a controversial writer, bringing her radical views such as feminism to the centre of political discussion. Throughout the speech Atwood explores the changing role of women in society through their portrayal in literature and how these roles have changed through time. Throughout Spotty-handed villainesses, Atwood uses many language features and techniques that help her complex ideas get through to the audience. Atwood’s use of a relaxed, humorous and personal tone means she can connect more with the audience allowing her to express to them her complex ideas and values on women in literature.
Colloquialisms make Atwood’s speech more accessible to the audience and the humour of hem is engaging – “flogging a few dead horses”. Although Atwood’s values can cause her to be seen as a feminist, she rejects this stereotype by using the colloquial term “sex bomb” which would usually not be used by a feminist. The use of question and answer “What is a novel? ” cause the audience to think about what she is saying and also allows the reader to explain the concept.
The use of a humorous metaphor and religious allusion comparing to job of a novelist to God’s creation of the world “one detail at a time” emphasises the difficulty of writing and appeals to the religious beliefs of the audience. The speech has a distinct chronological structure which means it has direction and is easy to follow. The language features and techniques used in Atwood’s speech adds to the worthiness of the speech for critical study. Atwood’s speech raised some important issues in the era following a strong feminist push.
She was able to find a balance between support for the Women’s Movement whilst criticising it for its excesses. As a result of this mature stance, her speech was respected by many for addressing the important issue of women in society, and doing it in an entertaining manner. Atwood was influential during the feminist movement which began in the 60s and her influence is shown through her literary works. Her speech raises the issue of the role that women should take in society looking at it through the portrayal of women in literature.
Atwood’s historical and literary references allow her to validate her points and to explore the role of women and how they are portrayed in literature (good and bad). The audience can easily identify with them – Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Lady Macbeth. Atwood supports her ideas with language techniques and features making her speech worthy of critical study. Great speeches combine language techniques and features with structure to reveal and emphasis their key points. One of Sadat’s most memorable themes in his Statement to the Knesset is the value of “permanent peace based on justice”.
The repetition of this phrase emphasises the point and makes sure the audience will remember it. Sadat uses enumeration to structure his arguments “the fist fact”, “the fifth fact” etc. this enables the audience to clearly follow his arguments further emphasising his ideas. Also by stating his argument as a “fact” he gives more authority to the argument. Lastly, Sadat uses imagery to portray two possible futures. One is of “the ruins of what mankind has built and the remains of the victims of mankind”; the other is of “a smile on the face of every child born on our land”.
By juxtaposing such extreme visions Sadat forces his audience to agree with his point by appealing to a common goal of a better future. Sadat ensures his audience remembers the idea of “permanent peace based on justice” by employing a number of rhetorical devices to ensure they both understand and agree with the idea. Like Atwood, Sadat uses biblical references in his speech to relate to the audiences religious beliefs “In the name of God” and uses “you” to connect directly with the audience.
These language features and techniques used in Sadat’s Statement to the Knesset reinforce the complex themes and ideas in the speech, making it worthy of critical study. Before this speech there had been four wars and continuous battles and terrorism between Israel and Egypt. This was the beginning of Egyptian interest in reaching a diplomatic solution, which later resulted in the Camp David peace agreement. The audience was strongly religious and there was a violent opposition who didn’t support his ideas.
Sadat’s biblical allusions and emphasis on God referring to Him as “God Almighty” helped Sadat to connect more with the audience and their religious views. The importance of Sadat’s reoccurring theme throughout the speech of “permanent peace based on justice” is emphasised through the use of structure and language techniques and features. Both Margaret Atwood’s Spotty-handed Villainesses and Anwar Sadat’s Statement to the Knesset are worthy of critical study due to their complex underlying themes and values that are emphasised and supported by language techniques and features and obvious structure.