What is perseverance? Perseverance is the ability to go on when things seem hopeless.
In Madeleine Albright’s 1997 commencement speech at Mount Holyoke College, she sparked her audience to aim high and persevere in the pursuit of helping others and shaping history. From word choice to personal experiences, the United States Secretary of State uses repetition, positivity, and motivation to get her purpose across to her female audience.Albright starts her speech by listing several American accomplishments. In addition, she suggests that America, as a nation, makes the decision on whether or not to take in lessons of history or betray them. Furthermore, Albright uses examples from across the globe in which women strive to accomplish their goals. She claims that these opportunities we seize will shape history.
Comparing her examples, Albright reminds her audience that although “Each has suffered blows, … Each has persevered.” These events and the way in which they are delivered have become the foundation for a sense of pride that influences the audience to never settle for less and to aim high at all times. Albright repeats the phrase “have courage still — and persevere” multiple times in the second half of her speech to leave the women with the motivation to take action and shape history. Finally, Albright uses a very uplifting word choice throughout her speech to inculcate her purpose that women are capable of sparking change in the world through courage and perseverance.
Albright employs frequent repetition and a robust tone in order to place an emphasis on the aspects of her argument as a whole. In lines 69 to 93, Albright completes each paragraph with the statement “have courage still — and persevere.” This strategically placed repetition emphasizes the importance in the desire to continue fighting for what you believe in, even in situations of ridiculation and distraction. Thus, this is particularly relevant to Albright’s audience, a group of female college graduates. On account of their young age and potentially their youthful inexperience, they will likely be confronted with strong opposition as they may encounter people who continually challenge them.
Henceforth, Albright encompasses the recurrent need to push through the challenges these women will face in years to come.
As well as a strong speech, Albright’s circumstances that allowed her to display courage and perseverance provide a sense of credibility and genuineness in hopes of inspiring these young women to take a path that is belligerent and undesired. Lastly, Albright ends the speech with a quote that is able to further enforce the inspirational tone of the speech. She encourages her audience to bring down the “barrier to justice” and “ennoble” their lives. This usage of repetition and metaphorical language are key aspects of the way Albright inspires her audience.
Madeleine Albright delivered a remarkable speech to empower the women at Mount Holyoke College, but her methods of getting her purpose across made her commencement speech incredibly effective in the minds of these young women. Her repetition, positivity, and motivation drive home the fact that these women will aim high, persevere, and ultimately shape history.