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A Pentadic Analysis of Michelle Obama’s Commencement Address at Eastern Kentucky
University
Yusen Wang
Ohio University
COMS 3620: Rhetorical Inquiry and Criticism
Dr. Pamela Kaylor
April 25, 2021
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A Pentadic Analysis of Michelle Obama’s Commencement Address at Eastern Kentucky
University
Abstract
Using Kenneth Burke's concept of the pentad as the tool for content analysis, this paper
examines Michelle's address at Eastern Kentucky University Commencement. Burke's pentad
allows one to analyses motivation in the speech. The standard theme in Michelle's speech is hope
and encouragement, and in this speech, Michelle uses rhetorical tools and storytelling to engage
with the audience and pass her message. This paper uses Burke's dramatist pentad to discover
how she rhetorically motivates her listeners towards this end. Michelle creates a sense of
responsibility and citizenship amongst the audience. She uses her personal life experiences as the
driving force to help the audience make sense of their values and skills they have acquired in
school. By looking at the five elements known as dramatist pentad, act, scene, agent, agency, and
Purpose, the analysis helps discover Michelle's purpose. The focus of the study is on the
message. The study will analyze what information was being passed and whether it was aligned
to purpose and targeted to the audience.
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A Pentadic Analysis of Michelle Obama’s Commencement Address at Eastern Kentucky
University
Introduction
Michelle Obama is one of the most influential women in the United States. She was born
in 1964 in Chicago, Illinois, to parents Marian and Fraser Robinson and served as the first lady
from 2009-2017. Michelle and her brother Craig, though from a humble background, pushed to
excel in school. They both skipped the second grade, but later, Michelle was chosen for a gifted-
student program, enabling her to take French and advanced biology courses. Despite the
difficulties, Michelle was determined to build her career and help the community and inspire
young people to explore higher education and career-development opportunities. In May 2013,
she delivered a commencement speech to celebrate the Eastern Kentucky University 2013 class.
This speech did not just challenge the graduates to seek and learn from different perspectives and
turn their weaknesses into strengths but also reminds them of their purpose and the purpose of
the papers.
This speech is remarkable for various reasons. One, it reminds the importance of
volunteering in community services. Mitchel points out how education can be used to serve all.
She reminds the graduates of the need to take those skills and experiences they have gained and
serve others. She says, "Whether you've worn our country's uniform or not, we're all called to
serve and to give back to those around us..." (The White House, Office of the First Lady, 2013).
Michelle touches on one of the critical issues affecting American education- the obstacles first-
generation students face and the impact of inequality. The paper will critically analyze this
speech to answer the question on the Purpose, how it was delivered, and the effect on the
audiences. The speech will be reviewed based on five aspects; act, scene, agent, agency, and
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purpose. These are the aspects described by Foss (2017) and helps one discover intended motives
behind the speaker's choice of words, Purpose, and message. Dunn (2018) notes that rhetorical
analyses of farewell addresses aim at understanding how speakers persuade their audiences to
accept a particular message. Therefore, this paper provides a basic understanding of what we are
looking at in this Mitchell speech; how well did she craft her message. By looking at the speech
content, structure, and functions of the message in a text (Frey, Botan & Kreps, 2000).Burke's
dramatist pentad will help discover how Mitchell rhetorically motivates the listeners and
encourages and persuades them towards the end.
Literature Review
Justification of research
Michelle has been at the forefront advocating for public matters such as education and
community service and addressing some of the pressing challenges in the 21st century. When she
became the first lady, her first lead role in the administration was to reverse the 21st-century
trend of childhood obesity. As she stated, her legacy was to leave an impact that will have long-
term implications for society (Nutting, 2020). Michelle supports military families, encourages
national service, helps women balance a career with families, promotes arts and arts education,
and fosters healthy living and healthy eating. This speech reinforces this dream as it encourages
graduates to serve the community.
This speech is also worthy of analysis as it touches on touches on one of the critical
issues affecting American education- the obstacles first-generation students face and the impact
of inequality. According to Markowitz (2017), the awareness gap, opportunity gap, and
achievement gap are challenges that increase inequality and present barriers to success for first-
generation college students. Michelle and her brother both skipped the second grade, but later,
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Michelle was chosen for a gifted-student program, enabling her to take French and advanced
biology courses. Despite the difficulties, Michelle was determined to build her career and help
the community. This background inspires young people to explore higher education and career
development opportunities (History.com Editors, 2021). Michelle's speech connects to the
audience and demonstrates American graduates' actual situation and how they can be solved.
Additionally, it also talks about demonstrates American graduates' real situation" where
are we going to go after graduation?". Graduate unemployment is a concept that other authors
have explored. One cause identified is imbalance in individual perspectives and reality. As noted
by Hwang, (2017) in considering the next step after graduation, graduates should consider their
expectations and their plans. Generally, Michelle's speech is very efficient in changing the
graduates' perspective to look for employment and use their education to serve all.
Downe‐Wamboldt (1992) notes that content analysis helps identify the intentions and
focus of communication. Part of content analysis is a conceptual content analysis that involves
deciding the analysis level: word, word sense, phrase, sentences, and themes. Michelle's speech
is an artifact whose words, word sense, phrases, sentences, and themes have been employed in a
manner that helps the message reach the intended audience. The choice of words makes the
speech effective, for example, the use of rhetorical questions. By asking questions that the
audience wants to know the answer to, Michelle keeps the audience hooked.
Purpose, writer/speaker, audience, message, and context are critical elements in a
rhetorical situation. As noted by Last and Neveu (2019), understanding "rhetorical situation
"before drafting a speech and determining the rhetorical situation's needs. Michelle's speech
demonstrates a well-structured speech whose Purpose, the speaker herself, and the audience
connect effectively. Additionally, the message fits the and Context/Culture and also resonates
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with the audience. The message was professional and expressed in an appropriate tone for the
Audience, Purpose, and context. The text is constructed to create the reality for an audience
proving that Michelle was an impeccable speaker. As Johnson (1997) discusses, involving the
audience in the process of production is very important. Looking at Michelle's speech, it is
evident that the audience was part of her delivery process.
Data and Methods
The rhetorical analysis employs Kenneth Burke's dramatistic method of criticism known
as pentadic criticism, which was introduced in 1945. Burke defines dramatist as the "method of
analysis and a corresponding critique of terminology designed to show that the most direct route
to the study of human relations and human motives is via a methodical inquiry into cycles or
clusters of terms and their functions" (Burke, 1968 p.132). It is a method used to critiques
terminology to discover motives; therefore, this method is basically about looking at the
language. The key parts of a "Pentad" are Act, Scene, Agent, Agency, and Purpose. These
elements, when subjectively applied, can be used to identify the author's motives. In this case,
the act is the major's action presented in the artifact. Agent, on the other hand, is the character at
the center of the presentation, while the agency is the means by which the agent delivers the act.
The scene refers to the situation or environment where the act is being done, and the Purpose is
what the author wishes to accomplish.
After analysis by the five elements, I also looked at pentadic cartography in this speech.
Pentadic cartography here means the structure of the speech in terms of the choice of words or
vocabulary. The analysis is made to analyze the focus that a narrator in regards to the five
elements and the intended motives behind the speaker's choice of words and whether the
message professional and expressed in an appropriate tone for the audience, purpose, and
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context. Barbara (1992) notes that content analysis helps identify the intentions and focus of
communication. Part of content analysis is a conceptual content analysis that involves deciding
the analysis level: word, word sense, phrase, sentences, and themes.
Finally, to answer the question of how significant is this speech, I also looked at how
Michelle's speech addresses some of the key issues affecting the audience. How is the text
constructed reality for an audience, and what does the text suggest about the speaker? Rather
than having the more traditional "addressed" or "invoked" audience models, the "audience
involved" show the importance of involving the audience in the process (Johnson, 1997). To
make any communication effective, communicators do indeed have an ethical responsibility to
involve users in the production. So by looking at how the agent involved the audience while
delivering the speech, we will be able to understand whether she had an active audience. It is
evident that the message is always passed more effectively with an active audience.
Findings
Pentad Analysis
In this speech, I discovered that the primary pentad puts more focus on persuading the
audience, who are graduated, to use their skills not just to benefit themselves but to serve the
community. Mitchell's persuade the audience to turn their weaknesses into strengths but also
reminds them of their Purpose, the Purpose of the importance of the paper of volunteering in
community services. Let us look at the speech under the lens of the five Aspects-Act, Scene,
Agent, Agency, and Purpose.
Act
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The act is what was done or what was the action. It is related to realism as it discusses
what happened or what took place. On May 12, 2013, then the first lady delivered a
commencement speech at Kentucky University, and in her introduction, she states, "I want to
join in in recognizing all of these beautiful people in the stands today - the family members who
supported you all every step of the way." She continues to say that "But most of all, I want to
congratulate the stars of today's show -- the EKU Class of 2013! Yes!.You all should proud, very
proud. As the president said, this is a true milestone in life" (The White House, Office of the
First Lady, 2013). So from these remarks, it is evident that the act was congratulating the
graduates and thanking all those who helped them throughout the journey.
Agent
According to Burke, the agent is "what person or kind of person performed the act"
(Burke, 1969). Our agent here is the speaker who directly addresses the graduates. Michel has
been at the forefront to address some of the pressing challenges in the 21st century. When
Mitchell became the first lady, her first lead role in the administration was to reverse the 21st-
century trend of childhood obesity. Issues concerning education are also of importance to her as
she advocates for higher education, healthy families, internal adolescent girls' education, and
service members and their families.
Scene
The scene refers to the setting of the act and answers the question of where and when. It
is the situation in which it occurred. Michelle delivered the speech during the Eastern Kentucky
University commencement. The speech of turning mindset comes at a time when the graduate
crisis in the US is on the rise. Every graduate is worried about where they will get a job.
Graduates need guidance and motivation to open their eyes wider and think outside the box.
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Agency
According to Burke, the agency is "what instrument or instruments he used" (Burke,
1969). Michelle uses storytelling and rhetorical tools to deliver her speech. The main way
Michelle connects to the audience and effectively delivers her message is through the use of
personal experience. Michel's speech is personalized with stories that connect her words to
reality. She gives the stories of her early life with her parents and her first day on campus.
Storytelling is the best rhetorical tool we have to make an emotional connection with one
another. Michelle Obama told several personal stories about her husband. "When I first set foot
on campus, oh, it all seemed so big and overwhelming. I didn't even know where to start." she
says. Graduates can learn from their struggles and work tirelessly towards their goals. She also
uses rhetorical devices to connect with the audience. She asks Where are you going to go?, Who
are you going to be? These are rhetorical questions created to involve the audience in the
speech.
Purpose
The Purpose answers the question "Why?" .it is the motive of the agent or what was the intended
meaning or message. Michelle says
"once I got to college, I found that when I applied all those values to my studies, I was
able to set -- develop an entirely new set of skills that I would use for the rest of my life --
skills like resilience, problem solving, time management. I learned to turn stumbles and
missteps into sources of motivation. A week with three tests and two papers wasn't a
reason to stress out, but a reason to plan. A negative comment from a professor in class
wasn't a reason to shut down, but a reason to ask even more questions. Most importantly,
I realized that what really mattered wasn't how much money my parents made or what
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those people in my high school said about me. What mattered was what was in my mind
and what was in my heart. "(The White House, Office of the First Lady, 2013).
This phrase means that Michelle's Purpose was not just to congratulate the graduate but
to challenge them to have a positive mindset and to make good use of what they have. She
encourages them to take life challenges as avenues to learn and to plan. As they are graduating,
Michelle's message is that they never lose sight of the values that brought them to that day.
Those values that they came, and those skills and talents they have developed while at college.
Basically, the message is that even with their degrees, they have to pair their values with what
they have learned in school to work through situations. They should be willing to dig deep, pick
up themselves when they fall, and work until their weaknesses become their strengths.
Ratios
Agent-purpose ratio dominates the speech. The agent has a huge impact on the Purpose.
The agent(Michelle) has a clear purpose and uses her personal life to make the Purpose clear.
Michell's sole Purpose is to motivate and encourage the graduate, and so she makes the scene
and the act more involving by use of uses storytelling and rhetorical tools. The Purpose is a
dominant term for this speech, and the agent is also the second dominant term as the rhetor alters
the scene and the act to make her Purpose clear and reach home
Impact of the Speech
Michelle uses simple words, and short sentences are short written in conversational
English to make the readability easy. She addresses some of the most pressing issues in the
country, such as the opportunity gap and achievement gap are challenges that increase inequality
and present barriers to success for first-generation college students. Mitchelle put it this way
"When I first set foot on campus, oh, it all seemed so big and overwhelming. I didn't even know
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where to start -- how to pick out the right classes, how to even find the right buildings…". These
present some of the challenges first-generation students go through. I find this speech worth and
rich of analysis because it connects to the audience and demonstrates American graduates' real
situation" where are we going to go after graduation?". Some of these challenges are the
awareness gap, opportunity gap, and achievement gap (Markowitz,2017). These are challenges
that increase inequality and present barriers to success for first-generation college students.
Mitchell's speech connects to the audience and demonstrates American graduates' actual
situation.
Conclusion
In conclusion, Michelle's rhetoric focuses on motivating graduates to move from the
conventional thinking that graduation means a job automatically. This is the ideology that has
resulted in despair amongst the recent graduates as they do not take life challenges positively.
Throughout her time in the public eyes, Michelle's speeches have been filled with hope and
motivation. Before drafting her speech, it is evident that she considers the rhetorical situation's
needs; she thinks of the components of the situation one wants to communicate. She uses
narrative and rhetoric to call for a change that brings hope for the people. By using her personal
experiences, Michelle persuades the audience to turn their weaknesses into strengths but also
reminds them of their Purpose, the Purpose of the importance of the paper of volunteering in
community services. Additionally, the purposes have been enhanced by the fact that message is
professional and expressed in an appropriate tone for the audience, purpose, and context.
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References
Burke, K. (1968). Dramatism. International encyclopedia of the social sciences, 7(445-452).
Burke, K. (1969). A grammar of motives (Vol. 177). Univ of California Press.
Downe‐Wamboldt, B. (1992). Content analysis: method, applications, and issues. Health care
for women international, 13(3), 313-321.
Dunn, R. C. (2018). “The Future is in Good Hands”: A Pentadic Analysis of President Barack
Obama’s Farewell Address. Kaleidoscope: A Graduate Journal of Qualitative
Communication Research, 17(1), 7.
Foss, S. K. (2017). Rhetorical criticism: Exploration and practice. Waveland Press.
Frey, L., Botan, C. H., & Kreps, G. (2000). Investigating communication. NY: Allyn & Bacon.
History.com Editors (2021, March 4). Michelle Obama. A&E Television Networks.
https://www.history.com/topics/first-ladies/michelle-obama
Hwang, Y. (2017). What Is the Cause of Graduates' Unemployment? Focus on Individual
Concerns and Perspectives. Journal of Educational Issues, 3(2), 1-10.
Johnson, R. R. (1997). Audience involved: Toward a participatory model of writing. Computers
and composition, 14(3), 361-376.
Last, S., & Neveu, C. (2019). 1.3 Understanding the Rhetorical Situation. Technical Writing
Essentials.
Markowitz, T (2017, August 22). “The Barriers To Success And Upward Mobility For First
Generation Students And How To Fix The Problem”. Forbes.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/troymarkowitz/2017/08/08/the-barriers-to-success-and-
upward-mobility-for-first-generation-students-and-how-to-fix-the-
problem/?sh=cec255a1cb3e
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Nutting S. (2020, August 11). Michelle Obama's Acccomplishments as First Lady. Bluford
Library. https://libguides.library.ncat.edu/c.php?g=778646&p=5583056
The White House, Office of the First Lady (2013, May 11). “Remarks by the First Lady at
Eastern Kentucky University Commencement”. USA.gov.
https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2013/05/11/remarks-first-lady-
eastern-kentucky-university-commencement

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1 A Pentadic Analysis of Michelle Obama’s Commencement Address at Eastern Kentucky University Yusen Wang Ohio University COMS 3620: Rhetorical Inquiry and Criticism Dr. Pamela Kaylor April 25, 2021 2 A Pentadic Analysis of Michelle Obama’s Commencement Address at Eastern Kentucky University Abstract Using Kenneth Burke's concept of the pentad as the tool for content analysis, this paper examines Michelle's address at Eastern Kentucky University Commencement. Burke's pentad allows one to analyses motivation in the speech. The standard theme in Michelle's speech is hope and encouragement, and in this speech, Michelle uses rhetorical tools and storytelling to engage with the audience and pass her message. This paper uses Burke's dramatist pentad to discover how she rhetorically motivates her listeners towards this end. Michelle creates a sense of responsibility and citizenship amongst the audience. She uses her personal life experiences as the driving force to help the audience make sense of their values and skills they have acquired in school. By looking at the five elements known as dramatist pentad, act, scene, agent, agency, and Purpose, the analysis helps discover Michelle's purpose. The focus of the study is on the message. The study will analyze what information was being passed and whether it was aligned to purpose and targeted to the audience. 3 A Pentadic Analysis of Michelle Obama’s Commencement Address at Eastern Kentucky University Introduction Michelle Obama is one of the most influential women in the United States. She was born in 1964 in Chicago, Illinois, to parents Marian and Fraser Robinson and served as the first lady from 2009-2017. Michelle and her brother Craig, though from a humble background, pushed to excel in school. They both skipped the second grade, but later, Michelle was chosen for a giftedstudent program, enabling her to take French and advanced biology courses. Despite the difficulties, Michelle was determined to build her career and help the community and inspire young people to explore higher education and career-development opportunities. In May 2013, she delivered a commencement speech to celebrate the Eastern Kentucky University 2013 class. This speech did not just challenge the graduates to seek and learn from different perspectives and turn their weaknesses into strengths but also reminds them of their purpose and the purpose of the papers. This speech is remarkable for various reasons. One, it reminds the importance of volunteering in community services. Mitchel points out how education can be used to serve all. She reminds the graduates of the need to take those skills and experiences they have gained and serve others. She says, "Whether you've worn our country's uniform or not, we're all called to serve and to give back to those around us..." (The White House, Office of the First Lady, 2013). Michelle touches on one of the critical issues affecting American education- the obstacles firstgeneration students face and the impact of inequality. The paper will critically analyze this speech to answer the question on the Purpose, how it was delivered, and the effect on the audiences. The speech will be reviewed based on five aspects; act, scene, agent, agency, and 4 purpose. These are the aspects described by Foss (2017) and helps one discover intended motives behind the speaker's choice of words, Purpose, and message. Dunn (2018) notes that rhetorical analyses of farewell addresses aim at understanding how speakers persuade their audiences to accept a particular message. Therefore, this paper provides a basic understanding of what we are looking at in this Mitchell speech; how well did she craft her message. By looking at the speech content, structure, and functions of the message in a text (Frey, Botan & Kreps, 2000).Burke's dramatist pentad will help discover how Mitchell rhetorically motivates the listeners and encourages and persuades them towards the end. Literature Review Justification of research Michelle has been at the forefront advocating for public matters such as education and community service and addressing some of the pressing challenges in the 21st century. When she became the first lady, her first lead role in the administration was to reverse the 21st-century trend of childhood obesity. As she stated, her legacy was to leave an impact that will have longterm implications for society (Nutting, 2020). Michelle supports military families, encourages national service, helps women balance a career with families, promotes arts and arts education, and fosters healthy living and healthy eating. This speech reinforces this dream as it encourages graduates to serve the community. This speech is also worthy of analysis as it touches on touches on one of the critical issues affecting American education- the obstacles first-generation students face and the impact of inequality. According to Markowitz (2017), the awareness gap, opportunity gap, and achievement gap are challenges that increase inequality and present barriers to success for firstgeneration college students. Michelle and her brother both skipped the second grade, but later, 5 Michelle was chosen for a gifted-student program, enabling her to take French and advanced biology courses. Despite the difficulties, Michelle was determined to build her career and help the community. This background inspires young people to explore higher education and career development opportunities (History.com Editors, 2021). Michelle's speech connects to the audience and demonstrates American graduates' actual situation and how they can be solved. Additionally, it also talks about demonstrates American graduates' real situation" where are we going to go after graduation?". Graduate unemployment is a concept that other authors have explored. One cause identified is imbalance in individual perspectives and reality. As noted by Hwang, (2017) in considering the next step after graduation, graduates should consider their expectations and their plans. Generally, Michelle's speech is very efficient in changing the graduates' perspective to look for employment and use their education to serve all. Downe‐Wamboldt (1992) notes that content analysis helps identify the intentions and focus of communication. Part of content analysis is a conceptual content analysis that involves deciding the analysis level: word, word sense, phrase, sentences, and themes. Michelle's speech is an artifact whose words, word sense, phrases, sentences, and themes have been employed in a manner that helps the message reach the intended audience. The choice of words makes the speech effective, for example, the use of rhetorical questions. By asking questions that the audience wants to know the answer to, Michelle keeps the audience hooked. Purpose, writer/speaker, audience, message, and context are critical elements in a rhetorical situation. As noted by Last and Neveu (2019), understanding "rhetorical situation "before drafting a speech and determining the rhetorical situation's needs. Michelle's speech demonstrates a well-structured speech whose Purpose, the speaker herself, and the audience connect effectively. Additionally, the message fits the and Context/Culture and also resonates 6 with the audience. The message was professional and expressed in an appropriate tone for the Audience, Purpose, and context. The text is constructed to create the reality for an audience proving that Michelle was an impeccable speaker. As Johnson (1997) discusses, involving the audience in the process of production is very important. Looking at Michelle's speech, it is evident that the audience was part of her delivery process. Data and Methods The rhetorical analysis employs Kenneth Burke's dramatistic method of criticism known as pentadic criticism, which was introduced in 1945. Burke defines dramatist as the "method of analysis and a corresponding critique of terminology designed to show that the most direct route to the study of human relations and human motives is via a methodical inquiry into cycles or clusters of terms and their functions" (Burke, 1968 p.132). It is a method used to critiques terminology to discover motives; therefore, this method is basically about looking at the language. The key parts of a "Pentad" are Act, Scene, Agent, Agency, and Purpose. These elements, when subjectively applied, can be used to identify the author's motives. In this case, the act is the major's action presented in the artifact. Agent, on the other hand, is the character at the center of the presentation, while the agency is the means by which the agent delivers the act. The scene refers to the situation or environment where the act is being done, and the Purpose is what the author wishes to accomplish. After analysis by the five elements, I also looked at pentadic cartography in this speech. Pentadic cartography here means the structure of the speech in terms of the choice of words or vocabulary. The analysis is made to analyze the focus that a narrator in regards to the five elements and the intended motives behind the speaker's choice of words and whether the message professional and expressed in an appropriate tone for the audience, purpose, and 7 context. Barbara (1992) notes that content analysis helps identify the intentions and focus of communication. Part of content analysis is a conceptual content analysis that involves deciding the analysis level: word, word sense, phrase, sentences, and themes. Finally, to answer the question of how significant is this speech, I also looked at how Michelle's speech addresses some of the key issues affecting the audience. How is the text constructed reality for an audience, and what does the text suggest about the speaker? Rather than having the more traditional "addressed" or "invoked" audience models, the "audience involved" show the importance of involving the audience in the process (Johnson, 1997). To make any communication effective, communicators do indeed have an ethical responsibility to involve users in the production. So by looking at how the agent involved the audience while delivering the speech, we will be able to understand whether she had an active audience. It is evident that the message is always passed more effectively with an active audience. Findings Pentad Analysis In this speech, I discovered that the primary pentad puts more focus on persuading the audience, who are graduated, to use their skills not just to benefit themselves but to serve the community. Mitchell's persuade the audience to turn their weaknesses into strengths but also reminds them of their Purpose, the Purpose of the importance of the paper of volunteering in community services. Let us look at the speech under the lens of the five Aspects-Act, Scene, Agent, Agency, and Purpose. Act 8 The act is what was done or what was the action. It is related to realism as it discusses what happened or what took place. On May 12, 2013, then the first lady delivered a commencement speech at Kentucky University, and in her introduction, she states, "I want to join in in recognizing all of these beautiful people in the stands today –- the family members who supported you all every step of the way." She continues to say that "But most of all, I want to congratulate the stars of today's show -- the EKU Class of 2013! Yes!.You all should proud, very proud. As the president said, this is a true milestone in life" (The White House, Office of the First Lady, 2013). So from these remarks, it is evident that the act was congratulating the graduates and thanking all those who helped them throughout the journey. Agent According to Burke, the agent is "what person or kind of person performed the act" (Burke, 1969). Our agent here is the speaker who directly addresses the graduates. Michel has been at the forefront to address some of the pressing challenges in the 21st century. When Mitchell became the first lady, her first lead role in the administration was to reverse the 21stcentury trend of childhood obesity. Issues concerning education are also of importance to her as she advocates for higher education, healthy families, internal adolescent girls' education, and service members and their families. Scene The scene refers to the setting of the act and answers the question of where and when. It is the situation in which it occurred. Michelle delivered the speech during the Eastern Kentucky University commencement. The speech of turning mindset comes at a time when the graduate crisis in the US is on the rise. Every graduate is worried about where they will get a job. Graduates need guidance and motivation to open their eyes wider and think outside the box. 9 Agency According to Burke, the agency is "what instrument or instruments he used" (Burke, 1969). Michelle uses storytelling and rhetorical tools to deliver her speech. The main way Michelle connects to the audience and effectively delivers her message is through the use of personal experience. Michel's speech is personalized with stories that connect her words to reality. She gives the stories of her early life with her parents and her first day on campus. Storytelling is the best rhetorical tool we have to make an emotional connection with one another. Michelle Obama told several personal stories about her husband. "When I first set foot on campus, oh, it all seemed so big and overwhelming. I didn't even know where to start." she says. Graduates can learn from their struggles and work tirelessly towards their goals. She also uses rhetorical devices to connect with the audience. She asks Where are you going to go?, Who are you going to be? These are rhetorical questions created to involve the audience in the speech. Purpose The Purpose answers the question "Why?" .it is the motive of the agent or what was the intended meaning or message. Michelle says "once I got to college, I found that when I applied all those values to my studies, I was able to set -- develop an entirely new set of skills that I would use for the rest of my life -skills like resilience, problem solving, time management. I learned to turn stumbles and missteps into sources of motivation. A week with three tests and two papers wasn't a reason to stress out, but a reason to plan. A negative comment from a professor in class wasn't a reason to shut down, but a reason to ask even more questions. Most importantly, I realized that what really mattered wasn't how much money my parents made or what 10 those people in my high school said about me. What mattered was what was in my mind and what was in my heart. "(The White House, Office of the First Lady, 2013). This phrase means that Michelle's Purpose was not just to congratulate the graduate but to challenge them to have a positive mindset and to make good use of what they have. She encourages them to take life challenges as avenues to learn and to plan. As they are graduating, Michelle's message is that they never lose sight of the values that brought them to that day. Those values that they came, and those skills and talents they have developed while at college. Basically, the message is that even with their degrees, they have to pair their values with what they have learned in school to work through situations. They should be willing to dig deep, pick up themselves when they fall, and work until their weaknesses become their strengths. Ratios Agent-purpose ratio dominates the speech. The agent has a huge impact on the Purpose. The agent(Michelle) has a clear purpose and uses her personal life to make the Purpose clear. Michell's sole Purpose is to motivate and encourage the graduate, and so she makes the scene and the act more involving by use of uses storytelling and rhetorical tools. The Purpose is a dominant term for this speech, and the agent is also the second dominant term as the rhetor alters the scene and the act to make her Purpose clear and reach home Impact of the Speech Michelle uses simple words, and short sentences are short written in conversational English to make the readability easy. She addresses some of the most pressing issues in the country, such as the opportunity gap and achievement gap are challenges that increase inequality and present barriers to success for first-generation college students. Mitchelle put it this way "When I first set foot on campus, oh, it all seemed so big and overwhelming. I didn't even know 11 where to start -- how to pick out the right classes, how to even find the right buildings…". These present some of the challenges first-generation students go through. I find this speech worth and rich of analysis because it connects to the audience and demonstrates American graduates' real situation" where are we going to go after graduation?". Some of these challenges are the awareness gap, opportunity gap, and achievement gap (Markowitz,2017). These are challenges that increase inequality and present barriers to success for first-generation college students. Mitchell's speech connects to the audience and demonstrates American graduates' actual situation. Conclusion In conclusion, Michelle's rhetoric focuses on motivating graduates to move from the conventional thinking that graduation means a job automatically. This is the ideology that has resulted in despair amongst the recent graduates as they do not take life challenges positively. Throughout her time in the public eyes, Michelle's speeches have been filled with hope and motivation. Before drafting her speech, it is evident that she considers the rhetorical situation's needs; she thinks of the components of the situation one wants to communicate. She uses narrative and rhetoric to call for a change that brings hope for the people. By using her personal experiences, Michelle persuades the audience to turn their weaknesses into strengths but also reminds them of their Purpose, the Purpose of the importance of the paper of volunteering in community services. Additionally, the purposes have been enhanced by the fact that message is professional and expressed in an appropriate tone for the audience, purpose, and context. 12 References Burke, K. (1968). Dramatism. International encyclopedia of the social sciences, 7(445-452). Burke, K. (1969). A grammar of motives (Vol. 177). Univ of California Press. Downe‐Wamboldt, B. (1992). Content analysis: method, applications, and issues. Health care for women international, 13(3), 313-321. Dunn, R. C. (2018). “The Future is in Good Hands”: A Pentadic Analysis of President Barack Obama’s Farewell Address. Kaleidoscope: A Graduate Journal of Qualitative Communication Research, 17(1), 7. Foss, S. K. (2017). Rhetorical criticism: Exploration and practice. Waveland Press. Frey, L., Botan, C. H., & Kreps, G. (2000). Investigating communication. NY: Allyn & Bacon. History.com Editors (2021, March 4). Michelle Obama. A&E Television Networks. https://www.history.com/topics/first-ladies/michelle-obama Hwang, Y. (2017). What Is the Cause of Graduates' Unemployment? Focus on Individual Concerns and Perspectives. Journal of Educational Issues, 3(2), 1-10. Johnson, R. R. (1997). Audience involved: Toward a participatory model of writing. Computers and composition, 14(3), 361-376. Last, S., & Neveu, C. (2019). 1.3 Understanding the Rhetorical Situation. Technical Writing Essentials. Markowitz, T (2017, August 22). “The Barriers To Success And Upward Mobility For First Generation Students And How To Fix The Problem”. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/troymarkowitz/2017/08/08/the-barriers-to-success-andupward-mobility-for-first-generation-students-and-how-to-fix-theproblem/?sh=cec255a1cb3e 13 Nutting S. (2020, August 11). Michelle Obama's Acccomplishments as First Lady. Bluford Library. https://libguides.library.ncat.edu/c.php?g=778646&p=5583056 The White House, Office of the First Lady (2013, May 11). “Remarks by the First Lady at Eastern Kentucky University Commencement”. USA.gov. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2013/05/11/remarks-first-ladyeastern-kentucky-university-commencement Name: Description: ...
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