Critical Review of Kelley’s Speech to Awsa

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About this sample


Words: 1199 |

Pages: 3|

6 min read

Published: Jan 4, 2019

Words: 1199|Pages: 3|6 min read

Published: Jan 4, 2019

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, child labor was widely used. Because of the low pay during this time, families had to send their children, some even as young as 6 years, to work in factories with unsafe conditions, especially for children this young. Also around this time, women were still not given the right to vote, which added to the difficulty of their goals of limiting or getting rid of child labor. In order to advocate child labor laws, Florence Kelley first establishes herself as an equal to her audience, the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and then goes on to make them feel both guilty for not being knowledgeable about or taking action and angry at the state legislatures for not passing the laws.

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Florence Kelley first establishes herself as an equal to her audience. Because Kelley and her audience are all against child labor, what she says reflects what they are all thinking. She repeatedly uses the pronoun “we,” implying that she is one of them and her ideas are the same as theirs (115). Instead of excluding the audience and making it seem as if she does not have the same ideas as they do, she includes them with the word ‘we’ and therefore allows them to agree with what she is saying. Kelley also brings up the fact that “the mothers and the teachers,” or basically all women, are not able to vote (116). This lets the audience realize that she really does connect with them and is equal to them because they all do not have the ability to vote for or against laws. Once she establishes herself as equal with the audience and fighting for the same cause, she then goes on to get her audience to more fully understand the cause.

After establishing herself as an equal to her audience, Florence Kelley then goes on to make her audience feel guilty for not being knowledgeable about or taking action on the child labor. At the very beginning of her speech, she starts off by stating the statistical fact that “two million children under the age of sixteen years” are working and that while they would be comfortably sleeping in their beds, “several thousand little girls” would be working in factories the whole night (115). Kelley first tries to get her audience to realize the harsh realities of what the children experience on a nightly basis. Once they get a quick glance at what they go through, she then goes on to say that they were not taking action on the child labor, but “if the mothers and the teachers,” or the women in general, were able to vote, maybe they might be able to take action on it. By bringing up the fact that they are not able to make any changes at that point in time, they then feel guilty for previously not even thinking of helping the children. Along with not being knowledgeable about or taking action on the child labor, Kelley also brings up a syllogistic reasoning. She first premises that “the children” do all this work including making shoes and knitting clothes, then goes on to say that the mothers buy these products made by the children, concluding that they are supporting child labor and fueling their work (116). This conclusion is used to cause culpability in the audience as they are part of, if not all, of the reason why the children were still working in factories late at night. Leaving the audience feeling guilty and culpable for their actions or lack thereof, Kelley then tries to direct her audience to anger towards the state legislatures.

In addition to the guilt and culpability she has previously instilled in her audience, Florence Kelley urges her audience to be angry at the state legislatures for not passing the laws against child labor. After she first mentions the children working all night, Kelley then jumps into talking about how “in New Jersey, boys and girls” who are older than 14 years of age, have to work all night long while “in Georgia there is no restriction whatever,” (116). She compares these two states in order to get her audience to see that there are some limits on child labor, but it is all dependent on the laws passed by the state legislature. In order to further anger the audience, she uses a sarcastic and criticizing tone when saying the children 14 years or older in New Jersey get to “enjoy the pitiful privilege of working all night long,” (116). By using this sarcasm, it expresses how angry she is at the state legislature which also passes along to the audience too, causing them to be angry too if they were not already. Not only is she trying to display her anger through the state legislature not passing laws, but she also brings up the idea that they, the women, are “almost powerless” against the child labor because they are unenfranchised (117). Kelley is trying to get her audience to realize that no matter how hard they try, they will not be able to change any laws by themselves because they have nearly no power in the government, as they lack the ability to vote. This developing anger ultimately leads up to her audience feeling like they must do something in order to change child labor, even if they don’t have the right to vote.

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Overall, Florence Kelley seems to effectively establish herself as an equal to her friendly audience, cause guilt and culpability for their lack of knowledge and lack of action, and building up anger in them towards the state legislatures. Instead of ending her speech leaving the audience feeling powerless due to the fact that they are not able to vote and let their voices be heard, she gives them a call to action, telling them that the only thing they can do is to “enlist the workingmen on the behalf of [their] enfranchisement,” (117). By building up to this final line of action, her audience seems to be more willing to get help from the men in order to stop or at least limit child labor. If she had stated this call to action at the beginning of her speech, Kelley’s audience would think she was crazed, as this is the opposite of what a group of women suffragists would ever think of doing. Because she first proves herself as an equal of her audience and that she was fighting for the same causes as they were, makes them feel guilty and culpable for not knowing anything about the child labor that goes on while they sleep and not taking action, and riling up the anger inside of them towards the state legislatures who were not willing to make laws against child labor or even let the women vote, she narrows down the path that they were able to take to just asking help from the men. Kelley knows that at the end of her speech, her audience will be motivated to take action, even if the only action they are able to take is to get help from the men.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Critical Review of Kelley’s Speech to AWSA. (2019, January 03). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 15, 2024, from
“Critical Review of Kelley’s Speech to AWSA.” GradesFixer, 03 Jan. 2019,
Critical Review of Kelley’s Speech to AWSA. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Apr. 2024].
Critical Review of Kelley’s Speech to AWSA [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Jan 03 [cited 2024 Apr 15]. Available from:
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