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On being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Malala Yousafzai commences her speech by thanking people around the world who supported her and encouraged her to carry on her battle against terrorism and by recognizing the efforts of her doctors and her supporters in helping her recover her strength. She goes ahead and explains her past, elaborates on her ideas about education and peace, and extends an agenda of her plans for the future. Using rhetorical strategies such as repetition and imagery, Malala explains to the world how important it is for women to get educated and fight for equality and their rights.
Malala displays her gratitude towards everyone by declaring that “Malala day is not my day” but that it is the day for everyone who has “raised their voice for their rights.” She elaborates and ensures people that she is no different than anyone of the many Human Rights Activists who have been fighting for education and peace by saying that she is “just one of them”. Malala explains how she is a speaker for those whose voice cannot be heard. Using repetition, she shows what she believes are the rights of everyone on this planet. By repeating the phrase, “their right to…”, Malala lists down how people deserve the right to live peacefully, with dignity, with equality and have the right to receive education. This not only enforces her ideas about the basic rights of human beings but also helps her purpose of explaining to the world what she wants to do.
Moving on, Malala introduces herself and her past. She uses imagery to show how the Taliban shot her and her friends in an attempt to “silence” her, but “they failed”. She tells the audience how from the “silence came, thousands of voices.” By the use of clever diction and parallelism, the speaker shows us how the Taliban wanted to keep the people quiet with the use of terror. But their attempts were of no use as the terror stricken silence that they wanted to bring about actually created an uproar. This idiomatic use of diction is key as it really attracts the emotions of the audience. She goes on to say that this experience changed her life. Her weakness and fear disappeared as she became strong and courageous. She compares how she felt before this experience and how she felt after by showing how she has gone from being weak to being one of the strongest women on the planet. By making it clear that she is the same Malala Yousafzai at heart, and by sharing her past, she appeals to the audiences’ emotions and establishes pathos and ethos.
Throughout her speech, Malala talks about her intentions of helping those in need and speaks about using her experience to her advantage. She goes on to say that her message is about love, peace and equality in all aspects. She enforces her message by claiming that she does not “hate the Talib who shot” her. But instead of cursing the terrorist, she wants “education for the sons and daughters of all the extremists”. Certainly this appeals to the audiences’ emotions as well, because they are left touched by the speaker’s personality and act of forgiveness. One thing to notice is how Malala uses the words “sons and daughters” rather than children. This is important as this further enforces her message about how she wants to promote education for girls which will further improve their chances of getting equality in society.
By the use of repetition again, Malala shares how she has learned a variety of characteristics from figures like Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Jesus Christ, Dr. Martin Luther King, and many more. She sets about telling the audience how these important personalities that everyone can relate to, have helped her learn a variety of characteristics which will help her in her purpose. By doing this, she instantly relates to all the people around the world by explaining how she has learned from so many people. This is important as she is speaking at a stage where everyone in the world can see her, it helps relate everyone in the world to her and the people she has gained inspiration from. Once again, clever use of rhetorical strategies help her gain support and importance.
Approaching the second half of her speech, Malala talks about the purpose of the Taliban and how they are “frightened” and “afraid” of equality. Going onwards, she explains how Pakistan, Pashtuns and Islam are misunderstood and how “the terrorists are misusing” them “for their own personal benefits”. By doing this, she throws light upon a significant subject explaining to the world, and what she thinks about the connection between terrorism and Islam. Also, Malala uses metaphorical diction to explain to the audience how life under the threat of terrorists feels like. She stresses how “we realize the importance of light when we see darkness. We realize the importance of our voice when we are silenced”. She goes on to say how people in Pakistan realized the importance of books and pens when they saw ammunition and all the terror they were under. This clever use of diction once again shows us how people who are struggling for their rights feel.
In the end, Malala uses her platform to “call upon” leaders and governments worldwide to support equality, peace and fight terrorism. She repeats the phrase “we call upon” multiple times in sentences to help lay down what she believes everyone around the world deserves, She also uses a strict tone by aggressively telling the people that Human Rights Activists around the world, “want”, “will” and “must” go on with their efforts as “no one can stop” them. This is a strong way to come to an end as she re-enforces her ideas, her plans and makes it seem achievable. She ends her speech by emphasizing that books and pens are the “most powerful weapons” and how “education is the only solution.” She ends her speech with the most important message. It has real significance as Malala was shot because of her pursuit for education and is what she is due to her willingness to receive good education. Although she put her life in danger by fighting for her right to be educated, she still refers to education as the answer. I find it interesting how she uses diction in a particular way multiple times, where her connotations to specific words or phrases are really superb as they cover more than just one aspect of the meaning of the word. For example, referring to pens as weapons seems to give a connotation of using pens as a weapon in battle against terrorism and towards equality. Also, her reference to guns and how the terrorists used them to “silence” (reference to silencer which can silence the sound of the gun), is important. She also refers to a pen as a weapon which is a pretty interesting use of metaphor.
All in all, throughout the whole speech Malala rallies support by directing her comments towards the emotions of the audience. The recurrent use of repetition helps increase the importance of her message. But in another perspective, the use of repetition so freely can also devalue its importance as a strategy, because unnecessary usage of a particular strategy can be negative. Her tone is determined and her word choice is excellent. She delivers a really impressive speech for a 17 year old who is being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, a grand achievement on its own. Although not the most insightful or the most creative speeches, Malala uses rather simple rhetorical devices and strategies quite remarkably to get her message across about peace, love and equality in all aspects of life; especially education.
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