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Rhetorical Analysis Of Bono's Commencement Speech

857 words - 4 pages

Bono Rhetorical Essay

Rock Star and AIDS activist, Bono, in his commencement speech to the ’04 class of UPENN (entitled “Because We Can, We Must”) explains that since we are able to, we should find a cause and fight for it. Bono’s sole purpose is to inspire the UPENN graduates to make a difference in this world.. He adopts an informal tone in order to connect with and motivate his primary audience, the graduates, and to engage his secondary audience, the family (parents, grandparents, etc.) of the graduates.

Bono begins his speech by explaining why he is at UPENN giving this speech and by sharing a personal anecdote (a pattern that is seen throughout his speech). His first ...view middle of the document...

Bono rhetorically asks and repeats the question “What are you doing here?”, to transition from his introductory bit, to his main body where he explains his subject: the need to find a cause and fight for it, because we can. He follows this intellectually deep question by a humorous relief, referring to a school where Kermit the Frog gave a commencement speech. He uses the word “ass” humorously in such as way that would typically be inappropriate in a commencement speech, but here works towards Bono’s purpose: to create an informal bond between him and his audience so that he can inspire them to do as he did, and fight for a change. His metaphor, comparing the trade of “ideas” and “change” to “moral capital…intellectual capital” you buy, trade, and sell in a “marketplace of ideas”, is to provoke thoughts within the minds of the audience, to make them think about what they are going to spend they’re like fighting for. The syntax of the section also makes a noticeable change in that, the beginning paragraphs were full and descriptive, whereas now Bono has turned to short declarative paragraphs. Within these shorter paragraphs, Bono makes his points plain and clear, that there are moral blind spots in every generation and we must do something about it.

Elaborating on this idea, he moves on to share another personal story about an experience he had while in Ethiopia saying, “I walked away from that...

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