Chmamanda Ngozi Adichie Speech Analysis

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An analysis of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Commencement Address

In 2015, at Wellesley College, a private women’s liberal arts college in the USA,
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian writer and feminist, gave a speech to an audience of graduates and faculty. The main target of the speech was women, and the main theme, in various degrees of transparency, was feminism and what it means to be a feminist. 2015 was a year of many achievements for women, especially in the US. Hillary Clinton announced her run for president, New York Magazine featured 35 of Bill Cosby’s accusers in a cover story, and female superheroes finally made their debut in television, and yet only 18% of Americans identified themselves as a feminist.

The main theme of the
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It is very visible in the last part of the speech where she focuses on love. “…Please love by giving and by taking…If you are only giving and not taking, you’ll know… (p. 11, ll. 344-357). She also makes herself approachable by referring to herself as a big sister: “Which means that I would like to give you bits of advice as your big sister.” (p.10, ll. 288-291).

In her speech, Adichie uses extensive vocabulary but makes sure to be understood. She also uses metaphors that are relevant, such as “Do not twist yourselves into shapes to please” as body image and impossible standards are very popular nowadays. Adichie also uses humour to appeal herself to the audience. “The only acceptable way of wasting your time on earth is online shopping.” (p. 11, ll. 324-326).

Along with pathos, ethos and metaphors, Adichie uses repetition to engage her audience. She repeats the same word, chairman, three times in three consecutive sentences (p. 8, ll. 112-120). In that way, she highlighted the importance of that story and made sure that it would be remembered as an example of feminism and how differently it can be perceived (p. 9, ll. 129-137). She also used the story as a life lesson, as she did with many others: “Your standardized ideologies will not always fit your life. Because life is messy.” (p. 9, ll.

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