The Power of Disguise: Emotional and Ethical Appeal
In Charles Whelan’s 2011 Class Day Speech, six meaningful, yet traditionally ‟unconventional” pieces of advice, are delivered to the Dartmouth graduates. Wheelan immediately grasps the attention of the graduates when he begins by ensuring them that his commencement speech will contain distinct values, by which he states, ‟ so this will be less conventional” (par. 2). ‟Conventional,” in this context, refers to a commonly accepted speech which contains more logical appeal, reasoning and formality rather than a portrayal of emotional and ethical appeal. Wheelan simply shies away from the standardized speech one expects to hear, in which he implies to captivate the listeners with his humorous nature as well as motivate them in achieving success. His biggest strength is being able to empathize with the audience, despite the use of limited logical appeal. To provoke sudden interest and amusement in the Dartmouth graduates, Charles Wheelan adds a tone of elitism and uses emotional and ethical appeal in attempt to disguise a conventional speech as an unconventional one. To satisfy this appeal, he uses anecdotes, candid opinions and humour, which attract both positive and negative energy in the crowd.
To inspire and empathize with the graduates, Wheelan uses anecdotes to justify and support his various claims. He begins by referring back to one of his personal encounters, in which he goes on about his old roommate John, who struggles to find a job on Wall Street despite his academic success and numerous qualifications. Wheelan genuinely prepares and informs the listeners; ‟you will face extended periods of grinding self-doubt and failure” (par. 13). However, due to John`s endurance and positive outlook on life, he works as the former CEO of Rosewood Hotels. Wheelan`s life perspectives and experiences are an exceptional portrayal of emotional appeal as it allows the graduates to relate, and understand that success is often associated with failure. The underlying economic message is that not all Ivy League students end up living a prestigious or glamorous life. Overall, the use of anecdotes attracts a positive response from the audience.
Wheelan`s bias becomes overt when he reveals his candid opinions, which adds a tone of elitism to his speech. He distinguishes between the wealthy and income constrained population through his perspectives on high school dropouts, ‟it’s true that high school drop outs are more likely to steal cars or go to prison or end up on welfare” (par.19). His reflection is extremely ignorant due to the fact that high school students not only drop out due to a lack of interest, but also because of disabilities, a socioeconomic background, academic factors, or even occupational aspirations. Furthermore, despite Wheelan`s blunt remarks…