Rhetorical Analysis of Randy Pausch's Last Lecture Essay

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“Hypothetically, if you knew you were going to die and you had one last lecture, what would you say to your students?” That is how Professor Randy Pausch, from Carnegie Mellon, began his last lecture, a speech entitled “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” while in fact he was dying of Pancreatic Cancer. He knew he only had months left to live and put together this last lecture to read to his students. His lecture focuses in on points such as the importance of: making sincere apologies, not whining, being gracious and being humble. To stress his thoughts and views on life and following one’s dreams, Randy Pausch used a great amount of repetition, metaphors, allusion, humor, ethos, and pathos in his last lecture. Randy Pausch went to …show more content…
Pausch uses several different features of style. These include: diction, figurative language, humor, irony, and repetition. By simply looking at Pausch’s word choice, you can tell that he is a well-educated man. For example, he used the word “pilgrimage” to describe a simple family vacation to Florida. What makes him discernible from other speakers is that he does not throw his knowledge in the face of his audience. Pausch still manages to keep a down-to-earth vibe. The entire speech plays upon irony as well. It is ironic because this man is giving his last lecture, a lecture that is usually for professors who simply retire of leave that profession and will not be lecturing anymore. It is ironic because this was literally Randy’s last lecture due to the fact that he was dying of pancreatic cancer. Another device Pausch uses is repetition. Throughout his speech he constantly speaks of “dreams” but more importantly “childhood dreams”. By repeating these phrases, he is stressing the importance of the dreams you make as a child. Some of Randy’s childhood dreams include being in the NFL and becoming an Imagineer for Disney. Almost every little boy wants to be a professional athlete, as well as many little girls. Did Randy achieve that specific dream? No, but he did become an Imagineer, or at least a part of an Imagineering team. The entire speech is about achieving your childhood dreams so it only makes sense that he would repeatedly