Essay What?: Rhetoric and Jobs

Submitted By JovanniSoto808
Words: 997
Pages: 4

A Rhetorical Analysis of Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Speech

Steve Jobs is successful even though he is not a college graduate, and has an unstable and unorthodox beginning to his life. He uses his background to play upon his rhetorical strategies in his Stanford commencement address. While speaking to the new Stanford graduates, Jobs uses love and loss as universal emotions common to all humans. He aims to convince the grads to use their intuition and follow their hearts to become happy. He also uses repetitive structures and speaks on adversity as a means for growth. Jobs relates emotional and structurally repetitive life experiences to encourage the Stanford graduates to pursue their passions. Great speakers such as Jobs, use emotional anecdotes to show their own character and history. He starts his life story off with an account of how his “biological mother was a young, unwed graduate student,” and she decided to put him up for adoption (Jobs). His inclusion of such an emotional story - and clearly disadvantaged and destitute background as a bastard child to a young woman - shows that even the most underprivileged students lives can reach success. The company he starts later in life grows from a two man, garage operation, into a “two billion dollar company with over 4000 employees” (Jobs). Telling the graduates that they too can be wildly successful if they follow their dreams creates hope and excitement. His remark is basically a promise that if they follow their dreams, they will also be successful and happy similar to himself. Jobs even gives the students a more intimate view into his life. With his simple statement “About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer,” he creates a personal connection with his audience and an emotional connection (Jobs). The Apple Co-founder is using pathos to tap into the audiences feelings of sympathy; he then simultaneously develops his ethos with the audience and explains that he has faced adversity in the form of sickness. He is a strong man, and conquering his challenges is proof of his strength. Jobs uses emotional descriptions of his undesirable background in his three stories. The descriptions make him an example of hard work as a precursor to success. Jobs uses easily understood topics and words to structure his speech. Just like his ideas, his words are simple and elegant. He starts the animation studio Pixar, NeXT, and then returns to Apple. His successes show that adversity makes the students and himself better and stronger. His life went well, took a bad turn, and then became better than it ever was before; the ups and downs are a repeated pattern in his stories and his life. His speech is structured consistently as he bluntly, but vaguely introduces his topics. In a sort of ‘this is what my story is about, and now I’ll tell you what it means for you’ way. Jobs’ form is exemplified in his opener for his third story when he says “My third story is about death” (Jobs). The phrase is short, simple, and elegant. His simple way of speaking portrays honesty and builds the logos of his argument. When speaking on death Jobs bluntly points out that “Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it” (Jobs). He uses frank and insightful comments to show his audience, the graduates, that they are going to die so they should decide to live with the time they have; to follow their passions and desires, and to live without regrets is his sole advice for them. Through his use of straightforward statements and visible proof that success is attainable, Jobs encourages the graduates to follow their hearts. The blunt and straightforward pathos Jobs uses