HSC Speeches Essay

“Great speeches do not merely address a contextual purpose; they also touch the hearts and minds of those who hear them”. Evaluate to what extent the statement above supports your understanding of the speeches set for study in Module B: Critical Study of Texts. Words in their most basic forms are just unintelligible sounds. Yet with the combination of emotion and verve, only then do they become meaningful. Words which not only combine emotions but also contextual misunderstandings and inequity are a recipe for the invoking of spirit. Words are the key to communication, a commonality throughout each culture, nation and religion. Though the sounds they create are different, the true intertwined emotion and feeling behind these words weave a tapestry of both global disunion and union. Words are not restricted to a language or a sound, they are infinite in there meaning and purpose. Nevertheless this doesn’t change what it invokes in the people who either hear or read it.

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Rather it inspires them. Contrary the popular belief, feminism is a first world idea. Margaret Atwood, a lifelong feminist, born in Canada, a country who gives females the same opportunities as men, is the epitome of a first world woman. It almost appears she is the antithesis of her global sister Aung Sun Suu Kyi. A woman, born in Burma, raised by political activists and placed under house arrest for 6 years for her movements towards equity. The importance of their upbringing though makes a resounding impact upon the audience, since their points are identical. Though they may be in different stages, the end goals are one. This display of unity spanning across nations, cultures and time creates a timeless foundation for the solidarity of women.

The power of a nation and society on any individual no matter the gender has insurmountable influence upon the youth. Atwood’s ‘Spotty Handed Villainesses’ is a speech written to inspire women that it’s okay not ‘to be good all the time.’ Why should women be depicted as one dimensional characters, why is there a seemingly an innate fear amongst authors to give a female character a legitimate personality, flaws and all? She encourages readers to look past stereotypes by addressing their almost inbred mental fears. For the bad behaviour of women have no shades of grey. It is black and it is white and the lines are clearly drawn. Lest we forget when a women “was good she was very good and when she was bad she was horrid.” This tenor is also present within Suu Kyi’s speech ‘Keynote Address at the Beijing World Conference on Women’, the notion of women constantly having to justify their own existence. These stereotypes, nursed into infants until their adulthood reflects this symbolism awakens a sense of epiphany within the audience.

The traditional belief that the patriarchal paradigm is the reason for life and the justification of living, with the instilled belief that “the dawn rises only when the rooster crows.” Atwood & Suu Kyi’s words strike us, for they have found our commonality, our youth. The commonality of folk tales, which were supposedly told to enforce morals and values to us, instead enforced boundaries. These boundaries which we were too young to understand or even acknowledge solidified the link between us. These boundaries hinder the true identity of women and their position in society, For isn’t the sole idea, a commonality between all women? The contextual purpose is addressing the notion of why women cannot monopolise the “true traits” of men; for they are men and men alones traits. Yet to give these identical traits to a woman, spells her immediate downfall. Why cannot women stand on their own two god given feet, and be recognised without representing the traits of their male counterparts.

This lone concept is the link, which encourages a movement within the hearts and minds of the readers, the movement to not become a stereotype. Though both speeches address the commonality of inequity, their words emanate and establish an emotion and bond meant to reach inside an individual and shock them. Their meaning rises above the words they choose to address the concept; thus manifesting in the readers psyche. The truth of the matter is that we are all spotted. Like the wicked lady Macbeth, though these spots cannot be seen, they are “indelible”. They shall never be removed, yet though they are there it doesn’t mean they should be given the power to determine a life. To be spotted isn’t ‘bad’; to be spotted is being real, and this stigma around female characters, that they are somehow more realistic than real women, the readers, is a detrimental mistake.

These very stereotypes are found in every novel, article and song we either read or listen to. Whether knowingly or not women have been subordinated in their source of comfort, at their most vulnerable. Women have “no sole protector”, they are on their own and it’s time for them to recognise this and stand up for themselves, no matter their circumstance. Society is the downfall of equity and an encumbrance to the rise of feminism across the globe. These are the strength of Atwood’s and Suu Kyi’s words. These are the words that inspire and touch the minds and hearts of those who hear them. They have grasped a contextual issue faced in both countries; female inequity, and created a movement amongst complete strangers across the globe. They have done this though creating a bond with the readers by their words. They are meant to be personified and expanded. This is why they earned the title of being a great speech.

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