Pathos: An Emotional Argument Made By David Wallace Foster

739 words - 3 pages

In 2005, David Wallace Foster delivered a memorable commencement speech to the graduating class of Kenyon College. It was not the standard US commencement speech with “the deployment of didactic little parable-ish stories” which then turn out to be “one of the better, less bullshitty conventions of the genre”. By using pathos , Foster created an intelligent argument that wasn't overpowering but thoughtful and understanding. The argument made by Foster in his speech is about the capital-T Truth. And to Foster, the capital-T Truth is about life before death. The point of Fosters speech is to expose the importance of education, the value it possesses and the awareness it brings. Its modest amount parables, proverbs and cliches revealed the honesty behind his words and ugly truths that caused a stir the audience. Wallace Foster stripped away the standardness of such monotone and basic writing of commencement speeches to his advantage. By using pathos he builds bridges, sustains his arguments and emotionally influences his audience.
Wallace Foster opened by telling the crowd to get comfortable, as he did the same. By doing so, he already has the audience at ease, ready to hear what he had to say. As Foster talks, he make it a point to use phrases such as, “If you’re like me”, “As I’m sure you guys know by now”, and “You get the idea”. When he does this, he assumes the crowd already knows the subject, and therefore are more inclined to trusting him. It was important for him to establish that emotional connection in order for the audience to accept the advice they will receive afterwards. Most of the time, with the help of humor, he made his point and lessons more feasible.
He makes it a point to talk about “the center of the universe” also known as yourself. To prove this, Foster asked the crowd to think about their life experience, and in the starkest tone proceeds to say “there is no experience you have had that you are not at the absolute center of. The world as you experience it is in front of you or behind you, to the left or right of you, on your tv...

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