A successful speech is one that is not only deftly constructed, but also appealing and effective in the delivery of the overall message intended by the composer. Margaret Atwood’s Spotty Handed Villainesses is a prime example of an engaging, skilful and persuasive text that is masterfully enhanced by an array of techniques that combine to express her views on the representations and perceptions of females, feminists and feminism as a whole. That being said, Atwood’s playful humour and sharp wit skilfully counterbalance the underlying academic and authoritative tone in a manner that not only retains lasting appeal, but also maximises audience engagement.
The use of an anecdote in the ...view middle of the document...
Throughout the description of the ‘scene’ acted out by the children, Atwood makes repeated comparisons to dramatic playwrights in order to emphasise the differences between reality and literature, or rather, the expectations of females within them. It is through this that the full impact of her eventual repetition of the statement ‘something has to happen’ can be felt. In crafting the metaphor, Atwood is essentially stating that the ideas discussed in literature are not only a reflection of the attitudes in reality, but also of the values and expectations that society has come to associate with women in general. Essentially, Atwood discusses the persona of women in literature in order to draw a clearer distinction between that of women in society. The use of the rhetorical question, “What is a novel, anyway?” acts to encourage the responder to not only participate in questioning themselves, but also acts as a link to her subtext in a subtly persuasive manner. Following on, the use of anaphora in ‘Novels are not’ further establishes her authority and views which are translated to the responder in a fashion more readily adopted. As a result, the overall message and theme of females in reality versus females in fiction, as well as the criticisms of the feminist movement is made clear.
The clever use of a paradox in criticising the divide within the women’s movement (“Women who wore high-heels and make up”/”Those in overalls”) serves as the culmination of the entire point Atwood aims to make. Such a technique allows a clear distinction between the two different ends of the scale, with her stance being carefully represented as the mid-point. By doing this, Atwood successfully ‘manipulates’ the opinions of the responder to be more aligned to her way of thinking through an appeal to logos.
As a text, Spotty Handed Villainesses is built on a foundation of literary and academic references and a vast array of techniques. Through these, the meaning of the speech is expertly delivered and it can be surmised that without her deft construction skills, the position of Atwood on the topic of feminism itself would be difficult to comprehend and thus, rendering the meaning and message of the speech unclear. In summation, through the aforementioned devices, notion of feminism is carefully and meticulously discussed with ample textual support in a manner which is engaging, appealing and ultimately, memorable.
“Speeches are written with detailed knowledge of the values and context of the intended audience. The best speeches can relate beyond that audience.”
Throughout the ages, the most memorable speeches are those of which are able to transcend the period of time in which they were presented. A composer’s understanding of the key values and the context of the intended audience plays a vital role in crafting a valid, impacting and ultimately, timeless speech. Paul Keating’s Funeral Service of the Unknown Australian Soldier is...