15 January 2013

The rhetoric of Jodie Foster's speech

Examined and defined at The Guardian:
What's striking is not what the speech gave away, but the control and delicacy with which it delivered its payload...

By using anaphora ("we've giggled ... we've punched") and polysyndeton (all those ands), she made the sentence sound loose, spontaneous, a little out of control...

One of the strongest, most confident ethos appeals you can make – and it's a brave one because the consequences of failure are high – is to make a joke...

Then she circled around the topic: being frank about her sexuality without actually saying the words. We rhetoric nerds call this occultatio...

Again, a touch of anaphora: "If you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler, if you'd had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal [little tricolon there, too] against all odds, then maybe you too might value privacy above all else."

Finally her peroration... That phrase – "to move people by being moved" – is a good one. In terms of formal rhetoric, it's a near-antimetabole or chiasmus..
Further clarification at the primary source.

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