Here are the elements which will help you with your analysis of Michelle Obama’s “Dear Class of 2020” graduation speech.

The rhetorical situation is that the speaker is Michelle Obama, a former first lady of the United States. She delivers her message through a commencement address, which is a speech given to graduating students. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, graduation ceremonies were canceled across the United States, so Obama’s speech was delivered online, as part of the Dear Class of 2020 event. 

The composition of Obama’s graduation speech is especially built around the four lessons that Obama shares. These lessons are followed by examples which Obama uses to inspire her audience to take action and work on making the world better.

The style of language mixes formal and informal elements, which helps Obama appear both professional and relatable. 

Some of the rhetorical devices used by Obama in her speech are direct address, repetition, and rhetorical questions. The rhetorical devices help Obama engage her audience and are meant to inspire graduates to speak out about the issues that matter to them.

The main modes of appeal in Obama’s graduation speech are ethos and pathos. Ethos helps Obama draw on her personal experience, while pathos helps her present the negative state that she believes the United States is currently in. 

You can read a full analysis of the speech on the following pages. 

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