Rhetorical devices


Rhetorical devices are language techniques used to make a speech more interesting, convincing, or memorable. The most used rhetorical devices in Emma Watson’s “HeForShe Speech”, are enumerations and repetitions, rhetorical questions, and direct address. Additionally, the speaker utilises several allusions to support her ca…



The first allusion used in the speech is the reference to a Hilary Clinton speech on women’s rights: “In 1995, Hilary Clinton made a famous speech in Beijing about women’s rights.” 

The allusion should be understood in the circumstances of the speech. Although Emma Watson is British, she delivered the speech at the UN Headquarters in New York. A reference to the American politician is more likely to help her connect with the American audience there.

Hilary Clinton delivered the speech at the UN 4th World Conference on Women …


Enumeration and repetition

The most used, and most important, language devices in the speech are enumerations and repetitions, which are frequently combined for a stronger impact.  

The enumerations give the speech a sense of structure. Repetitions help the author emphasise ideas, images, etc. and make them stick with the audience. Here is one example in which the two are combined:

When at 14 I started being sexualized by certain elements of the press. When at 15 my girlfriends started dropping out of their sports teams because they didn’t want to appear ‘muscly.’ When at 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings. 

Together, they help Watson sugg…


Rhetorical questions

Emma Watson asks several rhetorical questions throughout the speech with the purpose of inspiring the audience to reflect on her arguments or to inspire them to take action.

For example, when she asks “Why is the word such an uncomfortable one?”  she refers to the word ‘feminism’ and wants the audience to realise that the negative view is socially constructed (feminism is not a bad, scary thi…

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