Florence Kelley Rhetorical Analysis Essays

“Tonight while we sleep, several thousand little girls will be working in textile mills, all night through, in the deafening noise of spindles and the looms spinning and weaving cotton and wool, silks and ribbons for us to buy”. These words, spoken by Florence Kelley, were used to describe how horrible and tiring child labor was for young children in her era. When she was young, Florence’s father took her to visit factories where child labor occurred and this inagurated her passion to speak out against such. The use of diction, repetition, parallelism, and loaded words in her speech helped explain the importance of the issues she was addressing and the issues she successfully improved in the long run. Florence Kelley set up her speech in ways that would keep her audience intrigued by what she was saying. The first line of her speech gives the audience the main point right away.

She started off by stating a very interesting statistic, “We have, in this country, two million children under the age of sixteen years who are earning their bread” From this first line it can be implied that her speech will deal with children working underage or in other words, child labor, and she also supports her argument by using logos and statistics. Right away these statistics show that Kelley has done research on her topic and shows just how passionate she is about child labor, and because two million is such a colossal number, it heightens the audience’s emotions. The thought of such a high number of children working and performing dangerous tasks would certainly make the audience empathetic and ultimately persuade them to agree with Kelly’s opinion. Also, she uses repetitions when she says, “While we sleep…”, repeatedly throughout her speech. When she says this she is appealing to the audiences emotions. She is trying to make the audience feel guilty for resting and relaxing while children all over the world are working for hours into the night.

However, by using the word “we” she is also implying that her and her audience are one. The word “we” makes her more relatable and shows that she is not trying to put anyone down and she’s not trying to have the upper hand in fixing the issue; she wants everyone to work together on the same level. It shows that she isn’t blaming her audience for not doing anything about the issue, but that she is simply putting forth the issue so that she can educate the audience on it and persuade them to help her make a change. She then uses an oxymoron to describe how working all night may be beneficial for one person and unfortunate for another. She refers to the child’s work as a “pitiful privilege”, meaning work is inevitably something that must be done and while it is a privilege for men and women to have work to earn money, it is pitiful for children because they are too young for that kind of responsibility.

Finally, to end her speech she uses loaded words and an urgent tone to sway her audience to agree with her opinion and point of view; again she uses pathos and says, “…and for the sake of our cause, we should enlist the workingmen voters with us, in this of freeing children from toil!”. It is imaginable that the last line of her speech got her audience riled up and ready to take action. With the use of all of these rhetorical devices she was able to persuade her audience to agree with her opinion and get them motivated to help change the laws on child labor. Florence Kelley worked hard for what she believed in and won many people over when she finished the child labor and women’s suffrage speech with an urgent tone, waking many people up and showing she was serious about taking action. The hard work she put toward child labor is evident with knowledge of her life, the historical context of her speech, and the consequences and effects that took place due to her efforts. Florence Kelley accomplished a lot in her lifetime and therefore she is still remembered today.

She took many actions in trying to improve child labor and women’s suffrage issues in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Her 1905 speech made a beneficial impact on the child labor situation at the time and it was the start of many improvements. Now, Florence Kelley is known for her protective labor legislation for women against child labor and for leading the National Consumer’s League for 34 years. She was one of the most respected and effective social and political reformers of our time and she is still widely regarded today. Her speech will always be remembered for the big impact it made with her use of diction, repetition, parallelism, and loaded words. Florence Kelley set up her speech in ways that would keep her audience intrigued by what she was saying. The first line of her speech gives the audience the main point right away.

She started off by stating a very interesting statistic, “We have, in this country, two million children under the age of sixteen years who are earning their bread” From this first line it can be implied that her speech will deal with children working underage or in other words, child labor, and she also supports her argument by using logos and statistics. Right away these statistics show that Kelley has done research on her topic and shows just how passionate she is about child labor, and because two million is such a colossal number, it heightens the audience’s emotions. Kelley wanted to reinforce to her audience that this was not a southern or northern problem–it was an American problem. The thought of such a high number of children working and performing dangerous tasks around the country should certainly make the audience empathetic and ultimately persuade them to agree with Kelly’s opinion.

Child Labor In the early 1900s, people lived in a world where money was difficult to obtain and jobs were hard to find. Children as young as six years old could easily be found working day in and day out in cotton mills, coal-breakers, and textile factories. Florence Kelley, a social worker and reformer from Philadelphia, is especially zealous about this certain issue. In her captivating speech, given at the convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1905, Kelley uses multiple rhetorical devices, strong diction, and appeals to accurately persuade her audience that her cause is worth the listen. Predominately, Kelley conveys her speech using a logos appeal to provide the audience with conclusive facts and indisputable evidence of the prevalent issue that is child labor. In the first sentence of her speech, she states that “we have in this country, two million children under the age of sixteen years who are earning their bread.” Kelley uses this information to help inform the reader of what she is yet to discuss throughout her speech. In addition to this logos appeal , Kelley includes a mix of epistrophe and asyndeton in one sentence when she comments, “Men increase, women increase, youth increase, boys increase in the ranks of the breadwinners….” This sentence is particularly important to Kelley’s

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