Hundreds out, and delivered excellently, with three main

Hundreds of students,
parents, and faculty members gathered and created an audience to witness J.K
Rowling’s speech at Harvard University in 2008. J.K Rowling is a well-known
author, famous for her Harry Potter book series, and much more. Rowling’s
speech was well thought out, and delivered excellently, with three main points
she addresses throughout the speech. The three points being: failure can lead a
person to success, never give up hope on your dreams and aspirations, and
lastly Rowling emphasizes the importance of imagination. Sometimes we fail to
see that the obstacles in our life help shape the road to our success in the
future, and Rowling points out to us that failures and obstacles is what helped
us become successful , and to never ignore that.

            The very start of her speech she shows us her use of
pathos with the audience when she mentions how nervous she is to give the
speech at Harvard. She says she has lost some weight with the thought of giving
her speech. Another example is when she mentions she wishes she was at a Harry Potter
convention “Now all I have to do is take deep breaths, squint at the red
banners and convince myself that I am at the world’s largest Gryffindor
reunion” (Rowling). She is connecting with her audience since she knows
everyone is familiar with Harry Potter. Her audience especially can relate
since more than half of them grew up reading her novels, and watching the
movies that were made after her novels. So Rowling’s ethos is very prevalent in
her speech and convincing to her audience who grew up with her.

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            Also in Rowling’s speech she takes us back to her
hardships in life, and her own experiences with failure and impoverished
background. She says “Poverty entails fear, stress, depression, and
humiliation” (Rowling), these details makes her credible with the audience
providing examples of ethos. Also Rowling describes how her hitting rock bottom
helped her rebuild her life. As Rowling continues to say “Failure is
inevitable, it is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you
live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which
case, you fail by default” (Rowling), she is expressing the fact that
everyone’s fear especially students is failure, but one must accept the fact
they may fail in order to move on. She successfully targets her audience with
this example because she says “However, the fact that you are graduating from
Harvard suggests that you are not very well-acquainted with failure” (Rowling).
Rowling is trying to make a point that not only has she experienced failure and
poverty, but she has obviously been really successful in her life following all
the hardships, which is one of the main points she is addressing in the speech.

            Rowling’s second main point is the importance of never
giving up on your dreams, or interests in life. No matter what continue on your
journey to your success in life, and you will get past everything else. I think
she’s trying to point out that even if you don’t become successful from doing
something you love, people might try to tell you otherwise or try to point out
something is not successful based on how society views success. She kind of
points this out to the audience by bringing up a story on how her parents were
against her studying literature, or writing novels stating “However, my
parents, both of whom came from impoverished backgrounds and neither of whom
had been to college, took the view that my overactive imagination was an
amusing personal quirk that would never pay a mortgage, or secure a pension”
(Rowling), she’s pointing out that even her parents did not envision her
success, but she continued doing what she loved and was still successful in the
end. This is important to include when it comes to her audience of Harvard
students because she is encouraging them to follow their dreams and never give
up. All of the words Rowling used in her speech were motivational, which is
important considering the crowd she is speaking to, it was a smart strategic
move she made in choosing her context. Now a days people seem to confuse
success with being financially successful, and Rowling is reminding them that
is not always the case.

            Rowling’s third point in her speech talks about
imagination, and how important it is to her. She redefines imagination in a
more “adult version” to connect with the student’s new path into reality,
“Imagination is not only the uniquely human capacity to envision that which is
not, and therefore the fount of all invention and innovation… it is the power
that enables us to empathize with humans whose experiences we have never
shared” (Rowling). She expresses the importance of imagination and how it is a
tool to help understand the realities of other people. Her story about her working
for the African research department is her way of tying in imagination with how
imagination can help people who have not experienced tragic events, and relate
to those who have. So she is basically trying to say that we can use our
imagination to try and put ourselves in others peoples shoes who experience
horrible conditions, like she witnessed working for the African research
department and open our eyes. By opening our eyes we can help contribute in the
world and help make things better. This is another perfect example of her using
logos to make her argument more valid to her audience. Why else would Rowling
bring in an example like her working in the African research department if it’s
not to bring light to students at Harvard? She is trying to tell them they need
to prepare for the real world, and what’s to come after they graduate and
become successful.

            All in all Rowling’s examples and arguments in her speech
were well put together, and everything was backed up in some way. All her
stories about her experiences helped build credibility with her audience, and
helped her points get across to her audience. She successfully uses pathos and lagos
as I have pointed out to get her message across. Her experiences and success helps
her give advice to her audience. Rowling specifically talked about her failures
to show she prevailed them and continued doing what she loves, and this was an
outstanding way to show student’s or anyone failure does not mean it’s the end
of the road, rather something we must all face sometime in our lifetime.