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Steve Jobs: Rhtorical Analysis

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Steve Jobs’ Stanford Commencement Speech

In 2005, one of the great entrepreneurs and inventors of the 20th and 21st century, Steve Jobs, gave the commencement address at Stanford University. Speaking to the graduating students at Stanford and their guests, Steve Jobs desired to provide the new graduates advice and motivation as they began to go into the “real world”. No matter where, why, or when a speech is given, in order for the speech to be good, it must use contextual and textual rhetorical analysis such as ethos, logos, pathos, and have proper structure and style. Structurally, Steve Jobs had an extremely well formed speech. Jobs related three stories he felt had taught him major life lessons which helped form who he has become today. These stories are related by him in chronological order of his life. His first story was about “connecting the dots”. He explained some of his struggles in regards to the successes of his early life and ended this first anecdote by saying, “Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever -- because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well-worn path, and that will make all the difference.”
Jobs’ second story is about “love and loss”. He shared about his love for his work and how work lead him to meet his wife, but Jobs went on to tell about losing his job and how the love he had for his work is what kept him going. He ends this narrative by saying, “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking -- and don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking -- don't settle.”
Jobs final story was about “death”. He explained to the audience how he was faced with death and described to them his thoughts and emotions toward death. He concludes with one very inspiring statement: “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.” Jobs’ final piece of advice to his audience - “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”
The style that Jobs used was perfect. His approach allowed the audience to relate to his background by sharing his humble beginnings and many struggles before making his way to the top. Jobs pulls you in with the three stories from his life. At the end of each story Jobs has a slight pause before he stresses his main point and advice. He came across with a soft voice; a voice that was easy to listen to as if it was a father’s voice when giving advice to his children. Ethos is the author’s credibility to be able to speak and/or write in regard to a subject. Steve Jobs was speaking at one of the finest universities in the United States, and yet he didn’t even graduate from college. To gain credibility, Jobs began his speech by letting the audience know some facts about himself and assures them that he is fit to deliver this speech and share advice with the new graduates. Jobs explained why he decided to drop out of college: “After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life.” He went on to share that “the minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked far more interesting.” Jobs also shared how other hardships he had faced on his way to the top made him qualified to address these graduates. Hardships such as sleeping “on the floor in friends' rooms”, being fired from Apple and facing death when he found out he had cancer, gave Jobs greater credibility because it showed the audience that he too had suffered, but had overcome his suffering and still managed to be successful. Pathos is the emotional appeal the writer makes in order to draw in the audience. Death and love are some of the first things to come to mind when a person thinks about emotion. When Jobs was speaking on the topic of death, he began to give advice on how we should live before we die. The emotional appeal doesn’t quite set in with the advice Jobs was giving until he suddenly brings up the story about how he faced death. “I was diagnosed with cancer… The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for ‘prepare to die.’ ” As soon as Jobs made the audience aware of his previous situation it grabbed their emotions and the advice previously given now sinks in and has more meaning to the audience. Jobs also used the emotional appeal of love. He described how the love of his work was the reason why he kept pursuing his work after the company that he founded (Apple) fired him. Listening to Jobs speak, one can relate to his sense of sadness and feel pity for him, but then go on to relate to his happiness as he talks about how he overcame this struggle by creating two new companies (NeXT & Pixar) and regaining his job at Apple. Logos is an author’s logical appeal to the audience. Even though Jobs dropped out of college that did not hold him back from being successful. “I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love.” Jobs credited his successes on his love for what he did. By saying this, Jobs implied that if doing what he loved worked for him, it will work for you as well. Jobs said that he looks at himself in the mirror and asks, “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” The answer that we all desire to say to that question is yes, but Jobs states, “If the answer is no, then why aren’t you following your heart?” Jobs uses other rhetorical questions in his speech that appeal to the audience’s logical connection to him as an expert on success. Contextually, Jobs was an excellent choice for the keynote speaker at such a prestigious university. Many people believe Jobs has one of the greatest minds of our time and look to him as a role model. Jobs is very important to the history and inventions of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. This speech brought to light that success was not an easy road for Steve Jobs. In fact, the path he took to reach the peak of success was rough. However, the social effect that Jobs has had is enormous. Because of his innovations, he has completely changed the way we communicate. His speech has inspired people to do what they love, and to trust that in doing this, they will be happy and so find success.

Work Cited:
Jobs, Steve “Commencement Address at Stanford University.” Rhetorical Literacy. 49 Important Speeches in 21st Century America. American Rhetoric.com/ Michael E. Eidenmuller.…...

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