The Man in the Arena

In his speech, Roosevelt takes the opportunity to open the eyes of the audience on the important role it can play to improve the society. In fact, shortly after beginning his speech, he makes reference to the university’s service to the human knowledge cause that began a long time ago. This technique is intended to make the audience realize that it has a duty to continue the legacy set in the past in terms of what they do to serve mankind. In addition, Roosevelt informs the audience that whereas it would be a mistake for a country just to copy another, it would be a greater mistake, and actually a sign of weakness, if a country fails to learn from others. Roosevelt informs the public that they are the generation that will enable their country to match or outdo the pace of other nations.

The intended audience of the speech is university students, civil servants, and other people of intellect. In this regard, it is written in a manner that corresponds to the level of education and academic achievement of the public. The stress is put not on the structure of the speech but on the profound obligations that the individuals face with, their level of knowledge and skills. According to Roosevelt, much attention has been given to the audience, and as such, much is expected from them. He also tells that they will not be recognized by the level of criticism they will direct towards those who will act but by what they will do themselves. Roosevelt notes that the ideals of the audience are supposed to be high, though not too high to be impossible to realize. The content of his speech is designed to bestow a feeling and high expectations that the society has on every single citizen.

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Roosevelt also makes some claims about the nature of democracies in France and America. Firstly, he terms all democracies a critical social experiment that is fraught with immense responsibilities for both the evil and the good that take place in the society. In this regard, he claims that for such democracies, not only the leaders but also the citizens play a very important role. According to him, the success or failure of these nations depends on whether or not the average man and woman fulfil his or her duty. To support this claims, he indicates that the citizens serve as the main source of power and greatness, and they are thus obligated to ensure that the standard of the average citizen remains high. This, in turn, automatically translates into a requirement for an even higher standard for the leaders. In this way, the citizens act to compel the leaders to give their best in leading the nations to success.  

Roosevelt’s speech is not just informative and argumentative; it also seeks to inspire the audience emotionally. He achieves the latter by using an appeal to pathos. Firstly, he terms the university as “…the most famous university of medieval Europe” (Roosevelt par. 2) at the beginning of the speech. It is meant to awaken the audience to the symbolism of the arena in which he makes his speech. In another instance, when referring to the need for the audience to demonstrate good qualities, he indicates that “no keenness and subtleness of intellect, no polish, no cleverness…make up for the lack of great solid qualities” (Roosevelt par. 8). Statements like these are prevalent in the speech whereby the speaker goes to a great length to draw the emotions of the audience to what he is laying emphasis on.

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In conclusion, Roosevelt’s speech was successful going by the manner in which it was customized for the audience. It sought to attract the attention and emotions of the public to the kind of reasoning he was making, and he also sufficiently supported all claims that he made. By the end of the speech, the audience must have felt a heavy weight on their shoulders in terms of what was expected from them.

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