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Rhetorical Analysis Of Florence Kelley'S 1805 Speech On Child Labor

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In the 1800’s and early 1900’s many people started to realize the horrible ideas of child labor throughout America. Florence Kelley was one of the major reformers who started fighting for child labor laws and better working conditions. Her work eventually took off on a success of improved working condition for the children throughout America. In this speech she delivered at the national american woman’s suffrage association in Philadelphia in 1805 Kelley aimed at everyone listening and all the women to convey her speech using repetition, antithesis, and diction to relate and adequately carry on her message about the horrors and injustices of child labor and to stop it from happening.

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Near the middle of her speech Kelley starts to compare to completely opposing ideas. “Now, therefore, in New Jersey, boys and girls, after their 14th birthday, enjoy the pitiful privilege of working all night long”. Kelly uses this oxymoron to compare and contrast birthday to working. She reinforces her idea that children should not be forced to work especially without good conditions. She compares the happy feeling of a having a birthday to the negative feeling of the children having to start there hard labor work.

Near the beginning of the speech Kelley begins to use the same sentence structure to convey her message. “Men increase, women increase, youth increase, boys increase in the ranks of the breadwinners; but no contingent so doubles from census period to census period, as does the contingent of girls between twelve and twenty years of age”. This Parallelism give the reader more understanding on how the different classes all have the same wages even if there are higher rank. The repetition of “increase” and “census” gives the line a whole new level of understanding and a different way to Interpret the speech.

In paragraph 3 gives a small scenario of what could be happening at night while everyone is sleeping but, at the same time it gives off a guilt prospective. “Tonight while we sleep, several thousand little girls will be working in textile mills, all the night through, in deafening noise of the spindles and the looms spinning and weaving cotton and wool, silks and ribbons for us to buy”. Kelley uses imagery to put a picture of the suffering children in there mind however, she adds she adds on to that with an emotional appeal to further strange her points. The imagery provides the picture and the emotional connection provides a guilt feeling to the audience.

Florence Kelley’s speech was very much effective the her audience with the uses of all her rhetorical strategies like oxymoron, parallelism, imagery, and metaphors. She used to all of these to her advantage to convey her audience the husband and the women of America.

18 May 2020

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