Rherorical Analysis Of Earl Spencer

’s Eulogy Essay, Research Paper

The three rhetorical theories that are portrayed strongly through out Earl

Spencer?s Eulogy to Princess Diana are Vilification, Rhetorical Situation, and

Metaphorical Devices. His devices are used to depict the media and family for

the main cause of Princess Diana?s death. This eulogy is so controversial

because normally eulogies are positive tributes about one?s life. The Vilification

theory is usually unheard of in eulogies, and the way he presents such

metaphors are certainly not becoming of the media and the royal family.

Vilification, is a rhetorical strategy that discredits adversaries by

characterizing them as ungenuine and malevolent advocates, developed by

Marsha L. Vandorford it is heard through out Earl Spencer?s speech. This

strategy does not differentiate opponents as good people with a difference of

opinion, vilification deligitimizes them through characteristics of inventions,

purposes, and identities.

There are a few forms and functions of Vilification. It formulates a specific

adversarial force (identifying the enemy), casts opponents in a negative light

(portraying them as corrupt and immoral, defining the speaker as moral and

just), it also magnifies the opponents power ( striping them of legitimacy through

one or more combinations of these forms.)

There are significant statements that portray the vilification strategy in

Earl Spencer?s Eulogy. He talks about Princess Diana?s yearning to get out of

England, because ?the treatment that she had received at the hands of the

newspaper.? He remarks on how baffling it was that ?the media was always on a

permanent quest to bring the princess down?, and how she was ?probably the

most hunted person of modern age.? These citations represent the forms of

Vilification. Marsha Vanderford would agree that the media would be the

formulating the enemy. He did not make any kind remarks towards them, and it

also made the public think about how much they did hurt Diana. Therefore

damaging reporters reputations. We know that people live for the gossip that is

published out there on the newsstands, but important figures have started to

shut the media out in their private lives, in hopes that there will not be another

tragedy like this. If the media backed off of this problem, it might not have

happened in the first place, and they could still be receiving coverage and

interviews by more people. (Vanderford 216-218)

The second device, The rhetorical situation, is one of the most

fundamental and useful concepts. The term was first used by Lloyd Bitzer

(1968) in “The Rhetorical Situation,” to refer to all the features of audience,

purpose, and exigency that serve to create a moment suitable for a rhetorical

response.(Zepernick 1-2) The concept itself, however, is a very ancient one and

appears in some form in many earlier treatises, including Aristotle’s Rhetoric and

Cicero’s De Oratore.

The rhetorical situation can be understood as the circumstances under

which the rhetor writes or speaks. This includes the nature and disposition of

the audience, the exigence that impels the writer to enter the conversation, the

writer’s goal or purpose, and also the general state of the world outside the more

specific context of the issue at hand. All of these elements work together to

determine what kinds of arguments will be effective, or as Aristotle would say

?the available means of persuasion.?

Spencer?s speech does include the main elements of a rhetorical situation

(exigency, audience, and context/constraints). The exigency is not only

important because it is the eulogy of his sisters funeral, but he touches on

issues that are rare to a eulogy, as well as bringing up many of Diana?s fine

traits. Spencer ?condemned Diana?s tormentor?s in the media, and reprimanded

the royal family for revoking the princess? title.? Bringing up such constraints in

this text he was aware of the ?eye brows he was going to raise?, since the

Windsor family was so prim and proper. What better time to reprimand the

media and family than this speech? Spencer was obviously aware that more

than 2.5 billion people were going to tune into this dreadful occasion. He also

spoke of the wonderful things Diana done for the world and great times they had

shared together as children and adults. He clearly touched on every aspect of

his audience the media, family, and the world. Lloyd would agree that the

exigency and goals were to inform the general pubic of how corruptness of the

royal family and media truly affected this great women. That Spencer did

demonstrate the main purpose of a rhetorical situation, by incorporating all of the

three main elements of a rhetorical situation cohesively.

The last theory demonstrated in Spencer?s eulogy was metaphorical

devices. A metaphor is a comparison which imaginatively identifies one thing

with another, dissimilar thing, and transfers or ascribes to the first thing (the

tenor or idea) some of the qualities of the second (the vehicle, or image). Unlike

a simile or analogy, metaphor asserts that one thing is another thing, not just

that one is like another. Very frequently a metaphor is invoked by the to be verb.

Personification metaphorically represents an animal or inanimate object as

having human attributes–attributes of form, character, feelings, behavior, and so

on. Ideas and abstractions can also be personified. (Harris, 35)

These devices are what proves Earl Spencer?s speech so controversial.

The way in which he uses these rhetorical devices makes the audience stop,

think, and question what he says, since they are not as deliberate as saying-

?the media is responsible for this.? Instead phrases such as ?her good intentions

being sneered at by the media? were used. Bringing up Diana?s eating disorders

?her desire to do good for others so she could release herself from deep feelings

of unworthiness of which her eating disorders were merely a symptom?, brought

the crowd to a silence. Pledging that the ?blood family? will do what they can to

continue steering them in the right direction, so that their ?souls are not simply

immersed by duty and tradition but can sing openly ? Describing the nation being

?chewed up with the sadness at the loss of a women who was not even our

mother? is another example of personification. Not all of the statements used by

this device were negative. He commented on how Diana was a ?symbol of

selfless humanity?, ?the essence of compassion, beauty, and style?, ?she had

God-given sensitivity?, and ?needed no royal title to generate her particular

brand of magic.?

These comments were what brought Spencer?s speech to be so effective

and memorable. The little snide remarks were what captivated the audience and

kept them intuned. Some people never knew how exactly Diana felt inside.

Without these comments Spencer?s eulogy would have been like any other

eulogy heard in the past. He brought out both the positive and negative remarks

in a stubble but eye opening way.

Vilification, Rhetorical Situation, and Metaphorical devices are what able

Earl Spencer?s Eulogy to be analyzed rhetorically. The three theories bring out

the negativity that royal family and the media portrayed. If Earl Spencer had not

made such negative digs at the media and royal family there would not be any

support for these terms. Fortunately he did give the media and royal family a

?taste of their own medicine.? For years they had been on Diana?s case,

whether it be taking back her title or trying to get the latest story on her personal

life. Unfortunately nothing can be done about it now, but the most important

thing is that it was said. Spencer did not worry about the aftermath of the

speech. He said what he needed to, and in the end it was received positively by

the nation in grief. The audience reacted in shock at first, and then the crowd

stood up and cheered.


Annotated Bibliography: Earl Spencer?s Eulogy

Beebe, Steven, Susan, Beeebee. Public Speaking, An Audience-Centered

Approach. Needham Heights: A Vicom Company, 1991.

This book is used as an excellent way of defining the style, delivery and

mannerism that Earl Spencer uses in his speech. It explains exactly what a

eulogy is supposed to entail, and provides me with reasons why his speech

can be analyzed rhetorically. For example, the definition the Beebee?s

have provided me with is, a tribute delivered when someone has died to

commemorate their life. However, Earl Spencer?s speech did not only

commemorate Princes Diana?s life, it also condemned tormentor?s in

Diana?s life and provided some insights about the royal family.

Cockcroft, Robert. Persuading people: An Introduction to Rhetoric.

Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1994.

The book focuses on the organized methods and tools of persuasion. It

explains the main elements of rhetorical discourse: invention” (developing

arguments), “disposition” (organizing one’s subject) and “style” (the means of

persuasion). The three elements play an important role in the

development of Spencer?s speech. I plan on elaborating on how each of

these made an impact on his speech.

Earl Spencer?s Tribute. Sept. 1997.

On the web site freeality.com it provides a direct link to Real Player. Real Player is an

online video generated site in which you can view events that have been previously

recorded. I was able to review the full eulogy given by Earl Spencer. This has allowed

me to view his nonverbal gestures, and changes in vocal tones given throughout his

speech. Not only does the video show Spencer?s delivery, it also scans the crowd, so I

can interpret their reactions as well.

Harris, Robert A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices. . Los Angeles: USC, 1997

This book contains definitions and examples of more than sixty traditional

rhetorical devices. It gives detailed descriptions of the rhetorical devices that take

place through out the speech. It is clear to understand because each definition

gives so many examples to the way the devices can be used. I am able to look at

the text of Earl Spencer?s speech and compare which ones he uses. It has defiantly

given me a greater understanding to the meaning of rhetoric.

Swanson, Robert. Home Page. 1 Sept. 1997.

This web site provides me with the written text of Earl Spencer?s eulogy. It

is an important site because I will be able to directly quote his speech.

Although the video is important, it is hard to critically analyze his speech,

by just hearing it. The speech is eight minutes in length and it is easier to

depict the exact phrases he uses that suggest usage?s of rhetoric, rather than

having an idea of what they were.


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