Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's commencement address at Wellesley College explores the topics of gender roles and taking risks. She uses personal stories that look at how women are treated or expected to behave by family, society, men, and feminists.
The speaker of the text is Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who is a writer and activist born in Nigeria and living in the US. In the speech, her background and feminist views are conveyed through various anecdotes, which help her to come across as reliable, honest, and educated.
The primary audience of the speech is the group of people present when it was delivered: graduates at Wellesley College, their parents, and professors. The speaker’s target audience are the graduates, who are young women. However, other categories of people are also mentioned in the speech: people living in Nigeria or feminists around the world, for instance.
Adichie engages her audience through the extensive use of anecdotes, the humorous tone and the frequent use of ethos, which is constructed both around Adichie and the graduates. The speaker's main intentions with her speech are to inspire graduates to take risks, to promote gender equality, and to encourage all forms of feminism.
The context of the speech is the graduation ceremony of the 2015 class at Wellesley College. The wider circumstances are those of the electoral campaign in the US at the time and of gender inequality and feminism in today’s society.
You can find our full analysis of the speech in the next pages.