Rhetorical devices


Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s commencement address at Wellesley College includes several allusions, indirect references to people, events, and literature. One example is: “…you will also very soon be the proud alumnae of the college that produced America’s first female president! Go Hillary!” (ll. 14-17). In this case, the speaker alludes to politician Hillary Clinton running for US president in the 2016 elections. The allusion has the role of building ethos because Clinton graduated from the same college where the speech is delivered.

The mention of “traditional Igbo culture” (l. 35) which is an ethnic group in Nigeria is an allusion to the fact that Adichie herself belongs to this group. The allusion continues with direct reference to religious aspects of Igbo culture. The purpose of the references is to show how culture and religion have perpetuated gender inequality.

Another example of allusion is: “Recently a feminist organization kindly nominated me for an important prize in a country that will remain unnamed” (ll. 231-233). Adichie does not mention which organisation or prize she is referring to. In this case, Adichie wants to criticise the type of feminism they promote, which she considers elitist. In the same context, she mentions “...

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