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The Last Lecture Essay

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Updated: Nov 14th, 2018

The Last Lecture by Randolph Pausch is a good example of an inspirational speech that prompts the listeners to reevaluate their views on life, death and relations between people. Moreover, it urges them to be optimistic despite various difficulties. This address demonstrates how a person can maintain courage and will to live even at the most trying times.

Randolph Pausch made this speech during the Oprah Winfrey Winfrey Show. Approximately one hundred people were present during this event, but one has to remember that it was broadcast to millions of people. Overall, the setting suggests that this speech could be relevant to people of different sexes, ethnic origins, age groups, or social classes.

At the very beginning, the speaker does not specify for whom his words are intended, only at the end he says that this address was initially intended for his children, but it could be relevant to other people as well. So, one can argue that Pausch interacts with auditors or those listeners who are not addressed directly.

From the point of view of delivery, the Last Lecture can be called an extemporaneous and technology-aided speech which means that the speaker carefully prepared his address beforehand and used computer software to supplement his ideas with visual images. Overall, this delivery was very effective and it helped the author to produce a powerful emotional impression on the audience.

The introduction of his speech contained and attention-getter that made the audience interested in what he was about to say. However, it lacked a clearly-stated thesis. Pausch chose to elaborate his major argument in later parts of the speech. However, lack of proper structure was not a weakness because the speaker was able to convince the audience.

Pausch used two types of appeal, namely ethos or appeal to credibility and pathos or appeal to emotions. He tried to convince the audience by providing personal examples from his life. He explained how a person should act under different circumstances and why one has to act in such a way. However, this inspirational speech also appealed to people’s emotions because the listeners knew that this person was suffering from a terminal illness.

It is quite possible that Randolph Pausch did not want to elicit emotional reaction, but his speech definitely contained the elements of pathos. So, one can say that the Last Lecture contains two elements of rhetorical triangle, namely pathos and ethos. In this case, the audience has to believe the speaker not because he provides compelling evidence in support of his arguments. More likely, Pausch shows that he as a speaker has high credibility. This is the main persuasive choice that he makes.

This speech can be regarded as a proposition of policy that advocates a certain attitude toward life, people and difficulties that a person can face. The choice of speech pattern is also important when we discuss this address. In part, Pausch uses chronological persuasive pattern because he tells the story of his life from childhood to adulthood.

Yet, topical arrangement plays a more important role in this address. The thing is that he focuses on such themes as creativity, relations with relatives and friends, humility, and optimism. The organization of his speech was very well thought-out, and it had a definite ending.

Overall, this speech demonstrates how a person can engage the audience and make them really interested. Randolph Pausch’s resolution and willingness to be optimistic really helped him convince the listeners that such attitude toward life will enable a person to get through the most difficult situations.

Works Cited

Pausch, Randolph. “The Last Lecture”. Oct. 1 2007. Web.

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"The Last Lecture." IvyPanda, 14 Nov. 2018, ivypanda.com/essays/the-last-lecture/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Last Lecture." November 14, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-last-lecture/.


IvyPanda. "The Last Lecture." November 14, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-last-lecture/.


IvyPanda. 2018. "The Last Lecture." November 14, 2018. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-last-lecture/.


IvyPanda. (2018) 'The Last Lecture'. 14 November.

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