Florence Kelley's Speech For Equality Of Women And Children
As an advocate for women’s suffrage and reform work, Kelley felt it was her duty to give an empathic speech in Philadelphia in 1905 to the NWSA in order to encourage them to fight for restrictions on child labor. Throughout most of history, women and children have had limited rights. Florence Kelley was a reformer who fought for equality for women and children in the workplace. Even though Kelley was able to attract many supporters, the fight for equal rights proved to be an extremely challenging battle, but she rallied many people together under common goals. Kelly uses rhetorical devices such as imagery, repetition, and rhetorical questions in order to evoke pity, and establish her as an informed and credible speaker.
Kelley starts the speech by describing an image of the horrible reality of child labor which the audience she is speaking to might not be fully aware of. She describes the conditions these children work in, having to “work all the night through” around the “deafening noise” of textile factories” (Kelley. Such vivid illustrations and imagery are intended to evoke pity and make this practice a reality for her audience. Kelley furthers her hypothetical illustrations of children, specifically the little girls, who are forced to leave their homes in the early evenings with “pails of midnight luncheon,” and not return home until the following morning (Kelly. Presenting such an alien scene helps shock her audience into sympathy. Kelley adds repeating reminders that all of this goes on “while we sleep,” which works to make her audience feel ashamed that they are not doing more to put an end to this cause. These emotional appeals strengthen Kelley’s cause to end child labor, drawing upon her audience’s natural protective and nurturing nature towards children.
Once Kelley has elucidated the situation and placed her audience in the appropriate emotional disposition, Kelley then links her cause to her goal: women’s suffrage. She wonders whether such child labor practices would be allowed to continue “if the mothers and teachers” could vote, implying that if women were able to vote, they would be key to ending this exploitation of children (Kelley. Through this logical reasoning, Kelley can sustain the audience’s attention and trust in her. Furthering her cause, Kelley reminds the audience what the children are employed to make: the garments and accessories which fill their closets. She suggests that these children have become “little beasts of burden, robbed of a school life that they may work for us” (Kelley. This added appeal to her audience guilt, combined with the logical correlation she has manufactured between her causes gives Kelley’s call to action a sense of immediacy.
Kelley incorporates statistics that reinforce her argument and call to action. This not only builds her credibility by establishing the fact that she is knowledgeable about the subject matter, but it also incorporates a logical analysis of the situation. From the beginning, Kelley expresses that, “two million children under the age of sixteen years” must go to work in order to gain income for their families (Kelley. The statistics that she uses are for the purpose of shocking the audience while providing a fact-based foundation for the claim of her speech. Over the course of the entire speech, Florence Kelley also refers to laws in several of the states that legalize child labor. By denouncing the laws, Kelley can portray them as illogical. She uses an extensive amount of knowledge and personal insight on this topic, deeming her a reliable speaker on the subject matter. Furthermore, by asking the audience rhetorical questions, she is not only drawing on their reasoning and analysis of the laws, but she is also drawing in their emotions as they process the reality of these events. This strengthens her claim because it creates a desire for the audience to have laws that are fair, humane, and just.
Florence uses statistics and various rhetorical devices such as rhetorical questions and repetition to appeal to the emotions and logic of her listeners in order to make them feel a sense of guilt and compassion, while also establishing herself as a credible speaker. The way she aligns her goal in regard to child labor to her goal of ending women’s suffrage demonstrates the need for change to her audience and encourages them to take action. By starting off her speech with specific, logical, facts and vivid illustrations of events establishes her as a knowledgeable speaker, and without being overly commanding, Kelley is able to portray a message that arouses an emotional response from her audience. Without reformers like Kelly, change in America would be unlikely to happen.
Cite this Essay
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below