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Elie Wiesel’s Speech Analysis


Elie Wiesel’s speech follows a clever structure: first, his recollection of the holocaust, and second, the facts about the horrors of the war; through this strategy, he has two goals to achieve in his speech: to convey the factual information and earn empathy from the audience regarding the victims of the horrors of the holocaust. He talks about the indifference and the harm it can bring to humanity; he says it’s worse than hatred. He talks about civil wars, wars, and genocide still happening all over the world and the impossibility involved in stopping it; he has all the evidence he can bring. The speech is highly emotional due to its sensitive subject matter. One cannot stop but imagine the shreds of evidence he brought about the massive violation of human rights.

Like his many speeches, he starts ‘The Perils of Indifference’ with a story about Buchenwald and his gratitude for America and its struggle for peace. Then he goes on to explain the present horrors of the world where his personal experience is self-evident and the mean.’ By the word ‘indifference,’ and by the end of his speech, he talks about the ‘extraordinary’ possibility for hope and well-being that human beings can achieve.


‘The Perils of Indifference’ is primarily designed to persuade the audience, and the use of self-referential evidence is a vital technique by Elie Wiesel. His tone is anxious, compassionate, and serious during the course of the speech. Techniques like parallelism, repletion, charged language, bifurcation, and rhetorical questions are used throughout the speech. The questions are not asked to be answered by the audience but to involve and engage them emotionally. In parallelism, he relates the present condition of the world with the holocaust and questions the audience to action. The words like God, humanity, and gratitude are repeated in the speech to emphasize his point. Considering the seriousness of his subject matter, Elie Wiesel uses charged language to stimulate emotion in the audience; words like despair, suffering, meaninglessness, eternal infamy, rage, and compassion are used to raise emotions among the audience. The words like ‘good and bad,’ ‘crime and punishment,’ ‘cruelty and compassion,’ ‘dawn and dust,’ etc., are used to criticize neutrality and indifference, the main thesis of his speech. Furthermore, the speech has literary, philosophical, political, and geographical references.

Vocal Delivery

The vocal delivery of Elie Wiesel’s speech is as persuasive as his subject matter: he pauses, he raises his voice, he lowers his voice, and one can sense the emotional trajectory of his voice as he proceeds in his speech. For instance, in the part where he describes anger and hatred in contrast to indifference, the sheer seriousness of his voice is powerful and suggestive. Throughout his speech, Elie’s delivery injects pathos into his words, and the words themselves become emotions. The articulation and pronunciation of the words are controlled. Nonetheless, the accent is foreign as English was not Elie’s first language. All the more, Elie’s vocals are clear and distinct. He does not scream, and he is not loud but smooth and calm, yet he appoints and moves the audience.

Physical Delivery

As far as the physical delivery is concerned, Elie’s Wiesel speech is near to perfection. He uses hand gesticulation; he has good eye contact even though he read his whole speech from the paper, and during the course of his speech, he times and time again in order to stress his point moves and bows his head slightly up and down. During the course of the speech he does not leave the rostrum, he stood firm like he did during the holocaust.



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