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Citlaly Chavez

Writing 2010

Ms. Erin Rogers

February 01, 2019

Literary Devices in a Influential Speech

Patterns are very common to find in speech and literary- so much so that they can be grouped

into a few categories. These literary devices are known as logos, pathos, and ethos. While these

devices are used often in day-to-day speech they are most obviously used in speeches and used to

persuade an audience to a certain viewpoint or claim. TED Talks are usually very persuasive

speeches about unique ideas, given by individuals who have thoroughly researched their points.

One of the most popular TED Talks speeches is one called “The Power of Introverts” by Susan

Cain. She uses these literary devices often in her speech to convince the audience that introverts

should be acknowledged as much as extroverts. The three devices of ethos, pathos, and logos are

all very effective in helping her express her conclusions.

One literary device used very often to assert an author’s credibility is logos. As it appeals to

ethics, it is used to give the audience solid evidence to believe what the author is saying is true.

In her speech, Cain uses logos a variety of times as she persuades the audience to believe that

introverts are a group of outstanding individuals; she uses the appeal of others to add to her

argument. One of these instances is when she brings in research that others have found after she

gives a very confident statement. Cain says, “introverts actually get better grades and are more

knowledgeable, according to research”. She also adds, “when psychologists look at the lives of

the most creative people, what they find are people who are very good at exchanging ideas and
advancing ideas, but who also have a serious streak of introversion in them”. These claims alone

could have made her audience think that she is trying to push her own ideas onto them, without

giving them facts. But after she declares that it was actual science-lead research and qualified

scientists that came to these conclusions, not herself, it allows the audience security in believing

it since these scientists may have dedicated a large part of their lives researching this. She

doesn’t come to conclusions on her own but uses a respected group of people to prove herself

correct.

Throughout the speech, Cain uses many instances where she uses a counterclaim to prove her

own claim. One of the most obvious times she uses this style to prove her device is when she

discusses the forcefull collaboration in the classroom and workspaces. She acknowledges that it

not necessarily a bad thing: “of course, this does not mean that we should all stop collaborating --

and case in point, is Steve Wozniak famously coming together with Steve Jobs to start Apple

Computer -- but it does mean that solitude matters and that for some people it is the air that they

breathe”. Cain uses logos in a way that makes the audience more secure about believing her; she

is able to reassure them by acknowledging their point of view and ties it back to her own. This

allows her to find common ground by making her argument seem less forceful and more

collaborative; making sure the audience realizes that without independent work, recognizable

people like Steve Jobs would not have changed the world to the one we have today. However,

she stills allows them to keep believing that collaboration was also an important part of the

process- without introversion and extroversion working together we wouldn’t have much

innovation. Giving the audience both sides of her story proves that she is very knowledgeable

about her topic and makes her speech more authentic.


There are many times in Cain’s speech where she uses the literary device pathos to convince the

audience of her point. Pathos is a device that draws out a reader’s emotion and allows them to

connect with the author personally. The most obvious time Cain uses this device in her speech is

when she ends the proof of her claim with a story of her grandfather. She describes his service as

a rabbi and his persona as being very lovable and important to his community- which allow the

audience to connect him with someone in their own lives. She goes to say that underneath his

extroversion, actually hid his introversion. Cain follows that with describing the community after

his death, “when he died at the age of 94, the police had to close down the streets of his

neighborhood to accommodate the crowd of people who came out to mourn him”. The subject of

death is always something that will draw sympathy from people since everyone has encountered

the idea in some form. This line reinforces her claim that introverts are not just hiding behind the

outspoken, but they themselves hold the power to bring others to tears. She herself does just that:

concluding her speech with the heartfelt story about her grandfather leaves the audience with

something to remember and associate with introverts in general. It makes Cain’s speech

memorable and reinforces her claim that introverts hold the power to lead and empathize with

others.

In another instance at the end of her speech, Cain calls for action from her audience. She brings

in religion again, to evoke the pathos in people, but this time she directly compares the reader to

a spiritual figure: “Be like Buddha, have your own revelations. I'm not saying that we all have to

now go off and build our own cabins in the woods and never talk to each other again, but I am

saying that we could all stand to unplug and get inside our own heads a little more often”. In this

line, she makes the reader connect with a figure that is very famously known for peace. The
reader is forced to compare themselves to a respected figure, and it makes them feel very

powerful- or at least in charge. The call to action is direct, referring to each individual as she

talks about the action they can take. Each person is left feeling like they can be the same

powerful introvert that Cain talks about in her speech, and allows them to feel more comfortable

listening to what she tells them.

Cain doesn’t include her accountability until the end of her speech when she uses the literary

device of ethos to prove herself. Since ethos appeals to a person's’ character, authority, and

integrity, it is often interwoven with any of the other two literary devices. It is difficult to find a

time when Cain uses pure ethos to convince the audience of her viewpoint but it can be found

once very clearly when she says, “I just published a book about introversion, and it took me

about seven years to write”. This very plainly expresses her qualification on the subject of

introversion and extroversion by stating that she took a very long time thoroughly researching

these subjects. It leads the audience to believe that what she said throughout her speech must be

true since she took time to discover all the small details and makes sure her stance is correct. Her

argument becomes more compelling as she states this as more of an afterthought than at the

beginning of her speech, allowing the audience to think through her claims, and encourages a

more genuine portrayal of herself rather than an arrogant persona. The methods she uses to

express this one line to the reader, works very well in convincing them about the accountability

of her speech, and her claim in general.

Cain uses many more instances of ethos, pathos, and logos throughout her speech that

encourage her powerful claim. Logos allows her to use qualified scientists’ evidence to appeal

reason, while she also uses pathos to provoke emotion and care from her audience. Lastly, she
more commonly uses ethos intertwined with the other two devices, but there is a time when she

uses it in plain sight. With the thoughtful placement of these literary devices, Cain is allowed a

very thought-provoking and persuasive speech that allows the audience to understand her point

of view.