Will Smith has a short scene where he plays basketball with his child. After telling his son that he’s going pro, he tells him not to spend as much time playing. He is angry and quits playing. Smith realizes that it is better to help his dream than discourage him. Smith then gives his son a speech in which he explains to him that his dream should be protected no matter what others say. Although it’s a brief speech, it offers valuable lessons about life that will help people pursue their dreams. Will Smith uses persuasive appeals such ethos, pathos, word choice and repetition to effectively convey his message. Background also plays a significant role in making the speech powerful.
Smith speaks to his son and earns his respect as an authority figure. Smith is a father. He is responsible for his child’s life. Smith’s son isn’t just Smith’s son in film, but also Smith in real life. This gives Smith more credibility and respect. Smith is a father who teaches his child lessons from the experiences of others. This appeals directly to the ethos. Smith’s words are never questioned by his son. He doesn’t question what Smith said, but he just accepts it. Smith tells his son that he will never let anyone tell him you can’t accomplish something. Not even me. It’s all right?” Smith can tell his son that Smith is a father, but he doesn’t want him to tell his son that Smith can’t do it. He tells the son to trust himself and trusts Smith. Smith tells Smith that he won’t make a good basketball coach in the future. His son reacts by getting upset and throwing a basketball. Smith then realizes he’s wrong and is sorry for his son. He tells him to show his sorrow and guilt while protecting his dream. This appeal to the soul is intended to show Smith’s emotion and son. Because Smith and his son are so hardworking, this scene makes it more personal. They are in dire financial straits and live in terrible conditions. They are forced to live in shelters after being evicted. Smith’s spouse doesn’t understand Smith’s dream. Smith tells them he wants a career as a stockbroker. This is why Smith emotionally addresses his son and tells him to pursue his dream, even though others tell him otherwise.
Smith chooses the right words to express his message to his son. Smith’s speech is not long and rambling. The speech contains simple words that make it more impactful because the audience is able to understand the meaning of the words. Even though it only contains basic words, the messages he conveys are powerful. He really means every word that he speaks. He uses many reinforcing phrases to emphasize his point. Instead of saying, “Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s impossible for you to do something,” he says, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that it’s impossible for you to do something.” This shows how serious he takes his message seriously and encourages the audience members. Smith’s speech includes repetition. Smith stated, “Don’t ever listen to anyone telling you that you are incapable of doing something.” To emphasize their importance, Smith uses these words and phrases frequently. He wants to communicate the message that dreams shouldn’t be discouraged. It is possible to have a dream. Believe in yourself to achieve your dreams.
The background is crucial in making the speech powerful. Smith and his son are in a difficult financial position. Smith loses his job, gets divorced, and is evicted. His powerful speech to son is a result of all these events. While it is important to know your background, but anyone can go anywhere. Smith also mentioned to his son his background. Smith’s life was not filled with success and wealth, which led him to believe that Smith wouldn’t be able to make it as a basketball player. Smith manages to overcome his financial difficulties and is successful.
Smith’s speech utilized rhetorical elements such persuasive appeals such word choice, word choice, repetition with the backdrop, which enhanced the speech’s power. This speech was written for people who dream big. People will tell anyone that they are incapable of doing something. But they must keep going after their dreams regardless of what others think. It is worth chasing dreams and fighting for them. This speech isn’t just for people who dream big, it’s also for those who serve as role models. This speech highlighted the dangers of role models expressing negative comments to those who look up. Role models must be aware and attentive to what they are saying. What they say can make a huge difference in someone’s lives. Role models should encourage and not discourage them.
Muccino, Gabriele, director. The Pursuit of Happiness. Sony Pictures, 2006.