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The Secret Speech Analysis - the Cult of Personality

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In 1956, two years before he came into power, Nikita Khrushchev gave a speech on the cult of the individual and how the former leader, Joseph Stalin, who had died just three years earlier, abused, tortured, and killed many people in an effort to maintain his power. Krushchev utilized a lot of pathos in his speech to get his audience, which were communist supporters of Stalin, to accept him as the new leader of the communist party. Logos was also used in moderation throughout his speech where he needed to rely on more than simple emotion. Stalin was seen as a godly, divine person because no one knew what Stalin was truly like. Once finished speaking about all of Stalin’s cruelty some of the people were in shock and did drastic things such as committing suicide. However, much of the audience erupted in applause.

Khrushchev used pathos very well through out his speech evoking a response of remorse for all the people who died when they were without a doubt innocent. "forced from confession under pressure...tormented me...I began to write all this nonsense....I am not guilty...never been guilty" (Khrushchev 5.) His use of strong words like tormented and pressure really add more feeling than using words with less aggression. The negative connotation associated with tormented truly shows the agony of the person the speaker is referring to. It also shows the cruelty people went through during false trials.

One of the times Khrushchev relied on logos in his speech was to support one of his more emotional points with fact rather than opinion. He does this by speaking about Stalin’s predecessor, Vladimir Lenin, who was also cruel but less so. “Lenin used severe methods only in the most necessary cases, when the exploiting classes were still in existence and were vigorously opposing the revolution...Stalin, on the other hand, used extreme methods and mass repressions at a time when the revolution was already victorious,” (Khrushchev 3). The author is using the logic that people wouldn’t want a leader who hurts others unnecessarily. If he becomes the new ruler he is also saying saying that he will use some rather questionable methods only when necessary.

Another time Khrushchev used pathos very well was when he spoke about how many people Stalin killed to get his power. "It is now been established that this villain had climbed up the government ladder over an untold number of corpses." (Khrushchev 8) He uses words like villain and corpses. If Khrushchev had used words like leader and people in the place of villain and corpses it would have been a much less powerful quote. It truly shows just how many people suffered and died at the hands of Stalin and brought on this feeling of guilt in ever thinking that Stalin was a good leader and realizing just how many people he trampled over to gain his power. It also shows the speaker doesn't agree with the way Stalin ruled things and it would be different



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