What makes good persuasion? Or an even better question is what is persuasion in the first place? To me persuasion is to convince an audience to think a different way than they do. Many examples of persuasion can be found in many forms and contexts. Through political ads, literature, TV commercials, convincing your parents to take you to the Caribbean and so on. One example of persuasion can be found in the 1995 film Braveheart.
Several excerpts of persuasion are found through out the film in various scenes, by the same character William Wallace (played by Mel Gibson). Wallace uses emotional appeal, refuting the opposition, attacking the audience, and logic to persuade his country men to take up arms against their English oppressors and set Scotland free. Persuasion comes up first in the movie in the form of emotional appeals.When the Scots are assembled for battle at Stirling against the massive northern English army, the Scots see the English advancing towards them, and many of the soldiers flee the field. To get them to stand and fight Wallace gives a rousing speech.
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Using emotional appeals by saying “And when your dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days, from this day to that, for one chance? Just one chance! To come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they’ll never take……
… Our Freedom!” Wallace uses this appeal to inspire his men to fight, by saying that instead of running away and dying with the regret that they didn’t fight. Instead they have a chance to stand up to their English oppressors, and defeat them. This speech proves as an effective motivator, and moral lifter.
Inspiring his men to stay and drive the English .^&*() back to where they came from. The next occurrence of persuasion comes later in the movie in the shape of refuting the opposition. After Wallace and his army beat the English at Stirling, they sack the English city of York. The English princess came to parley for peace. Inquiring that he has been given the rank of knight, Wallace replies that he has been given nothing, and that God makes men who they are.
The princess then comments with “Did God make you the sack er of peaceful cities? The kings nephews executioner, my husbands cousin?” Wallace replies to this with”York was the staging point for every invasion of my country, and that royal cousin hanged innocent Scots, even women and children, from the city walls.” First William combats the Princesses statement that York was a peaceful city by telling her that it was the epicenter for every invasion into Scotland, and that her husbands innocent cousin wasn’t so blameless. Winning her over to his side by refuting her, and showing her the truth about the ruthless English king. To add to this, William uses persuasion again, in the manner of attacking the audience. When a second English army threatens to wipe out Scotland’s capitol, William runs to the Scottish nobles to plea for help. When the Nobles hear of the sheer size of the army, they refuse to aid him, and contemplate surrender.
Wallace then accuses them of being cowards by saying “If you’ll not stand with us now then I say you are cowards, and if you are Scotsmen, then I’m ashamed to call myself one.” These insults hurdle the council into a frenzy, but rallies them to go onto the field to defend their reputations as men and defenders of their country. But they end up betraying Wallace, because the English king Edward bribed them to leave Wallace and his men to die. The final example of persuasion is when Wallace tries to convince his friend Robert The Bruce, heir to the throne of Scotland, by using logic to persuade Robert to fight. When Robert says that the nobles have much to risk by saying “These men have lands and castles. It’s much to risk”.
William, rebuttals with “And what about the common man that bleeds on the battle field, does he risk less?” What Wallace is trying to get across to Robert is that he doesn’t risk any more or less than the common soldier, so he can fight along side him too. To finalize, William Wallace in the film Braveheart used persuasion in forms of emotional appeal, refuting the opposition, attacking the audience, and logic to get his country men to take up arms, to defeat the English. He used emotional appeals to get his Scotsmen to stand and fight. Refuted the opposition to win over the princess of England. Wielded logic to persuade the Scottish king to fight with him. And utilized the power of attacking his audience to get the nobles on his side.
With the untrained speaker persuasion is as useless as a gun without bullets, but with the right training, persuasion can be a powerful weapon in the hands of a motivated determined speaker as was William Wallace.