Compare and Contrast Essay by Desiree Holmberg
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Analyzing and Comparing Gandhi’s “Quit India” and Nehru’s “Tryst with Destiny” Speeches Communication has always played a key role in human development. Speeches are a great way to communicate as well as express, address, and interact with an audience. They help people directly connect and understand each other and are often held to deliver a message or to convince an audience towards some particular agenda. Speeches have always had a huge impact and played an extremely important role in contributing to the human evolution throughout history, for example, where would civil rights be without the speeches of Martin Luther King? There are many things that identify a speech as a “great” speech. A “great” speech addresses the audience, use different element like ethos, pathos, and logos, and is delivered with confidence and passion. Two splendid speeches throughout history are Gandhi’s “Quit India” and Jawaharlal Nehru’s “Tryst with Destiny” speeches.
Both of their speeches address the struggle of Indian independence, but although Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech “Tryst with Destiny” was a great and persuasive speech, Gandhi’s “Quit India” speech was more effective and persuasive because he used skillful rhetoric in order to inspire his audience into action while keeping his claims and ideas very realistic. Before analyzing Gandhi’s speech, it is necessary to look at Gandhi’s background and what was happening historically during the early nineteen forties because it helps to further understand and contextualize his speech. Gandhi delivered his speech in 1942 when India was under the control of the British empire.
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Britain had been trading in India since 1600, but after the battle of Plassey in 1757, Britain started to seize large sections of land. Ever since then, India had been under the control of the British empire and India’s culture had rapidly changed as a result (Kaul). The struggle for India’s independence had been going on for a long time when Gandhi delivered his speech. Gandhi, or Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, was an Indian activist and leader of the Indian independence movement against the British. He was born October 2, 1869 in the present-day Indian state, Gujarat. Gandhi came from a less privileged background and was exposed to cultural and racial discrimination (Brown). He was known for being very religious and devoted to the Hindu faith. His deep devotion to Hinduism most likely came from his mother who was a devoted practitioner of Vaishnavism.
Gandhi believed that religion was a source of morality and rejected “secular” tendencies of politics (Zachariah). He participated in a number of strikes to protect the oppression of the lower class in India and he was imprisoned several times. He believed in and worked towards peace between Hindus and Muslims as well as non-violence and India’s independence (“Mahatma Gandhi”). Gandhi’s beliefs in nonviolence, India’s independence, and his devotion to Hinduism are distinctly seen throughout his speech. His speech mainly focuses on India gaining independence from the British empire in a non-violent way. He continuously makes his belief in nonviolence utterly clear like in the beginning of his speech as he states that “I attach the same importance to non-violence that I did then” (Gandhi). Gandhi’s devotion to his religion, Hinduism, is continuously seen throughout his speech and clearly affects it, for example, he continuously addresses his beliefs in Ahimsa and Hindu Gods. He believes that “God has vouchsafed to me a priceless gift in the weapon of Ahimsa” (Gandhi).
Most of Gandhi’s beliefs likely originated from his religion and he even states in his speech that, “I want you to know and feel that there is nothing but purest Ahimsa in all that I am saying and doing today” (Gandhi). Gandhi delivered his speech August 8, 1942, addressing the All Indian Congress Committee (A.I.C.C.) at Bombay outlining his plan of action. The All India Congress Committee is the central decision making assembly of the Indian National Congress and during that time, India was struggling with independence from the British empire. Gandhi choose to address the current biggest issue in India, India’s struggle of independence, in his speech as well as a solution for the issue. The place and time that Gandhi delivered his speech highly influenced the content of his speech. He made sure to address a topical issue and a solution, as well as appeal to his audience. He appealed to his audience by directly mentioning them, the Congress, in his speech when he says “under the Congress scheme of things, essentially non-violent as it is, there can be no room for dictatorship” (Gandhi).
To make his audience realize that action needs to be taken, Gandhi also addresses how serious the issue is by saying that, “in the history of the world, there has not been a more genuinely democratic struggle for freedom than ours” (Gandhi). This helps the audience understand why his speech is significant. Before analyzing Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech and comparing it to Gandhi’s speech, it is imperative to look at his background and what was happening historically during that time period to further help contextualize and understand his speech in depth. Jawaharlal Nehru was a statesman, the president of the Indian National Congress in 1929, and a central figure of the Indian Independence movement (“Jawaharlal Nehru”). He was born in Allahabad, or Prayagraj, in India. His father was a very successful and respected lawyer. As a result, in contrast from Gandhi, he grew up with everything money could buy like an education at Harrow and Trinity College, Cambridge. He also had an easy introduction to the world of Indian public life because of his father (“Jawaharlal Nehru”).
Unlike Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru did not grow up with much hardship and he had no religious beliefs (“Jawaharlal Nehru”). Jawaharlal Nehru’s background greatly affected his speech. In Nehru’s speech, he does not once mention religion or any religious beliefs, instead, he keeps referring to a “tryst of destiny” (Nehru), which means facing destiny, or making an “appointment to meet with destiny” (“Tryst with Destiny”). He is referring to a pledge made by Indians a long time ago to win freedom for their homeland. His speech reflects his lack of religious beliefs and instead he uses the history of the past to promise the history of the future. Jawaharlal Nehru delivered his speech August 14-15, 1947, addressing the Constituent Assembly of India in New Delhi. This was around the same time that Gandhi delivered his speech. India was still struggling with their independence from the British empire. Jawaharlal Nehru addressed India’s struggle of independence in his speech as well as what he believed needed to be done.
The place and time that Nehru delivered his speech greatly influenced the content of his speech. He choose to talk about a topical issue, India’s struggle for independence, and like Gandhi, he also addresses the audience in his speech. He reminds his audience of their responsibility by saying that “responsibility rests upon this assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India” (Nehru). He also indirectly addresses his audience when he uses the word “we”. Every speech has a main idea or topic, and are often held to deliver a message, or to convince an audience towards some particular agenda. After analyzing Gandhi’s speech, it is obvious that his main idea was to bring back India’s independence in a non-violent way. He called for determined, but passive resistance. Gandhi believed in civil rights, freedom for all, ahimsa, non-violence, and democracy.
In his speech, he asks his audience to “consider it from my point of view” (Gandhi) and addresses his points of view on various issues, such as non-violence, ahimsa, and attitudes towards the British. He gives many good reasons why it would be in everyone’s best favor if India was free. In the beginning of his speech, he explains his point of view and he makes it clear that he is “the same Gandhi” (Gandhi) and that he has “not changed in any fundamental respect” (Gandhi). He later explains why non-violence/ahimsa is effective in gaining back India’s independence from Britain. He states the importance of distinguishing “a drive for power” versus a “non-violent fight for India’s Independence” (Gandhi). The reason why Gandhi later brought up the issue with hatred towards the British when he says that their “quarrel is not with the British people” (Gandhi) but with “their imperialism” (Gandhi), was probably to appeal himself and his movement to the British empire. The audience that Gandhi addressed was the All India Congress Committee (A.I.C.C) as well as the citizens of India. This is significant because the reason why he presented his speech was to call for action to gain back India’s independence from Britain, and that’s why it was best to present his speech to someone who had a lot of power, or influence (the A.I.C.C.).
Gandhi knew that he was going to announce his speech to the A.I.C.C., who have a lot of power, so he appealed to his audience and made his speech very clear with what his argument and solution was to the topical struggle, India’s struggle of independence. India was also a fairly religious country, among the audience were many Muslims and Hindus, whom although practice different religions still believe in a form of God so him addressing religion throughout his speech could have helped him connect with his audience. He also directly addresses his audience, for example, when he said “under the Congress scheme of things, essentially non-violent as it is, there can be no room for dictatorship” (Gandhi). The A.I.C.C. wants what’s best for India so Gandhi displayed his arguments and his solution as what was best for India, while keeping his solutions realistic. After analyzing Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech, it is apparent that his main idea was to fulfill the pledge made by Indians a long time ago to win back the freedom for their country. He says that “long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny: and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge” (Nehru). The main idea of Nehru’s speech was to bring freedom to India and he feels that Indians should work hard to develop the nation they desire. He also talks about that with freedom and power comes responsibility and that “that responsibility rests upon this assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India” (Nehru).
Nehru wants India to be independent from the British Empire and pushes the people of India towards action and accepting his challenge of freeing India. Nehru even brings up the new generation saying that they have to build a good free nation “where all her children may dwell” (Nehru). Jawaharlal Nehru delivered his speech August 14-15, 1947, addressing the Constituent Assembly of India in New Delhi to call for action. The purpose Nehru presented his speech was to call for action. His tone is therefore very confident and certain, as well as inspirational. His audience was the Constituent Assembly of India, who have a lot of power, so he made sure to address them and remind them of their responsibilities. His audience was also the citizens of India. He specifically addressed the Constituent Assembly of India when he stated that “responsibility rests upon this assembly, a sovereign body representing the sovereign people of India” (Nehru). He kept appealing to his audience by drawing attention to their responsibilities or by reminding them of the current struggle. He also uses “we” many times throughout his speech to directly address his audience and make it more personal, like “we end today a period of ill fortune and India discovers herself again” (Nehru).
Comparing the two speeches, Gandhi’s “Quit India” speech was more effective and persuasive. The first reason is because Gandhi used better rhetoric in his speech and seemed more passionate about the topic. He used better rhetoric devices when presenting his speech, for example, he appealed not only to pathos and ethos, but also to logos. He enthralls emotion, or pathos, through the use of eloquent diction, as well as metaphors and imagery, like for example, he used imagery to describe how the earth was in turmoil, destroyed by violence, pleading out for help. He described that the earth is “scorched by the flames of Himsa and crying out for deliverance” (Gandhi). This image alarms and warns the audience that if they continue like today, it will only lead to destruction. He used logos when organizing his speech through deductive reasoning. In the beginning of his speech, he claimed that the greatest weapon is Ahimsa. Gandhi proclaimed that “the draft resolution of the Working Committee is based on Ahimsa, the contemplated struggle similarly has its root in Ahimsa” (Gandhi). He then used the later paragraphs to explain why that is so. For each paragraph, he provides different evidence to justify his claims.
Gandhi uses ethos through the use of repetition and religious connotations. He mentions God and Ahimsa multiple times throughout his speech. He also seemed very passionate and like knew his message and goal well, which seemed very meaningful to him. His speech was long which indicates that he had a lot to say, which further demonstrates that he was extremely passionate about his topic which leads into the second reason. The second reason why Gandhi’s speech was better is because Gandhi’s personality shined through his speech and he seems to be very real and “vulnerable”, while Nehru’s personality during his speech didn’t show as greatly. In Gandhi’s speech he also directly mentions himself and his experiences and beliefs. He speaks of himself for example when he says that “speaking of myself, I can say that I have never felt any hatred” (Gandhi). Gandhi seemed very humble and polite during his speech as well as passionate about the issue.
Reason number three is that he considered multiple points of view and is more specific when explaining his points. During Gandhi’s speech, he considered Britain and addressed the hate many felt towards Britain when he said “our quarrel is not with the British people, we fight their imperialism” (Gandhi) and that “there is the question of your attitude towards the British” (Gandhi). In conclusion, even though both speeches had a great impact on India, and played an extremely important role in contributing to India’s Independence, Gandhi’s “Quit India” speech was more effective because he used better rhetoric devices and he seemed to be more passion about the topic.
Jawaharlal Nehru’s speech “Tryst with Destiny” was a great speech, but it lacked a few elements like passion and personality. Gandhi also covered more points of views in his speech. Many might think that it doesn’t matter today what speech was more effective back then, but it is important to understand what makes a speech great and understand the importance and influence of a great speech and speaker.