Nicholas Brody’s Last Words to a Nation

WARNING: May contain spoilers pertaining to the television series Homeland.

Homeland receiving Golden Globe for Best Television - Drama

To the dismay of many, the Golden Globes, which aired last night, saw new comer Homeland receive the award for best television drama. It should come as no surprise that Homeland emerged the victor Sunday, as it has by far been one of the best and most powerful television series of 2011. One such example of the show’s prowess can be seen in a speech given by actor Damian Lewis, located at the bottom of the page. To provide context of the speech, it is a video recorded to be delivered posthumously after the speaker had killed the Vice President of the United States in a suicide bombing. After watching the speech, I believe Nicholas Brody was successful in convincing the audience that his actions were just. This can be seen by investigating the style, delivery, and memory of the speech and applying Neo-Aristotelian analysis.

My name is Nicholas Brody, and I am a sergeant in the United States marine corps. I have a wife and two kids that I love.

In Nicholas Brody’s speech he is successful in conveying a style that forms a connection with the audience and leaves them in an emphatic state of understanding. Brody does this by painting the picture of a model American family when he refers to his family, which he expresses love for. He often reminds the audience of his marine background, a position that is often associated with having high honor and devotion to one’s country. By referring to vilified words such as Saddam, al-Qaeda, and terrorism when describing his torture, the audience is filled with empathy for what he went through for eight years. In his final words to the audience, by specifically noting that those killed were children as opposed to civillians and saying that they were murdered not killed, he uses pathos as a means of revealing the true villains. It is not only the words we use, but also how we present them which make a world of difference in speeches.

I love my country. What I am is a marine, like my father before me, and his before him, and I swore an oath to defend the United States of America against enemies foreign and domestic.

The delivery of Brody’s speech is expertly crafted to show both sincerity and credibility to help the audience see things from his perspective. There are moments throughout the speech where Brody shows this sincerity and builds his ethos with the audience through his tone and facial expressions. Moments that Brody specifically does this are when he talks about his family, captivity, being a marine, and the murder of the children. In addition to how he speaks, Brody is shown standing at attention and is dressed in his military suit adorned with all of his decorations. Once again the audience is made to make a connection to his honor, the love for his country, and willingness to die for it. Brody believes in his actions and gives the audience reason to stand behind him.

This is about justice for 82 children, whose deaths were never acknowledged and whose murders are a stain on this nation

While delivering the speech, what helps highlight Brody’s sincerity and evoke feelings of empathy is the confidence he displays by giving the speech through memory. He doesn’t use cue cards, he doesn’t look away from the audience, he is speaking from his heart and appealing to the audience through his ethos. It is clear to the audience the Brody is a ‘master of the subject’, and that Brody truly believes that the means were just.

Brody’s speech is meant to explain his actions and bring to light a greater unknown evil, and in doing so show the world that his actions were just. Through the style, delivery, and memory Brody carries out his speech, I believe he is successful in convincing the audience of this. Were the means he chose to accomplish this wrong? That is question best left for another day.

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One thought on “Nicholas Brody’s Last Words to a Nation

  1. First, I will start with a disclaimer: I am not familiar with the speech this rhetorical criticism is about or Homeland in general (the video has been removed by Youtube and I could not find the speech myself). However, the author did a good job at filling in the blanks. From my understanding, the video that ‘Brody,’ made played most successfully on the pathos of the target audience- so much so that his actions (killing the Vice President) seemed justified. The style of the speech was effective, as well as the delivery. However, I do wish that the author of this criticism had delved more deeply into the invention of the speech (one of the five canons of Neo-Aristotelian criticism), not only to give those who do not have experience with the show a better idea, but I also feel that it could have been a powerful tool in portraying the strength of the speech.
    By using his role as a marine and as part of the All-American nuclear family, Brody was able to bring himself from being seen as a villain or even terrorist back down to human. I feel that this was possibly the most successful aspect of his speech because his audience (the American populace) is portrayed in television and media in general as quite a patriotic one. By showing his loyalty to his nation first and foremost and justifying his actions as conforming with or furthering his loyalty, he allowed his audience to relate to him and see his actions as beneficial to their nation, therefore making them just. People are more likely to perceive actions as just if the actions benefit them and the things that are important in their lives (i.e. their nation).
    Another strong point of this rhetorical criticism is the fact the author highlighted that Brody used words such as ‘Saddam,’ ‘al-Qaeda,’ etc. in his speech. This is very important because in today’s society, such words really- for lack of a better term- pack a punch (especially in the United States following the events of September 11, 2001). There are all sorts of emotions feelings that are bound with words of the like- fear, anger, hatred, etc. By evoking those emotions, Brody’s speech was sure to get a response out of the intended audience and keep them engaged.
    I found drawing on Brody’s eye contact and confidence while delivering the speech was somewhat. These things combined have the potential show that he is truly speaking from the heart. His constant eye contact makes him more human to the audience, and portrays how much confidence he has not only in what he is saying, but also in the actions that are to follow. However, I feel that discussing his body language during the speech would have probably also been a good idea, and would have potentially furthered the depth in analysis of his confidence and delivery. A lot of the time, body language says more about the person and the speech than words do; when someone is passionate about a topic, they can’t help but involve their body in portraying that.
    Overall, I found this analysis highly effective. Without even seeing the video or the television show, I feel I understand the power of Brody’s speech.

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