Braveheart Speech Analysis Essay


The movie Braveheart takes place in Scotland in the 13th century. The main subject is Scotland’s fight for independence, but there are also other subjects like love and faithfulness. The main caracter is William Wallace, who gets the whole Scotland to fight with him against the Englishmen.

 

Summary

Williams’s father and brother died fighting against the Englishmen when he was a little child. He was taken care of by his uncle and travelled around Europe with him until he was about 20 years old. Then he returned to his originally home place. Here William fell in love with a girl, Murron, and they got married secretly. They kept it secret because Longshanks gave all the English nobles the right to rape all new-married women before the husband could touch them, and William didn’t want to share Murron with any English noble. Unfortunately Murron almost got raped, and then killed by the English soldiers. William, with revenge in mind, attacked the English soldiers. He and the rest of the village managed to kill all the soldiers.

 

William created an army, and they fought against the Englishmen. They won, and William got the title Sir for his work. Afterwards they burned an English garnison and told the ones who survived: “I am William Wallace, and the rest of you will be spared. Go back to England, and tell them there that Scotland's daughters and her sons are yours no more. Tell them Scotland is free.” Then they invaded York, and took over the city. They also sendt the head from the dead master of York to Longshanks. King Edward of England sends his son’s wife, Princess Isabella, to York to give William an offer he couldn’t refuse; money and land. Isabella and William talked in private and William said that he couldn’t take her offer. She asked about his wife, and he told her what happened to her. When Isabella came back to London, the king told everybody that they would send troops to destroy Scotland when William was not there. Isabella sendt her maid to York with a letter to warn William.

 

William and his army went back to Scotland to prepare themselves for a new battle. William got three of the nobles in the area with him, including Sir Robert Bruce that admired

William for his courage and strong will. When they came to the battlefield, the nobles abandoned William and his army alone with the Englishmen. They lost, but William survived. The most shocking experience for William was that Bruce had changed side and joined the Englishmen.

 

William went to meet Bruce, but he got captured by some English soldiers. Bruce tried to help him, but he didn’t manage. William didn’t beg for mercy, and he got tortured, and then executed. His last word was when he shouted “freedom”.

 

The film finishes off with Robert the Bruce saying: “In the year of our Lord 1314, patriots of Scotland, starving and outnumbered, charged the fields at Bannockburn. They fought like warrior poets. They fought like Scotsmen. And won their freedom.”

 

Characterisation

William: William is the main character in this film, the person who fights against the Englishmen. William was a man who fought for his land with body and mind. He never gave up his dream of a free Scotland. He was from an early age interested in the fight for independence, and when his father and brother died in a battle against the Englishmen, his dream of independence grew stronger.

 

William was six and a half feet tall and had long brown hair. He wore a kilt like a normal Scottish man, and his clothes and hair was dirty.

 

William fell in love with Murron the moment he saw her. He looked her up the minute he got to the village, and asked her out on a horse ride in the rain. This shows that William was a direct person, and wasn’t shy to ask Murron out.

 

When William had married Murron, he didn’t originally want to fight against the Englishmen. He wanted to settle down, and get children. Unfortunately Murron got killed and his hate against the Englishmen rose.

William fell in love with Isabella because he saw the strength in her that he had seen in Murron. He told Isabella about his wife “I see her strength in you”.

 

Murron: Murron is one of the most important persons in Braveheart because she’s the reason why William started to fight against the Englishmen. Murron was one of the women in the village where William lived. She had brown hair and always a smile on her face. She had known William her whole life, but she didn’t fell in love with him before he came back from his journeys around the world. Originally, Murron was a quiet and a little bit shy, but she loosened up a bit when she fell in love with William.

 

Murron was a bit shy, but she was also a strong person who said what she meant all the time. She had a strength that William admired her for. She was killed because of the crime of being in love and because she got married secretly.

 

Sir Robert Bruce: Robert the Bruce lived like a king. He had fine and clean clothes and much land. For him, the clothes and land meant nothing. He admired William very much, and he could gladly give all of his land away for the strength and will for freedom William had. The only person who stood in his way was his father. The only person he listened to, except himself, was his father. His father was the one who made him change side to the Englishmen’s, and when he saw the disappointment in Williams’s eyes, he never listened to his father again. He led the Scots to victory when William was dead. I think he is important in this film because his caracter tells me that I should listen to myself, and don’t let anyone else take for example important decisions for me. He led the Scots to victory with following words before the battle: “You have bled with Wallace, now bleed with me.”

 

Edward the King: King Edward was also known as Edward Longshanks. He is important in this film because he was the one who were fighting against William, the one who stood against him and captured him in the end. He was old and had grey hair. Longshanks was a ruthless king. He did everything to stop William, since he also sacrificed his own men, lots of them, to get rid of William. For example when Longshanks ordered the archers to shoot on the Scots, when he also would hit his own men, to kill William. Every threat to him and his power and land made him do anything to stop what may come. He died right after William, and he was glad to know that William was dead.

 

The French Princess: Princess Isabella was sent from France to marry the prince of England, and had an important role in Williams’s life. She had long brown hair, and was very pretty. She was a strong person. Isabella fell in love with William because of his passion for Scotland and because he was so in love with his dead wife that he fought like a hero. After she had met William in York Isabella decided to help him. She was so upset when William was about to be tortured and then executed, that she offered him a drink that would ease his pains before he got tortured. Her plan when Longshanks died was to be queen and don’t let her husband rule England. She even said that to Longshanks when he was dying and lost his power of speech: You see, death comes to us all. But before it comes to you, know this. Your plot dies with you. A child who is not of your line grows in my belly. Your son will not sit long on the thrown, I swear it.

 

Analysis

I think this is a good film because it has all the qualities I’m looking for in a movie. It has humour, action and romance. It also has an inspiring story that I became interested in. It was also very realistic and trustworthy. This is now one of my favourite films and that says a lot of how much I liked it.

 

My opinion is that everybody that’s interested in history and likes a good film should watch this one. I learned a lot about William Wallace and Scotland’s fight for independence in the same time as I could enjoy a good story. In that way I sort of killed to birds with one stone seeing this film.

 

Braveheart can’t be put in a specific genre since it has so many different genres. It’s both a drama-movie, an action-movie and a romantic-movie. The whole film also contents some humoristic elements. This is maybe to soften up the film a bit.

 

The rating on this film is 15 years, and I think that’s suitable for a film like this. It could maybe be 13 years as well, but lower than 13 years hadn’t been suitable. The film has some violence scenes (for example all the battles, the people in the cottage hanged in the beginning of the film and William being tortured) that I think children aged less than 13 years shouldn’t see. Without the violence the film hadn’t been that god, since the film “needs” violence to underline the fact that many in both Scotland and England suffered under this war. It had also been unrealistic without the violence.

 

Braveheart is very close telling the “true” story (no one knows what really happened so long time ago), but there is some not real episodes in the film. For example there’s no evidence that William had a wife, Murron, and there’s no evidence that he had even met Princess Isabella. The reason that the directors in this film decided to add some romance is probably to soften the film up a bit to neutralize all the violence. The humour in this film, for example in the middle of a battle where all the Scots lifts up their kilts, is probably also added to neutralize.

Braveheart is an epic film from 1995. If you haven’t watched it or heard of it before, I highly recommend it, especially if you’re a fan of epic war movies (think Gladiator, 300, Troy, etc.). It tells the story of the true events of William Wallace, a Scottish warrior who led his country in the first war of Scottish independence from England. Though the film has received criticism for its historical inaccuracies, William Wallace is not a fictional character, and one could imagine the heroics demonstrated in the film as actions he very well could have enacted in that time. Throughout the film William motivates his conspirators and army men with wise sayings that eventually inspire them to act to culminate in these heroics. Right before the climatic battle between the Scottish and the English for Wallace’s countrymen’s freedom, he gives a speech to them that ultimately inspires them to go into the battle not knowing whether they would live or die.

This speech will now be broken down by rhetorical analysis—specifically, the ethos (what kind of image the character projects to his audience) and pathos (how the character moves the emotions of his audience) of the movie’s speech will be examined, as well as the tropes (figurative uses of words through various expressive devices) and schemes (how words are arranged in a sentence) interwoven together that helps make this speech rhetorically significant. Before I continue, it is also worth mentioning what kind of style this speech is given in. Roman rhetorician Cicero distinguished three levels of style a speaker can choose to speak in: a low style (used for teaching), a middle style (used for entertainment), and a high style (used to move an audience). For obvious reasons, the speech delivered by William Wallace is observed to be given in the high style, because, as a result of his speech, his audience was moved to action. The speech will now be broken down line by line with an analysis of each item mentioned before (ethos, pathos, tropes, schemes).


 

“I am William Wallace.”

It is worth noting that prior to William giving his speech, most of the Scottish army had never seen him before. In the film, many of the warriors in the crowd speculated and discussed who he was and how he looked before he even revealed himself. When William finally does, he says it in the most matter-of-fact way. In this simple sentence, he made his ethos known. As this average heighted person galloping about the crowd on his horse, he simply introduces himself. He doesn’t do it in a very majestic way, eliciting from the crowd some sort of reverence he deserves. He simply makes the statement. In this way, he projects an image to his audience, the Scottish army, as one who is just like them, one who isn’t a seven foot tall monster, as some in the crowd had speculated, but one who looked as Scottish as they did

“And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny!”

A trope can be observed in this sentence. The use of a metonymic device (substituting a thing with a closely associated thing) is used in this exclamatory sentence. William states that he sees his Scottish people assembled in an army and they are assembled here in defiance to tyranny, which actually is a cruel and oppressive government. Tyranny substitutes what they are actually defying against—the English. The English have been ruling over the Scottish during this time period as depicted in the movie, and the way in which they ruled, the Scottish saw it as tyranny. William Wallace had just echoed what his countrymen have been sensing from their ruler. In this way, supporting the high style that Cicero defines, William Wallace moves his peoples’ oppressed hearts. On that note, the pathos in this statement can be observed. A term like tyranny has a negative connotation associated, therefore Wallace’s usage of the term as something they are going up against creates a sense of justification in their emotions, riling them up to take action for a “just” cause. After all, defiance against tyranny means righteousness.

“You have come to fight as free men. And free men you are!”

The scheme observed in this sentence is an antimetabole (a sentence arrangement in which items are repeated in reverse order). The sentences are essentially reversed. The object “free men” in the first sentence is seen as the subject in the second sentence. William, in phrasing it this way, tells the audience that they have come to fight as ones who are free, free from the tyranny mentioned earlier, free from the English, no longer under their rule, and repeating, in an unexpected manner, that they are in fact free. This adds onto the pathos, how the audience feels, because the meaning is conveyed that they are free men, not meant to be under the oppressive rule of the English. This also adds to William’s ethos, because he speaks as one who has seen this truth and declares this truth over his people. Most of his countrymen see that he speaks from his heart, speaking honesty.

“What will you do without freedom? Will you fight?”

After having built his audience up by declaring those last couple statements, William elicits this rhetorical question—“What will you do without freedom?” Essentially, what would they do if they were not free people? Would they fight for their freedom? By asking these questions, William gauges his countrymen’s commitment and willingness to act for their country.

“Two thousand against ten?” –a warrior in the crowd shouted, “No! We will run – and live!”

A hyperbolic (intentionally overstated) question made by one of the audience members that summarizes the situation at hand. There are not literally two thousand of the English opposition, neither are there only ten Scottish warriors, but the exaggeration is made to emphasize their fear, their lack of faith.

“Yes!” Wallace shouted back.

William shouts back an affirmative response immediately to the question raised by one of the warriors in the audience. This response of his also adds onto his ethos, that he is no coward, and that he is a man of faith. A man who believes that their “ten” are able to go up against the English’s “two thousand.”

“Fight and you may die. Run and you will live at least awhile.”

William answers the second part to that statement made by the warrior in the crowd. He tells the audience honestly what might happen if they fight, as well as what truthfully might happen if they don’t fight and run away. They would live, but not for long, but a while. An antithesis (contrasting items side by side) is observed in these sentences. Two options that contrast—fight or run—but both show essentially the same outcome—death. William conveys the meaning that would they rather die fighting for something of great weight, or run away and die later for something lacking in weight.

“And dying in your bed 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 as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”

In William’s concluding statement before the audience is literally moved to action in battle, he makes one last emotional appeal. First, he creates an image in the minds of his listeners, an image of death on a bed. Then he offers up a trade. This trade includes all the days in between that day of death on the bed and the day they could face their enemies and tell it to their face what they really want to say. “You can take our lives, but you will never take our freedom.” This last emotional appeal (pathos) stirs up the audience to cheer and move into battle in a unified spirit.

William Wallace’s purpose in delivering this speech was to give his audience the truth, that they are free men, that they are doing something right (opposing tyranny), and that they might die doing it. Granted it is a movie speech and was scripted, it is well executed in the context it’s given (Scottish independence) and does a good job depicting how warriors ought to be moved prior to giving their lives for the ideals of freedom. William’s ethos is clearly established, the pathos observed in his speech emotionally drew in his audience, and the stylistic devices (tropes and schemes) helped to tightly wrap up his message to be delivered rightfully.

Here’s the clip of the speech from the movie (start from 1:35):

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