It's the "most wonderful time of the year" once again! Every year, the holiday season inspires new movie ideas, and some of these movies go on to become some of the most beloved films of all time with some of the most well-known movie speeches in film history. As English teachers, we can tap into the popularity of these films to inspire our students to create new pieces of writing while also targeting writing skills.
Students can watch these famous Christmas speeches and complete the FREE CHRISTMAS MONOLOGUE ANALYSIS GUIDE by Bespoke ELA to analyze the components of effective speeches and then apply those skills to creating their own original holiday speeches! This is a lesson that specifically targets persuasion, argument, and rhetoric in a context that students are sure to love.
Here are THREE famous Christmas speeches from well-known and beloved Christmas movies to inspire new pieces of writing!
IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE
In this iconic scene from It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey (played by the beloved Jimmy Stewart), stands up to the wealthy man to advocate for the rights of the "everyman" and tugs on the heartstrings of the bankers to do what is right for the poor.
"Just remember this Mr Potter. That this rabble you're talking about, they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway my father didn't think so. People were human beings to him but to you, a warped frustrated old man, they're cattle. Well, in my book, he died a much richer man than you'll ever be."
In this speech, George Bailey appeals to pathos and ethos to evoke a sense of charitable responsibility among the wealthy class. He also utilizes rhetorical devices such as polysyndeton ("they do most of the working and paying and living and dying"), hypophora ("is it too much to have them work and pay and live in a couple of decent rooms and a bath?" followed by an answer to the question), and metaphor ("rabble" and "cattle"). Students can apply these rhetorical tools to their own speeches to evoke a sense of ethical responsibility.
IDENTIFY AN ETHICAL ISSUE THAT IS RELEVANT TO THE HOLIDAY SEASON SUCH AS POVERTY, CONSUMER SPENDING, GREEDINESS, ETC. AND WRITE A SPEECH THAT CALLS ATTENTION TO THIS ISSUE USING RHETORICAL DEVICES SUCH AS POLYSYNDETON, HYPOPHORA, AND METAPHOR TO CONVEY A STRONG, PERSUASIVE MESSAGE.
In this scene from Love Actually, Jamie (Colin Firth) proposes to Aurelia (Lucia Moniz) in broken Portuguese, with the entire town looking on. This iconic holiday proposal definitely tugs on the heartstrings with the layers of Christmas nostalgia and a love story.
"Beautiful Aurelia, I've come here with a view to asking you to marriage me. I know I seems an insane person because I hardly knows you but sometimes things are so transparency, they don't need evidential proof. And I will inhabit here, or you can inhabit with me in England. Of course I don't expecting you to be as foolish as me, and of course I prediction you say 'no', but it's Christmas and I just wanted to... check."
Jamie appeals to the pathos and ethos of love at first sight by using rhetorical devices such as anaphora (repetition of "of course"), climax (tension increases up to the last word "check" in the proposal), procatalepsis (introduces the objection "I know I seems an insane person because I hardly knows you" and then counters it with "but sometimes things are so transparency, they don't need evidential proof").
Overall, this is a romantic holiday film clip that will inspire students to appeal to the pathos aspect of argumentation.
WRITE A SPEECH IN WHICH YOU PROPOSE MARRIAGE TO ANOTHER PERSON. USE RHETORICAL DEVICES SUCH AS ANAPHORA, CLIMAX, AND PROCATALEPSIS TO CONVINCE THIS PERSON TO MARRY YOU.
Scrooged tells the famous Christmas story of a greedy man who didn't believe in Christmas until he was visited by three ghosts who showed him the error of his ways, and he learns to be generous and embrace the Christmas Spirit. Bill Murray's speech at the end of the film is inspiring.
"I'm not crazy. It's Christmas Eve. It's the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. For. a couple of hours out of the whole year, we are the people that we always hoped we would be. It's a miracle. It's really a sort a of a miracle because it happens every Christmas Eve. And if you waste that miracle, you're going to burn for it. I know what I'm talking about. You have to to do something. You have to take a chance. You do have to get involved. There are people that are having trouble making make their miracle happen. There are people that don't have enough to eat. There are people that are cold. You can go out and say hello to these people. You can take an old blanket out of the closet and say, "Here." You can make them a sandwich and say, "Oh by the way, here." I get it now. And if you give, then it can happen. Then the miracle can happen to you. It's not just the poor and the hungry; it's everybody who has got to have this miracle. And it can happen tonight for all of you. If you believe in this spirit thing, the miracle will happen, and then you'll want it to happen again tomorrow. You won't be one of these bastards who says, "Christmas is once a year, and it's a fraud." It's not. It can happen everyday. You've just got to want that feeling. And if you like it and you want it, you'll get greedy for it. You'll want it everyday of your life, and it can happen to you. I believe in it now. I believe it's going to happen to me now. I'm ready for it. And it's great. It's a good feeling. It's really better than I've felt in a long time. I'm ready. Have a Merry Christmas everybody."
In this scene, Murray uses rhetorical devices such as parallel structure and anaphora ("we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more" & "You have to to do something. You have to take a chance. You do have to get involved"), and epistrophe + parallelism ("You can take an old blanket out of the closet and say, "Here." You can make them a sandwich and say, "Oh by the way, here") to convey a message about ethical responsibility to help others. He appeals to both ethos and pathos in his speech about how it makes a person feel to be generous-- a great message for the holiday season!
WRITE A SPEECH IN WHICH YOU TRY TO CONVINCE A MODERN-DAY "SCROOGE" TO GIVE HIS MONEY TO CHARITY. USE RHETORICAL DEVICES SUCH AS ANAPHORA, PARALLEL STRUCTURE, AND EPISTROPHE TO CONVINCE THIS PERSON TO BE GENEROUS.
Click here to download the FREE CHRISTMAS MONOLOGUE ANALYSIS GUIDE from Bespoke ELA and use it with your students to analyze famous speeches from well-known Christmas movies!
WHAT OTHER FAMOUS CHRISTMAS MOVIE MONOLOGUES WOULD YOU USE? WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE CHRISTMAS MOVIES? WE'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! PLEASE LEAVE US A COMMENT BELOW!
About the Author
Meredith is the founder and creator of TeachWriting.org and Bespoke ELA. She has taught high school English for 10+ years in Dallas, Chicago, and New York City and holds a M.A. in Literature from Northwestern University. She has always had a connection to the written word-- through songwriting, screenplay writing, and essay writing-- and she enjoys the process of teaching students how to express their ideas. Meredith enjoys life with her husband, daughter, and sweet pups.