Essay, Research Paper: Godfather


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Vito Corleone is one of the main characters in the movie The Godfather.
Throughout the movie Vito gives numerous speeches to the men who work for him,
do business with him, and ask favors of him. His style is unusual for a man with
all of his power, but it is very effective. His style could be a good example to
anyone who is in a management position working with subordinates as well as
anyone working in sales or any other position where there is contact with
potential business partners. In this paper I will be analyzing Vito's speaking
style. First, I will discuss a brief history of Vito Corleone's life to put his
speaking into perspective. Next I will discuss his speaking style in different
situations. Finally I will look at the reactions to his speaking and his overall
speaking effectiveness. Vito Corleone was born with the last name Andoline. He
was born in Corleone, Sicily, in the early 1900's. When Vito was twelve-years
old his family was murdered and fearing for his own life he immigrated to the
United States. Young Vito did not want to be discovered so he did not give the
immigration officer on Ellis Island his last name. The officer had to put some
name down so the officer choose to use the town that Vito was from as his last
name. After hiding out for a few years with relatives, Vito went to work in a
grocery store in New York's Hell's Kitchen. At the age of eighteen, Vito married
an Italian girl who had just arrived from Sicily. Vito continued to work at the
grocery store until a local offshoot Mafia member made the grocery store owner
give Vito's job to his nephew. Until that point Vito had never done anything
illegal. Out of a job, Vito reluctantly helped a neighbor hide some illegal guns
for a few dollars. Vito eventually made friends with his neighbor Peter Clemenza,
and his neighbor's partner Tessio. A few weeks later Vito reluctantly agreed to
high jack a truck with Clemenza and Tessio. Each of them cleared at least a
thousand dollars from the heights. The local smalltime Mafia leader who had cost
Vito his job heard about the truck heist. This local Mafia leader demanded a cut
from the three young men. Vito, Clemenza, and Tessio were torn between paying
the money that they worked so hard for, or keeping the money and becoming an
enemy of the leader. Vito decided to hold out and not pay the amount the Mafia
leader was asking. Clemenza and Tessio reluctantly agreed to let Vito handle the
situation. Vito Corleone, after a clever discussion with the Mafia leader, used
an ambush to kill the Mafia leader. Vito was still not interested in organized
crime, he just had wanted to keep all of his money. Clemenza and Tessio were
noticing that no new Mafia member had taken over now that the original leader
had been killed. Clemenza spoke to Vito saying, "Nobody is collecting from
the store owners. Nobody is collecting from the card games and gambling in the
neighborhood." Tessio then said, "We could take over his customers.
They would pay us." Vito shrugged, "I have no interest in such
things." Slowly Vito realized that his neighbors viewed him differently
now. Vito was treated as a "man of respect" by everyone now. When a
widow had a problem with her landlord kicking her out, she surprising came to
Vito for help. When he spoke to the landlord at the widows request, the landlord
was rude and insulted that Vito would even step into his personal business. Vito
remained polite and as he was leaving said, "Do me this service, eh? I
won't forget it. Ask your friends in the neighborhood about me, they'll tell you
I'm a man who believes in showing his gratitude." The landlord immediately
made inquiries about Vito Corleone. He visited Vito that vary night, assuring
Vito that it had been a dreadful misunderstanding and he not only let the widow
stay, but he reduced her rent. The landlord was so afraid that he stayed out of
town for a few weeks. Vito Corleone was reputed to be a member of the Mafia of
Sicily. Men who ran card games gave him money each week for his
"friendship." Store owners who had problems asked Vito for help and
paid him well. Vito gave part of his new income to Clemenza and Tessio without
being asked. This is how Vito became the "Godfather" of all Mafia.
When Vito spoke, people listened and understood. Vito became known as a
"man of reasonableness." He never uttered a threat. He always used
logic that proved to be irresistible. He always made sure that others got a
share of his profit. He always made it seem like a "win - win"
situation for those involved. Vito's speaking style was one of the keys to his
success. He was always respectful of others when he spoke in public. He used the
same tone in his voice when he spoke to a neighborhood family about their meager
problems as used when he addressed a Congressman and his aids about their
complicated and important relationship. He made the small people feel important
which helped to keep their loyalty. When Vito spoke he took his time and looked
like he really meant what he was saying. In public debates he never rushed into
saying a statement that he has not fully considered. This style made him look
wise and considerate. President Clinton also uses this technique in his debates
and town-hall meetings. It makes a person seem connected to the audience. The
speaker seems not to have a bunch of preset sound-bite answers to throw at
people. It makes it seem like a person is answering what he or she believes, not
just what they are being told to say, or just what they think the audience wants
to here. Vito only showed emotion when he spoke in extreme circumstances. Vito
was able to seem composed even in dangerous or joyous situations. When he spoke
to the guests at his only daughter's wedding reception he barely cracked a
smile. When he was told of his oldest son's death he just cringed and looked
down. This speaking and public demeanor trait helped him to keep the respect of
his subordinates. They knew that they could trust his judgment under any
circumstances. When Vito spoke he always emphasized how what he was
"selling" would be in everyone's best interest. His arguments make
people, whether or not they liked him, believe that his way of thinking made the
most sense. Most of Vito's speeches were persuasive speeches and this was one of
his finest talents. He was even able to convince groups of men to go to prison
for him. He did not threaten these men with violence, but he offered the men's
families wealth and security while they were gone as well as a reward when they
returned from prison. He was able to convince them to do what he wanted while
making them feel that both sides had won. Everyone eventually learned that when
Vito spoke he was serious. He was an effective speaker because everyone know
that he would not say something if he did not mean it. Once a Senator demanded a
one hundred thousand dollar kickback from the Corleone family for his help to
get a gambling license. Vito looked him straight in the eyes and said "Here
is my offer, nothing. I will pay nothing, and you will put up the $2,000 for the
license fee. It has been nice meeting with you Senator." The Senator
eventually gave in when Vito was able to make him understand that he needed
Vito's friendship. Once a new drug dealer set up a meeting between the two
groups. The drug dealer made his pitch to Vito, Clemenza, Tessio, and Vito's
oldest son Sonny. Vito waited until the speech was over and than began his own.
Vito began quietly, "I decided to meet with you because I heard you are a
serious man, a man to be treated with respect. I must say no to you but I must
give you my reasons. The profits in your business are huge but so are the risks.
Your operations, if I were part of it, could damage my other interests. It is
true that I have many, many friends in politics, but they would not be so
friendly if my business were narcotics instead of gambling. They think gambling
is something like liquor, a harmless vice, and they think narcotics is dirty
business. No, don't protest. I'm telling their thoughts, not mine. How a man
makes his living is not my concern. And what I am telling you is that this
business of yours is too risky. All the members of my family have lived well the
last ten years, without danger, without harm. I can't endanger them or their
livelihoods out of greed." In his speech to the drug dealer he tries to say
no to the dealer's idea without angering the dealer. He has spoken kindly of the
dealer because he does not know when he may need an ally and does not want to
belittle this person just because he disagrees with his ideas. His thoughts seem
well thought out. Vito gives no indication that he would ever change his mind,
but also gives this dealer the respect that would not jeopardize any future
communications. In Vito's position as a Mafia leader it is important to have
good public speaking skills. With his public speaking skills he had the whole
package, he could motivate people with his intelligence and he could motivate
them with force. He prefers the former but was not afraid to use the latter.
From his humble beginning in Sicily, Vito learned the importance of
intelligence. The strongest does not always win so Vito used his intelligence to
supplement his force. One of the weapons of the intelligent person is speaking
well in public and Vito used this to his advantage. First impressions are
important and he gave off a good first impression when he spoke to a new group
for the first time. He was young once and he accumulated his great wealth
because he was underestimates by the local Mafia leader. Vito made it a point
not to underestimate those he spoke to, or give them a reason to not be his
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