- Zhuge Liang does this at least two or three times (depending on how you count) in classic Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. First, he causes the death of Zhou Yu, the capable but pompous chief adviser of the nominal ally Wu kingdom by causing a series of humiliating events. Second, he causes the death of Cao Zhen, the commander-in-chief of the enemy Wei kingdom, by sending him a humiliating letter. Finally, he causes the death of Wei minister Wang Lang by humiliating him in a debate in front of both armies.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events:
Violet: We can rely on our friends more than you can rely on yours.Count Olaf: Is that so? Have you learned nothing after all your adventures? Every noble person has failed you, Baudelaires. Why, look at the idiots standing next to you! A judge who let me marry you, a man who gave up on you altogether, and a sub-sub-librarian who spends his life sneaking around taking notes. They're hardly a noble bunch...And every second, more associates of mine get closer and closer.Violet: So do our friends.Count Olaf: Only if they've managed to survive my eagles.Klaus: They will. Just like we've survived you.Count Olaf: And how did you survive me? The Daily Punctilio is full of your crimes. You lied to people. You stole. You abandoned people in danger. You set fires. Time after time you've relied on treachery to survive, just like everyone else. There are no truly noble people in this world.
- In The Bad Beginning, Olaf reveals to the audience that he has just legally married Violet and played everyone for a sap. When Mr. Poe demands that the Chief of Police arrest him, Olaf calls Poe and everyone out on how the kids had repeatedly tried to warn the adults and asked for help, but they wouldn't listen to them. "No one ever listens to children".
- There's a zig-zagged and ultimately subverted example in The Penultimate Peril, which extends on the previous example. Olaf points out to the children that each and every adult they've ever met has failed them and left them to the mercy of an incredibly cruel world, and that as a result the Baudelaires have strayed increasingly towards Black and Grey Morality. This badly shakes the Baudelaires, but they decide to put their faith in their adult allies one last time... and are failed yet again. After this, they promptly throw deference to the wind and join Count Olaf—only to finally subvert the trope, as they accept that while to an extent Count Olaf is right, he's not completely right, and they choose instead to ally only with the adults that have proven themselves worthy of the Baudelaires' trust.
- The murderer X in Agatha Christie's Curtain is very good at this, manages to manipulate people using seeming simple but manipulative comments, gesture and words, to provokes his target to murder their source of hatred. However, he didn't like to kill directly himself, instead enjoying the process of their target murders.
- An example in Animorphs when Sixth Ranger Traitor David does this in his attempt to break Rachel's will to fight. It fails, because it only sends Rachel further into The Unfettered territory when she has time to mull over his words.
- A heroic example appears in Hogfather, where Susan uses this on Psychopathic Manchild Jonathan Teatime — the first time anyone's managed to shake him up even a little bit.Susan: I think I know you, Teatime. You're the mad kid they're all scared of, right? The giggling excitable one even the bullies never touched because if they did he went insane and kicked and bit. The one who didn't know the difference between chucking a stone at a cat and setting it on fire. I bet no one wanted to play with you. Not the kid with no friends. Kids know a mind like yours even if they don't know the right words for it. The kind of little boy who looks up dolls' dresses...
Teatime: I didn't!
- The Lord of the Rings:
- Saruman, using his enchanted voice, can persuade unsuspecting enemies to join and serve him — even after they defeat him in war. In the chapter "The Voice of Saruman" in The Two Towers, Saruman gives the speech to all of his triumphant enemies, and nearly all are swayed by the power of his voice; the Riders of Rohan are wholly overcome by it, while Pippin is particularly shamed. It doesn't work on Gandalf the White, however, and only vaguely troubles Theoden.
- Gríma Wormtongue is a student of Saruman's, and uses similar non-magical techniques on Théoden to render him helpless and hopeless against Saruman, and on Éowyn in order to break her resolve and drive her to desperation.
- In The Silmarillion, Glaurung father of dragons delivered one combined neatly with a Mind Screw to Túrin having paralyzed him with his hypnotic glare until he "saw himself as in a mirror misshapen by malice, and loathed that which he saw".
- Euthyphro, from Plato's Socratian Dialogs seems to fit this one rather nicely. Socrates attempts to get a description of piety from Euthyphro, but continues to twist every argument Euthyphro offers to his own needs, making this Older Than Feudalism.
- From the Thursday Next novel The Eyre Affair. The Big Bad, Acheron Hades, can talk most people into anything. Several times he has escaped by convincing cops to hand over their guns, which are then used on the cops. When Hades needs a lackey, he simply convinces a suitably fit civillain to be one. Fortunately Next can resist to the extent of keeping her wits (and gun), but Hades is still far more clever.
- Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: In the book Under the Radar, the Prophet Harold Evanrod tries to tell his followers of the pedophile polygamist sect Heaven On Earth, "You see, this is the Devil at work! I told you the people on the outside would try to drive us away from our homes and our religion because they don't understand it. They will be forever damned, and there will be no salvation for any of them. I want you all to be strong because we will prevail." However, the Vigilantes give an effective Shut Up, Hannibal! response to that.
- In The Belgariad by David Eddings, this is inverted during the climactic battle between Garion and Torak. When the Dark God passes up an opportunity to kill Garion, instead demanding that he submit, Garion finally realizes that the purpose of their confrontation is not to fight Torak, but to reject him. His subsequent speech shatters Torak's will and gives Garion the opening he needs to beat him.
- Subverted in The Tamuli by David Eddings, where Sir Bevier is sent to interrogate a prisoner and uses double-talk and open-ended questions to drag the interview out for three hours. It turns out all he was doing was trying to annoy the guy and make him think about the things they wanted to know so that Xanetia could be invisible in the room and read his mind, gleaning the information that they knew the man wouldn't give up.
- Fanny Price, the heroine of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park, frequently gets these from her aunt, Mrs. Norris (no, not that Mrs. Norris), due to being The Unfavorite.
- The Dresden Files:
- In Blood Rites, Harry Dresden on the book's Big Bad Lord Raith. By the end of it, Raith is incredibly furious that Dresden deconstructed him so well.
- In Death Masks the ubervillain Nicodemus tried to do something along these lines to Harry in an effort to corrupt him over to his side, and scores some hits, though Harry ends up resisting it.
- On a later occasion, Harry does a version of this on the shadow of the manipulative Fallen Angel Lasciel in an attempt to turn her away from evil, and, unlike the immutible true fallen, the shadow is just as malleable as the medium she lived in: Harry's mind. In the end, Harry succeeded and changed the shadow back to a benign force. However, soon after the change, she sacrificed herself and took a powerful mental attack, allowing Harry a chance to fight the telepathic monster they were fighting.
- Harry gives an epic one in Skin Game, where he hammers Deirdre's death at her father's hands into Nicodemus over and over again until he snaps and orders Harry be killed, something that breaks his word of cooperation and allows Harry to fight back. It actually works too well, as it reveals to Nicodemus that only someone with a child of his own could be so effective at such a tactic.
- Ruin of Mistborn loves doing this to Vin by consistently pointing out that Vin causes destruction wherever she goes, and therefore has been serving his purposes all along. In the end, though, she gets Ruin back by pointing out that as a human being she has the power to protect and destroy at the same time, unlike the much more limited gods such as Ruin. She them proves it by killing Ruin via Heroic Sacrifice.
- Henry does this to Dorian in The Picture of Dorian Gray.
- From the Deryni works by Katherine Kurtz:
- Kelson's speech to Sicard MacArdry at their final confrontation in The King's Justice, when Kelson tries to get Sicard to surrender. He reminds Sicard of the crimes he and his forces have committed, and he informs the rebel leader that his other son and heir is dead. When the effort fails, Kelson uses a bow and arrow to kill Sicard.
- Edmund Loris is apt to indulge in this, using lengthy and vitriolic diatribes on his target's failings. Two notable instances are his efforts to make Henry Istelyn cooperate with Judhael's illegal enthronement as a bishop in The Bishop's Heir and while physically torturing Duncan McLain in The King's Justice.
- In Darkness at Noon, Ivanov believes he can break Rubashov just by talking to him, but Gletkin insists that only physical pain will work. As it turns out, Ivanov was right.
- Inverted in the World War II French novella Le Silence de la mer, wherein the unwilling hosts of a German officer resolve to resist by never speaking a word to him. He is eventually broken by the unrelenting silence - and by his own Heel Realisation.
- Suspicion: Big Bad Dr. Emmenberger and The Hero Inspector Bärlach try and fail to do this to each other. Emmenberger doesn't care about what will happen to him while Bärlach after a while simply refuses to talk or listen to Emmenberger.
- The Hunger Games: Peeta Mellark manages this in his Quarter Quell interview. He is highly skilled when it comes to manipulating a crowd with his words and in this case he claims to have married Katniss and that she is pregnant with their love child in order to win her support in the Games. He accomplishes not only that but gets the Capitol audience so upset that some of them cry for the Games to be stopped.
- In Those That Wake, Man in Suit is scarily good at this.I will answer any question you have, because by merely being honest, I will defeat you.
- Lord of the Flies: Simon encounters the Lord of the Flies in a vision, who tells him that evil is within all the boys, and it is only growing stronger, and he'll be a fool if he continues his righteous path.
- In Zeroes, this is one of the applications of Scam's power, the Voice which says whatever necessary to accomplish what he desires. Prior to the story, he used his Voice in anger to deliver such a speech to the other Zeroes, resulting in the group splitting up.
- Halo's The Forerunner Saga has plenty of this, courtesy of the Flood Gravemind and (and its Precursor ancestors.
- The Didact is on the receiving end of one on the tail end of the Human-Forerunner War, given by an imprisoned being on the human capital world claiming to be the last of the Precursors, the very race that created the Forerunners, but who now swear vengeance against them for killing almost all of their creators. It thoroughly traumatizes the Didact, breaking apart the beliefs and perceived truths for which he had fought and sacrificed his entire life (with his own children being among the casualties), and he spends the next 10,000 years burying the revelation deep in his memories and refusing to reveal them even to his beloved wife, for fear of their implications.
- This goes Up to Eleven in Halo: Silentium, when the Flood turn the Ur-Didact into a host through which to deliver several Breaking Speeches once (causing him to go mad from Mind Rape as a bonus); one to the Forerunners as a whole, expanding on the above-mentioned speech given to the Didact 10,000 years before, and one to the Master Builder, using the Ur-Didact as a conduit through which the Master Builder's infected wives and children could accuse and taunt him. The latter act effectively turns the Master Builder from a Magnificent Bastard extraordinaire into a broken, despairing, nigh-suicidial wreck.
- In the Homecoming Saga, Hushidh, a "raveler" manages to verbally destroy the standing of Rashgallavik, the commander of the army occupying the city state of Basillica. She can do this because he was merely standing in for the recently slain Gaballufix, the army's true leadernote , so their loyalty to him was tenuous at best. Her guardian and mentor Raza immediately tells her how badly she just screwed up.note
- The Marquis de Sade frequently has libertine characters do this. If anyone objects to their acts of murder, rape, torture etc. the libertines calmly deconstruct every objection and tell them morality is subjective, just an illusion, or what they do dictated by Nature. Of course, once that is done the objector usually gets the same treatment they had objected against to begin with, so it goes beyond simply breaking lectures.
- In Project Tau, Dennison does to Kalin when he forces him to concede that he's nothing but a Project.
Break Them By Talking / Literature