What is “rhetoric”? Rhetoric is the “art or study of effective language.” Effective language is language used to an effect – this includes writing that accomplished the writer’s goal. The writer’s goal was to communicate a specific idea. Therefore, rhetoric may be described as “persuasive use of language” and “rhetorical strategies” are techniques by which writers persuade readers.
Can you name some examples? What are some of the techniques by which people use language persuasively? In your groups, brainstorm to come up with examples.
Rhetorical & Persuasive Appeals Ethos—appeal to ethics; asks the reader/listener to look favorably on the writer/speaker; stresses the writer/speaker’s intelligence, competence, fairness, morality, and other qualities desirable in a trustworthy leader. --“I promise you, we as a people will get there.” --“But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation...”
Rhetorical & Persuasive Appeals Logos—rational appeal; asks the readers to use their intellects and powers of reasoning. It relies on established conventions of logic and evidence. --Can you find any use of logos in this speech?
Rhetorical & Persuasive Appeals Pathos—an emotional appeal; asks readers to respond out of their beliefs, values, or feelings. It inspires, affirms, frightens, angers. --“Tonight we proved one more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.” --“Yes we can.” --“So tonight, let us ask ourselves—if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what changes will they see? What progress will we have made?”
DIDST Diction / Imagery/ Details/ Syntax/ Tone These will usually be used in conjunction with ethos, logos, and pathos. For example: Imagery can be used as an emotional appeal. Statistics can be used to establish logos.
Alliteration Repetition of initial consonant sounds. Used to call attention to a phrase and fixes it in the reader’s/listener’s mind. (i.e. “Let us go forth to lead the land we love.”- John F. Kennedy Inaugural speech)
Allusion Short, informal reference to famous person, event, story. Relies on reader/listener to be familiar with the reference and hidden meaning. By using allusion, you not only associate yourself with the ideas of the original text but also create a bond with the audience by evoking share knowledge
Allusion If I want to persuade you to wash your hands, I may say “thou shalt wash thy hands”. What am I alluding to?
COMMON ALLUSIONS Bible God Historical events Historical speeches Famous figures in history
Analogy Comparison between two things that are alike in certain respects. Used in persuasion to demonstrate the logic of one idea by showing how it is similar to an accepted idea. (“Pupils are more like oysters than sausages. The job of teaching is not to stuff them and then seal them up, but to help them reveal the riches within.”-Sydney Harris)
Anaphora Anaphora consists of repeating a sequence of words or phrases at the beginning of neighboring clauses. Leads to emphasis of the message In Martin Luther King Jr.’s “ I Have a Dream” speech: “I have a dream that… I still have a dream that… I have a dream that… I have a dream that…”
Antithesis A figure of speech in which sharply contrasting ideas are juxtaposed in a balanced or parallel phrase or grammatical structure Obama is famous for having said “There are no red states or blue states. There are only the United States of America.” "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way." (Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities)
Aposiopesis A deliberate interruption or pause – usually using a dash/hyphen (-) or ellipses (…)- to create dramatic tension. “Freedom- it is what we are fighting for. Love- it is what keeps us going.”
Chiasmus When the order of terms in the first parallel clause is reversed in the second. “Has the Church failed mankind, or has mankind failed the Church?”- T.S. Eliot
Figurative speech People are able to better understand a message if it is compared to something else, often in the form of a metaphor or simile. Ex: Slavery was the darkness that comes in the night, stealing your dreams and soul.
Hypophora A common technique is to start a speech with a hypophora, in which the speaker first asks a question and then answers it. In Obama’s speech, the word answer is used regularly as an obvious signpost of the speaker’s intention to give his audience answers. The questions, however, are implied here.
Inclusive Language Using “we”, “us”, “together”, etc. Helps promote unity and establishes the speaker as “one” with the audience. Example: “My fellow Americans, we must stand up to terrorism!”
Juxtaposition the act of positioning close together Obama talks about the “not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers” The juxtaposition of “bitter cold” and “scorching heat” stresses the extreme conditions in which people campaigned for Obama, convincing the audience of their dedication
Parallelism Parallelism is using phrases which are similar in structure. It's used to reinforce the message by setting up patterns. Ex: “I came, I saw, I conquered.”
Parallelism The American astronaut Neil Armstrong famously spoke these words on July 20, 1969, as he became the first human to set foot on the Moon. That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.
Parallelism “My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.” - Barack Obama The parallel grammatical forms (pronoun “I”+ action verb) have a potent rhythm, giving weight and authority to the saying
Polysyndeton Using several conjunctions in close succession, especially where some might be omitted—used to stress the importance of each item $5 and $10 and $15
Repetition Repetition can be effective in creating a sense of structure and power. In both speech and literature, repeating small phrases can ingrain an idea in the minds of the audience. Yes, we can, to opportunity and prosperity. Yes, we can heal this nation. Yes, we can repair this world. Yes, we can.
Rhetorical Questions Questions that need no answer because their answers seem obvious Rhetorical questions in persuasive texts often are meant to sway audiences to agree with the writers' arguments or opinions.
Rhetorical Questions Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort? Kennedy’s rhetorical questions are addressed directly to the audience. The implied “yes” answer to each question, prompts listeners to accept the challenges named in the speech.
Tricolon (Power of 3) A tricolon is a list of three, or a sentence in which there are three parts or clauses. The cumulative effect of three has a powerful effect on an audience. We believe in the value of honesty, hard-work, and determination.
Extend the Study Here are some highly persuasive speeches that are famous for their use of rhetorical strategies. (Get a copy and give them a careful analysis)! *Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech (lots of metaphor!) *Patrick Henry’s “Speech at the Virginia Convention” (great organization and powerful diction – “Give me liberty, or give me death.” *Abe Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” (note the cool parallelism and repetition) *Chief Seattle’s speech has great rhetorical questioning (“How can you buy or sell the warmth of the land”? And “where is the thicket? Where is the eagle”?