What is rhetoric anyways?

What is rhetoric anyways?
It is using communication effectively for
a chosen audience…
Rhetoric: The Art of Communicating
Rhetoric is not…
Rhetoric is…
– Plato: [Rhetoric] is the “art of enchanting the soul.”
(The art of winning the soul by discourse.)
– Aristotle: Rhetoric is “the faculty of discovering in any
particular case all of the available means of
– Andrea Lunsford: “Rhetoric is the art, practice, and
study of human communication.”
– Kenneth Burke: “The basic function of rhetoric [is] the
use of words by human agents to form attitudes or to
induce actions in other human agents.”
How do writers/speakers persuade or influence
What specific strategies or devices do
writers/speakers use to do this?
• Greek philosopher Aristotle said that rhetoric
is simply the ability to see the available means
of persuasion in a given situation.
• Translation: We should think about how and
why something is or could be persuasive--you
know, to help us communicate better… (so we
can get what we want!)
• Think about your efforts to persuade
(convince) a parent, teacher or friend to do or
believe something. What happened?
Let’s take a closer look.
• Consider Aristotle’s logos, pathos, and ethos.
Let’s discover…
• Logos
– Using logical appeals… Using reason and factual
information to persuade…
– It appeals to patterns, conventions, and modes of
reasoning that the audience finds convincing and
• Pathos
– Using emotional appeals that trigger
emotional responses…
• Ethos
– Using the author’s character or ethics
to appeal to the audience using the power of
Most often, appeals are combined…
• "As your doctor, I have to tell you statistics
suggest that if you don't stop smoking, you're
going to die a painful, miserable death."
Key Elements of Rhetoric
• Rhetoric is always situational: it always has a
context and a purpose.
– Context: the occasion, time, place it was written
or spoken
– Purpose: goal that the speaker or writer wants to
Key Elements of Rhetoric
• Context and Purpose are essential to analyzing
effective rhetoric.
• First, consider the context: occasion, time,
• Then, consider the purpose: What is the
speaker’s goal in this communication?
The Rhetorical Triangle
or Rhetorical Situation
Speaker – Ethos
Occasion – Why and When
speech is given.
Audience – The people who
observe or listen to the speech
and their expectation and
Purpose – What is the speech
trying to do to the audience?
Subject – What the speech is
Tone – The attitude of the
Another tool one can use
to analyze rhetoric is
SOAPSTone. If the
Rhetorical Triangle is a
wide angle lens of a
speech, SOAPSTone is the
close-up shot.
SPEAKER: The voice that tells the story. The
author and the speaker are NOT necessarily
the same. An author may choose to tell the
story from any number of different points of
view (character or persona).
When analyzing non-fiction, consider
important facts about speaker that will help
assess his/her point of view or position.
• When discussing the speaker of an essay, the
author’s name is never enough. Question:
what do we know about the speaker by
reading the text?
OCCASION: (part of the context): The time and place
of the piece; the context that encouraged the writing
to happen. Writing does not occur in a vacuum.
There is the larger occasion: an environment of
ideas and emotions that swirl around a broad issue.
Then there is the immediate occasion: an event or
situation that catches the writer’s attention and
triggers a response.
The group of readers or listeners to
whom this piece is directed.
The audience may be one person, a small
group, or a large group; it may be a
certain person or a certain people.
The reason behind the text. The
author/speaker’s GOAL in the
Consider the purpose of the text in order to
examine the argument and its logic.
“What does the speaker want the audience
to think or do as a result of reading this text?”
• Is the speaker…
– Trying to win agreement?
– Persuade us to take action?
– Evoke sympathy?
– Make us laugh?
– Inform?
• Does the speaker want to…
– Provoke?
– Celebrate?
– Repudiate?
– Put forth a proposal?
– Secure support?
– Bring about a favorable decision?
The general topic, content, and ideas
contained in the text. The main idea.
You should be able to state the subject in
a few words or a phrase.
The attitude of the author toward the
subject matter. With the written work, it is
tone that extends meaning beyond the
literal. Tone can be determined by
examining the author’s diction (choice of
words), syntax (word order), and imagery
(vivid descriptions that appeal to the
• Tone: Is the author…
– amiable?
– detached?
– passionate?
– zealous?
– sardonic?
– sincere?
• Another element of rhetoric: organization of
an essay.
• Classic arrangement:
Introduction: draws the reader in
Narration: facts and background
Confirmation: main part developing the proof
Refutation: addresses the counterargument
Conclusion: appeal to pathos, reminds reader of ethos
established earlier. Answers the question, “so what?”
Modern Patterns
• Modern Patterns of Development:
– Narration
– Description
– Process Analysis
– Exemplification
– Comparison and Contrast
– Classification and Division
– Definition
Some Common Rhetorical Devices
Some Terms and Definitions
Rhetorical Devices
• Literary techniques that an author or speaker
use to convey meaning with the goal of
persuading the reader or listener to consider a
topic from a different perspective
• The goal of rhetoric is persuasion
• The repetition of a word or phrase at the
beginning of successive phrases, clauses or lines.
– We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We
shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and
oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and
growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island,
whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the
beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we
shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight
in the hills. We shall never surrender. Churchill.
Poetic and rhetorical device in which normally
unassociated ideas, words, or phrases are placed
next to one another, creating an effect of surprise
and wit.
– Ezra Pound: “The apparition of these faces in the
crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough.”
Juxtaposition is also a form of contrast by which
writers call attention to dissimilar ideas or images
or metaphors.
– Martin Luther King: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to
justice everywhere.”
• Imagery involves one or more of your five
senses (hearing, taste, touch, smell, sight). An
author uses a word or phrase to stimulate
your memory of those senses. These
memories can be positive or negative which
will contribute to the tone and/or mood of the
• An assertion seemingly opposed to common
sense, but that may yet have some truth in it.
– What a pity that youth must be wasted on the
young. George Bernard Shaw
• Understatement, for intensification, by
denying the contrary of the thing being
– War is not healthy for children and other living
– One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day.
• Deliberately expresses an idea as less important than
it actually is, either for ironic emphasis or for
– Example: If your audience already knows a lot about the
subject, so the writer/speaker chooses to draw on the
audience’s own power of description
• Speaking about the destruction of a massive earthquake: “The
earthquake in Haiti interrupted business somewhat in that area.”
– The reader supplies a more vivid and personal description
than the writer might have
Understatement (continued)
• Example: As a tool for modesty and tactfulness, such
as whenever you represent your own
accomplishments or position and want to avoid
people accusing you of being egotistical or selfinterested
– “Yes, I know a little bit about coaching rowing.”
• Especially useful in dealing with a hostile audience or
in disagreeing with someone, because you can make
the same point without being as offensive.
– The goal is to persuade, not offend - “The degree and
power of pride in the human heart must never be
• A deliberate exaggeration or overstatement
which helps to emphasize a point
– In formal writing, must be clearly intended as an
exaggeration and should be used sparingly
• “Treat hyperbole like an exclamation point, to be used
only once a year.”
Hyperbole - Example
• An effective attention getter or introductory line:
– “There are a thousand reasons why more research is
needed on solar energy.”
• Make a single point very enthusiastically:
– “I said ‘rare’ not ‘raw.’ I’ve seen cows hurt worse than this
get up and get well.”
• Exaggerate one thing to show how really different it
is from something supposedly similar to which it’s
being compared:
– “This stuff is used motor oil compared to the coffee you
make, my love.”
• Opposition, or contrast of ideas or words in a
balanced or parallel construction.
– Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice,
moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.
Barry Goldwater
– Brutus: Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I
loved Rome more. Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
– The vases of the classical period are but the
reflection of classical beauty; the vases of the
archaic period are beauty itself." Sir John Beazley
• Lack of conjunctions between coordinate
phrases, clauses, or words.
– We shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any
hardships, support any friend, oppose any foe to
assure the survival and the success of liberty. J. F.
Kennedy, Inaugural
– But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we
cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.
Lincoln, Gettysburg Address
• Two corresponding pairs arranged not in
parallels (a-b-a-b) but in inverted order (a-b-ba); from shape of the Greek letter chi (X).
– Those gallant men will remain often in my
thoughts and in my prayers always. MacArthur
• Understanding one thing with another; the
use of a part for the whole, or the whole for
the part.
– Give us this day our daily bread. Matthew 6
– I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
T. S. Eliot, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"
• Substitution of one word for another which it
– He is a man of the cloth.
– The pen is mightier than the sword.
Rhetorical Question
• Asked merely for effect, with either no answer
expected or an obvious answer implied
• Used for effect, emphasis, provocation, or for
drawing a conclusion from the facts at hand
• Be carefult to avoid sinking into absurdity!
– “The use of this device allows your reader to think,
query and conclude along with you; but if your
questions become ridiculous, your essay may become
• The repeating of words or phrases for
– Amplification: Repeating a word or expression
while adding more detail to it
• “This orchard, this lovely, shady orchard, is the main
reason I bought this property.”
– Anaphora: Repetition of the same word or
words at the beginning of successive phrases,
clauses or sentences
• “In books I find the dead as if they were alive; in
books I foresee things to come; in books warlike
affairs are set forth; from books come forth the laws
of peace.”
• The use of a word or phrase to mean the exact
opposite of its literal meaning
– Verbal Irony: When an author says one thing and
means something else (a.k.a. sarcasm)
– Situational Irony: Incongruity between what is
expected or intended and what actually occurs
• A short, informal, direct or indirect
reference to a well-known person, place,
thing or event that the writer assumes the
reader is familiar with
– Allusions should be well-known, not obscure
• Best sources are literature, history, Greek myth,
– Reference serves to explain, clarify or enhance
whatever subject is under discussion, without
sidetracking the reader
• “Plan ahead: it wasn’t raining when Noah built the
Abnormal Word Order
• Modify the usual subject-verb sentence
• Gives variety & emphasis to your writing
– Example:
• Normal word order (subject-verb): “The actor’s worst
nightmares stood laughing at him from the shadows.”
• Abnormal word order (verb-subject): “Laughing at him
from the shadows stood the actor’s worst nightmare.”
Balanced Sentence
• Expresses two or more equal and parallel
• Two ideas are set one against the other in
statements that are grammatically similar
– Example: “Silence is as deep as eternity; speech is
as shallow as time.”
Balanced Sentence (continued)
• You can also use parallel structure to
demonstrate contrast
– Example: “Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I
loved Rome more.”
– Example: “Knowledge comes, but wisdom lingers.”
Climactic Word Order
• Presents several facts from least to most
– Example: “The young politician’s career rise was
meteoric; after beginning as a municipal councilor,
she became mayor, and three short years later a
Member of Parliament.”
Parallel Structure
• Repeats specific words, phrases, or clauses in
a series, giving emphasis to key words and
making them memorable
• Ideas which are parallel in thought should be
parallel in form
– Example: “Government of the people, by the
people, for the people”
• Preposition + definite article + noun repeated in a
Periodic Sentence
• Withholds an important part of the sentence
until the end so that it doesn’t make complete
sense until the last word is read
• Keeps the reader in suspense
– Example: “Whether playing a young wild
adventurer, a fugitive from the law, or a U.S.
president, there is one actor whose films always
make money – Harrison Ford.”
Sentence Fragment
• Places emphasis on key words to create an
overall effect, such as humour or suspense
– Example: “A cold room. A lonely room. A bare
room. No place to spend twenty years of a life.”
Reversals (Chiasmus)
• Make a balanced sentence even more
memorable by repeating words in reverse
– “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask
what you can do for your country.”
Subordination and Coordination
• Subordination indicates that one clause (Clause A) is
more important than another (Clause B)
• See your smoking example – it’s fairly easy to spot
• Coordination, on the other hand, indicates that both
clauses are equally important or independent of one
• These can be recognized by the presence of FANBOYS
– the coordinating conjunctions For, And, Nor, But,
Or, Yet, or So.
Rhetorical Questions
• These questions aren’t asked with the intention of
eliciting a response
– Rather, they’re there to cause the audience to question
the other side – and, in turn, accept yours
– They attract the audience’s attention and gain interest
because the audience supplies the answer!
• “How many times do I have to tell you to do your
homework?” does not invite a response.
– However, the “puppy” example functions better as a
rhetorical device
• Imagine the debate is about the best way to treat a wounded
animal, and the other side argues that it’s best to leave the
animal to heal on its own.
• Let’s take a closer look at a text…
Building Background Knowledge
• Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man
– By David A. Adler
• Illustrated by Terry Widener
• Link to audio clip
• http://www.entertonement.com/clips/wxjzjnnwxj-Lou-Gehrig-Farewell-SpeechBaseball-Lou-Gehrig-LouGehrigs-Last-Game-
Rhetorical Situation I
• On July 4, 1939, the New York Yankees held
"Lou Gehrig Day" at Yankee Stadium. Gehrig
had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral
sclerosis (ALS) just two weeks earlier. With
more than 62,000 fans in attendance, the Iron
Horse took the microphone for what would
become one of the most memorable moments
in baseball history.
SOAPSTone “Luckiest Man”
• Lou Gehrig
• Yankees’ Fans at the ballpark that day
• Speech given to the crowd in attendance to
convince his fans that he is “the luckiest
man alive.”
• "Fans, for the past two weeks you have been
reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I
consider myself the luckiest man on the face of
the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen
years and have never received anything but
kindness and encouragement from you fans.
Look at these grand men. Which of you
wouldn’t consider it the highlight of his career
just to associate with them for even one day?
Sure, I'm lucky.
• Sure, I’m lucky. Who wouldn’t consider it an
honor to have known Jacob Ruppert? Also, the
builder of baseball’s greatest empire, Ed
Barrow? To have spent six years with that
wonderful little fellow, Miller Huggins? Then
to have spent the next nine years with that
outstanding leader, that smart student of
psychology, the best manager in today, Joe
McCarthy? Sure, I'm lucky.
• "When the New York Giants, a team you would
give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends
you a gift — that’s something. When everybody
down to the groundskeepers and those boys in
white coats remember you with trophies — that’s
something. When you have a wonderful
mother-in-law who takes sides with you in
squabbles with her own daughter — that's
• When you have a father and a mother who
work all their lives so that you can have an
education and build your body — it's a blessing.
When you have a wife who has been a tower
of strength and shown more courage than you
dreamed existed — that's the finest I know.
• "So I close in saying that I might have been given
a bad break, but I've got an awful lot to live for.
Thank you."
• Write a few paragraphs trying to persuade
ANYONE of ANYTHING… You may be
humorous in your approach. You will need to
use at least two appeals –logos, pathos,
ethos—an appeal to your audiences emotions,
logics or their image of credibility… Create a
SOAPSTone organizer to include. Be prepared
to share your writing tomorrow.