After discussing the rhetorical strategies of ethos, pathos, and logos in class and at the Shakespeare workshop, I enjoyed using these strategies to analyze on my own. The four documents we analyzed, Hillary Clinton’s Acceptance Speech at the DNC, Donald Trump’s Acceptance Speech at the RNC, Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address,” and Professor Schaub’s “Lincoln At Gettysburg,” contained numerous examples of ethos, pathos, and logos.
Discussing all of our findings in class was very insightful. I found it interesting to see what stood out to my peers or how their interpretations differed from mine. Although the texts were very different, there were some similarities among all four. One aspect that I, along with my classmates, noted was the use of repetition as a rhetorical strategy. Prior to the Shakespeare workshop, I never viewed repetition as a strategy. However, all of the texts we analyzed contained repetition. The repetition influenced the reader’s thoughts or perspective because of the significant emphasis the repetition creates. In addition to repetition, short sentences or definite sentence structure creates emphasis; the author or speaker’s point is made clearly.
In addition, although the texts were different, they were similar in the fact that all conveyed a sense of patriotism for America. An important question I asked in my analysis was, “How did the text make you feel overall?” Although the point of this exercise was to analyze and look at details, I think it is important to note how, in general, the author or speaker makes the reader or listener feel. This can be a good starting point to analyze the author or speaker’s usage of pathos as well. Moreover, I think it is important to note which of the rhetorical strategies is most prevalent. For instance, in Clinton’s speech, Trump’s speech, and Lincoln’s speech, pathos was used the most. In Professor Schaub’s essay, logos was the most prevalent because it was a literary analysis and scholarly essay. These differences show how various authors and speakers use the strategies differently to convey varying arguments.
Furthermore, the analysis of these readings not only served as beneficial practice for the rhetorical analysis we have to write but also served as beneficial to combat the “ignorance” that we discussed in class in regard to the current election. Throughout our class discussion, we mentioned that Trump and Clinton’s speeches build and feed off of ignorance. For example, they will state facts that are not always fully true, or they will make empty promises. However, some of their statements, although not plausible and only stated for the sake of gaining votes, appeal to many Americans. This exercise allowed me to recognize that these politicians and speech writers are experts in rhetoric and know how to correctly use the strategies of ethos, pathos, and logos to their advantage. Completing this assignment, we, as students and voters, are combating this ignorance, being informed, and are recognizing what is true versus what is false, and what is for show and what is real.