I found the idea that rhetoric can be applied through monuments to be very intriguing and complex. I have always held the notion that rhetoric is conveyed through persuasive words, but this lesson on rhetoric in memorials and web memorials enabled me to broaden my idea of rhetoric that it can be applied through anything with the intention to persuade or convey a message. This gave me the opportunity to analyze rhetoric in an entirely different approach. While this was challenging at first, it proved to be very interesting, and it helped me discover the rhetorical intentions behind the developers of monuments.
Unlike the typical analysis of rhetoric where one can group the methods of rhetoric into ethos, pathos, and logos, one has to take an entirely different route to analyze monumental rhetoric as there are no words that one can interpret. Instead of persuasive speech, monuments apply rhetoric through form, symbolism, and location. It can be difficult to grasp the concept that monuments are rhetoric machines, but just like humans giving a speech, they effectively spawn emotion from its’ viewers and persuade them to believe a certain message through different rhetorical devices.
In my opinion, the most effective rhetorical device that monument builders utilize when planning out their monuments is symbolism. While I do agree that the location of a monument has the potential to have a massive rhetorical influence on the viewers, especially if the monument is located in the place an actual event took place, I feel that the symbolic meaning behind the monument has a more captivating rhetorical effect. Also, while form has an important rhetorical impact, I believe that what the form symbolizes ultimately has the greatest persuasive means on the audience.
For example, in the Vietnam Memorial as discussed in class, the location of it in our nation’s capital makes it more renowned, but it does not have the same rhetorical effect as if it were placed on the actual battlegrounds. Furthermore, the form as a giant, almost never-ending wall, with thousands of names inscribed on it, has a captivating effect on the audience, allowing them to get a sense of the magnitude of lives lost in the war. However, in my opinion, the symbolism behind the dark, never-ending wall as a look into the corruptness of the government at the time, carries the greatest rhetorical effect and really resonates with the audience. It is the symbolic meaning behind the monuments that evokes emotion from its’ viewers and persuades them to believe the message that it is trying to convey.
Overall, I find the concept of rhetoric in monuments and other art forms to be interesting although challenging as it requires its’ viewers to take time to rhetorically analyze. I find that by creating monuments, rhetorical means can be even more efficient than giving a speech on the same matter because it can resonate with many more people. I am intrigued with this new way of conveying rhetoric, and I will carry these new rhetorical tools with me when I view art forms in the future.