Laura Carroll, “Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps toward Rhetorical Analysis”

It is not an exaggeration to say that rhetoric, or a persuasive skill to appeal an audience, determines a good writing. Laura Bolin Carroll explicates three important components of rhetoric that Aristotle has introduced: logos, pathos, and ethos. Read the following passage from Carroll’s “Backpacks vs. Briefcases: Steps toward Rhetorical Analysis” and indicate what kinds of rhetorical skills Frederick Douglass use in his narrative.

* You can access the full version of Carroll’s essay here: Carroll: “Backpacks vs. Briefcases_Steps Toward Rhetorical Analysis

Aristotle articulated three “artistic appeals” that a rhetor could draw on to make a case—logos, pathos, and ethos. Logos is commonly defined as argument from reason, and it usually appeals to an audience’s intellectual side. As audiences we want to know the “facts of the matter,” and logos helps present these—statistics, data, and logical statements.

(…) Few of us are persuaded only with our mind, though. Even if we intellectually agree with something, it is difficult to get us to act unless we are also persuaded in our heart. This kind of appeal to emotion is called pathos. Pathetic appeals (as rhetoric that draws on pathos is called) used alone without logos and ethos can come across as emotionally manipulative or overly sentimental, but are very powerful when used in conjunction with the other two appeals. (…) Emotional appeals can come in many forms—an anecdote or narrative, an image such as a photograph, or even humor.

(…) Ethos refers to the credibility of the rhetor—which can be a person or an organization. A rhetor can develop credibility in many ways. The tone of the writing and whether that tone is appropriate for the context helps build a writer’s ethos, as does the accuracy of the information or the visual presentation of the rhetoric. (52-54)

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