Rhetorical Situations Essay Sample

  • Category: Education,
  • Pages: 4
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  • Published: 27 March 2021
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This semester has been structured around the use of “Rhetorical situation.”  Rhetorical situations are circumstances that affect writing or other forms of communication. Considering rhetorical situations in works of literature has advantages for both rhetors (writers) and rhetoricians (readers). Understanding rhetorical situations as a reader allows for greater comprehension of a writer's work, while as a writer it may help determine your purpose for writing. Many terms are associated with this concept, those most useful to me were audience, ethos/pathos/logos, and rhetorical stance. Being familiar with these terms enables one to think more critically regarding literature.  

An audience, both intended and unintended, are those to whom a text is directed. The Intended audience are those you are actively trying to reach while the unintended audience is anyone that happens to stumble upon your work. This concept has adapted my way of thinking as a writer, I never thought about the notion of unintended audience. In any form of writing, it is key that you know your audience. For example, when authoring a paper that includes words specific to a certain audience, it is of utmost importance that you still define those words as well as clearly introduce the background information so that anyone unfamiliar with that topic, the unintended audience, may still be able to understand. “Corals receive their bright color due to its endosymbiotic (mutually beneficial) relationship with a microscopic form of algae called zooxanthella that live inside its tissues” (Johnson, “Why”). Here, I am supplying the reader with background information as well as defining words that they may be unfamiliar with so that it may be easier to understand.  

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos are Aristotle's pillars of persuasion. Ethos references one's ethical appeals along with one's credibility in the eyes of their audience. Ethos specifically made a profound impact on the way I make decisions as a writer. When trying to prove your credibility to a reader, who is a stranger, it is essential to speak about things that you have vast amounts of knowledge on as well as citing your sources accurately. For example, in an argumentative paper when giving statistics such as “According to the New York Times, during the last twenty years, the homicide rate in states with the death penalty has been 48 to 101 percent higher than states without the death penalty” (Johnson, “Should”). The importance of adding the introduction to your source as well as the in-text citation not only gives the proper authors their credit but also shows that you are trustworthy because you are quoting your sources allowing the audience to gain access to them as well. As a rhetorician, ethos is now the first thing I look for in written work, if there are no proper citations the site automatically loses its credibility and I move on. 

Pathos pertains to emotional appeals. Appealing to your audience's emotions builds a stronger connection. Through word choice, you are trying to compel your audience to feel the same way about the topic that you do. “If someone is innocent of a crime it is a whole lot harder to exonerate them if they are already dead. If instead sentenced to time in prison, there is still justice being served, only now the wrongfully accused have a chance to absolve themselves of the crime without the fear of being executed looming over them.” (Johnson, “Should”). In this quote, I am trying to appeal to the audience's sentiment by using words such as wrongfully and looming in order to spark emotion. When a piece of literature contains pathos, as a reader I can better interpret what their overall rhetorical stance may be by understanding what justifies that feeling.  

 Logos appeals to your audience's intelligence using logic, it facilitates persuasion through the use of reason. “The death penalty should not have a role in the modern U.S. court system. It is not effective in deterring future offenders, there is no proven statistical difference in murder rates, and wrongful execution is frequent” (Johnson, “Should”). Through this quote, I am trying to appeal to the reader’s logic by presenting them with facts. The same concept can be applied when implementing data into your work, using cited statistics allows your reader the opportunity to determine the validity of your argument based on credible sources. Ethos and logos are intertwined as having logical sources and arguments throughout your work only strengthens your credibility or ethos. Naturally while writing I tend to gravitate towards pathos, however, after learning the relevance of logos I try to incorporate more analytical sources to explain arguments. As a reader, recognizing an author's logos allows me to get a better feel of their credibility in addition to thinking more critically about the subject matter.  

Rhetorical stance is an author's attitude towards his/her subject. It is conveyed through word choice and tone. Understanding your rhetorical stance allows you to fully assess your topic it may help you recognize that there may be counterarguments to your stance as well as how to correctly refute them. When you present your rhetorical stance, the entirety of your argument must revolve around that stance. To give an example, “releasing these images during a time of such blatant hate and racism would rightly warrant public outrage. The decision to postpone the museum's exhibit was a correct one...” (Johnson, “Postponing”). Through my choice of the words: rightful, hate, blatant, and racism the audience can already presume what my stance on the subject is. After establishing my stance, the rest of my paper must focus on why postponing the museum's exhibit was correct. As a rhetorician, understanding rhetorical stance has allowed deeper analysis of the text as well as encouraging me to develop my own stance concerning the topic. 

Rhetorical situation plays a key role in English as well as other aspects of life. Taking account of this concept allows for improvement in your experiences as both a reader and a writer. The comprehension of rhetorical situation allows further cognitive understanding regarding the purpose of writing as well as enabling respectful questioning from readers. Having at least a basic grasp on the terms: audience, ethos/pathos/logos, and rhetorical stance will permit rhetors to grow in terms of their own work as well as the interpretation of other’s work. Rhetorical situations are not only useful for English courses, the concept can also be implemented in many different aspects of life such as other classes as well as public speaking.