Rhetorical analysis-logos, pathos and ethos, English


Rhetorical analysis is a method of studying how to think, write, and speak effectively. To be specific, rhetorical analysis involves the knowledge of how texts are created, how texts interact, and what features make up an effective written text. In my previous essay "The 'Great' Revolution," the main purpose was to discuss the cause and effect of the Great Awakening movement in American history, especially the movement's relationship and connection with the independence of America. This paper focused on explaining the cause of the Great Awakening, its beginning time, its improvements and limitations, and the movement's influence. I tried to cover as many details as I could, so the reader, who was my history professor, could get a rough picture of how the Awakening Movement changed America periodically.


Logos, Pathos and Ethos are the three important elements of persuasion or creating argument. Each of them stands for logical or rational appeals, emotional appeals, and ethical appeals. Logos and Ethos are the two main elements in this essay. Causes and effects analysis is very important for a historical event research essay, therefore I have to make logical reasoning and give sufficient evidence. To achieve my goal, I cited from seven resources with different aspects, so that I could display the Awakening Movement in as many perspectives as possible. However, there were some Pathos though, which only shares a small portion of my essay. Because I think personal emotions only belong to people themselves. A historical event is consisted by groups' actions.


Definitions: Definitions are the best way to clarify abstractions and distinguish one idea from another similar idea. Because it is an essay about history, and the Awakening Movement has shared some common ground with the European Enlightenment, so I used a lot of definitions to establish and develop my points. At the beginning of the second paragraph, I defined The Awakening Movement as the "biggest religious movement by far in the North America colony." Some readers may feel confused, for they can not find a connection between the first paragraph and my definition. But since my only reader was my history professor back then, I must show him that I have studied the topic. Another definition I gave is at the end of the essay. I defined The Declaration of Independence a great step towards liberty, but at the same time as a tool for the few. Because according to Pauline Maier's research, there were also other local "declarations of independence." However, only a select few of which were called "declarations" at the time. The only reason was, I guess, some citizens' declaration or claim were ignored due to the political correctness. The limitation and advantage of The declaration of Independence are also the same characters that shared by the Awakening Movement. The movement planted the seeds of Humanism in people's heart, but the seeds were put into the theological environment. The main forces of the movement, clergies, were only focusing on saving souls. They were not very interested on encouraging people to change the outside world. On account to the imperfection, the Awakening Movement only lasted for about eight years, and did not totally refresh the American culture yet. The result was churches were able to direct majority's thoughts in a new way. Only few educated people could have touched the Enlightenment ideology from Europe.

Sometimes I directly quoted the original sentences and put them into my essay without paraphrasing them into my own idiomatic writing style. For  example, in the second paragraph of "The 'Great' Revolution," I quoted Joseph Tracy's original comment on the changing of people's religious habit from his book The Great Awakening. The reason why I did not make any further interpretation of Tracy's comment was not only because his words perfectly described the status of the conception transmission that happened in people's religious lives, but also to keep the words flowing smoothly. Since there were numerous fantastic comments and statements in those resources, I kept directly quoting them as well. At the same time, those quotes also made my essay more authoritative and credible.

Exemplification: Examples are good tools to explain or elaborate an idea. Being unified by a controlling idea, nice examples can inspire audiences to think, or illustrate a point. In the second paragraph, I took three famous religious reformers as examples. Their names are George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards and Gilbert Tennent. The three people were mentioned several times on my history class. I wanted to let my history professor knows that I had taken notes on his class and prepared for the essay. The "military requiring law" was another example. In Connecticut, government has to pass a low requiring military service to force people went to battle fields against the Britain army. The example could help my reader easily understand what American citizens really wanted during the independence. Based on the example, the reader also could find out why the Awakening Movement was still a religious movement - it has introduced the basic ideas of Humanity, but which was only stayed in people's mind; in reality, government's power had remained inhumane as before.

Comparison and Contrast: Comparison and contrast are methods of organizing and developing ideas by seeking common ground while accepting the existing differences. Because my only audience was my history professor, the abundant and authoritative resources were not enough for me to show him what I have learned from his class. Furthermore, my professor expected me to express my own thoughts and understanding of the historical event; therefore, after the basic introduction, I started to explain my point of view on the connection between The Awakening Movement and The Declaration of Independence. First, I discussed the status of American people's religion. During the early 17th century, Americans were still heavily influenced by Aristotelianism. But the fast economic development created space for materialism. The conflict between different believes were unavoidable. So America urgently needed a refresh to solve and answer people's problems that caused by conflicting ideas. The conflicting thoughts produced opportunities for religious reformers. Second, I discussed how the Enlightenment Movement in Europe progressed and what ideological and political developments it achieved. Based on the new ideas that appeared during the European Enlightenment Movement, I easily summarized and compared the five key elements in The Declaration of Independence. With the right analytic methods, I soon found out the philosophical and political connections between The Awakening Movement and American independence. On the other hand, it was not difficult to come up with a conclusion that The Awakening Movement was not only a thought movement, but also a refreshment of the culture , which is the high consideration and respect for each individual's freedom. The analysis process and the amount of research were what my history professor expected, and I think I met his expectation.

So to confirm my point, I took one of the "founding fathers," Tomas Paine, as another example. I quoted some words from his book - Common Scenes, and indicated that Tomas Paine started to apply personal principles of morality to explain why the continent shall independent from the Great Britain. After comparing Tomas Paine's thoughts and The Declaration of Independence, it is not very hard to find out that the the "founding fathers" decided to lower their position, and create a nation that belongs to its people. There is no doubt that the "founding fathers" have been deep influenced by the Awakening Movement.

Posted Date: 2/16/2013 5:12:06 AM | Location : United States

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