Tutor profile: Giuseppe M.
What is the rhetorical triangle? How is it used to craft a compelling argument?
The rhetorical triangle is a three-pronged strategy for persuasive communication, attributed to the Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. The three points of the triangle are Logos, Ethos, and Pathos. These three concepts are also known as the three rhetorical appeals. Logos is perhaps the most straightforward of the three. It is an appeal to logic and reason. In an academic paper, this refers to the facts themselves - the data, the details, the statistics, and the how coherently they are employed. Ethos appeals to the character of the writer or speaker. Basically, it means establishing that you're qualified and credible! This could involve listing one's credentials or personal experiences in a subject area. For example, if you're writing a paper about Shakespeare, readers will be likely to trust your opinion if you've performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company or have a PhD in English Literature. Pathos seeks to engage an audience's emotions, desires, or values. We see this in advertisements in which groups of young people smile and laugh while holding a product, subliminally linking the product to youth, happiness, and positive relationships. That said, appeals to Pathos are not always so underhanded! Pathos could also be a personal anecdote that encourages your audience to empathize with you or someone for whom the subject is relevant. Incorporating the three points of the rhetorical triangle is one of the simplest ways of constructing an argument that is not only logically sound, but persuasive to readers. A balanced, harmonious use of these three elements makes for an effective piece of writing.
In Act 3, Scene 2 of Julius Caesar, why is Marc Antony's speech ultimately more compelling than Brutus's?
Brutus makes a logical, cogent argument for why he had to kill Caesar. His language is simple and clear, but not very forceful or evocative. Marc Antony, on the other hand, fills his speech with vivid imagery. In particular, he makes frequent references to the morbid details of Caesar's death, invoking his bones, his funeral, and his coffin. He conjures up scenes of Caesar weeping and mildly refusing to accept a kingly crown. These images move the audience to the primal emotions of horror and pity, overpowering Brutus's logic with raw emotion.
In Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House, what does Torvald's outburst in Act Three reveal about his character?
Torvald explodes at Nora after discovering that she forged her father's signature. The fact that she did so to save his life doesn't seem to matter - he clearly sees what she has done as a disgusting and unforgivable act. However, when he discovers that his professional rival Krogstad does not intend to blackmail him using this knowledge, Torvald's demeanor abruptly changes. He launches into a florid speech where he likens Nora to a songbird that he has saved from a hawk. This sudden and short-lived outburst shows that Torvald only loves his wife insofar as she does not interfere with his professional goals or tarnish his reputation. As evidenced by his personification of Nora as a vulnerable songbird, he is deeply uncomfortable with any show of disobedience or autonomy in his wife. Unwittingly, he has exposed the shallowness of his feelings for Nora, and the fundamental performativity of their relationship.