Ethos, Pathos, Logos: Aristotle’s Art of Rhetoric

22 Sep

When we analyze different pieces of rhetorical literature, it is vital for us as readers to discover  the author’s purpose for writing the piece and what type of message is he trying to portray.  In most rhetorical pieces, the author is trying to either persuade or  present something he believes in or considers important to his readers.  In order to connect with readers, the classical philosopher Aristotle said speakers and writers use three appeals called ethos, pathos, and logos.

Ethos is the first appeal that deals with the audience’s view and appeal to the the reader and his character.  Before a reader is ready to consider or agree with the author’s ideas, many readers may ask questions like, “Who is the author?”, “What type of experience or education has he received in order to be knowledgeable enough to be making these claims?”, or “What level of credibility does the author have and is he trustworthy?”  If an author or speaker has good credibility and is passionate about his work by taking pride in having good grammar and organization of his thoughts, it makes him more attractive and influential to readers.

Pathos is the aspect of rhetoric that appeals to the emotions and values of the audience.  When dealing with pathos, it is very important for the speaker or author to be aware of who his audience is.  Being educated about the audience is important because a speaker or author has to create a work that his certain audience will be able to relate to, using aspects such as a certain level of vocabulary, an appropriate tone, a certain level of formality, awareness of the values or religious denominations of the audience, and images and scenery that appeals to the audience.  Being  aware and familiar with his audience shows that the speaker or author is genuinely passionate about delivering and promoting his message.

Logos deals with the actual quality and validity of the message portrayed.  A speaker can be extremely strong and influential with the delivery of his words, but in order to sway his audience to his beliefs the speaker needs an abundance of evidence and hard facts that back his claims.  Some elements that are considered legitimate evidence include facts from liable sources that are cited, statistics, scientific studies, expert opinions that back the claim, graphs and visual representations, and aspects of cause and effect.  Having a solid amount of valid and believable evidence makes the speaker more credible, which in the end makes him more influential.

I chose the picture of Aristotle because he is the father of not only ethos, pathos, and logos, but of modern day rhetoric as well.  I chose the William Wallace speech about freedom from the film Braveheart because it is an incredible speech that appeals to all three forms according to Aristotle. William Wallace is extremely credible because he is the savior of Scotland and the audience is in awe of him.  He appeals to the emotions of his army extremely well, convincing them to go into battle with him instead of fleeing.  He uses claims and paints a picture of how the Scottish would live if they did not fight for their freedom, which ultimately wins over his people and freedom for his country.

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One Response to “Ethos, Pathos, Logos: Aristotle’s Art of Rhetoric”

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  1. It takes three to tango | B2B STORYTELLING - December 12, 2012

    […] an article on the GMK10 pages, a fragment from the movie Braveheart illustrates how Scottish hero William Wallace is […]

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