Art Of Persuasion Essay, Research Paper
The art of persuasion was one of the greatest assets possessed by the patriarchs of The United States. It allowed our founding fathers to preserve the fragile Nation through the decade of Revolution and left for its posterity the legacy of the most celebrated works of American history. Patrick Henry, in his address to the Virginia Convention, institutes effective use of the entire range of appeals, logos, ethos, and pathos giving the speech a quality of concrete infirmity which leaves the listener with no doubts; Virginia should join the Revolution of Independence.
The logos faction of Henry’s address utilizes firm facts to convince the listener that fighting or slavery are the only possible outcomes of their meeting. These appeals are used predominantly in the third and fourth paragraphs and mingle historical suggestions with rhetorical questions. “Are fleets and armies necessary to work a love and reconciliation?” asks Henry of his audience. The form that the suggestion takes on, a question, serves not only to state the obvious contradiction that the “fleets and armies” are not on American soil to promote peace, but to give the actions of the Convention a positive visage; to help the members feel justified in their actions. The later purpose is achieved in the second part of the question, “love and reconciliation”. This suggests that while America is working for love and reconciliation, England is transporting fleets and armies. Henry’s logos appeals are again evident in his description of the actions America has already taken for peace: “We have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves…”. The purpose of the listing style of this section is to inundate the listener with many facts at once, each of which require personal thought, in order to stress the many tries at peace America has attempted. Additionally, all of the verbs in the passage are in past tense and there are only short sentences. This emphasizes that action must be taken. Quickly.
Whereas the logical side to Henry’s argument acts as a moderator to his argument, Henry’s ethos and pathos appeals create an emotional uprising in the attendee, one of the main fuels for the Revolution. Well known allusions to popular mythology and the Bible instill a sense of self confidence through the righteous connotation of the two works. “We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of [the] siren,” warns Henry regarding the reconciliatory attitude many patriots had recently adopted. The well known fate of those who regard the Sirens, drowning, is sure to convey the purport of his argument; action must be taken. A more personal artifact, the Bible, cautions that “those who [have] eyes, [do] not see, and [those with] ears, [do] not hear, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation.” This well known passage from Ezekiel tells the people of America to value the rights that they hold dearly and fight the Revolution. The Bible provides an argument the people can not reject. Adding to allusions, references to contemporary material Henry knows holds a tender place in the minds of his audience further enflames their emotion and patriotism. The mention of “,the insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received,” reminds one of one of the times a plea has been ignored by the British and suggests that further complaints of a similar nature would be futile. Later, the reference to “a British guard… stationed in every house,” warns that the famed Quartering act may soon effect everyone, something that the Americans would detest. Emotional and patriotic appeals, rather than logical ones, were the most effective in prompting the American people to Revolution.
Even in the early ages of American history, strong skills of persuasion were required to sway its population. Patrick Henry, one of the greatest among these artists, exhibits many effective tools. His balance of emotional and logical appeals, his personal but concrete references to current events, and pertinent allusions to trusted documents all culminate in the production of a work of oratory genius epitomized in his closing cry: “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”