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Rhetoric and Life

Essay Topic:

Dylan Macknight Mrs. Womack Per. 6 14, September 2009.

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Value of Life Essay Different authors use different techniques to persuade. The three main ways of persuading are through: pathos, which uses emotions, ethos, which proves their credibility, and logos, which implies the general message. Shakespeare, Lance Armstrong, and Amanda Ripley have all written articles arguing their opinion on the value of life. Of the three articles Lance Armstrong best persuades the audience with his argument that life is very valuable and that you could better your life from something negative, through his exceptional use of both logos and pathos.

Armstrong applies the use of ethos very clearly in his article. For example, “I still don’t completely understand it; all I can do is tell you what happened”. This shows that he is writing credible work and that his ideas are non-bias. He is telling the story as is and he is not trying to lead you on. Lance also uses pathos to persuade his audience as well. An example of this would be when stated “I have cancer”. Cancer is a serious disease and the thought of having it draws on someone’s emotions quite strongly.

This quote made the reader feel sympathy for him. Overall, Armstrong did the best job at persuading. In Hamlet’s Soliloquy, Shakespeare uses ethos, pathos, and logos as an attempt to persuade his audience, but is not as effective as Armstrong. Shakespeare uses logos the most in his work. When he states “To be or not to be, that is the question”, he is portraying the message of how much his own life is worth, personally, not how valuable life is a whole. That is one downfall in Shakespeare’s work compared to Armstrongs.

Another reason Hamlet’s Soliloquy is not as successful at persuading is because in his writing there is no one else to compare and contrast their life with. Hamlet is written as somebody who is contemplating suicide. It is very hard to understand someone’s thoughts and interpret them as they were intended to be. This is what makes the soliloquy quite faulty in persuading the reader. Amanda Ripley voices her belief on what a life is worth in the article that she wrote for Time Magazine.

She argued how much money one can assign to another’s life, and if different people should be worth more or less then others. Time Magazine and CNN took a poll last month stating, “86% of the people should have received the same amount”. Who is to say that the majority of humans are worth the same dollar amount and a select few should receive more money. Many people do not agree with the way Ripley argues her opinion in “What a Life is Worth”. She states, “I am proud of what my country tried to do, I think the intention is noble”.

This shows that she had a previous opinion on the subject prior to the article that she had written. That adds a possibility that the article is prone to being bias towards her opinion. That is how Ripley failed to persuade her readers. Ultimately, of the three articles, Lance Armstrong best persuades his audience with his argument that life is very valuable and that you can better your life from something negative, through his exceptional use of logos and pathos. Many of his readers are left feeling completely persuaded by his value on life.