Rhetoric and the Boyfriend Who Just Won’t Leave You Alone

I never understood that rhetoric and rhetoric-and-the-boyfriend-who-just-wont-leave-you-alone1 boyfriends had so much in common; both follow you everywhere you go. Communication is constant, and all forms of communication have rhetoric intertwined with the message. Rhetoric can be defined as the art of persuasion, and these persuasion arts are broken down into three categories: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.

Ethos is how we are persuaded based off of the authority or character of the message sender. In order to be persuaded, the message should be sent from a reputable, accountable source. So, for example, if the Cookie Monster were to tell you that Toll House had the best chocolate chips for chocolate chip cookies, you would be likely to believe him. The Cookie Monster claims authority in the realm of cookies (it’s in his name), and embodies a character who is obsessed with cookie consumption.

Pathos deals with the persuasion tactics that play with emotions and desire. For persuasion to be achieved via pathos methods, our emotions must compel us to take action. Advertisements for animal shelters are the first that come to mind. Animals are displayed in poor situations desperately wishing for new homes, and all the while Sarah McLachlan sings to us of angels beckoning to the miserable mutts of a promised escape. This pathos persuasion causes the audience to feel sad and sorry for the animals, and makes people want to adopt.

Lastly, the logos form of rhetoric handles the logic and reason part of persuasion. When presented with research and facts, the audience is persuaded solely on meaning behind those facts. Can’t argue with what’s proven to be correct, right? Logos persuasion usually takes the form of compelling statistics.

Now that each category has been explained, it’s important to note that the persuasion tactics don’t always operate in absence of one another. They typically operate best when used together.

So if your significant other won’t leave you alone, perhaps you can persuade them to break up. As one half of the relationship, you own the right to at least half of the authority of relationship decisions (ethos). You explain that you feel smothered and overwhelmed and want what’s best for the both of you (pathos). In fact, break ups can make you a stronger person (logos).

Rhetoric is everywhere, but hopefully captain clingy is nowhere in sight.

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