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Persuasive Argument

An Introduction to Rhetoric and Persuasive Appeals (in Othello)


Rhetoric and The AP Language Exam 

Rhetoric concerns itself with the science and art of communication, especially persuasion. 

Essential to any form of communication are the speaker, the audience, and the message. 

There are as many definitions of rhetoric as there are scholars who study it.

These 3 key components are inextricably linked; the study of one must take into account the effect of and on the others.

Our study of language will cover these components from a rhetorical perspective.


Persuasive Appeals First developed by the Greek philosopher Aristotle in the 5th Century B.C., these persuasive appeals are still relevant for speakers today: Ethos  Pathos  Logos 

He did not invent them; he merely identified them and gave them the names we use today (kind of like how he identified and named the tragic hero). Copyright © 2002 by Harcourt, Inc.


Why Are Persuasive Appeals Important? 

You must motivate your audience to: Listen— This is going to be on the test!  Understand— Ah ha, I get it!  Consider and reconsider attitudes, beliefs, and values— I see your point . . . 

Integrating the persuasive appeals motivates the hearts and minds of the audience. Copyright © 2002 by Harcourt, Inc.


Ethos  

In Ancient Greek, ethos meant character or nature (like the word ethical) Essentially, one uses his or her own ethos—character, personality, trustworthiness, likeability, etc—to persuade others. This is why so much is made of the personalities of politicians (it’s why people voted for Hillary after seeing her cry: it made her more likeable.)


Components of Ethos Competence: Being perceived as wellinformed, skilled, or knowledgeable in your topic area. (I’m good enough…)  Character: Being perceived as honest, trustworthy, and sincere as well as engaging, likable, and attractive. (…and you like me!) 

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Character? “Let him do his spite; / My services which I have done the signiory / Shall out-tongue his complaints . . . I fetch my life and being / From men of royal siege, and my demerits / May speak unbonneted to as proud a fortune / As this that I have reached.� Othello has confidence in himself and states that the work he has done and his upstanding family are enough to prove his innocence in marrying Desdemona (and he’s right!).


Strategies for Conveying Ethos 

Explain your competence  

I have three degrees from Harvard. “My parts, my title, and my perfect soul / Shall manifest me rightly.”

Establish common ground.—

 

You and me both, brother! “I think this tale would woo my daughter, too. / Good Brabantio, take up this mangled matter at the best.”

Use strong evidence.—

According the April 16 issue of Time Magazine . . . “Her father loved me, oft invited me, / Still questioned the story of my life / From year to year – the battles, sieges, fortunes / That I have passed”

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Strategies for Conveying Ethos 

Use respectful language.—

 

Yes sir! “Most potent, grave, and reverend signiors, / My very noble and approved good masters, / That I have taken away this old man’s daughter, / It is most true”

Choose appropriate attire.—

Well, you’ve seen the black Othello cape and hood . . .

Use direct eye contact.— Does this creep you out? Speak fluently and with sincere conviction.—

  

Truly I believe that what I say is of the utmost importance to you, my colleague, as you are the dearest in my affection. “She loved me for the dangers I have passed, / and I loved her that she did pity them. / This only is the witchcraft I have used.”


Ethos and Credibility 

Initial Credibility: Perceptions of your credibility that develop before you begin speaking.—Before (like your reputation and attire) Derived Credibility: Results from the messages you send during your speech and may be stronger or weaker than your initial credibility.—During (how well do you present yourself?) Terminal Credibility: The sense of your competence and character that listeners have at the end of your speech.—After (your overall impression)

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More Strategies ď Ž

Provide information to show that you have first-hand experience or some other kind of authority on the subject (expertise). Throughout my 20 years of schooling, I have had many experiences reading texts that I did not like, in classes that seemed irrelevant to my life, with teachers who were out of touch with reality. The Catcher in the Rye is not one of those texts.


Example: first-hand experience 

“The tyrant custom, most grave senators, / Hath made the flinty and steel couch of war / My thrice-driven bed of down. I do agnise / A natural and prompt alacrity / I find in hardness, and do undertake / These present wars against the Ottomites.” Othello has been to war three times, and is prepared to take on the Turks.


More Strategies ď Ž

Make reference to your audience’s interests and point of view to indicate that you know and respect them. By now you must be bored stiff by talking about diction and syntax tools, and for that I apologize.


Example-reference to your audience’s interests and point of view 

“Very nature will instruct her in it, and compel her to some second choice . . . Who stands so eminent in the degree of this fortune as Cassio does? . . . A pestilent, complete knave; and the woman hath found him already.” Iago convinces Rodrigo to start a fight with Cassio by appealing to Rodrigo’s interest in Desdemona. By making Rodrigo jealous (seeing things from his point of view), Iago successfully manipulates him.


More Strategies ď Ž

Identify yourself with the audience in some way. Emphasize your similarities with them and minimize your differences. Once upon a time, I also took accelerated English here at Palatine High School(even here in this very classroom!), and was forced to endure long discussions about things I didn’t see any immediate use for.


Example-similarities “Let me speak like yourself and lay a sentence / Which as a grise or step may help these lovers / Into your favor.”  The Duke of Venice appeals to Brabantio to forgive Othello and Desdemona by suggesting that Brabantio himself would suggest such a solution. 


More Strategies 

Choose examples and lines of reasoning that your audience can relate to. Select your arguments, in other words, by reference to their interests and knowledge. But before we decide to halt all talk of diction and syntax, let’s remember that you’ll be taking the AP Language test next year! And the more I prepare you now, the better the chances of your earning college credit on the exam . . .


Example-lines of reasoning that your audience can relate to “What if I do obey? How may the duke be therewith satisfied, whose messengers are here about my side upon some present business of the state to bring me to him?”  Othello and Brabantio work for the same boss – the Duke. By appealing to Brabantio’s mutual interest in not displeasing their boss, Othello convinces Brabantio not to arrest him on the spot. 


Example-lines of reasoning that your audience can relate to 

As they are in similar political positions, this seems more like reference to your audience’s interests and point of view to indicate that you know and respect them; the strategies are very similar And yet, we know that Othello and Brabantio are not social equals – Brabantio’s status will trump Othello’s every time. He could’ve had Othello arrested if he chose.


More Strategies 

Show respect for your audience. It shows you like them.

“By your gracious patience, I will a round and unvarnished tale deliver of my whole course of love”


More strategies Show humility to your audience. It gives them reason to like you (and to trust you). “Rude am I in my speech and little blessed with the soft phrase of peace” 

“And little of this great world can I speak more than pertains to feats of broil and battle; and therefore little shall I grace my cause in speaking for myself.”


And Finally . . . ď Ž

Use specific facts, ideas, and reasoning accurately. You will lose credibility if your audience concludes that your evidence is too general or your information is inaccurate. The close decision in the Supreme Court on the Ingram v. Write case indicates that corporal punishment borders on violating the Fifth and Eighth Amendments on punishment and due process. Surprisingly, it also indicates that Othello is the best Shakespearean play ever written.

ď Ž

There is no connection between the evidence and the conclusion. The audience will see right through this.


Evidence-use specific evidence 

How does Desdemona convince her father (and the Duke) that she was “half the wooer”?


How does Desdemona establish ethos? My noble father, I do perceive here a divided duty: To you I am bound for life and education; My life and education both do learn me How to respect you. You are lord of all my duty; I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband; And so much duty as my mother showed To you, preferring you before her father, So much challenge that I may profess Due to the Moor my lord.


How does Desdemona establish ethos? My noble father, I do perceive here a divided duty: To you I am bound for life and education; My life and education both do learn me How to respect you. You are lord of all my duty; I am hitherto your daughter. But here’s my husband; And so much duty as my mother showed To you, preferring you before her father, So much challenge that I may profess Due to the Moor my lord.

Showing respect: She calls her father “noble,” directly states that she respects him, and says Brabantio is still “lord of all my duty.” Referring to his audience’s point of view: She admits what she owes Brabantio as his daughter – her very life and her education. She also never suggests that Brabantio is no longer her “lord,” but simply that her duty is now “divided” because of what he himself has taught her: “I am hitherto your daughter.” Using a line of reasoning his audience can relate to: Desdemona refers to her own parents’ relationship, pointing out that she herself is simply following in her own mother’s footsteps. Speaking with conviction: Desdemona is certainly passionate about her argument.


Is Desdemona Effective? She comes off as a dutiful daughter  Brabantio is cruel to her, but he does accept the marriage  The Duke is convinced that neither she nor Othello has done any wrong. Bravo, Desi! 


Logos In Ancient Greek, logos meant word, discourse, the principles of reason.  Essentially, logos is using logic to tap into listeners’ intellect (logic = logos)  Logos is conveyed through logical structure of arguments and the use of evidence and reasoning.  A solid argument based in logos is the most difficult to dispute. 

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Logos and Inductive Reasoning Inductive Reasoning: The process of arriving at a general conclusion from a series of specific pieces of evidence.  You can convey conclusions using any type of concrete evidence: 

Examples  Statistics  Testimony 

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Inductive Reasoning 

If you want to build a case point by point, and come to your conclusion at the end, you are using inductive reasoning.

In such an argument, you present your evidence and arrive at a conclusion that seems likely to be true.

Usually, you would use this type of argument organization if you are not sure the audience will agree with you and you want them to see you have gone from particular evidence to a logical conclusion.


The premise and the evidence 

Let’s say my department chair is considering throwing Othello out of the sophomore curriculum, but I want to keep teaching it. I am worried that my chair thinks the topics in Othello are too adult, and may think that students or parents will be offended by it. Perhaps if I can show I have had success in teaching it, she will change her mind.

In this argument, I have a premise that forms the basis for my argument. My premise will be that sophomores like reading Othello, (thus we should keep it in the curriculum).

I will logically prove this premise is true with logos based evidence– examples, testimony, and statistics.


Inductive Reasoning: Dear Department Chair, Sid Bhayani likes Othello. Priyanka and Rob like Othello. Andre didn’t read Othello with us but he really wishes he had. Lizzy actually said that “Othello is the best play I’ve ever read.” When I polled the class, 82% of the students said they liked Othello. So, sophomores like reading Othello. This is why it should be kept in the curriculum.


Specific to General . . .    

Sid, Priyanka, and Rob like Othello(specific) Andre wishes he had read it Lizzy testifies it is the best play he’s ever read (specific) A poll of my sophomore class (specific) Sophomores like Othello (general)


Inductive Reasoning in Othello 

Brabantio lists several methods of witchcraft commonly used by moors to persuade the Duke that he manipulated Desdemona into falling in love with him. Othello lists many examples of heroic deeds he has done which persuades Desdemona to love him. Iago lists his reasons for hating “the moor” in order to convince the audience (and himself) that his manipulative actions are justified. Iago convinces Rodrigo to go to Cyprus by listing the reasons Desdemona and Othello will eventually break up, and then telling him he should go to Cyprus.


Deductive Reasoning 

If, however, you think your audience is likely to agree with you, you may want to state your premise first, and then give the reasons why you think people should agree with you. This process of moving from general to the particular is call deductive reasoning. In such a pattern, you use generally accepted ideas to lead to your specific argument.   

All men breathe air. (general) Mitch is a man. (general) Mitch breathes air. (specific)


Deductive Reasoning 

For example, if you wanted to argue that your friend should take AP Physics next year, you might build your argument like this:   

Students who take AP level classes get good grades (general idea) Emily takes other AP level classes (general idea) Therefore, Emily would get good grades in AP Physics (specific argument) BEWARE OF LOGICAL FALLACIES, HOWEVER.


Logical Fallacies A fallacy is a mistake or misconception. Let’s go back to our first example of deductive reasoning:


Logical Fallacy . . .   

All men breathe air. Mitch is a man. Mitch breathes air.

(we know this is true)   

All men breathe air. Alex breathes air. Alex is a man.

(we know this is true)

  

All men breathe air. Kavya breathes air. Kavya is a man!?!?

(where’d we go wrong?!?)


Logos and Analogical Reasoning Analogical Reasoning: Linking two things together and claiming that what is true of one is therefore true of another.  This strategy is particularly useful when advocating a solution that has been tried elsewhere. 

Since some teachers get results through public humiliation, Miss Lindstrom would do well to educate through public humiliation also.

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Analogical Reasoning 

You know, it’s the age-old argument:

“Everybody else is allowed to go to the party Friday night . . . And Maddy’s mom is letting her go.”


Analogical Reasoning Example 1

Example 2

Sucking up by referring frequently to Costa Rica and the Speech Team, as well as bringing in pizza has earned former students As.

Similar sucking up including references to Othello, more free pizza, and small but expensive gifts--would be a good strategy for future students. Copyright Š 2002 by Harcourt, Inc.


Making Analogical Reasoning Persuasive Are the similarities between the two cases relevant?  Are any of the differences between the two cases relevant/significant? 

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Example: Analogical Reasoning 

“Let husbands know their wives have sense like them: they see, and smell, and have their palates both both for sweet and sour as husbands have. What is it that they do change us for others? Is it sport? It think it is. And doth affection breed it? I think it doth. Is’t frailty that thus errs? It is so too. And have not we affections, desires for sport, and frailty, as men have? Then let them use us well; else let them know the ills we do, their ills instruct us so.” Emilia argues that women cheat because they are human, just like men.


Example: Analogical Reasoning 

“Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see: / She has deceived her father and may thee.”

Brabantio argues that because Desdemona lied to him, she will someday lie to Othello also.


What is this? Inductive, Deductive, or Analogical? 

“A maiden never bold; Of spirit so still and quiet that her motion flushed at herself; and she, in spite of nature, of years, of country, credit, everything, To fall in love with what she feared to look on? That will confess perfection so could err against all rules of nature, and must be driven to find out practices of cunning hell why this should be. I therefore vouch again that with some mixtures powerful o’er the blood or with some dram conjured to this effect he wrought upon her.”


Inductive! 

Brabantio begins with specific evidence his audience would agree with: She is a really timid girl (still and quiet”) He then introduces more specific evidence: She is of good breeding (of country, credit, everything) And finally: It would be unnatural (against all rules of nature) Which leads him to this conclusion: I therefore vouch again that with some mixtures powerful o’er the blood. . . He wrought upon her.


Inductive! 

Brabantio uses common knowledge (and stereotypes about interracial dating) to prove his points because he has no real proof. He calls it proof—what he considers common knowledge about his daughter’s character—but it is not always true. We see quite quickly that Desdemona is not really the timid, shy girl Brabantio tries to make her out to be.


Pathos In Ancient Greek, pathos meant suffering, emotion, feeling.  Essentially, an author or speaker manipulates or uses an audience’s emotions to persuade them.  That’s why politicians use music in their commercials, make references to sad events, attack one another with vicious accusations, etc. 


Pathos 

Pathos: Persuasive appeals to emotions including 

Fear— Like Othello, or a pack of wild dogs will

pin you down and eat your liver out as the ghost of Shakespeare reads excerpts from King Lear.  Love— Like Othello, because I love you, please. Like it because you love me!  Pride– I will NOT let Mr. Gross’s class like Julius Caesar more than my class likes Othello. Come on, people! Who’s with me!?!?! Copyright © 2002 by Harcourt, Inc.


Pathos 

Pathos: Persuasive appeals to emotions including 

Shame— Everyone look at Nisha. She doesn’t like Othello. You don’t want to be like Nisha, do you?

Guilt— If you don’t like Othello, I will lose my job and be unable to support my shoe shopping habit. You don’t want that, do you?

Jealousy— I get to hang out with movie stars and rock bands discussing Othello. I’d invite you to come along, but you don’t like the play. Sorry.

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The Danger of Emotion 

Because emotional appeals are very influential, they are susceptible to abuse. Effective and ethical emotional appeals are appropriate to the topic, goal, occasion, and audience.  Effective emotional appeals compliment well developed arguments. 

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Strategies for Emotional Appeals  

Include content elements like stories and examples that appeal to human emotions. Include emotional language 

Persuasive Punch Words: Words that emphasize certain emotions. • Duty, Country, Evil, Family, Magic, Hell, Heaven, Loyalty, Honesty etc.

Include delivery elements like facial expressions that emphasize certain emotions. Copyright © 2002 by Harcourt, Inc.


Strategies for Emotional Appeals Include delivery elements like facial expressions that emphasize certain emotions. “And yet I fear you for you’re fatal then when your eyes roll so . . . Alas, why gnaw you so your nether lip? Some bloody passion shakes your very frame.” 

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Facial Expressions


Emotional Appeals 

O monstrous world! Take note, take note, O world! To be direct and honest is not safe. (pity) Moor, she was chaste. She loved thee, cruel Moor. So come my sould to bliss, as I speak true (shame) It is impossible you should see this were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys, as salt as wolves in pride, and fools as gross as ignorance made drunk. (anger)


Emotional Appeals Even now, very now, an old black ram is tupping your white ewe (shame, anger) ď Ž Then must you speak of one that loved not wisely, but too well (pity, sadness) ď Ž


Beware of Logical Fallacies both as a speaker and a member of the audience

Logical Fallacies: Serious flaws in the reasoning used to support a claim.  Some fallacies are intentional while others are unintentional.  Ethical speakers avoid making fallacies because they deceive listeners. 

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Hasty Generalization      

Hasty Generalization: A speaker draws a conclusion from too little evidence. Primarily a problem in inductive arguments. Take care to ensure that you have enough evidence and that the evidence is typical. Girl. Girl. Girl. Girl? This is the issue with Othello’s jealousy; he has little or no proof that Desdemona cheated on him. This is also why, earlier, we thought Laura was a boy. Copyright © 2002 by Harcourt, Inc.


False Cause False Cause: A speaker claims that because one event follows another, the first event caused the second.  Especially relevant in problem/cause/solution speeches.  Consider more likely and other potential causes of a problem. 

I chose cold pizza for breakfast, and then it snowed. Thus, my breakfast choice caused it to snow. Copyright © 2002 by Harcourt, Inc.


   

False Cause

False Cause: A speaker claims that because one event follows another, the first event caused the second. Especially relevant in problem/cause/solution speeches. Consider more likely and other potential causes of a problem. I chose cold pizza for breakfast, so it snowed.

Recent research claimed that children who ate dinner with their families were less likely to have eating disorders, asthma, problems in school, violent tendencies, etc.  Critics argue that the family dinner is not the cause of these things, but rather good parenting is—and good parents are more likely to have family dinners. 

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Slippery Slope Slippery Slope: Assuming a particular action will force a series of events that lead to a bad result.  Especially relevant in problem (no solution) speeches.  Consider potential intervening variables that could alter the chain of events.  If you don’t write down these notes you will end up living in the gutter—poor and disease-ridden. 

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Slippery Slope    

Slippery Slope: Assuming a particular action will force a series of events that lead to a bad result. Especially relevant in problem (no solution) speeches. Consider potential intervening variables that could alter the chain of events. If you don’t write down these notes you will end up living in the gutter, poor and disease-ridden.

This is how Othello is able to convince himself to kill Desdemona: “Yet she must die, else she’ll betray more men.” Copyright © 2002 by Harcourt, Inc.


Either-Or Either-Or: Arguing that there are only two alternatives when multiple ones exist.  Especially relevant for comparative advantage formats.  Carefully consider all potential solutions or outcomes.  Either you like Othello, or you are a terrible student! 

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Either-Or    

Either-Or: Arguing that there are only two alternatives when multiple ones exist. Especially relevant for comparative advantage formats. Carefully consider all potential solutions or outcomes. Either you like The Chosen, or you are a terrorist!

“I had rather be a toad and live upon the vapor of a dungeon than keep a corner in the thing I love for other’s uses.”

“Ere I would say I would drown myself for the love of a guinea-hen, I would change my humanity for a baboon.” Copyright © 2002 by Harcourt, Inc.


Straw Man 

   

Straw Man: Attacking a weakened or misrepresented version of the opposition’s argument (like when someone ‘twists your words.’ Especially relevant in refutation speeches. Give respect to opposing arguments. Candidate #1: I will ensure that the wives of soldiers who die in combat are financially taken care of by the government. Candidate #2: My opponent wants to raise taxes and spend your hard-earned money! Copyright © 2002 by Harcourt, Inc.


Bandwagon     

Bandwagon: Assuming that because something is popular it is a good idea. Especially relevant when public opinion, fads, or “conventional wisdom” are used as evidence. Carefully consider factual and authoritative evidence on issues. If everyone else was jumping off a bridge, would you do it, too? Everybody else seems to dislike Othello, so I won’t admit that I like it. Copyright © 2002 by Harcourt, Inc.


Appeal to Tradition Appeal to Tradition: Defending the way things are simply because that is how things have always been done.  Especially relevant when historical facts are used as evidence.  Carefully consider advantages to changing the way things are currently done. 

Accelerated sophomores have been reading Julius Caesar for more than 20 years, so it must be the best Shakespeare play to read. Copyright © 2002 by Harcourt, Inc.


Ad Hominem Ad Hominem: Attacking another person rather than that person’s ideas.  Especially relevant in refutation when challenging the credibility of opposing arguments.  Avoid irrelevant and baseless attacks on a person’s character.  Oh yeah, well you’re stupid! 

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Ad Hominem    

   

Ad Hominem: Attacking another person rather than that person’s ideas. Especially relevant in refutation when challenging the credibility of opposing arguments. Avoid irrelevant and baseless attacks on a person’s character. Oh yeah, well you’re stupid!

“O gull! O dolt! As ignorant as dirt!” “O thou dull Moor.” “O Spartan dog!” “Impudent strumpet!”

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Non Sequitur Non Sequitur: Making a conclusion that does not logically flow from your evidence.  Potentially relevant in any form of reasoning.  Carefully consider how your evidence directly supports each of your conclusions.  Girl. Girl. Girl. Drives a blue car. 

  

All women breathe air. Courtney is a woman. Courtney enjoys fresh country air. Copyright © 2002 by Harcourt, Inc.


Non Sequitur 

“What, look you pale? . . . Look you pale, mistress? . . . Do you see, gentlemen? Nay, guiltiness will speak, though tongues were out of use.”

So . . . Because Bianca looks pale and upset after Cassio’s stabbing, she is apparently the guilty party . . ???


Non Sequitur 

“Hot, hot and moist. This hand of yours requires a sequester from liberty, fasting and prayer, much castigation, exercise devout; for here’s a young and sweating devil here that commonly rebels.”

So . . .because Desdemona’s hand is hot, she has been cheating on her husband . . ?


The End

Persuasive Text  

For BiancaH80

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