An Abstract and Rhetorical Overview


This blog post introduces the topic of situational rhetoric and conducts a comparative analysis on how different tactics are proven to be used, or not used by different women in a global perspective based on their social, cultural, and political differences from men. Specifically comparing the United States and England’s women’s rights movements between the time periods of the 19th and 20th century, it’s important to analyze their historical roots and bring a transparent understanding as to why these movements began. Even though these movements seemingly act independent in their own countries respectively, both battles for equality are still being fought till this day. Overall, these women had to use the medium of art and literary components to speak about social commentary and political issues in order to be heard. People can always learn from other cultures, see how it worked for their country, be inspired on how to make it work for theirs, and use to effectively to move the movement forward and to avoid a repetition of failed tactics.

Introduction to Rhetoric

“How to Use Rhetoric to Get What you Want” A TedEd.

To begin, the definition of rhetoric is the art of persuasion, in the form of eloquent speech or written prose that orators use to convey specific topics to an intended audience not only to aid their ignorance on a particular subject, but to transcend their knowledge to its fullest capacity, and in turn, pass this wisdom to continuous generations. This definition applies to every rhetorician within history; yet, as this analysis focuses through the lens of classical rhetorician, Aristotle, his rhetorical theory centers on his artistic creation of appeals which all include – “to understand human character and goodness in their various forms, and to understand the emotions, and to reason logically,” or in simplistic terms ethos, pathos, and logos (182). Adding these appeals into a public address allows any orator’s rhetorical dialect to appear most knowledgeable. It is a reminder that any person in practice of public speaking or generally in practice of persuading a person could apply these appeals; however, after thoroughly analyzing Aristotle’s theories, he, in fact, values one rhetorical appeal amongst the rest, Pathos. In this statement, I do not claim that he dismissed his values with ethical and logical as unimportant, but it is seen through textual evidence that within the context of those two appeals, Aristotle’s value of pathetic rhetoric which poses an understanding that an emotional connection with an audience proves most impactful to the persuasion of an argument. To reiterate, he shows that all appeals do need the involvement of emotions.

There is primary evidence highlighted within in the editors, Patricia Bizzell and Bruce Herzberg from the text, “The Rhetorical Tradition: Readings from Classical Times to the Present”. They discussed that Aristotle’s overarching argument is, “ethical and pathetic appeals together, perhaps because both appeal to the emotions, whether felt toward the speaker or the speaker’s position. He analyzes the emotions scientifically in terms of their essential nature and their causes” (176). His explanation is that ethical, credible appeals function naturally with the influence of emotions in regard to both the orator and the audience. Even though I make this claim seem quite obvious, the role of emotions was not always entirely agreed upon. Secondary evidence is featured through Alan Briton’s scholarly article, “Pathos and the ‘Appeal to Emotion’: An Aristotelian Analysis” which notes in his introduction that philosophers in philosophical studies “questioned the legitimacy of the “appeal to emotion” as a form or aspect of argument” defining it as an “informal fallacy” (207). Pathetic strategies were often considered less insightful in comparison to ethical and logical tactics; yet, Briton negates the discussion in explaining the rhetorical importance of pathos and how emotions influence and emphasis human judgment and decision-making. In fact, he re-informs the audience that “he puts pathos on the same footing with logos and ethos as means of persuasion or rhetorical proof, and there it remains for the rest of the work” (207). As an extension to Briton’s analysis, he states that researchers in logic textbooks present the parallel between the “appeal to emotions and reasoning as ambiguous” (211). Yet, Aristotle continuously mentions that an orator’s moral character should be righteous and true in order to harness his audience’s emotions to their fullest potential. “Similarly, with just men and unjust men, and all others who are said to act in accordance with their moral qualities, their actions will really be due to one of the causes mentioned – either reasoning or emotions” (201). Relating to the claim of pathetic appeals having importance within ethics, it serves equivalent purposes with logic. Even though I have spent the time to prove that pathos is just as valuable to the equation alongside the other appeals, it should not be ignored that there is a substantial portion within,  On Rhetoric, that is devoted to pathos, each emotion having a separate chapter which has rhetorical importance; This is not as considerate to the other appeals’ sections.

A Small Comparative Chart Between the Countries’ Women Rights Acts

EnglandThe United States
Sex Discrimination Act1975 1964
Property ActMarried Women: 1882
All Women: 1926
Mississippi: 1839
(dates vary per state)
Voting Rights ActAge 30+: 1918
Age 21+: 1928
White Women: 1920
Black Women: 1965
Equal Pay Act19701963

Want To See How They Applied Rhetoric To Achieve Their Goals? Choose Your Country.