In a persuasive essay, rhetorical appeals are a very important tool to influence the audience toward the author’s perspective. The three rhetorical appeals, which were first developed by Aristotle, are pathos, logos, and ethos. Pathos appeals to the emotions of the audience, logos appeals to the facts or evidence and ethos exhibits the credibility of the writer.
William Bennett is a well-respected man in the political world. He served as Secretary of Education and Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities under President Ronald Reagan and Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy under President George H.W. Bush. His essay entitled “Leave Marriage Alone,” which was published in Newsweek, June 3, 1996, is a response to an article written by Andrew Sullivan advocating same-sex marriage. Using rhetorical analysis I will determine whether or not this essay is effective and why.
Bennett is a conservative republican who is a strong advocate for family values. The purpose of Bennett’s essay is to expose the downside of Andrew Sullivan’s argument in favor of same-sex marriage. He wants to persuade those who have read Sullivan’s essay to side with him. His audience seems to be primarily middle-aged heterosexuals who already take his stance on the topic.
Bennett’s essay is clear, concise and to the point. He talks about the key issues from the first sentence in the first paragraph. The structure of his essay is deductive, beginning with “the two key issues that divide proponents and opponents of same sex marriage. The first is weather legally recognizing same-sex unions would strengthen or weaken the instition. The second has to do with the basic understanding of marriage itself” (29).
Bennett’s writing does not rely too heavily on rhetorical appeals. Appeal to emotion or pathos is not touched upon much, if at all, in his writing. His essay relies mostly upon presenting his ideas as his main argument. His arguments are logical, reasonable and widely accepted among the general public. This could be considered the rhetorical appeal of logos but Bennett presents no solid facts or statistics to back up his arguments. The points that he does present seem reasonable but without proof can easily be argued against. An example of this can be seen in the fourth paragraph where he talks about what marriage means and that forsaking all others is an essential part of that. He goes on to claim that same-sex partners do not follow that role and that...