The Rhetorical Triangle: Is it Effective or Not?
The rhetorical triangle is a technique used to utilize and compose thoughts in a way that appeal to and persuade an audience. The three components that base these persuasions are pathos (emotions), ethos (creditability), and logos (reasoning). Many creditable people have used the rhetorical triangle in their speeches showing this technique to be effective. Abraham Lincoln, the nation’s sixteenth President, is a perfect example showing that when effectively used the power and application of the rhetorical triangle can positively alter thoughts and feelings of an audience.
Abraham Lincoln is well-educated man who uses powerful inspirational words in his speech the Gettysburg Address, and has received great success by using emotions or pathos in his speech. Pathos means to appeal emotionally to the heart and mind of an audience. In order for a speech to be successful, the audience must embrace the emotions that are within a speech. The orator not only needs to appeal to the heart but also to the mind of an audience and if the audience does not grasp these feelings, the result will be unsuccessful. However, in Lincolns’ case the use of intense emotions persuades the audience to empathize with him the painful and heart wrenching loss of the many lives on the battlefield during the Civil War. Lincoln gives reinforced concern for the victims using words such as “hallow,” “brave,” “unfinished work,” and “that these dead shall not die in vain” (Lincoln, 1635). Lincoln’s use of pathos shows compassion for the lives lost and exhibits that he is not just speaking for those who sacrificed themselves for a better future “…which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced,” but also to those who still have life (Lincoln, 1635). Lincoln uses the voice of persuasion to those still living to help end the war that has taken many lives and to help continue the “great task remaining before us” which to Lincoln meant the end of war and slavery (Lincoln, 1635). In today’s society, we continue to fight this battle. Slavery may have ended however; some people still treat each other in such offensive mannerisms. It seems as though racism is the perception of this era and some still believe that Caucasians are more superior then those with dark-colored skin and still believe in the idea of slavery. This would fall into the category of a bad moral character, which defines who that person is and what they stand for.
Moral character pertains to ethics or ethos, which could have a variety of features such as loyalty, honesty, and courage. Lincoln appeals to all concepts of what the definition of moral character may be however; his use of ethos is not to prove his trustworthiness or creditability, but rather to show the people recognition the grief and physical suffering they are feeling and expresses that he too is feeling this grief. This passage from Lincoln’s speech is the most powerful and passionate...