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An Analysis of the Use of Persuasive Appeal in David Foster Wallace's Kenyon College Commencement Address - Essay Example

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The paper "An Analysis of the Use of Persuasive Appeal in David Foster Wallace's Kenyon College Commencement Address" highlights that Wallace starts by giving a short narration about two young fish who meet an older one moving in the opposite direction…
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An Analysis of the Use of Persuasive Appeal in David Foster Wallace's Kenyon College Commencement Address

Download file to see previous pages... Wallace makes use of persuasive appeal by utilizing the components of ethos, logos, and pathos that readers become aware of as they devour this piece of writing. Mortensen (2004) affirms that, Aristotle defines ethos as the component that attains persuasion through the author’s character when an audience listens to a speech and deems the speaker as credible. Ethos represents the author’s integrity, respectability and influence and how the author uses these attributes to impress the audience. In addition, they relate to the way a writer uses tone and style to communicate opinion or present an argument. Logos convince through reasoning by making use of logical arguments and evidence to support a writer’s stand. They draw on facts and figures in supporting the speaker’s topic. Pathos achieves persuasion by stirring emotions among the audience (Mortensen, 2004). The author’s ability to use these components creates text that captures the readers’ attention and encourages them to keep on reading. So how does Wallace appeal to his audience? Wallace applies all three components to persuade the audience; however, logos and ethos are more prominent while pathos makes minor occurrences as the ensuing discussion highlights. Wallace starts by giving a short narration about two young fish who meet an older one moving in the opposite direction. The older fish enquires on how they find the waters. The fish story is a metaphor as it likens the fish to human beings. The author confirms this by saying “I am not the wise old fish” (The Wall Street Journal). Wallace was a respectable novelist and essayist from his previous works such as ‘Infinite Jest’ and ‘The Depressed Person’; nevertheless, he does not wish to bluff or present a near perfect image of himself. He avoids the know-it-all attitude that most mentors would convey. The story serves to leave the audience in suspense as it does not have a conclusion. Wallace confirms the suspense in the remark “If, at this moment, you are worried that I plan to present myself here, as the wise old fish explaining what water is to you younger fish, please do not be” (The Wall Street Journal, 2008). The suspense blends well with the rest of speech as Wallace proceeds to shed more light on the essence of his speech. The suspense provides a foundation for the entire speech and grabs the audience’s attention as they try to connect the story to the rest of the speech. Providing a conclusion to the story would only reveal too much to the audience. As a result, the rest of the speech would not be intriguing. In addition, Wallace uses the fish story to draw attention to how humans overlook the most apparent things in life; in this case, these things are represented by water which is a common and basic commodity. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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