What I took away from this course was gaining a new perspective on how to judge a person’s, or my own, writing. Before I took this class, I had not even been aware of what rhetoric was or what the general view on it had been as commonly thought of in the subject of politics. Trickery is the first thing that most people assume, that rhetoric is a politician’s way of making promises and fooling his audience into believing one thing when what he is really saying is something very different. I know now that rhetoric can indeed be a form of wording something in a tricky way just as many people believe that is what it is, but at the same time rhetorical strategies can also be used in a less devious light in order to improve the argument you are making in a paper or a speech. Rhetoric is not simply a mischievous way to go about making an argument, it can also increase the power and improve the meaning of whatever it is that you are trying to put out there for an audience.

Thinking about the format of an argument – the words used, the way in which points are arranged, etc – is easier now that I learned some of the strategies that are typically implemented as well as other things to commonly look out for. Knowing what you want to keep an eye out for enhances your ability when it comes to analyzing a text, not to simply figure out what exactly it was the author had written on the page, but what emotions they intended to bring forth in their audience and what sort of message they desired to get across to the audience. I think that having knowledge of these strategies allows me to approach a text or a speech in a different way than I used to so that now when I read something, I will think about what is there being presented more than I might have in the past.

In rhetoric, there are various appeals that can be used such as Ethos, which is the idea of appealing to the character of the people in the audience. Additionally, there is Pathos, which is appealing to the emotions or the imagination of the people in the audience, and finally Logos, appealing to reason. When reading an argument or listening to a speech, it is useful to be able to analyze what is being said while thinking about the various methods that can be used to appeal to a specific audience. Being able to do this sort of thing matters greatly because an ignorant audience is likely to be swayed easily by clever phrases and by having their emotions or character appealed to, yet if they were to know what to look out for, then they would be far less likely to make decisions based on gut feeling alone and rather be able to make educated decisions based on the message and on what they are able to infer the speaker actually intends.

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