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Using Ethos, Pathos and Logos In Your Essay

Rhetoric is the art of speech, that was used centuries ago and is actual even today. It teaches us how to use the language in the most effective way. For knowing that much about public speaking we owe to a great philosopher Aristotle, who managed to give us a clear vision about rhetoric in his work “Ars Rhetorica ”. Already in ancient times the speakers new how to talk to an audience and be heard. Rhetoric really improves communication between the author and his listeners and allows to persuade them of the necessary ideas, or to make them do certain actions. The essay you are going to write should also appeal to the readers, so that the aim of the essay will be achieved. Rhetoric has three pillars, three models of persuasion on which it is based: Ethos, Pathos, and Logos.

Ethos, Pathos and Logos may be used together in different proportions in the same text as they are aimed at the persuasion of readers. Political speeches, advertisements, presentations, mainly any text which is supposed to be read or heard employs a certain degree of these three notions of rhetoric. The same with an essay, it should contain a certain level of persuasion, depending on the purpose of the essay. Essays are of different types. For example, in an argumentative essay, or a persuasive essay the writer will use more Ethos and Pathos, as to make more of an emotional appeal to the readers/ listeners. As for the narrative, descriptive, information or analysis essays, the writer will try to use more Logos, appealing to the informational issue.


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Download Free Sample of Ethos, Pathos and Logos Usage in an Essay (Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”

MLK Letter from Birmingham

How to employ Ethos in your essay?

Ethos, Pathos, Logos
Ethos means “accustomed place” in Greek and refers to the basic ideas and beliefs peculiar to a certain community.

In order to employ Ethos in your essay you should apply the language, including expressions, which is appropriate to the audience and the subject you deal with. The aim of Ethos usage is to make the audience trust your words. For this purpose the author should first state his beliefs regarding the subject at the beginning of the essay.

In case audience’s beliefs are similar, Ethos may be easily applied. In case when they differ, the author should show sincerity and common sense as well as respect and understanding of the position of the audience in order to change its beliefs. It may be also achieved through the moral, expertize and the knowledge you embody. If, for instance, you have been studying economics, then you will have more credibility on the economic issues. Nevertheless, the author should show intelligence through the knowledge of the subject as well as virtue and goodwill.

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How to employ Pathos in your essay?

Pathos is translated as “suffering” or “experience” from Greek and means appellation to the audience’s emotions in rhetoric.

Pathos may be used by the author through the imagination and sympathies of the audience. The author creates an image that provokes emotions and, thus, forms a background for persuasion of his or her ideas. Pathos requires vivid, figurative, emotionally loaded language with connotative meanings.

For example, if you want to persuade the audience about the necessity of granting humanitarian aid, you should describe the sufferings of starving children. As long as some part of the audience has their own children with whom they have emotional connections, your words would definitely influence the emotions of those people.

Ethos, Pathos, Logos Structure

How to employ Logos in your essay? (click the image to enlarge)

Logos means “word,” “speech,” “account,” or “reason” and refers to reasoned discourse.

The information in ethos and pathos already includes some sort of reasoning and appeal to intellect but in case of logos the emphasize on intellect is harder. Logos is not limited to the pure formal logic. It also deals with the form sufficient for the appeal to intellect of the audience. In addition, the author may use extrinsic proofs – historical and literal analogies, statistical data, opinions of professionals. All these means reinforce the initial intention of the author.

For instance, presentation of a new strategy on the unemployment reduction requires not only logical statement like “increasing of unemployment financial aid decreases stimulus for the search of a new job”. It would be much better to present statistical data on correlation between the amount of financial aid and speed of new employment; examples of strategy effectiveness in other states; as well as conclusions of experts.

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