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Rhetorical Comparison, Essay Example

Pages: 7

Words: 1877

Essay

Susan B. Anthony and Hillary Clinton are both well-known speakers that aim to promote women’s rights. Although the two are from very different time periods that reflected different boundaries to equality for women, the two are viewed as excellent orators and they have both gained a great amount of support from people that have driven social changed and achieved greater equality. In their speeches, Susan B Anthony and Hillary Clinton are both effective in using rhetorical appeals and have excellent sense of audience. They both effectively make appeal of logos, but Susan B. Anthony focuses more on the element of ethos since she gave her speech in the court while Hillary Clinton take a good advantage of pathos because she already had a good reputation and for the time she gave her speech she was more able to use pathos.

To determine the sense of audience that both speakers needed to appeal to, it is important to first consider the settings in which their speeches were delivered. Susan B. Anthony delivered her “On Women’s Right to Vote” speech after she was arrested and fined $100 for voting in the 1872 presidential election. This speech had historical relevance because former slave had just been awarded the right to vote through passage of the 15th amendment. As a consequence many suffragists believed that there should be an amendment that would grant universal suffrage rather than suffrage for only this group. It was no surprise, then, the passion, anger, and persuasive message of women’s rights that Anthony used in her speech to the court when she was arrested in 1873. Meanwhile, Hilary Clinton delivered her speech on September 5, 1995 in Beijing, China at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality. Although at this point in time women around the world had made significant strides towards equality, the purpose of this speech was to demonstrate to activists and leaders around the world that their work on the matter is not yet complete. Overall, she aimed to demonstrate that women’s education, health, and personal rights were lacking and that a solution to prevent violence against women must be found. She claims by arguing against these rights that women deserve, one is not considering them as human beings.

Both speakers showed appropriate understanding of the audience and targeted the audience using logical appeal. Susan B. Anthony used her speech to speak to the court and show what she did was not legally wrong according to the Constitution. In addition she attempted to demonstrate that her views were morally correct as a consequence of her audience being able to understand her point of view due to their roles as judges, jurors, lawyers, and anyone else who had enough interest in this case to attend the hearings. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton used her speech to address fellow women’s rights activists at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women: Action for Equality. She used her speech to appeal to a group of people who likely already supported her opinions and views of equal rights, however she uses these words in a way that encourages these people to take action on the matter rather than remain passive. Since Susan B. Anthony argued for the women’s right to vote immediately following her arrest for attempting to do so and Hillary Clinton delivered her speech at a time in history in which violence against women was at an all-time high, they both make use of the rhetorical element kairos in which speakers deliver a message that is timely in order for the audience to make a positive connection between the speech being given and its context in world events and politics.

In addition, Susan B. Anthony and Hillary Clinton make excellent use of logos in both of their speeches in order to strengthen their arguments. Logos is defined as the component of rhetoric that refers to the ability of a speaker to persuade by the use of reasoning. In Susan B. Anthony’s speech, she uses a logic and reasoning several times in order to emphasize her point. In one example, she cites the authority of the Constitution by saying, “It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed this Union”. By doing so, she cites a well-known document with legal authority in the United States and applied it to suffrage in this context. By doing so, she uses reasoning to demonstrate that the country’s forefathers wanted equality for all people and this is the foundation on which this country was established. As a result of this reference, the audience was expected to connect more substantially with the purpose of her speech because they will draw the connection that she wants them to; the constitution applies to people as a whole, not just men, so women deserve the same rights that men are given. Hillary Clinton uses logos in a similar manner. Instead of citing a legal document as logical evidence for the necessity of women’s rights, she provides statistics and factual information that demonstrates the need for women’s equality. Specifically she lists ways in which women’s rights and therefore human rights are being violated. She says, “It is a violation of human rights when babies are being denied food, or drowned, or suffocated, or their spines broken, simply because they are born girls”. Other examples she provides are girl children being sold into slavery and/or prostitution, when women are lit on fire because their dowries are too small, women being raped in their own communities and not having rights and privileges over their own reproductive systems, among several other facts provided. She demonstrates that human rights are being violated here and shows that it is unlikely that the world would treat men in this way.

Although it has been demonstrated that both Susan B. Anthony and Hillary Clinton are excellent orators, the elements of rhetoric that they use in the remainder of their speeches differ. Specifically, Susan B. Anthony focuses more on the element of ethos since she gave her speech in the court while Hillary Clinton take a good advantage of pathos because she already had a good reputation and for the time she gave her speech she was more able to use pathos. The main reason that these speakers emphasized different elements of rhetoric was to suit the unique purpose of each of their speeches. Susan B. Anthony needed to appeal to the audience’s already existing set of beliefs in order to convince them that a women standing on trial for an apparent violation of the law was indeed the one who was acting justly. Since Hillary Clinton didn’t need to convince the audience to agree with her because many already did, she used the element of pathos in order to invoke emotion in her listeners that will cause them to want to take action to prevent the atrocities that are committed against women.

Susan B. Anthony uses the rhetoric appeal ethos in her argument in order to persuade her audience, which refers to the credibility of the speaker. Susan B. Anthony uses ethos when she cites Senator Charles Sumner by using the credibly of a man who holds the same belief as her regarding her rights as a citizen. Many people both knew and respected the Senator during the time in which the speech was given and since the male audience voted him into office, they would be likely to share many opinions with him. As a result, people would be more likely to believe in Anthony’s statement knowing she had some backup from a person who holds power.Anthony uses this rhetorical appeal a second time when she cites the authority of a Quaker preacher, who holds authority on her subject because he holds prominence in the community and supports women’s rights because of the structure of the religion. If during the time that the Declaration of Independence was written, the Quakers believed that women should have equal value in society as men, it is interesting that this belief was lost as society continued to grow over time. Nonetheless, Anthony uses the reference to this Quaker preacher to appeal to her audience because his belief reflects the beliefs of this country’s forefathers, who intended all people to be treated equally.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton uses pathos as a main rhetorical device in order to invoke emotion in her audience. We can imagine that many of the things that Clinton says in her speech is likely to strike the audience with some sense of emotion, whether it be fear, hate, or appreciation. A specific example of pathos can be seen when Clinton says, “I want to speak up for mothers who are fighting for good schools, safe neighborhoods, clean air, and clean airwaves; for older women, some of them widows, who find that, after raising their families, their skills and life experiences are not valued in the marketplace; for women who are working all night as nurses, hotel clerks, or fast food chefs so that they can be at home during the day with their children; and for women everywhere who simply don’t have time to do everything they are called upon to do each and every day”. This statement is powerful and emotional for the many women who can relate to it. It demonstrates that many women try hard to earn better lives for themselves and their children and often receive no gratitude or find that they are unable to achieve these goals or even make ends meet as a result of the differences that society indicates exist between men and women. This statement is likely to bring out the frustrations in many of these people that, although they try hard and work long hours, they are not able to succeed for many reasons that relates directly to their gender, such as being paid lower wages than men for the same amount of work. In addition, this may anger some of the women who are in this position and motivate them more greatly to take the steps necessary in order to ensure that this changes for women across the world.

In conclusion, Susan B. Anthony and Hillary Clinton both executed their speeches effectively, which worked to drive social change as a result of the reactions of their respective audiences. While they appealed to the audience similarly by using kairos and logos, their use of logos and ethos differed. Although both orators used different rhetorical techniques in their speeches, both can be considered effective orators because they altered their use of rhetorical elements to specifically appeal to their individual audience. Susan B. Anthony used ethos because her audience was unfamiliar with who she was as a person and needed to convince them that she was correct in her actions and not a criminal. Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton used pathos because her audience was familiar with who she was and needed to persuade them to take action to promote women’s rights as human rights rather than to convince them to agree with her beliefs.

Works Cited

Anthony, Susan B. “On Women’s Right to Vote”. Language Matters, Ed, Debra De   Southlake, TX:Fountainhead Press, 2010.13-19.Print.

Clinton, Hillary. “Women’s Rights are Human Rights”. Language Matters, Ed, Debra De Southlake, TX:Fountainhead Press, 2010.13-19.Print.

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