American Cultural Mythologies Essay
What rhetorical techniques do Douglass and Moore use to convince their audience to accept their claim? What similarities and differences in evidence do you detect? Which one gets the message across better? Why?
Douglass and Moore have used various rhetoric devices in their works that have enabled them to advance their ability to influence and persuade most readers and viewers. Moore, director of the documentary ‘SICKO’, has used pathos and comparison to get his point across. Douglas, in ‘What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?’ has also used rhetoric devices such as pathos, ethos, logos, and contrast to get the attention of his readers.
Ethos is a set of values held by either an individual or a community and can be reflected in their behaviors and language. Ethos reflects values and characters of culture and motivates individuals to act for what they believe is right. In ‘What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?’ Douglas has talked about the brutal treatment slaves received from their masters. He also talks about his own self-reliance as well as that of his fellow slaves. This rhetoric device serves as a mechanism through which Douglas can control his readers’ emotions as well as control how the public would react towards slavery. This device has an influence on the readers’ responses, therefore, his messages will be accepted as they appear sensible.
Douglas argued the opposition’s view of slaves not being men on a logic basis. He stated:
This Fourth [of] July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn…For the present; it is enough to affirm the equal manhood of the Negro race. Is it not astonishing that while we are ploughing, planting and reaping, using all kinds of mechanical tools, erecting houses, constructing bridges, building ships, working in metals of brass, iron, copper, silver and gold; that, while we are reading, writing and ciphering, acting as clerks, merchants, and secretaries, having among us lawyers, doctors, ministers…we are called upon to prove that we are men! (Douglas 238).
Douglas used this example to make credible arguments. He argued that both black and white men must be equal if they can occupy the same positions.
Pathos is an appeal to emotion. In ‘What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?’ Douglas has given a detailed description of the situation that led to the freedom of slaves. He spoke of the situation in an internal emotional state of those people that saw it necessary to free the slaves. He states, “…forefathers felt themselves the victims of grievous wrongs, wholly incurable in their colonial capacity. With brave men, there is always a remedy for oppression.” (Douglas 232).
In Michael Moore’s documentary, SICKO, pathos is the main method that the director has used to get the attention of the viewers. He has shown a man sewing his own knee and goes on to show another man who has to get his fingers fixed but then he has to choose one that he could pay for. His efforts definitely make viewers be sympathetic towards the individuals who are affected by health insurance companies. He attracts viewers’ attention and makes them believe in him, therefore, taking his side regarding Health Care.
Throughout Moore’s documentary, SICKO, America has been compared to other countries. Douglas has also used comparison and contrast in his work. Both have examined the differences and similarities that occur between two or more places, people or situations. A good example by Douglass is where he set up a direct comparison between the treatment that slaves received from slave owners and colonies’ feelings towards Great Britain.
In ‘SICKO’, Michael Moore uses great examples to compare America to different countries. A good example that he has used was of volunteer workers who had to go to Guantanamo Bay to obtain health care since they could not afford it in America. They opted to get it in Cuba because their health care is cheaper.
Differences in Douglass and Moore’s work are that Moore interviews different individuals in the documentary to prove his points. This is a great technique since it will give him the logos, ethos, and pathos needed for the documentary. Viewers will sympathies with individuals who cannot afford health care in America. Douglas, on the other hand, uses his own experiences to show the harsh experiences of slaves. No interviews have been recorded and he talks about his own experiences as well as those of other slaves.
Michael Moore has managed to get his point across better than Douglas. He has been able to connect well with his viewers. His use of pathos has been very effective in enabling him to pass his message across. His tool of comparing and contrasting America with other countries has also enabled him to make his viewers understand the truth regarding American Health Care. He has managed to convince viewers to take his side, therefore, joining more hands towards fighting for an effective health care system.
Douglass, F. “What to Slave is the Fourth of July?” 1852.
Moore, M. SICKO. The Weinstein Company. TF1 International: RAI Cinema. 2007. Print.