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Ethos, Logos and Pathos: The Structure of a Great Speech Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 5 May 2018

Ethos, Logos and Pathos: The Structure of a Great Speech

A brilliant first lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, once said,” Justice cannot be for one side alone, but must be for both.” In Twelve Angry Men, a young boy has been charged with first-degree murder. Twelve jurors, angry and just ready to leave, must decide the fate of this young boy. Very few of the twelve jurors are willing to fully examine the evidence to give the boy the justice he deserves. Reginald Rose uses the rhetorical appeals ethos, pathos, and logos to help convince all twelve jurors to eventually come to the verdict of not guilty.

Ethics and morals exemplify the meaning of the rhetorical appeal ethos. At the beginning of the play, the judge is telling the twelve jurors a very important message before they begin to deliberate. The judge voices, “I urge you to deliberate honestly and thoughtfully. You are faced with a grave responsibility” (page 230). Whenever someone is asked to be a juror, they are under oath. They must be completely honest, and there cannot be a reasonable doubt in their mind about their decision. Being honest, truthful, and trustworthy illustrate ethos. Juror Eleven, a refugee that came to this country in hope of something new, says, “I have always thought that a man was entitled to have unpopular opinions in this country. This is the reason I came here. I wanted to have a right to disagree” (page 240). This employs ethos by letting us know Juror Eleven came to this country because of its ethically correct living. He knew if he came to this country, he would be able to speak freely. Clearly exemplified in these excerpts above, ideals, ethics, and morals of these characters demonstrate the meaning of ethos.

The rhetorical appeal pathos is a very important part of any writing because it appeals to the reader’s feelings and emotions. Juror Eight, a man discontent with the way the trial is being handled, says, “Look, this boy’s been kicked around all his life. You know, living in a slum, his mother dead since he was nine. That’s not a very good head start. He’s a tough angry kid. You know why slum kids get that way? Because we knock ‘em on the head once a day, every day” (page 232). The boy has not been taught to do anything different. He had no mother figure to show him love and compassion. Pathos makes the readers feel sad or sorry for the boy, thus representing pathos. Rose used multiple other occasions to appeal to the reader’s emotions, including when Juror Three, the main antagonist of the play, gets extremely angry about other jurors beginning to choose not guilty. Three violently yells, “I’m getting really sick of it. (To all) What’s the matter with you people? This kid is guilty! He’s got to burn! We are letting him slip through our fingers here” (page 245). Three states him as if he is the boy’s executioner, which is not. Three is extremely irate over the fact that he might actually be wrong. This rhetorical appeal helps signal specific emotions in the character and the readers.

Adding to his pathos appeals, Rose uses strong logos appeals, which involve facts and statistics. Juror Eight, one of the strongest influences on the final verdict, expresses, “(quietly). Nobody has to prove otherwise. The burden of proof is on the prosecution. The defendant doesn’t have to open his mouth. That’s in the Constitution. The Fifth Amendment. You’ve heard of it” (page 233). He explains how in the United States, people do not have to speak against themselves in court, which is The Fifth Amendment. This quote utilizes logos by using facts from the Bill of Rights. Rose also uses logos when he writes about the el train. Juror Eight states the fact, “An el train passes a given point in ten seconds” (page 241). The woman could not have seen the boy kill his father through the el train. Without this key fact, the evidence would not have been disproven and could have changed the final verdict. The facts and major details presented in this play help exemplify logos.

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