The development of rhetoric is traditionally attributed to ancient Greece, where rhetoric has started to develop and evolved in a kind of art. In the course of the development of rhetoric numerous theories emerged which aimed at the development of effective approaches to rhetoric and which facilitated the use of speech to meet the main goal of rhetoric – persuasion of the audience. In actuality, the rhetorical theory still has the same ground since it is the art of using language as a means of persuasion. At the same time, the rhetorical theory has a solid theoretical ground which makes rhetoric not only a form of art but also a kind of science, with its own methods and techniques used for the persuasion of the audience.
On analyzing the rhetorical theory, it is important to lay emphasis on the fact that the rhetorical theory views persuasion as the ultimate goal of rhetoric, but to make language and speech persuading it is necessary to make speech interesting. In such a way, rhetorical speech becomes effective when it affects the audience and when it is interesting to the audience. Hence, the methods of rhetoric are mainly focused on evoking the interest of the audience through the impact on emotions, logic and common sense of the audience.
In this respect, it should be said that the rhetorical theory stands on the ground that a person delivering a speech should primarily focus on the goal he or she wants to achieve and the audience which perceives the speech. At this point, the goal of the speech is always concerned with the persuasion of the audience. At the same time, the audience is extremely important in the rhetorical theory because the speech is always directed to a specific audience and it will never achieve its goal if the speech does not meet expectations of the audience or when methods used in the speech are inappropriate for a specific audience. In other words, audience is an essential element which should be taken into consideration while preparing a rhetorical speech.
As for the methods used to persuade the audience, it is possible to distinguish three major approaches which deal with ethos, logos and pathos. As a rule, ethos, logos and pathos are combined in rhetorical speeches to make them more convincing, but it is also possible to use them separately depending on the audience.
Traditionally, ethos is defined as a trustworthiness of the speech. Obviously, the audience should trust to the speech to get persuaded. Otherwise, it will be very difficult to persuade the audience, if people have some doubts concerning the speech. If they do not believe to what they hear, they will not be persuaded.
Logos is not less significant than ethos because logos deals with the logic of the speech. In fact, a logical, well-structured speech is consistently more persuading than a spontaneous, chaotic speech. In addition, logical arguments make the audience more persuaded, especially if the audience is critical and is not inclined to emotional perception of the speech.
Finally, pathos refers to feelings of the audience. In fact, pathos complements logos because it influences emotions of the audience. Moreover, often emotions may be even more persuading than logic.
Thus, in conclusion, it should be said that the rhetorical theory focuses on the language and speech which traditionally aim at the persuasion of the audience. To meet this goal ethos, logos and pathos are used along with the understanding of the audience’s expectations.
Bizzell, Patricia and Bruce Herzberg. The Rhetorical Tradition-Readings from Classical Times to the Present. New York: Allyson and Beacon, 2005.
Bitzer. L. “The rhetorical situation.” Philosophy and Rhetoric. 1:1, 1999, 1-14.
Black, Edwin. Rhetorical Criticism a Study in Method. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.
Russell, G. Rhetoric. New York: Random House, 2003.