Rhetoric and Rhetorical Schemes
The definition of rhetoric is as simple as the art of persuasion, but what makes rhetoric effective is the way it is applied. In order to use rhetoric in writing and in speech, the meaning of rhetoric and its purpose must be clearly understood. Rhetoric involves more than just what is written, but how it is arranged. Other writing tactics also are used to make rhetoric what it is.
Rhetoric can be described as the art of effective, eloquent, and persuasive writing and/or deliverance of a speech. The use of rhetoric ages back to the times of the ancient Greek. Plato, a famous Greek philosopher, saw rhetoric only useful and admirable if it was an expression of truth. Aristotle, another Greek philosopher, disagreed. He felt that rhetoric was focused on the invention of the argument. In Aristotle s point of view, the argument was meant to seek the truth and also appeal to reason, ethics, and emotion. Although both of the great philosophers saw rhetoric in two slightly different aspects, it was still used to persuade an audience.
Quintilian was a Latin scholar who used five different elements to perfect the art of rhetoric. These five steps helped the speaker or writer use rhetoric to its fullest. Inventio is the first of the five elements, and is the Latin word for invention. The idea is to first recognize what kind of audience the essay or speech is directed at, and then invent arguments that appeal to the audience ethically, logically, and/or emotionally. Dispositio is the second element, which means arrangement in Latin. In order for an argument to be effective it must be arranged properly. The third element in Quintilian s arrangement is Elocutio. In Latin, Elocutio, means style. This is the way the author or speaker uses diction and syntax. Memoria, which is the fourth element, is Latin for memory. This element is necessary for effective speeches, but it not a vital element in essays and other writings. When a speech is memorized it flows more smoothly, and doesn t allow unintended breaks to distract the audience. The last of the five elements is pronuntiatio. In Latin this is the word for delivery. In writing this is the tone in which the author uses in his writing, where as, in speech it is the speaker s voice and his gestures that matter.
Although Quintilian s five elements help a person compose a rhetorical essay or speech, they do not include certain schemes that construct rhetoric. A few of the basic schemes of rhetoric are parallelism, anaphora, and climax. These schemes help enhance persuasive arguments. Parallelism is the arrangement of a series of related words. An example of this is found in Abraham Lincoln s second inaugural address. It states, With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right Anaphora is the repeated use of the same group of words used to begin successive sentences or clauses. An example of this can be found in Ecclesiastes 3:1-2. For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted Climax is the way words and sentences are arranged to imply the order of rising events that led to the magnitude of the story. An example of this is in Melville s novel, Moby Dick.
All that most maddens and torments; all that stirs up the lees of things; all truth with malice in it; all that cracks the sinews and cakes the brain; all the subtle demonisms of life and thought; all evil, to crazy Ahab, were visibly personified and made practically assailable in Moby Dick.
These three writing schemes are just a few examples that are used to effectively embellish the use of rhetoric.
From the time of the ancient Greeks until present, rhetoric has been used effectively in works of writing and in speeches. Plato, Aristotle, and Quintilian have illustrated the use and tactics of rhetoric wonderfully. Though in the ancient Greeks time rhetoric was meant to be used only to persuade something truthful or seek something truthful, it now it is used heavily by politicians. Although its purpose has somewhat changed over the years, its function has stayed the same.