Rhetorical Essay On The Declaration Of Independence

I really want them to understand this as an argument–we look for ethos, pathos, and logos in the declaration, for example (use this video if those concepts are new to students).

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After the whole class is done, I ask them to discuss which ones were best and why. I caution them not to do something vague or generic, like “society” or “expectations,” because it will be too hard to be specific and original with that, much less persuasive. It also needs to be something that they personally have experienced and have control over–declaring yourself free from, for example, “all the haters” is just virtue signalling and doesn’t even make any sense. When they don’t know what to put, I tell them to find that section in Jefferson’s original and use that for inspiration.Bad habits are often a good idea to use for this: “laziness” or “procrastination” are good examples. I try to stress that this needs to complete, formal, and persuasive.Rhetorical devices are phrases that have some sort of immediate sentiment attached to them without having to have the attachment explained.Innuendo, loaded questions, euphemisms, stereotypes and hyperbole are some of the most commonly used rhetorical devices.He cautions again, using ethos, that “Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes, meaning that the grievances of the colonist regarding the King’s abuses must be so great that it is necessary to take action.He ends the paragraph with a direct accusation against the king, stating that “The history of the present King of Britain is a history of injuries and usurpations,” and then leads into a list of “facts” that will persuade his audience of the truth of these grievances.He uses deductive logic in the form of a syllogism to clearly present his argument.He states that all people have rights guaranteed by their Creator, that it is the role of government to protect those rights, and that when it does not, “it is their right, it is their duty,” to alter or abolish that government.Another day we look at the handout that compares drafts (attachment 3), and we talk about the writing and revision process–what changes were made and why, and if they’re better or not. I also tell them about the anti-slavery paragraph that the southern colonies made Jefferson take out–none of them have heard that before, so I put it on the projector and read it to them. I ask them to imagine something that they would want to be free from.If they can’t think of anything unique, “school” and “parents” are the most common targets (they always think they’re being so edgy when they say that…). One year, a girl did hers on an eating disorder and it made her cry. Anyway, I give them half a day or so to draft their declaration, using the outline.


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