Behind the Formaldehyde Curtain

Topics: Rhetoric, Death, Writing Pages: 2 (462 words) Published: November 14, 2010
Dead people. Not exactly my first choice of topics to read about, but the writing style displayed on the first page, and in fact in the first couple of sentences pulled me in.

Jessica Mitford, the author, describes in this essay the process corpses go through while at the funeral parlor. Her word choice is strong, taking you visually, step by step, through that process. She uses vivid imagery, describing scenes in detail so you can picture it as if you were there.

Considering the topic of the essay, I find the author’s tone quite interesting. Throughout the essay her writing has an air of sarcasm. She is informing the reader of what goes on in a funeral parlor and the process a corpse goes through, but it is almost in a joking way. Her tone seems to indicate that she finds the whole procedure of making a dead person beautiful again then letting the family view them, somewhat ridiculous.

The use of the persuasive appeals is important when trying to effectively get your point across. However, Mitford only uses pathos, the appeal to emotion, and some logos, the appeal to reason. She doesn’t use any ethos, the persuasive appeal of one’s character. She never explains what background she has in this subject; in fact, if it weren’t for the couple of paragraphs before the essay, we would have no clue why she is writing about this topic at all. This essay is good writing but with some ethos it could be stronger than it is now, more powerful, and have a little bit more of an effect on the reader.

Mitford also uses many schemes and tropes to help her convey her point of view. One of the schemes she uses several time is asyndeton, and example of which is, “and is in short order sprayed, sliced, pierced, pickled, trussed, trimmed, creamed, waxed, painted, rouged and neatly dressed…” Anaphora is also uses by Mitford, such as when she writes, “before an autopsy may be performed, before the deceased may be cremated, before the body may be turned over to a medical...
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