Lord Chesterfield’s Rhetorical Strategies
In Lord Chesterfield's letter addressed to his young son, he uses rhetorical strategies to help construct the format of his letter in a way that Chesterfield believes will benefit his son. It then builds up to become a critical and scolding piece of advice he believes is absolutely necessary so that his son may succeed in life. In this letter, Chesterfield employs argumentative appeals to achieve an effective “threat” to his son, in which Chesterfield hopes to display his will for his son to excel in his studies. He is able to do so through several different devices such as hyperbole, syntax, anaphora and imagery. Chesterfield uses argumentative appeals to express that he is not trying to “dictate as a parent”, but to “advise as a friend”. He does this to keep his son in good spirits and eventually tells him to “let my experience supply your want”. Chesterfield does so in order to persuade him that he is trying to assist him in his life and talks about his own views on life and how his son could use them in his life experiences and to “act right, upon more noble and generous principles”. By appealing to reason and ethos, he reveals how he values his family. Before Chesterfield starts the second column though, his tone has changed from a more sincere and uplifting tone, into a scolding and belligerent lecture where he ridicules his son through hyperbole--“your shame and regret must be greater than anybody’s, because everybody knows the uncommon care which has been taken of your education.” He suggests his son will survive because of him, “you [are] absolutely dependent upon me; that neither you have, nor can have a shilling in the world but from me.” With Chesterfield’s use of hyperbole he is able to emphasize and exaggerate how dependent his son is of him. Chesterfield also uses syntax which shifts from elongated sentences to alternately switching from colon to semi-colon and finally to using only complex sentences with...
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