The rhetorical device pathos is used widely in literature to provoke emotions in the reader or audience. If the speaker succeeds in creating the desired emotion towards the subject, pathos can be used as a powerful persuading device. In Atticus’s closing argument from To Kill A Mockingbird, he uses pathos to persuade the jury and audience.
Atticus stated many important points during his speech which promoted favorable emotions. Atticus created a feeling of guilt when he stated, “I have nothing but pity in my heart for the chief witness for the state, but my pity does not extend so far as to her putting a man’s life at stake, which she has done in an effort to get rid of her own guilt”(Lee). By the end of the argument, the audience knew that they had convicted an innocent man and that their decisions had put his life on the line. This created a strong feeling of guilt in the audience and jurors and the emotion became one of the key factors in his persuasion strategy. Another emotion created by Atticus is empathy and was incited by him when he said, “There is not a person in this courtroom who has never told a lie, who has never looked upon a woman without desire”(Lee). Atticus’s use of empathy created a deep understanding of Tom, the defendant’s, situation. His use of empathy also established a relationship between Tom and the audience because they can put them selves in his situation and feel his pain. Atticus’s use of pathos was powerful in making his point heard across the courtroom
and was used to help sway those listening.
In his closing argument, Atticus uses the rhetorical device pathos to create feelings within the audience and jurors. These emotions include empathy and guilt and were used in an attempt to get the audience to believe in what Atticus is saying and ultimately see past their prejudice demeanors. His use of the device was found throughout the speech and was used in an attempt to break the cycle of racism, a major theme present...
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