The Speech of Polly Baker

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Anna Chevez 3/21/13
AP Language Spanier Pd. 1

In “The Speech of Polly Baker,” a sardonically aggressive tone reflects the speaker’s attitude towards the charges being made for having a fifth “bastard child.” The tone feeds her persuasive appeals. By appealing to pathos and ethics, she convinces the Court to not punish her for her actions. Baker’s use of diction furthers her appeal to pathos. Being an “unhappy” woman, she pleads the “Honourable Bench” to relieve her of the “heavy fine” she now faces. The repetition of “Fine” emphasizes her never ending debt to the Court for all the illegitimate children she conceived. The parallelism of “twice” magnifies Baker’s inability to pay for the fine, which resulted in public humiliation and even more fines to pay. Her frustration of being “forsook” by a man who she “confi [ded]” in explains her “stupefied” reaction to the charges being made against her. The use of a rhetorical question highlights her resentment towards men and the court, emphasizing that a man can be at fault for leading a woman on, but it’s the woman that pays the disgrace and shame in the end. The repetition of “Duty” accentuates the social structure in that time period in which society viewed anything different to be considered a crime (appeals to ethos). Baker’s use of syntax begins with elongated sentences to never-ending sentences, and finally to grammatically correct sentences. In the beginning, Baker begins her speech by explaining her struggle to pay the debt while raising five kids. The use of elongated sentences reflects Baker’s daily challenge of having to provide for her kids while having to pay money to the Court. The author does this to mirror her frustration. In the middle, Baker becomes aggressive when talking about how she was used by the man that supposedly loved her. The use of seemingly endless sentences mirrors her “lifetime punishment” of being seen as a disgrace to society and having...
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