Professor Robert Oventile
25 September 2014
Milton’s appeal to Pathos, Logos, and Ethos
Areopagitica and Of Education, written by English poet John Milton in 1664, is a prose, non-fictional book concerning the protest of people in England regarding the licensing policy. During the English Civil War Era, the period where this book was written, the British Parliament established the licensing and censorship policy to prevent any corruption of the minds to the people of England. Milton, on the contrary, disagrees with these policies addressing them as a form of violation toward the freedom of speech. Because of these policies, Milton and many others writers felt the difficulties in expressing their ideas because the Parliament requires writers to get license approval by the officials before getting their writings published. It was a long, complicated process, not to mention how sometimes publishing rejection might occur. These policies gave Milton and his fellow writers a hard time in their work process, when the freedom of speech were supposed to give them the freedom to write whatever they want. These issues encourages him to write Areopagitica and Of Education. He argued on so many points of why licensing and censorship should be revoked, appealing to pathos, logos, and ethos to persuade his readers. He also uses the rhetorical style to state his opinions, emphasizing on his ideas using various subordinating style sentences.
In Milton’s Areopagitica, he displays pathos, an approach of convincing audiences/readers by creating an emotional response, to express his disappointment to the book publishing regulation. Milton used to feel that he was “happy to be born in such a place of philosophic freedom, as they supposed England was” (34). He was very disappointed because other European countries used to admire England for its honesty and how the nation really corroborates the freedom of speech rights. England used to be free from any publishing policies, but everything changed since the licensing/censorship policies limit the freedom of press. To point out how harmonious England was before the policies, he uses the temporality subordinating style sentence, which includes “reflection […] in the past” (Fish 49). In the passage, Milton clearly reflects England’s past condition and how other countries used to think England was, before explaining England’s current condition that is full of publishing regulation. He successfully brings his audiences to muse about England’s past condition, where there was philosophic freedom, encouraging them to change the condition back to what it used to be. There was a sad expression when he stated many writers were suffering from the complexities of book publishing regulation. Milton adds that with not being able to publish their writings in this “servile condition”, many writers might stop writing (34). In addition, with all the censor and rejection by the government, there were nothing left to write but only “flattery and fustian” (Milton 34). Milton also shows his displeasure when he stated that the rules had been “disexercising and blunting (writers) abilities“ (5). Milton pointed out a number of rational points, along with displaying his emotions. Many people thought he succeeded to persuade both the Parliament and readers, even though it was not until 1695 that the licensing law was revoked from England. Through this book, Milton successfully show his depression by using the word “servile condition” to indicate the tragic miserable condition that the writers had suffered. With his clever use of temporality subordinating sentence, Milton grabbed people attention to be more concerned about England’s current condition. However, he still remains being optimistic that somehow there will be “future happiness”, in hope that the Parliament will be more open-minded and once again establish the free-press nation. It can be seen that Milton expresses a...
Cited: Fish, Stanley. How to Write a Sentence: And How to Read One. New York: Harper
Collins, 2011. Print.
Milton, John. Areopagitica and Of Education. Ed. George H. Sabine. Wheeling: Harlan
Davidson, 1951. Print.
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