Rhetorical Analysis Iving's Macbeth

Topics: Comedy, Humor, Henry Irving Pages: 2 (392 words) Published: May 20, 2012
As a performer, one dreads receiving negative and bashing feedback. Unfortunately for Mr. Henry Irving, his namesake, Henry James had plenty of bashing to do. James conveys his irksome feelings towards Mr. Henry Irving’s Macbeth through his use of litotes, diction and expressive tone. With such reviews, one would be cautious to allow Henry James entrance to their play.

In order to allow the reader to fully understand the displeasure he felt in watching this play, James uses litotes. James states the actor’s first appearance produces “not a little disappointment”, as well as being “not of a kind that provokes enthusiasm.” With litotes, irony is almost always present; by using them, James leaves the reader with a witty, humorous effect which is reminiscent of stereotypical British humor.

As we sink deeper into his critique, James begins to use pathos as a way to convince the reader that Mr. Henry Irving’s Macbeth is particularly dull and uneventful. “Imaginative he can hardly be called, for he signally fails to give their great imaginative value to many of the superb speeches he has to utter” (James). His vivid language demonstrates how Irving can destroy even the greatest of speeches with his unremarkable acting. He then states that Irving’s personal girst such as his “face, figure, voice, enunciation- are rather meager.” And that he is “decidedly incomplete and amateurish.” These sensory details and choice of diction leave the reader with the impression that Irving is truly the kind of actor to avoid.

Once we have finished reading the barely one page critique we are left with a feeling of humor. This is because James uses a cynical and somewhat humorous tones throughout the entire, not so long, review. By using positive words, Irving disguises his negative message by making is seem humorous instead of completely thrashing. “It strikes me as the acting of a very superior amateur” (James). By using the word “superior”, the impact of the word “amateur” is...
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