Ethos Pathos Logos Examples Essay About Divorce

Divorce Rhtorical Analysis

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Most people, when thinking about divorce, worry about the impact that it has on the children that are involved. Even though children are most likely better off if totally incompatible parents separate instead of staying together, divorce is about loss and change, and it is still hard for children. Everyone knows that divorce has its effects on children. There are three different sources that try to explain these effects. Graham Blaine Jr. states that divorce is a threat to all children, whereas Rhona Mahony states that divorce is not always the cause of behavioral or academic problems in children coming from divorced families. Yvette Walczak and Sheila Burns state that the extent of the damage can be determined by the parents and their methods of explanation to the children.
     Graham Blaine Jr. who is the Chief of Psychiatry at Harvard University health services writes a chapter in the book Explaining Divorce to Children. This chapter is entitled “The Effect of Divorce upon the Personality Development of Children and Youth.” He addresses this chapter to parents who are considering getting a divorce or are in the middle of the divorce process. The author uses a combination of Ethos and Pathos to support his theory on divorce. Blaine uses these strategies to highlight the mixed emotions a child may endure while going through such a confusing stage of their early lives. This then gives the audience a better understanding of the certain personalities children may gain while coping with sad situation of split parents. He also draws on his experience as a psychiatrist to give statistics as well as true stories to back up his reasoning.
     Blaine uses five specific guidelines for parents to follow in order to try and lessen the effect of divorce upon the child. These are:
1) Place children with whichever parent remarries unless there is a marked incompatibility between that parent and the child.
2) Children under twelve should not be sent to boarding school.
3) If children must be shuffled between two families, then one household should be established as home and the other as a place to visit.
4) Do not give children under twelve a choice regarding the parent with whom they are to live, and do not tell children about an impending divorce until definite plans for the future had been agreed upon.
5) Children should not be placed in a position where they serve as confidants or spies for one parent against the other.

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Every effort should be made to help them retain whatever feelings of love or respect they may have for each parent (Grollman,84).
He admits that these guidelines cannot eliminate all of the damages that are a result of the divorce. He gives many real-life examples of children of divorced families that are emotionally scarred and unable to have normal relationships once they reach adulthood. He targets the actual divorce as the cause of these problems.
     Rhona Mahony is a visiting scholar from Stanford Law School. She is writing this article as a rebuttal to the general perception that divorce is the cause of most behavioral and emotional problems in today’s youth. As an example of higher learning and a known savant, she uses logos to back up her theory, and uses a study of children from divorced families.
     In Mahony’s article she argues that “ there could be several reasons [that] … children of divorced parents have more emotional and behavioral problems, and also do less well in school than children who live with both of their biological parents”(Mahony, 2). By using strategies such as research and stating logical facts, Mahony gives the viewer a better understanding of the psychological issues children encounter with divorced parents. According to the study which she writes about, parents with psychological problems are more likely to get divorced and children of parents with these problems are more likely themselves to have a rough time. Another reason is some parents who wind up divorcing have a long period of unpleasant conflict before they separate. This conflict causes children to act up and do less well in school. The last reason that Mahony brings up is that the divorce itself may cause kids to have problems. Factors such as income and the decrease in time that they are able to spend with their parents cause them to see more conflict and the separation may scare or anger them. (Maloney, 2)
     Yvette Walczak currently practices as a Family Therapist and works as a volunteer in a day center for the mentally ill. Sheila Burns is a senior lecturer in social work at the Polytechnic of North London. Their book Divorce: The Child’s Point of View, is written for parents to understand what their children are going through during and after a divorce. They use their own daily experience as resource as well as statistics. These two women have the opportunity to work hands-on with families dealing with many problems and would appeal to a younger audience that have already been a product of divorced parents.
     These authors have found four basic profiles that describe various effects of divorce on young children. These are: Negative profile, positive profile, mixed profile, and the no effect profile (Walczak and Burns, 107). A viewer with divorced parents would unquestionably take interest in these profiles due to the fact that any child that is a product of divorced parents would fall into one of these four categories.
The titles are pretty much self-explanatory, children that fit the negative profile tend to do poorly in school and have behavioral problem (108). The positive effect children are better adapted and able to understand far more than most people their age (112).
     The mixed profile children dealt with some gains and losses but overall had no major problem (114). Finally the no effect profile says that life went on the same, as before, the children were satisfied with whatever had been told to them (115).
     In their studies, the authors have found that divorce does not always have to have a negative effect upon the children involved. In the cases with the positive, mixed, and no effect profiles, the parents had some responsibility for the positive outcome.
     All of these sources were successful in presenting different aspects of the effects of divorce on children. They brought up valid points that the general public is not usually aware of. All of these articles were effective in their approaches to the topic of divorce and it’s effects on children.

Works Cited



Grollman, Earl A. Explaining Divorce to Children. Beacon Press: Boston,
     1972.

Mahony, Rhona. Kidding Ourselves: Breadwinning Babies, and Bargaining

     Power. Basic Books: New York, NY, c1995.

Walczac, Yvette. Divorce: The Child’s Point of View. Harper & Row:

     London, San Francisco, 1984.




Inaugural Edition, December 2008

ENL 257: Best Essays in Rhetorical Theory

1st Place Winner

As convincing as a Baby’s Bottom

Stephanie Mireku

Family. Healthy food. Laughter. There is a certain aura of feel-good emotions and positive character demonstrated in a joint advertisement with Cheerios and Pampers. In other words, there is a certain ethos, pathos, and logos that the ad communicates. Furthermore, there is a notion that the two companies have common goals in mind; other than selling their products, both companies seek to portray similar images of their enterprises in order to appeal to their clientele.

Ethos, or a person’s character (Crowley and Hawhee 163) is the most prominent factor in the Cheerios and Pampers commercial and is the foundation of what makes the ad successful. The people that both companies target are looking for family-friendly products that are nurturing to and considerate of their busy lifestyle. To attract this audience, the companies must reflect this attitude and use a marketing style that is appropriate for the entire family. Crowley and Hawhee point out, “According to Aristotle, rhetors can invent a character that is suitable to an occasion—this is invented ethos. However, if rhetors are fortunate enough to enjoy a good reputation in the community, they can use it as an ethical proof—this is situated ethos” (167). According to the latter, both Pampers and Cheerios are fortunate in the sense that they have established positive names for themselves in the consumer and general business community. Usually when one thinks of Pampers or Cheerios, one thinks about cute and innocent children, smiles, healthy family life, and simplicity, all of which are positive qualities. Based on this premise, the ad already has merit before it begins; it need only possess an invented ethos that supports the situated ethos and enforces the reliability of the reputation, product, and company. In this case also, the companies are successful because of the happiness of the ad’s characters. The satisfaction that they receive from using Pampers' diapers and baby wipes, and eating Cheerios’ cereal reflects all of the qualities that compose the situated ethos of both companies.

Pathos, which refers to something which appeals to the emotions, is another pivotal aspect of the unique commercial: “Of all the ancient kinds of rhetorical proofs, the appeal to the emotions seems strangest to contemporary rhetors. […] Despite the popular ideology that characterizes emotions negatively, rhetors make emotional appeals all the time” (Crowley and Hawhee 167; 206-7). And for the most part, they work. When it comes to babies and their relationship with their parents, emotional appeal is key—Pampers and Cheerios are more than aware of that. Most, if not all parents could agree that teaching their children how to speak and witnessing their success is an experience that is at times frustrating, but overall emotional and worthwhile.

Crowley and Hawhee remind us that “[rhetors] should decide whether an audience can be persuaded to change their minds and, if so, whether they will be moved by appeals to their current emotional states or to a different one induced by a rhetor” (213). The commercial invokes joy and satisfaction in the audience similar to the father’s reaction when his child finally learned to say his name. Some of the scenes which create laughter are what leads to the joy. In the beginning of the commercial when the baby keeps repeating "mama" instead of "dada," this most likely would make the audience, especially parents, laugh, because it is an event that they can relate to. The baby has an appearance and personality that creates joy because people typically enjoy seeing happy and playful babies. Parents would be inclined to purchase products that seem to cause joy for the child and therefore for the family. In a nation where family is often divided by divorce, a united and happy family is encouraging and pleasing to see. If members of the audience are happy when they see the commercial, it would be effective because it will continue their good mood. If members of the audience are unhappy when they see the commercial, they will be happy, even if only for the duration of the ad. Hopefully, the baby’s smile and laughter can change their miserable day into a delightful one.

Without logos, or the “logical and rational proofs that can be found by examining issues,” there is no argument (Crowley and Hawhee 133). The Pampers and Cheerios’ ad has logical and rational proofs that make the commercial’s argument valid and give it its salability. The main argument presented in the commercial is that the family-friendly products will make the baby happy, which in turn makes everyone happy and enhances family life. This argument is rhetorical because rhetorical arguments “deal with human action and/or beliefs” (Crowley and Hawhee 134). The argument concerns the actions of loving, raising, and nurturing a child and the belief that Pampers' and Cheerios’ products are better than others in terms of facilitating the said actions.

The logos of advertising, which is rhetorical argumentation, deals a lot with probability: “Greek rhetoricians called any kind of statement that predicts something about human behavior a statement of probability” (Crowley and Hawhee 135). Pampers and Cheerios predict that people will want to purchase their products because they are baby-friendly and reflect important family values. Indeed, as Crowley and Hawhee suggest, “Some rhetorical premises are commonplaces; that is, they are widely accepted by the relevant community. When the premises of rhetorical arguments draw on commonplaces, rhetorical reasoning can be called ideological” (134). The ideals expressed in the commercial (healthy children lead to happy family life, happy babies make their parents delightful and proud) are widespread and therefore can be classified as ideological.

There are many rhetorical methods that can be used to explain the logos of a discourse. One example, the Toulmin method, has three main components: the claim, the reason, and the warrant. Each Toulmin construction has an implied subset that shows the complexity of the argument. Advertisements typically use an argument that can be best described by the Toulmin method; their claim suggests that the consumer purchase the product, the reason supports the claim, and the warrant brings the two together by giving further support for the product’s validity (Fahnestock and Secor 17).

Fahnestock and Secor argue that “Ads always want us to do or buy something, and they use sophisticated appeals in words, images, and sounds to persuade us” (17). In order to generate a positive and strong mass support for their product and maintain their perceived ethos, companies must have a logical rhetorical construct to create an appeal. In the Pampers and Cheerios' ad, the primary claim is: buying Pampers' Baby Dry diapers and wipes and Cheerios’ cereal is a great idea; the implication is that the two product groups work best when they are combined. The reason is explicitly stated at the conclusion of the commercial: “[because] with help from Pampers' Baby Dry for a good night’s sleep and Cheerios’ for breakfast, your tot can do wonders.” The warrant connecting these two statements is that your tot should be given the opportunity to do wonders with Pampers and Cheerios.

However simple an advertisement may seem, it always has some logical construct that holds it together. Its success or lack of success depends on the ethos, pathos, and logos that it presents.

Summary of Advertisement
The Pampers and Cheerios’ advertisement is about a father who is teaching his baby how to talk. In various scenes while changing the baby’s diaper and feeding the child Cheerios, he attempts to make the child say “dada.” The father finally becomes successful in the end when the baby says “dada” clearly and enthusiastically, making him satisfied not only because his child is learning to speak, but also because Pampers' Baby Dry diapers and wipes and Cheerios' Whole Grain cereal are helping the baby to learn and grow. The products seem to make his and the mother’s parenting easier (the mother appears in the background of the kitchen towards the end). This is evident in scenes such as the one in which the father smiles as he touches the baby’s Pamper-covered bottom to discover that he is dry and clean and the one where he is eating a bowl of Cheerios while the baby is eating his own serving.


Works Cited
Cheerios and Pampers. Advertisement. YouTube. 1 Feb. 2008.

Crowley, Sharon and Debra Hawhee. Ancient Rhetorics for Contemporary Students. New York: Pearson Education, Inc., 2004.

Fahnestock, Jeanne and Marie Secor. A Rhetoric of Argument, Building the Case: Logos. New
York: The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2004.

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