argument literature essay

argument literature essay

The Art of Persuasion in Literature: Analyzing the Techniques and Impact of Argumentative Writing

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1. Introduction to Argumentative Literature

Of course, literature is not the exclusive guardian of refined exemplification. There always has been, and always will be, considerable excellence in rhetoric, in the maelstrom of the modern cosmopolitan press. Television and radio opinion broadcasts, bar-room ballyhoo, platform competitiveness, and countless volumes of other types of non-literary matter which are often as well-crafted, lucid, and cogent as any genuine literary work have both the persuading word and the seducing cadence. But to the delimitation – if not to the abrogation – of the argumentative, contemporary periodical journalism, decomposing op-ed pages, an aftermath of normalized style, commercial conditioning, crass specialization, vulgarization, and hasty production, threatening the longevity of the rightful critical appeal of contemporary works, is contributing to create a vacuum in the most effective intellectual defense of a literary culture whose values are certain economic and material sacrifices of its community.

A work of literature can be considered argumentative if some more or less lengthy portions of the work are designed to convince the reader of a particular idea or perception. The OED defines argumentation as a reason or series of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong. For this kind of work to be considered literature, it generally must be sustained by a certain style or by an artistically handled language, which will ensure it an aesthetic impact. Novels and drama usually include argumentative writing, but their essence can be either narrative or scenic. The more logical, straightforward argumentative technique of the sermon and occasional pamphlet is rare in literary form, as such writing tends to be less complex and less imaginative. From both classic and contemporary persuasive pieces, literature can benefit enormously in the form of its ethical, social, and psychological context.

2. The Rhetorical Devices and Strategies Used in Argumentative Writing

The Roman Senator Cicero echoed with each rhetorical verbal expression, creating a bridge between the spoken and written word. The triumvirate facilitates the interaction between expression and content in order to persuasively convey the aesthetic, argumentative, and emotive qualities. Be it on paper or in speeches, the reader can find Caesar’s wisdom in his mental handle, his bellum civile.

The basic feature of Aristotelian rhetoric is that it can be applied both to support and to its opposite. This is why politics can address issues that are universal, regardless of their truth value. Aristotelian rhetoric makes the opposition between what should be and what is. However, its set of argumentative strategies has no specific level of abstraction, generic content, or aesthetic value. Aristotelian persuasion depends on the key notion of ethos, implemented in circular fashion by means of pathos and logos.

From a rhetorical point of view, persuasion is equivalent to subtracting the interlocutor’s freedom of choice. Although, in the tradition of Aristotle, rhetorical techniques were neutral with respect to political goals, the critic of culture is particularly interested in their means of persuasion. Here, the contents of argumentative speeches remain secondary.

Cicero, the Roman rhetorician and senator, provided the most comprehensive system of rhetorical theory. According to Cicero, fiction illustrates three primary functions of rhetoric: prouvere (teaching), movete (appealing), and delectare (entertaining). Thus, convincing and touching the audience became essential.

In their quest to persuade, writers often utilize several rhetorical strategies, also known as persuasive appeals, which can be classified as arguments, emotive expressions, or authority appeals. Argumentative writing is a way to support complex points of view. In the following paragraphs, we will explore the techniques of persuasive writing and its underlying strategies.

3. The Influence and Power of Persuasion in Literature

That our beliefs are often changed, over time and by repeated reading, through a process of acculturation witnessed our teachers’ efforts, would seem difficult to doubt, even if change were in the opposite direction from that intended. The traditionalist’s lament for the teaching if his youth will be echoed by those in a hurry to articulate the attraction of our major literary works, whose conclusion seem increasingly to point in different directions. Yet, of course, teaching in what belief values should not always mean is very different from teaching a respect for literature in which beliefs, or considerations of belief, are values, a distinction that leads to considerable insight on the scope of persuasion in literary content.

The proposition that literature, above all other forms of writing, is characterized by a psychological drive toward persuasion and influence is a claim that often appears to have been better supported with evidence from the history of culture than with specific argument. In this essay, I shall argue that the agents of persuasion in any literary text, responsible for guiding its reader toward necessary acceptance of its importance or truth, are the very same agents as in more traditional forms of argumentative prose. My second thesis is related to the first: that these agents of persuasion wield a formidable power to enlist the intellectual interest and involvement of their audience on behalf of their main content. Not that a casual overture to the audience will not work: even the most exciting or important claim, when presented to most jurors on its own, will not have much of the qualities of persuasion until something is done to engage an audience with its interest. The power I am discussing is the power of attracting the head and heart equally, the approach so appealed to that its spontaneous reactions are both intellectual approval and spiritual insertion. Whether through calling our attention to an intent of might use, or through suggesting that their conclusions follow against their will, accepted, they call into play both headwork and imaginings. Thus literature, in the sense I am talking about, is written with a conviction, and is read with or even for effect of changing our beliefs.

4. Case Studies: Examining Notable Examples of Argumentative Literature

Milton employed a variety of persuasive tactics throughout his speech. He used a combination of pathos, logos, and ethos. Milton’s scholarship and tangential arguments served to bolster.

John Milton’s “Areopagitica” was published in 1644 as a rhetorical argument against censorship. It took the form of a speech arguing for the right to freely express thoughts in a speech to Parliament. He began with a quotation from the Book of Revelation that refers to the “Spirit of anarchy” as the first creature to persecute the truth. He said that “The end of learning is to acquire a learned fame, and so to be rewarded for the pain of study. The marketplace is a marketplace for fivers… The polis, the republic, is a marketplace for citizens to trade for their own good and the common good.” He compared those ideas to that of Christianity. He argued against the necessity of licensing what must be readable. He warned that censoring books represents the destruction of learning and thus the destruction of all intellectual inspiration. He pointed out that authorities might be more susceptible to the teachings of those who abuse the congregation’s faith.

5. Conclusion: The Significance of Argumentative Writing in Shaping Perspectives

Regardless of how we end up grading the individual texts themselves, the very process of providing evaluation, analyzing the strategies each author uses in forming his or her arguments and measuring the writers’ impact on their audience—whether great or small—enriches a deeper appreciation and critical understanding of the art of persuasion. For these are the questions and issues that argumentative writing inevitably generate and compel us to confront: by probing the context and motifs of authors’ theses and audience, the writers’ strategies and stylistic techniques in relation to their impact, a single thoughtful essay effectively asks a number of important questions about the nature of literature and the communication between writer and audience. It is in dissecting and evaluating these writings in various forms—thereby answering these questions both implicitly and explicitly—that a critical framework is built for evaluating the many varied and unique ways in which the act of writing can challenge the mind and imagination of its readers.

It is through argument that a writer finds truth, the belief and conviction of a writer that is conveyed to an audience through persuasion and artful writing. When we take the time to evaluate writing in this way, attempting to grasp the authors’ true meanings and fully appreciate the literary techniques used in support of their thesis, our understanding of the more complex and subtle aspects of writing in the broader sense is ultimately enriched. It is in grappling with these ultimate questions, both in our personal reflections and in our evaluations and textual interpretations of others’ arguments, that we come to realize to what extent we are both individually and collectively shaped through experience of the authors’ written worlds.

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