An Interpretation of the Pleas of Mary Fisher

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Submitted By mits5k
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An Interpretation of the Pleas of Mary Fisher

Mary Fisher’s speech “A Whisper of AIDS” is, for all intents and purposes, a persuasive speech. She offers no information in the speech—only commentary. She does not offer a bevy of facts or numerical figures as she orates to the crowd (presumably the Republican Party, based upon the text of the speech), and she does not cite scientific studies. She talks about her experiences as a woman with HIV, and her observations of the world as it reacts to others who are infected with HIV or AIDS. She is trying to persuade her audience to be mindful of the issue at hand, essentially. Analyzing the speech won’t be too difficult as long as we have an operative understanding as to her rhetoric, which stems from an understanding of the rhetorical modes. John Locke offered my favorite definition of rhetoric: “[Rhetoric,] that powerful instrument of error and deceit.” It is important to bear this definition in mind as we survey anything. It is, perhaps, a very cynical way to look at the world—but only in being a skeptic can one avoid misinformation. With that in mind, what are the rhetorical modes? Bill Stifler wrote the following on the subject, which sums them up very well:

“Rhetorical modes are patterns of organization aimed at achieving a particular effect in the reader. Narration and Description are modes whose primary purpose is stirring the reader's emotions. Process, Cause/Effect, Comparison/Contrast, Illustration, Definition, and Classification/Division essays aim at helping readers understand a subject, exploring its functions, causes, consequences, relationships to other subjects, meaning, or nature. Argumentative and Persuasive essays seek to change readers' attitudes or actions with regard to specific subjects. Each kind of essay (or mode) has its own unique characteristics and qualities as well as characteristics…...

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