Logos, ethos, and Pathos in the article “What is Poverty”
The article “What is poverty” by Goodwin Parker highlights the various facets involved when individuals suffer from poverty. From a reader’s perspective, one is made to understand the predicaments undergone by poor people. The author makes use of the three persuasive devices allied to Aristotle, which include ethos, pathos, and logos. The author, via use of the aforementioned devices manages to give her view of what is termed as “actual poverty.” This is shown through the single mother who undergoes daily challenges and predicaments to ensure that her family survives the drawbacks and problems associated with poverty.
Nevertheless, it is worth noting that, although the ubiquitous device utilized by the author is pathos, logos and egos still play an imperative role. Most significantly, the author makes use of pathos as a way of passing the emotional stress that affects poverty-stricken people. For example, Parker (143) shows how the poor narrates their condition whereby they are smelly, dirty and with no good clothes. The author also makes use of logos. These devices have been used to pass the author’s logic of poverty. For instance, Parker uses Logos to communicate to the reader how expensive it is to acquire birth control (Parker 145). Lastly, the other device used is ethos. However, ethos is not used extensively as the other two devices. Accordingly, the author, to create trustworthiness and credibility towards her message, utilizes ethos. For instance, she has used ethos to show how the poor surround other people yet they tend to go unrecognized. Nevertheless, the author manages to appropriately use logos, ethos, and pathos to communicate a logical, emotional, as well as credible piece of writing that makes people understand how humiliating it can be to live in abject poverty.
Most imperatively, in the article “What is Poverty,” the use of ethos and logos plays a key role in passing the message of poverty. In fact, the two devices have been used in different ways and places throughout the writing. For instance, the author makes use of logos when she explains the health clinics in town (Parker 144). Parker also uses logos to show that the woman lived only eight miles from town and could just walk to town rather than board a vehicle (144).
This answers a majority of questions that people ask regarding the life lived by the poor in the society. For instance, people wonder when they hear that there are numerous schools in a nation yet people are not able to attend school. Additionally, some people have the notion that as long as the schools are available, people should attend. However, they fail to consider some of the challenges hungry-stricken families undergo. Logos has thus, been used in this case to show why a child might fail to attend schools even when the learning institutions are there. The author makes the audience understand the various inherent challenges other than finances via use of logos.
For instance, the author makes use of logos to show that although schools do exist, there is no way a small kid can walk for kilometers to attend to school. Parker (146) therefore, tries to use logos to show the audience how the situation may not be easy for the poor because even affording the means of transport to the schools is by itself a hassle. Accordingly, the author has made use of ethos to demonstrate credibility. This can be exhibited by the way she uses her life experiences and examples in the article. This gives the audience some sense of credibility and trustworthiness because they are able to relate the situation of the poor through her experiences. For instance, Parker asks the audience whether they have ever shared themselves by asking people to give them something while at the same time knowing that if they fail to get what they are asking for, their kids at home would suffer a big deal (Parker 146). To pass this message, the author uses ethos in a perfect way to enumerate the predicament of the poor to the audience.
In terse, what the author is asking the audience is whether they have ever undergone through such hard lives. If the audience has never undergone such troubles, herself has an experience of what it means because she has encountered such drawbacks throughout her life. As a result, the audience can only trust her because she uses her own examples to illustrate how the life of the poor people is every single day. Note that both ethos and logos in such instances play a critical role in making the article valid, credible, and logical.
In fact, without the ethos and logos used in the article, the author would not have managed to pass the emotional message to the audience. Indeed, the pathos has played a key role in passing the message to the audience and perhaps, without it the article would not be that great. Most imperatively, pathos has been used to emotionally appeal to the audience. It is also worth noting that what the pathos accomplished in this article could not be accomplished by the ethos and logos despite them being very crucial in writing. The pathos used managed to create a connection to the reader in ways they can easily relate. Indeed, the pathos used in the article came out naturally because the issue being addressed was by itself emotional.
In fact, the use of pathos in the article can easily entourage the audience to act towards combating poverty because the emotions elicited might have the power to make people make the decision to curb or reduce poverty by either accommodating or supporting the poor in the society. People tend to act based on their emotions. For instance, politicians can easily decide to assist the poor if they emotionally understood the predicament they undergo. Additionally, people might decide to share whatever they have based on the emotions they have regarding a certain situation. The latter information, therefore, depicts the power of pathos in writing that cannot be achieved when ethos and logos are used. Pathos connects with the audience in a great way.
Most importantly, throughout the article, the author has extensively used pathos. For instance, to commence the article, the author shows what poverty is. She postulates that poverty is waking up every day from illness-stained and dirty mattress. The author, add by explaining how the sheets have been used as diapers to illustrate the meaning of poverty because people tend to trivialize the whole issue. Moreover, the author perfectly uses pathos to associate poverty to permanent smells, the smell of sour milk and urine. As can be seen, the author manages to use pathos to illustrate the harsh environment is compelled to live with the children simply because she has no more ado. According to Parker, the surrounding has nasty smell, diseases, and the worst kinds of meals.
The audience can try relating to such circumstance and probably wish they were death rather than live such lives. She narrates how poverty is like leaving school at a tender age because the nice children mocked her because of her smell and tattered clothes (145). Via the use of pathos, the author manages to capture the attention of the audience by narrating to them how poverty life can be. For instance, she was not able to complete school. Her failure to complete school, therefore, meant that she would enjoy an interesting life. As though that was not enough, her marriage failed terribly. Thus, the probably of her living a normal life was low. Such use of pathos raises the emotions of the readers as they try to relate the situation to their own. The scenario can also make the audience feel disappointed when they realize that there are individuals who live in such nasty situations simply because there is nothing they can do.
As she ends the article, the author illustrates how hard it is to live a normal life. In fact, she analogizes living normal to an impossible dream. She aspires to live a life where she can eat enough food, have hygiene products, medicine, paints as well as money to purchase soap and have hot water at home. The life she dreams of is the life whereby people would be willing to assist if asked to do so. She would want a life whereby she does not have to narrate her embarrassing stories to everyone to get help or sympathy (Parker 145). Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning that her article would lack credibility if lacked pathos. This implies that use of pathos made the story relatable.
To conclude, it I imperative to mention that use of all the three devices: pathos, ethos, and logos played a key role in passing the message to the audience. Pathos is, however, played the most critical role because it makes the reader relate to the nasty and harsh environment experienced by the poor. It helps the author pass her intended emotions to the reader. This was meant to make the audience have the feeling of wanting to assist the poor and not sit back with the assumption that the situation is not complex.
Goodwin Parker, Jo. “What is Poverty?”. Ed. George Henderson. Norman: U of Oklahoma P (1971): 143- 146