For decades, journalists highlight daily life events, the origin of which sometimes may not seem debatable or even touching. Creating an article that would involve the reader requires great skill, deep knowledge, and luck. The text under analysis bears the title “The burkini ban: What it really means when we criminalize clothes” written by Sheryl Garratt. It concerns the themes of racial, gender, and class oppression, providing some interesting thoughts. The article is composed with the classical approach to rhetoric. It is important to examine the ways of creating a captivating text from the point of ethos, pathos, and logos to find the practical application for the theory.
Aristotle’s perception of rhetoric provides the necessary basis for the analysis. There are three rhetoric appeals that are often used in writing, the main aim of which is to persuade the audience. Ethos refers to persona and creates an image of a good and credible speaker. According to Higgins and Walker (2012), “particular analytical categories that identify appeals to ethos include similitude, deference, expertise, self-criticism and the appeal to the inclination to succeed” (p. 197). Ethos is mainly created by word choice and style. The main idea is to look like an experienced figure in a particular field. Logos is a way of appealing to the audience’s logic and includes clear and integral arguments. It may not require verbal proofs for persuasiveness, but it is important to create the appearance of rationality. Such rhetorical arguments rely on probabilities instead of truth, and the main idea is to convince others to accept the assumptions. Lastly, pathos involves appealing to feelings and emotions. Its main aim is to convey such a sense that relates to the audience’s values, views, and desires.
The article under analysis starts with the introduction depicting the author’s trip to the beach. The first few paragraphs are recited from the first-person view. Here the author follows the main principles of ethos appeal, creating the image from the very beginning. Firstly, due to the nature of the introduction story, it can be easily understood that the author is female. It means that the topic of the article correlates with the writer’s sex and is told from personal experience. Moreover, this is an example of similitude, “similarities between the author of the text/speaker and the audience,” as claimed by Higgins and Walker (2012, p. 197). It is usually expressed in the usage of personal pronouns as in the article. The following phrases may be found in the article: “we all know how unlikely it would be for me to attract police attention” or “all we have to do is follow the popular anxieties” (Garratt, 2016, para. 4, 9). This technique helps to establish a sense of commonality between the reader and writer, and it also improves cohesion and harmony.
Furthermore, the author does not limit the story to a single paragraph. In contrast, it is intentionally prolonged with various descriptions of the author’s actions to create a feeling of involvement with the audience. Throughout the article, it is possible to find examples of deference, the author’s way to show humility or respect for others. As the author heavily relies on historical examples, there are such phrases as “in his brilliant book, Pearson…”, “record-breaking swimmer Kellerman…”, which serve as references to reputable people (Garratt, 2016, para. 5, 11). By adding these phrases, the journalist creates idolized figures, adding credibility to her article. There are also multiple references to the historical events. The writer provides examples of burkini treatment from Australia, France, Italy, and other places. It also should be mentioned that throughout the article, a great number of quotations are employed. Their usage helps the author to keep a decent balance between factual and subjective information. It raises the trustworthiness level of the whole text.
Another vital feature of ethos is the creation of a character. Every writer wants to prove to the readers that he or she is the embodiment of specific values. It means that the writer cannot entirely omit the subjective views in the text. For example, Garratt’s article follows certain feminist ideas expressed in such phrases as “a sign that women were encroaching dangerously on male territory” or “but young women refused to be deterred” (Garratt, 2016, para. 9,11). The author’s outlook may also be traced with the help of epithets “turbulent,” “brutal,” “humiliating,” and others. These epithets provide a way for the writer to express the feelings concerning the matter. The abundance of the devices only proves the personal importance of the topic for the journalist and may help engage the readers with the help of catching phrases.
The journalist utilizes a range of visual and language-based images that are dominated by appeals to feelings of pathos. The article under analysis is mainly focused on such emotions as anger, anxiety, and enthusiasm. For example, the appeal to anger is based on arguments, violating some social norms. The article itself is written on a hot topic that may involve many debates. The title itself may be considered to be provoking because it says “what it really means when we criminalize clothes.” The word “criminalize” possesses a negative connotation since it is connected with the topic of forbiddance and usually contradicts people’s sense of justice and freedom. So, the negative tone of the article may be traced from the start, and the readers may already expect the possible conclusions and ideas.
The appeal to anxiety is based on examples of pain and suffering. In the very first paragraph, such phrases as “mottled pink” and “ripe tomato” create the image of burnt skin. These comparisons help to support the main idea of the text that there is nothing wrong with covering skin despite the reasons. The journalist even presents factual information “another woman – a mum of two, identified only as Siam, aged 34 was fined…” in a way that focuses on readers’ empathy (Garratt, 2016, para. 3). The choice of historical evidence may also be considered an example of pathos. The article discovers such themes as the arrest of a famous swimmer Anette Kellerman because of her sleeveless outfit, the origin of “Turkish dress” and “bloomers,” the history of miniskirts and hemlines in America. By providing the detailed historical development of women’s fashion, the journalist appeals both to rational and emotional readers’ perspectives. The examples help to understand the logic behind the events of the past and present and guide the reader with the help of the emotions intended by the author.
The appeal to enthusiasm is based on the possible benefits, pointing out the potential profits in decisions or solutions. The phrase “fashion has always been a reliable barometer of social change” indicates one of the author’s ideas that people, having come a long way, still cling to old principles when they need to let them go (Garratt, 2016, para. 10). The appeal to pathos is clearly shown in the last paragraph, as the author plays on the contrast of feelings of safety and fear. The article aims not only to disclose the problem of burkinis but also highlights the issues far greater than that.
The appeal to logic or reason in the article has already been partly explained. First of all, the writer produces a coherent text with objective evidence and careful structure. The main idea may be found in the conclusion “we feel scared…powerless…so, we blame the EU, refugees, the burkini” (Garratt, 2016, para. 23). The writer employs inductive reasoning by providing specific examples, including historical and personal, which lead the reader to this idea. Such structure also follows the cause and effect type of thinking when arguments provide a logical conclusion, supporting the claim. The examples in the article compare past and present, stressing the idea. The facts are not only included but also explained from the point of their significance and relevance.
In conclusion, it should be mentioned that the article follows the standards of a three-way approach to rhetoric. Sheryl Garratt wrote a text that is coherent, persuasive, and emotional. It raises the important questions of racial prejudice and gender oppression. Starting from the theme of burkini forbiddance, the journalist leads to more general and challenging issues. The text possesses a great number of references and examples that support the main idea. The article is aimed at a wide audience and may find applications in the present. The rhetorical analysis provides a way of understanding how writers may influence the actions and feelings of other people.
Higgins, C., & Walker, R. (2012). Ethos, logos, pathos: Strategies of persuasion in social/environmental reports. Accounting Forum, 36, 194-208.
Garratt S. (2016). The burkini ban: What it really means when we criminalise clothes. The Guardian.