The Death of the Moth–Virginia Woolf

In Virginia Woolf’s Death of a Moth, Woolf uses various rhetorical devices to prove her intention that death will always overpower and overcome life.  Woolf uses intricate imagery when describing the moth being trapped in the window pane. For example, she states, “Watching him, it seemed as if a fibre, very thin but pure, of…

On Being a Cripple – Nancy Mairs

Intention: In this piece, Nancy Mairs describes her Multiple Sclerosis and her resulting disability as an integral piece of her identity. Candid and personal, the piece is a refreshingly honest look at disability in the modern world. As part of her arrangement, Mairs begins the piece with an anecdote of falling into the toilet and…

Letter From Birmingham Jail

Intention: Martin Luther King Jr. uses rhetorical strategies to show his audience the reasons why he is willing to go to jail for what he believes in. Pathos: MLK appeals to emotion by giving very descriptive reasons to why the African Americans could not wait for change any longer. “But when you have seen vicious…

Living Like Weasels by Annie Dillard

The intention of this piece is to convince readers to live “as [they’re] meant to,” focus on their individual purposes (or goals), and never give up on whatever they feel they are meant to do. The sentence, “He had two black eyes I didn’t see, any more than you see a window,” was very effective…

Politics and the English Language

The intention of this essay is to educate others about the “vagueness” of the English language. He persuades his readers to speak and write with more clarity by using examples from English journals and novels. Orwell builds most of his argument by criticizing five different works of literature; he spends the majority of the essay discussing…

Attending a World by Mary Catherine Bateson

This essay had a lot of feminist undertones. Even though the primary focus of this essay is the ability to pay attention, she frequently mentions injustices to women in the workplace. Some examples are listed below: At home, women are expected to multitask. They will take care of children, prepare dinner, do laundry, and clean the…

The Morals of the Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli

Intention: In this essay, Machiavelli discusses the personality traits that help make a ruler likable and trusted by their people. He insists that it is necessary to have all of these admirable traits (or at least pretend that you have all of these traits). It is difficult since many of these qualities can contradict themselves. A ruler must know…

The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Gladwell’s intention is to offer information on how and why epidemics of any kind occur. Arrangement: “The Tipping Point” is the opening essay in Gladwell’s book of the same title. This piece is meant to introduce readers to Gladwell’s ideas and set the context for the remainder of the book.  It immediately begins with an…

The Courage of Turtles by Edward Hoagland

The intention of this piece is to demonstrate Hoagland’s fascination with the unique interactions that occur in nature. He uses his love of turtles to emphasize the interesting relationship between animals and humans, for example the reason people keep animals as pets. Hoagland’s care for creation and the world around him is demonstrated through several short narratives…

More than Just a Shrine – Ellis Island by Mary Gordon

Intention: To inform the reader of what it was like for American immigrants who came through Ellis Island. Throughout the essay she describes some of the hardships and prejudices that these people had to face in order to reinforce her point. Tone: Throughout the essay she keeps a level and somewhat formal tone; at times…

Reading the River by Mark Twain

In Reading the River by Mark Twain, he uses his own experience as an apprentice steamboat pilot to suggest a pilot’s the loss of beauty in the river and the gain in awareness of its dangers. The analytical study of the river by the pilot shows it’s hidden dangers underneath the illusion of its beauty. It can…

You Are What You Say by Robin Tolmach Lakoff

Pathos: Lakoff opens her essay with pathos. She talks about how women’s language is “dainty” and “never-aggressive.” Words like these will immediately do one of two things for a female reader. 1. She will read it and be insulted by the stereotype that she is fragile and in need of saving or 2. She will…