When I hear the term rhetoric, my mind immediately races to Plato’s Cave. Plato developed the allegory of the cave to explain our lack of larger understanding and acceptance. In Plato’s Cave, prisoners are bound facing the wall and unable to turn their heads. A fire burns behind them, with puppeteers projecting images onto the wall. Little do they know, there is a way out and an entire world above them. The prisoners also only know their environment, which is a false projection of reality.
The Cave ties in to Plato’s theory of rhetoric, where everything is a message. Rhetoric involves a speaker and her audience, a message and the receiver. Plato’s rhetorical triangle consists of ethos, pathos, and logos; each defines a persuasive method used in everyday communication.
Whether we realize it or not, we are slammed with rhetoric every day. From advertisements to marketing, to the outfits we wear, rhetoric plays a vital part in how we communicate with others.
American Eagle’s lingerie brand, Aerie, made the move to not only stop retouching their models, but use models with a wide variety of body types. Their ads appeal to all women, regardless of size or race. By not retouching, they imply that everyone is naturally beautiful, and that natural beauty is desirable.
Consumers can tell that their models are full of life, energy, and good health. The lighting they use on set mimics natural sunlight, and they keep there props to a minimal. Aerie promotes the idea that if you wear their brand, you will feel comfortable and confident in your own skin.
Another common form of every day rhetoric is tattoos. USA Today reported that nearly 38 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 have at least one tattoo. A person selects there tattoo to project their identity to their world, so each one is full of rhetoric.
My mom and I both have semicolon tattoos on our wrists. For us, it represents suicide awareness and the reminder to pause. A semi colon is used when an author could have ended a sentence, but chose to keep going. This little symbol may seem minuscule and insignificant, but for many, including us, it symbolizes a fight to keep living.
When we chose these tattoos, we were putting out a specific message. The semi colon appeals to the entire rhetorical triangle, especially pathos. and logos. For people who are knowledgeable of the Project Semicolon , it sparks and instant connection. For those who understand the basic function of a semicolon, they will know it has something to do with a pause.
Rhetoric surrounds us day and night. We often consume it without even thinking about it. However, once we step out of our cave, we will be able to examine and dissect our world.