How to Use Pathos

Posted by Splice, Essay Tips Chief Writer

How to Use Pathos. When a writer is appealing to the emotions of his readers, he is actually using pathos. In Rhetorical arguments, knowing how to use pathos gives the writer the edge of swaying the emotions of his intended readers favorably to his side. This can be done mainly through the use of metaphors or passionate language.

In using pathos, the writer is expected to know who his audience is and how they generally feel towards a certain issue or topic. This is important because it allows the writer to capitalize on these feelings by using them as basis for knowing what tone or mood of his language will be. For example, the topic is whether erring employees should be fired immediately from work. If the writer knows that his readers feel angry towards these employees, the writer may choose to show the negative consequences of firing them, such as being unable to finance the needs of their families, thus leading their children being unable to go to school and perhaps ending up homeless. The probable consequences may be endless, so long as the writer is able to emphasize that firing these employees can result to conditions that can prick the conscience of a human being.

However, it is important to avoid stretching your arguments to the point of absurdity. While knowing how to use pathos gives the writer the privilege to put words that strike the emotions of his readers, it does not mean that the writer can also raise any argument no matter how absurd. Key to avoiding that sticky situation is to carefully link one effect or consequence from the one that it follows from. An example of pathos that uses this technique is given below:

While it is true that erring employees should be reprimanded, let us pause and think for a while about the graver consequences of firing them. Employees with meager salaries barely have enough to sustain the needs of their families. Their only source of living is their wage. If they are immediately fired from their jobs just because of mistakes from the performance of their duties, we effectively cut them off from their life-source. In these trying times, finding another job is as difficult as keeping one, if not more. Who will then feed their families if they are no longer employed? Imagine their small children starving, and their fathers and mothers barely able to buy them ample food. Who will then pay their monthly rents for their houses? Imagine a family being deprived of shelter just because of their inability to pay. Only a heartless human being can take all these for granted. While it is true that erring employees should be reprimanded, they should not be fired immediately from their work.

Note the tone of the language used, especially the sentence in red. The flow of the sentences eventually lead to the conclusion that only a heartless human being can stand the immediate firing of erring employees. There are many other ways of using pathos in persuasive papers or Rhetorical arguments. The key is to know your readers and their feelings towards the issue or topic you are to write about.

You may also want to read how to use Logos, or how to use Ethos, or read what a Rhetorical argument is.

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