Rhetorical Ethos In Elizabeth Browning's Pleading Letter To Napoleon III?

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In Elizabeth Browning’s pleading letter to Napoleon III, Elizabeth uses many rhetorical devices in order to convince the Emperor of France to pardon Hugo. She flatters His Majesty Napoleon III in an attempt to win his goodwill. Second, she uses syntax in order to create an intelligent letter. Finally, she thoroughly explains her purposes to Napoleon. Thus using flattery, syntax, and logos, Browning was able to effectively persuade Napoleon III to pardon Hugo,had of course he sent the letter.

Browning uses flattery to get off to a good start with Napoleon III. Is this common for the circumstances of her time? The answer can be best described by: yes. She was writing this letter in Britain to an emperor who ruled over France and her colonial
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Logos is one of the three basic rhetorical appeals. Logos refers to logic Ethos to the credibility of the author, and Pathos to the emotion of the audience. She refrains from Ethos since she has as she said in lines 2-3“except that of the weakest on the strongest” and in lines 4-5 “and as named itself little among English poets is unknown to your Majesty”. Thus she can not use Ethos, and Pathos would not fit into the context of the letter. The reason being that she said in lines 20-22 of her relationship with Hugo “I have no personal knowledge of this man; I have never seen his face”. Thus the use of Pathos to appeal to Napoleon's emotions is questionable, at most. As for Napoleon's own felling, Napoleon himself banished Hugo for his critical writing against Napoleon's regime. Thus only Logos can be used, and this she uses well. “Disprove him by your generosity” in line 54, she means here to explain that if Napoleon releases Hugo then Hugo will have no proof that Napoleon is a tyrant or evil since he himself would have been a beneficiary of Napoleon's generosity. “Let no tear of an admirer of his poetry drop on your purple” in lines 54-56, here Browning also claims that with the pardoning of Hugo it will make Hugo lose his credibility as an opposition to Napoleon, for why else would Napoleon have released him after banishing him? She also addresses the fact that she, as a woman, did not send a letter to Empress Eugenie, his wife. “Naturally I would have preferred as a woman to have addressed them through the mediation of the tender-hearted Empress Eugenie,- but as a wife myself, I felt that it would be harder for her majesty to pardon an offense against Emperor Napoleon, than the Emperor himself”. Thus she effectively used Logos in order to convince Napoleon that he should pardon

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