Samuel Johnson Rhetorical Analysis

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On June 8th, 1762, Samuel Johnson wrote a letter to a woman who had requested his help. The task for Samuel Johnson was to ask the archbishop of Canterbury for patronage to have the woman’s son sent to a university. This was certainly a big and almost impossible task for Samuel Johnson. Therefore, Johnson replied to the woman who had requested his help with great denial. But how can people craft their denial to someone who is possibly in great need of help? Samuel Johnson was able to craft his denial through powerful use of diction, complex syntax, and the use of ethos, logos, and pathos. “I hope you will believe that my delay in answering your letter could proceed only from my unwillingness to destroy any hope that you had formed.” (Johnson, …show more content…
Complex syntax in English often slows the pace of reading and often contains important facts that need to be understood thoroughly. An example of Johnson’s use of complex syntax is when he backs up his statement that, “expectations improperly indulged, must end in disappointment.” (Johnson, Lines 7-8). He says, “If it be asked, what is the improper expectation which it is dangerous to indulge, experience will quickly answer, that it is such expectation as is dictated not by reason, but by desire; expectation raised, not by common occurrences of life, but by the wants of the expectant; an expectation that requires the common course of things to be changed and the general rules of action to be broken.” (Johnson, Lines 8-15) Johnson’s message in this complex sentence is that the expectations and the request that the lady has is not common and is out of regulations. He says that her request is just a desire, a want, and is a request that does not abide to the general rules of society. He goes on in his complex sentence to state that her request is not proper, not made with reason, and does not follow common occurrences in life that should be changed, but rather, is being forced to change, through the woman’s request. In the end, by using complex syntax in his letter, Johnson is able to craft his denial effectively by comparing how the woman made her request, which is improper and unorthodox, to how society’s requests should be made, which is proper, sophisticated, and pondered

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