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Rhetorical analysis of a Letter

The artifact for rhetorical analysis is a letter to the editor written by one Roy Mescovado on the subject of money spent by the public on colleges and universities. The writer of the letter holds that such moneys should not be spent because the students attending our colleges and universities are not worth the expenditure. The means of analysis will be dual--the pentad method developed by Kenneth Burke, and the rhetorical concepts of Aristotle, which will be compared to ascertain which best serves this sort of analysis.

The five basic elements of Burkean pentadic criticism are act, agent, agency, scene, and purpose, serving as guides in discovering motives. Kenneth Burke developed the dramatism approach to unify rhetoric and poetic in a single analytical framework under which statements about motives can be studied and compared in terms of the ways in which they treat the dramatic elements of human relations through the pentad, or five elements of act, scene, agent, agency, and purpose. This pentad is meant as a way of analyzing descriptions of human behavior and is not the human behavior itself. Burke is concerned with the analysis of language and not reality. Burke's method is dialectical, though by today's standards it might also be termed deconstructive as he reveals contrary meanings in supposedly positive terms and places an emphasis on the way language "defeats" reality. A pentadic analysis is intended to be internal:

Burke developed the pentad to be used internally--within a rhetorical artifact itself--so that the pentadic elements or the give terms are selected from the actual content of the rhetoric.

Act, Scene, Agent, Agency, Purpose. Although, over the centuries, men have shown great enterprise and inventiveness in pondering matters of human motivation, one can simplify the subject by this pentad of key terms, which are understandable almost at a glance.

The Act in this case is the writing of a letter t...

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Rhetorical analysis of a Letter. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 09:14, April 22, 2019, from