Many different types of essays appeal to readers’ emotions. Tobais Wolff’s Remembered Event essay may be frightening to some readers, David Nooman’s brain surgery profile may be shocking, Donell Meadows’ position paper may anger fans of talk show host Rush Limbaugh, whom she lists as “funny and pompous and a scapegoat and hate monger.”
The Writer often tries to arouse emotions in readers, arouse their interest, make them care, move them to action. There is nothing wrong with appealing to the emotions of the readers. What is wrong is manipulating readers with false or exaggerated appeals. As a critical reader, you should be suspicious of writing that is overly or falsely sentimental, that cites alarming statistics and tries to infuriate readers with frightening anecdotes, that demonizes others and identifies with revered authorities, that uses symbols (wave the flag) or emotionally charged words (such as racist).
King, for example, paternalistically uses the emotionally charged word to refer to the white moderate’s belief that he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom.” In the same paragraph, King uses symbolism to elicit an emotional reaction from readers when he compares the white moderate to the “Ku Klux Klanner”. To get the reader to accept his ideas, he also draws on authorities whose names evoke the greatest respect, such as Jesus and Lincoln. You might consider the discussion of black extremists in the king paragraph 7, except to be a veiled threat designed to scare readers into agreement, or you may object that comparing the king’s crusade to that of Jesus and other alleged religious leaders and political groups is pretentious and manipulative.
The following are some fallacies that can occur when emotional appeal is misused:
· Loaded or biased language, when the writer uses calculated language to elicit a particular reaction from the readers.
· drag effect, when it is suggested that a large number of people agree with the writer and if they continue to disagree, I would be alone.
· false Flattery, when readers are praised for accepting the writer’s point of view.
· veiled threatwhen the writer tries to alarm the readers or scare them into accepting the claim.
Writers often try to persuade readers to respect and believe them. Because readers may not know them personally or even by reputation, writers need to present an image of themselves in their writing that earns their readers’ trust. This image cannot be made directly but must be made indirectly through the arguments, the language and the implicit value and belief system through the arguments, the language and the implicit value and belief system in the writing. Writers establish credibility in their writing in three different ways:
By showing your knowledge of the subject.
Building common ground with readers
By responding fairly to opposing objections and arguments.