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Discourse Analysis: Ethos


Good ethos requires the writer to reveal three traits:

(1) Good ethos shows that the author is intelligent, knowledgeable, and of good sense (the author knows the subject on which he or she speaks).

(2) Good ethos shows that the author is moral, honest, and of good character.

(3) Good ethos shows that the author has the audience's best interest at heart rather than selfish or merely personal motivations.

Keeping these three traits in mind, read through the following passages below. One example comes from a speech by Benjamin Franklin. The other example comes from a life insurance advertisement. Identify words, phrases, or passages that seem to fulfill the requirements of ethos below.

Example #1:

"It is with reluctance that I rise to express a disapprobation of any one article of the plan, for which we are so much obliged to the honorable gentlemen who laid it before us. From its first reading, I have borne a good will to it, and, in general, wished it success. In this particular of salaries to the executive branch, I happen to differ; and as my opinion may appear new and chimerical, it is only from a persuasion that it is right, and from a sense of duty, that I hazard it. The Committee will judge my reasons when they have heard them, and their judgement may possibly change mine. I think I see inconvenience in the appointment of salaries; I see none in refusing them, but on the contrary great advantages." --Benjamin Franklin, "Speech in the Constitutional Convention on the Subject of Salaries," June 2, 1787.

Example #2:
"Life Insurance should address the here and now, not just the hereafter."

--Judy Gilbert.

"Judy Gilbert takes pride in selling something she has yet to put a price on--peace of mind. Her unique approach goes far beyond the ultimate eventuality covered by life insurance. Instead, Judy feels personally compelled to help clients live life to its very fullest, through estate planning, annuities, disability insurance, and long term care. Areas that people often overlook. As a Transamerica sales professional, Judy is someone you can trust for life. You can also trust us. Our organization is made up of real people who share Judy's values, and who understand what life's all about.

"If you're not a client, we'd like to get to know you. If you're already with Transamerica, we'd like to hear how we're doing."

--Transamerica Life Companies advertisement in Time, October 25, 1993.

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