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Lord Chesterfield’s Rhetorical Strategies

Lord Chesterfield’s Rhetorical Strategies In Lord Chesterfield’s letter addressed to his young son, he uses rhetorical strategies to help construct the format of his letter in a way that Chesterfield believes will benefit his son. It then builds up to become a critical and scolding piece of advice he believes is absolutely necessary so that his son may succeed in life. In this letter, Chesterfield employs argumentative appeals to achieve an effective “threat” to his son, in which Chesterfield hopes to display his will for his son to excel in his studies.

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He is able to do so through several different devices such as hyperbole, syntax, anaphora and imagery. Chesterfield uses argumentative appeals to express that he is not trying to “dictate as a parent”, but to “advise as a friend”. He does this to keep his son in good spirits and eventually tells him to “let my experience supply your want”. Chesterfield does so in order to persuade him that he is trying to assist him in his life and talks about his own views on life and how his son could use them in his life experiences and to “act right, upon more noble and generous principles”.

By appealing to reason and ethos, he reveals how he values his family. Before Chesterfield starts the second column though, his tone has changed from a more sincere and uplifting tone, into a scolding and belligerent lecture where he ridicules his son through hyperbole–“your shame and regret must be greater than anybody’s, because everybody knows the uncommon care which has been taken of your education. ” He suggests his son will survive because of him, “you [are] absolutely dependent upon me; that neither you have, nor can have a shilling in the world but from me. With Chesterfield’s use of hyperbole he is able to emphasize and exaggerate how dependent his son is of him. Chesterfield also uses syntax which shifts from elongated sentences to alternately switching from colon to semi-colon and finally to using only complex sentences with semi-colons. In the beginning, he is unsure of himself as he writes, molding a foundation for what he is about to say in long sentences. He uses these long sentences to state the many reasons why his son would not take his advice into consideration and that he often has “doubts whether it is to any purpose” to even write the letter.

Chesterfield tells his son to learn from his mistakes in lines twenty-one to twenty-five by appealing to logos: “Let my experiences supply your want of it, and clear your way in the progress of your youth, of those thorns and briars which scratched and disfigured me in the course of mine. ” Lord Chesterfield is explaining to his son to not make poor choices in life and to learn from the mistakes his father had made throughout his own.

Chesterfield uses anaphora throughout the letter, but one of his most repeated phrases is “can there be”, when he stated, “for can there be a greater pleasure than to be universally allowed to excel those of one’s own age and manner of life? ” This question uses anaphora to display his competitive tone. With argumentative appeals, Chesterfield uses anaphora through repetition of expressions, and adds emphasis to his argument of his son to be the man who he wants him to be. Chesterfield also uses a small amount of imagery, “Let my experience…clear your way…of those thorns and briars which scratched and disfigured me in the course of mine. He uses imagery to convey the dangerous and threatening image of what youth would be like without his father. In conclusion, with the use of argumentative appeals along with the support from rhetorical devices assisted in establishing the main idea of this letter which was to achieve an effective threat to his son. Chesterfield used rhetorical strategies to establish his value for competition and excellence. Although he purports to want what is best for his son, he is very judgmental of him throughout, as revealed through the tone of the letter.