Rhetorical Analysis of Editorial Cartoon
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Rhetorical Analysis of an Editorial Cartoon
Benjamin Franklin’s “Join or Die” cartoon, which depicts a severed snake whose parts represent the thirteen colonies is considered the first political cartoon in the United States. Franklin’s image had a purpose that was eminently political from the start, as he used it to support his plan for an association between the colonies. (Becker) The cartoon is quite significant in the development of cartoons as it is seen through the history as a symbol of colonial unity and the revolutionary spirit against the British. The purpose of “Join or Die” was to elicit the Americans to join against the bigger threat to the British, and the Indians. This editorial cartoon turned into a cultural symbol, and a rally flag where all Americans could relate, and become part of something bigger. Editorial cartoons have accompanied the U.S. in his modern history, being a window where the reader can reflect on the actual situation without having to read a complicated article. However, editorial cartoons are not done to insult people’s intelligence, on the contrary, their use of humor as a tool to convey deeper meanings is sometimes more important than a heartfelt story on the television. That is the role of humor in our lives. Showing situations that are hard to digest in a way that they do not appear as such, offering criticism veiled with humor, to make us thing regardless of the situation depicted.
In this essay, we shall analyze an editorial cartoon made by Rob Rogers, published on March 3rd, 2015. To do a thorough analysis, we shall use the Aristotelian rhetoric devices of logos; pathos, and ethos. In the same way, we shall observe, reflect, and question an issue seen in the cartoon
ANALYSIS OF THE CARTOON
The cartoon we have chosen depicts a middle-class man, and a women holding their smartphones; while a homeless person is standing on the back holding a sign that says “No home, no job, no cell phone”. In the text bubble, the woman makes a statement about her concern that the man is not going to be able to take part in the controversy on the color of the dress; a picture that went viral on the internet. However, it is clear to us that the author intention is not to speak of the color of the dress. Instead, he uses an everyday occurrence to show a bigger problem. In this case, we see a sharp contrast between the couple and the homeless man. As he is not depicted asking for money, but showing that he has no means to live a life that society would consider satisfactory.
Ethos of the Discourse. Ethos refers to the trustworthiness of the person who is speaking to us. Rob Rogers is a successful cartoonist whose drawings have appeared in many of the major periodical publications of the United States. He has devoted his professional career on creating editorial cartoons that depict and satirize the political, and social situation of the country. In that way, his drawings can be regarded as close depictions of the reality.
Pathos of the Discourse. Pathos refers to the emotions, and how the discourse conveys them. In this case, we are in front of an image, the first thing we feel is laughter. It seems that the couple is not aware of the situation of the country, and keep on thinking of a controversy brought by a dress. In a second look, we start to feel a tad of indignation, as they as a middle-class couple is not aware of the problems their country is facing. Instead, they choose to lobotomize themselves through the phone.
Logos of the Discourse. Logos refers to the argumentation of the discourse. In the image, we can see that the cartoonist is appealing to our sense of indignation, as he chooses to depict an everyday occurrence. Many of us are unaware of the people in the streets while looking at our phones. In the same way, by describing an ordinary situation, the author intends to link with the reader in a more profound way, as it brings to the table a situation that most of us ignore.
To do our reflection we chose the image of indifference. The cartoon reeks of indifference. To do a closer analysis, we shall separate our questions.
Observe. We see a middle-class, middle-aged interracial couple. Their relationship is unknown, but for the purposes of this discussion, we shall assume they are married. We also observe a homeless man who is not asking for money per se. It is depicted as a man handling a critical pamphlet to elicit a reaction. In the cartoon, he did not, as the couple passes by, without acknowledging him
Reflect. The couple depicts a big sector of the country’s voters. And it is strategically done to reflect on all parts of society. The interracial couple is cleverly used to depict equality, but not equality in a political sense, but in a critical one. We consider that what the author is trying to say is that a big part of the American population is unaware of what is happening in the country, yet is aware of situations such as the one depicted. Also, it is important to note that the parts of the population that should be more politically involved have chosen not to be, preferring stay connected in their cell phones a way to escape from reality
Question. What was the intention of the author? We consider that he wanted to elicit a response and that the cartoon was a call-to-action. The picture is clear. While there is a part of the population that is living comfortably, there is another that does not. Also, by the looks, and the syntax the man uses, he is not an analphabet man, it looks more like a man who has come to the situation he is because of unknown circumstances, yet he needs the help of the state to get back on the horse. The question the cartoon does is “Are we going to take action concerning the situation of inequity that we still live?”
Becker, D. “Mugwumps and the Masses: Introduction.” Mugwumps and the Masses: Introduction. 1996. Web. 28 May 2015.
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