Common Sense Essay

Submitted By micheai
Words: 1308
Pages: 6

Michelle Ingold
Analysis of a Selection of Common Sense

In 1776, only a few months before the signing of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Paine published Common Sense. This pamphlet enlightened the colonists about the overbearing nature of the English monarchy and spread the idea of Independence into the heads of the influential men of the thirteen colonies. Thomas Paine specifically wrote Common Sense with language that the common man could understand instead of the overly flowery language commonly used by the philosophers of the seventeenth century. In the beginning pages “Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession,” Paine uses logos, ethos, and pathos in his language to persuasively captivate the colonists by presenting all of his arguments in a logical and emotional way. He is very straightforward and writes exactly what he means instead of embedding his true meaning behind false pretenses like in Molière’s The Misanthrope. This style of writing is truly what made the colonists discuss the written work so extensively. Common Sense was quite radical in nature, as it bluntly pointed out the corruptness of the English monarchy in order to reveal all of the hypocrisy of the British government. Paine frames his argument logically, explaining through reason the cost of the monarchy. He uses logos or the sense of reason to inform the colonists about the overbearing nature of the monarchy. He contends that one of the consequences of a monarchy is that it leads to wars because “it is the pride of kings which throws mankind into confusion1.” He sways his readers’ views away from the kings and aristocracy by providing an example of a country where there are no kings. Paine explains that Holland enjoys peaceful surroundings and a thriving middle class without the constraints that kings place on the lower classes. Paine anticipated that this example would enable the colonists to actually see the benefits of not having a king, and gave them a basis for comparison to their own government. Alexis de Tocqueville said that, “Without comparisons to make, the mind does not know how to proceed2.” Comparisons are essential to human thought; they provide the mind with a chance to see a better way of doing things. Through comparisons, Paine appeals to the colonists’ sense of reason, attempting to sway them away from the monarchy and toward revolution. He talks of suppression by kings and how they do not represent the people they rule; they just command them for their own personal benefit. Without kings there are no wars, everyone enjoys a peaceful life, and anyone can earn a profit for themselves by working hard. By presenting both sides as one superior and one oppressing, Paine hoped that the colonists would choose the side with peace and no war, and thus the side without kings. Paine uses persuasion through ethos when he tries to convince the colonists that the divine right of kings was not actually a tradition given by God then passed down by heredity, but rather a custom taken from the Heathens. He supports his argument by citing the Bible, “The Lord shall rule over you3.” Although Paine was not a very religious man, he uses the Bible to justify his argument because people of that time used their faith to dictate their social behavior. Paine is trying to show the colonists that the kings were not really ever given the divine right to rule, because it explicitly says in the Bible that only God had the right to rule over His people. Paine argues against a society and culture that used Christianity as a justification for their system of government and order. He does this by using the same justification “that the Bible says so,” to emphasize his point that the Bible is not a good enough source to accept without reason just because it is God’s word. He would have known that his readers would have accepted anything supported by the Bible, because the people in the eighteenth century believed that it…