City Hall Analysis

Submitted By bmielbye
Words: 1034
Pages: 5

In the rhetorical situation, it is quite common for a rhetor to harness certain helpful tools to make their message more receivable. These tools can be found through study of rhetorical style and delivery. Rhetors must have ample knowledge of their audience as well as the situation that opposes them to be successful. Success is only obtainable if the rhetors message is appropriate from beginning to end. In the movie City Hall, the Mayors eulogy was successful because of the careful attention he paid to make sure it was completely appropriate through his use of rhetorical style and delivery.
One of the most important aspects having the correct style is knowing the rules of the culture one is presenting to. Sharon Crowley write in her book Ancient Rhetoric’s that “…the achievement of an appropriate style requires rhetors to pay attention to conventional rules for verbal behavior in a given context, rules that have been laid down by their culture” (Ch.10 pg.332. para.5). For a rhetor to win over their audience, they must understand their audience’s culture and understand what they want to hear and relate that to what you have to say. It is also important to know what can offend your audience in a situation. The quote relates to the Mayor’s eulogy because he was the minority giving a speech in a black church about a dead child. That situation has so many
Mielbye 2 aspects a rhetor must be aware of and the Mayor was aware. His speech was a huge success because he fully understood the culture and context of the situation.
A powerful tool rhetors often use to gain momentum with the audience is harnessing the power of the rhetorical question. Crowley writes, “It opens with two rhetorical questions, a figure in which a rhetor asks a question to which she doesn’t really expect an answer” (Ch.10 pg.333. para.2). Through out the Mayors dialog, he asks several of these types of questions such as “But why should I heed such a warning when a heartbeat is silent and a child lies dead?”, “yet, could not something pass from this sweet youth to me?”, and “Could he not empower me to find in myself the strength to have the knowledge to summon up the courage to accomplish this seemingly insurmountable task of making a city livable?” Rhetors use these questions to try to relate their goals and points of view with the points of view of the audience. If a rhetor is asking questions that the audience feels are good relatable questions, it will increase the likelihood that they support the rhetor.
Something rhetors can do to increase their ethos and support by their audience is talk about nostalgia from the past in a warm and reminiscent manner to bring the audience feelings of a better time as well as gain their support through connecting to their fond memories. This can be done through Personification ad impersonation, “Personification or impersonation consists in representing an absent person as present, or in making a mute thing or one lacking form articulate” (Ch.10 pg.352 para.4). The Mayor does this in his speech once when he talks about how the boy was as pure and innocent as the driven snow and again when he reminisces about the city that used to be a palace.
Mielbye 3
Delivery is an equally important rhetorical aspect as style. Gestures are an aspect of delivery rhetors have used since the ancient times to connect with their audience. Crowley writes, “…gestures were very important means of amplifying the speaker’s mood and conveying it to the distant members of the audience” (Ch.12 pg.410 para.3). Not all audience members can be emotionally reached or feel the vibes they rhetor is trying to produce by pure speech alone. Physical gestures can have more impact on the audience then the speech and if not, it always helps people understand your intensity. The Mayor does this