A Rhetorical Analysis Of Clarence Darrow's A Plea For Mercy

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Leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union, Clarence Darrow, in his 1924 case appeal, A Plea for Mercy, defends his clients, Richard Loeb and Nathan Leopald Jr., of murder. Darrow’s purpose was to persuade the audience, the judge and jury, into shortening the boy’s sentence because the terrible acts of war has tainted the nation. He exhibits an aggressive tone by using fear, allusions, and metaphors to bring justification to the boys by appealing to his audience. Darrow implements fear throughout the duration of his speech to persuade his audience to believe the state of our nation has paved way for two, very well off, boys to turn into murderers. He frightens the audience by addressing the war and homelife of many young Americans: “We read of killing one hundred thousand men in a day. We read about it and we rejoiced in it -- if it was the other fellows who were killed. We were fed on flesh and drank blood. Even down to the prattling babe. I need not tell you how many upright, honorable…show more content…
Darrow appeals to the audience’s sense of indifference by quoting: “And I think here of the stanza of Housman: Now hollow fires burn out to black, And lights are fluttering low: Square your shoulders, lift your pack And leave your friends and go. O never fear, lads, naught’s to dread, Look not left nor right: In all the endless road you tread There’s nothing but the night.”(8) in accordance with: So I be written in the Book of Love, I do not care about that Book above. Erase my name or write it as you will, So I be written in the Book of Love.”(20) With referencing these poems, Darrow has acknowledged the pain and suffering many people have gone through during and after the war. The poetic tone he displays, allows him to touch the hearts of many in order to help the audience empathize with the
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