A Rhetorical Analysis Of Robert May's A Voice From Richmond

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Robert May, a preacher in the 1800’s wrote a sermon titled, “A Voice from Richmond” trying to persuade people to not go to the theatre because he believed it made people wicked and tempted too easily. He wrote this sermon right after the Richmond Theatre caught on fire, and after many people had died from it. When the theatre caught on fire, most people stayed in their seats thinking of the fire as part of the play. Consequently, many people died from this misunderstanding, which made the situation far worse and deadlier than had they realized the danger sooner. Through his deep descriptions and compelling logic throughout the sermon, he used various ways to grab his audience’s attention. However, he never gave his audience reasons to listen …show more content…

His attempts to make himself credible rely solely on everyone’s previous knowledge of the fire; he never explains why they should listen to his opinion on the subject. He begins his sermon with, “You are come, this afternoon, to improve the awful calamity. . . with the particulars of which you are but too well acquainted.” (May, 9 and 10). Perhaps he did not feel the need to prove his credibility on the subject because his audience mostly consisted of children, and since he, as their elder, naturally seemed more educated on the subject and expected them to respect him. Later, however, he does address the other side of the argument, “True, it is a place of diversion, a place of sinful pleasure and of guilty joy, where you feast your eyes with evil, your ears with profaneness, your hearts with impurity and sin.” (May, 25). This comment let the audience understand that he put time and thought into his …show more content…

Addressing his audience, he says, “Tell me of one drunkard who has been made sober at the theatre, and I will tell you of a thousand who have been made drunkards there.” (May, 23). He tries to demonstrate that more people become sinful by the theatre than those who become honest. Further, he continues to address people’s minds, “When the play is over, you are unfit for serious reflection. . . Are there no amusements more rational, better suited to an immortal mind, and less expensive too?” (May, 24). He states that a play practically brain washes the audience, and because of this, they remain unable to think for themselves to discuss or reflect upon the

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