Medieval Rhetoric: The Art Of Persuasion

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Rhetoric is defined as the art of persuasion using oral or written communications (Rapp). There are many theories and ideas which an orator or writer can use as tools to achieve their goal of persuading an audience. The audience is defined in rhetoric as “the listeners or spectators at a speech or performance, or the intended readership for a piece of writing or an assembled and pointed group of listeners that receive the message of the rhetor and ultimately decide the message’s effectiveness” (Enos). Within the study of rhetoric the focus is on what the speaker or writer does to create the affect and response they want from their audience; in this essay I will describe the audience and their role in the communications throughout…show more content…
(Johnstone).” This is especially true during the medieval times also called “The Dark Ages”, education was controlled by the church that catered to the children of the upper classes. "The medieval rhetorical tradition, then, evolved within the dual influences of Greco-Roman and Christian belief systems and cultures. Rhetoric was also, of course, informed by the gendered dynamics of medieval English society that isolated nearly everyone from intellectual and rhetorical activities. Medieval culture was wholly and decidedly masculine, yet most men, just like all women, were condemned to class-bound silence. The written word was controlled by clergy, the men of the cloth and the Church, who controlled the flow of knowledge for all men and women (Cheryl)." The audiences within this time period were peasants who were kept uneducated to keep the power within the church and wealthy. In looking at the type of social system in place at the time I believe that persuasion of audience was focused more on their religious duties and that the repercussions of disobedience were against Gods teachings and because illiteracy was prevalent it was easier for the church to use rhetoric producing fear to maintain control. This audience was passive because they had no options outside of what they knew, for the most part they were a part of a system which did not allow them to question those who had the power and because they were for the most part uneducated they did not have the knowledge to do
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