Rhetorical Analysis Of Behind The Formaldehyde Curtain

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In her 1967 essay Behind The Formaldehyde Curtain, Jessica Mitford utilizes the rhetorical devices of diction and verbal irony to illustrate the unthinkable, little-known truth behind the North American funeral industry and its manipulation of death. Through her choice of diction used when describing the process of an embalmment, Mitford shows us the horrifying and questionable truth behind it, prompting us to question the American funeral industry's ethicality. In the 9th paragraph, Mitford states during an embalmment, the blood of the deceased person "is drained out through the veins”. The word “drained” could’ve easily been replaced with “removed” or “extracted”, both of them being more suitable and correct terms, but the author chose it because it has a negative …show more content…

But nobody knows what’s going on inside the preparation room, all they see is their deceased relative, good as new, when they walk by the open casket during the funeral. Mitford depicts the American funeral industry’s manipulation of death throughout the essay with either blatant or thinly-veiled verbal irony. In the last paragraph, Mitford states that the funeral director has put on a “well-oiled performance" where "the concept of death played no part whatsoever”, unless providing it was “inconsiderately mentioned” by the funeral conductors. This is extremely ironic because a funeral is supposed to revolved around death, and this makes us think about funerals and the embalmment process in a way that we usually don’t. These processes takes away the cruelty and brutality of death and make it seem trivial while making our deceased relatives life-like, with pink toned skin and a smile on their face, and death is not like that at all. Mitford then says that the funeral director has done all that he can to make the funeral was “a real pleasure” for "everybody

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