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

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A Perfect Crime, A Perfect Defense On May 21, 1924 Bobby Franks is abducted, and stabbed in the head several times with a chisel. It is the result of seven months of planning a “perfect crime” by nineteen year old Nathan Leopold and eighteen year old Richard Loeb (Leopold and Loeb). These young men were represented in court by Mr. Clarence Darrow, a distinguished attorney known for only losing one out of over a hundred death penalty cases (Clarence Darrow). Fittingly, Leopold and Loeb were facing capital punishment. In Darrow’s closing argument he gives his famed “A Plea for Mercy” to the judge. This plea not only acted as a conclusion to his defense, but it also acted as an introduction the eradication of the death penalty. Darrow uses a mix of ethos, pathos, logos, and other rhetorical devices to impose a merciful effect on his audience in hopes to reduce his clients punishment and the use of capital punishment. Darrow gracefully uses all three appeals when referring to the rise of crime after war “I know that it has followed every war; and I know it has influenced these boys so that life was not the same to them as it would have been if the world had not been made red with blood. I protest against the crimes and mistakes of society being visited upon them. All of us have a share in it.” He uses the effect of war on Leopold and …show more content…

His combination of appeal and troupes proved to be effective when Leopold and Loeb were gifted life in prison rather than a rope. His plea became an avenue for the digression of capital punishment by creating a sense of shame and sadness in his audience, a result of his ethos and pathos. Darrow’s rhetoric directly saved the lives of two young men as well indirectly saved the lives of many more by creating a negative connotation towards the death

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