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Rhetorical Analysis Of Consider The Lobster By David Foster Wallace

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay:
Consider the Lobster
The lobster is a disgustingly beautiful creature, known for its delicate taste, menacing shell and controversy. In his essay, “Consider the Lobster”, David Foster Wallace describes the events and festivities of the Maine Lobster Festival and the history of the lobster to deliver a poignant message about the moral implications of killing and eating animals. Wallace is able to develop his position and vividly capture the audience’s attention through a strong use of humor, deliberate tonal shifts and a unique structure.
David Foster Wallace, and “Consider the Lobster” in particular, are known for their footnotes- and for good reason. The footnoted structure of the essay is very deliberate and very
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He also distances himself from an argument by presenting factual information, but reiterating his position as an observer rather than an expert. Throughout the essay, Wallace keeps himself at the forefront of of the argument; he uses names like “your correspondant” to emphasize his position as the eyes and ears of the reader- creating a relationship between the author and audience. “For 56 year the Maine Lobster Festival has been drawing crowds with the promise of sun, fun, and fine food. One visitor would argue that the celebration involves a whole lot more.” David Foster Wallace places himself in the essay before it even begins. The consistent appeal to the audience and their relationship to the MLF affirms their belief that he is a reliable source- and Wallace makes sure the audience understands he knows his own biases and misunderstanding in both the main portion of the essay as well as the footnotes. Footnote 6 is particularly important for judging the ethos of the writing. The audience sees the clear bias in the observations but rather than ignore his own preferences, Wallace explicitly states why he holds these views and that the audience should be aware of this, strengthening the trust between author and audience. He also uses the footnotes to build his own understanding and awareness of the topic. The footnotes serve as a both a break from the essay,…show more content…
The beginning of the essay, the tone and diction are both lighthearted and inconsequential- full of basic observations and details. As the argument progresses, the tone shifts to be much more serious, even the footnotes hold a more serious perspective and address more insightful issues. Even in the moments of sincerity, Wallace builds a place of non-threatening engagement, reassuring the audience that he is not an expert either and any decisions about the consumption of meat is an individual one. Such is evident in Footnote 14; Wallace explores the linguistic trends in naming food, then immediately identifies himself as a non-expert by restating that is is just a theory and asking about “biblio-historic reasons” that could unravel his whole
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