Samuel Johnson Rhetorical Analysis

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Mothers have pushed their children to achieve greatness since the beginning of time. Such an example can be seen in a mother’s request to Samuel Johnson for an archbishop’s patronage for her son and the response of Samuel Johnson. In this letter, Samuel Johnson uses various rhetorical strategies to explain and justify to the mother that there is no reason for him to endorse her son and talk to the archbishop about patronage. In the beginning, Johnson explains the mistake that the mother made. He describes expectation that is “dictated not by reason, but by desire” is “dangerous to indulge.” She expected Johnson to comply and that her son would receive patronage. That expectation, Johnson implies and later explains, had no logical reasoning.…show more content…
At the beginning, he implicitly puts her request down. Near the end, however, he blames the helplessness created by the request as the reason for the denial. He first tells her that she does not fully comprehend the impact of her request. She “should have considered what she was asking.” By doing this, he establishes his position clearly, one that meant her son would not get patronage because of the impossibility of the task. To explain this further, he walks her through what the request would have resulted in. The situation, in his eyes, is that he was asked to “solicit a great man, to whom [he] never spoke, for a young person whom [he] had never seen, upon a supposition which [he] had no means of knowing true.” He does this to show that he is willing to share his perspective and that he respects her enough to walk her through it, instead of blatantly saying no without any reason. The mother’s request is logically reasoned inductively to be irrational, leaving him no possible reason or possible procedure to accomplish the task at hand. While it may not have been this extreme, Johnson effectively and logically convinces the mother that she made a mistake in drafting such a letter. On top of this, the response’s wording makes Johnson seem generous but helpless. While he does want to help, he cannot due to the
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