Essay on President Clinton’s Pentad

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President Clinton’s Pentad

Throughout time, many theorists have studied modes of persuasion. The ancient Greeks focused on persuasive discourse in the public arena which allowed a democracy to function properly. However, more recently Kenneth Burke, a literary critic and philosopher, has also evaluated how our language influences social action. Yet unlike the ancient philosophers, Burke was interested in how not just public messages but all symbolic activity leads to persuasion of others. From this belief, Burke developed the theory of Dramatism which he defined as, "The study of human relation and motives by means of a methodical inquiry into cycles or clusters of terms and their function" (Hauser, 1998, October 30). He viewed life
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One, he defined man as "the symbol-using inventor of the negative, separated from his natural condition by instruments of his own-making, goaded by a spirit of hierarchy and rotten with perfection" (Hauser, 1986, p.123). Man attempts to persuade others by engaging in rhetoric, which Burke defined as "the use of language as a symbolic means of inducing cooperation in beings that by nature respond to symbols" (Hauser, 1998, October 30). However, Burke also claimed that rhetoric is dependent on man’s ability to identify with the audience he wishes to persuade. Therefore, identification refers to the condition where individuals or groups see themselves as alike in some essential aspect (Hauser, 1998, November 2). Individuals identify with others by substance, or in other words the essential characteristics of a person as described by self or others (Craig, 1998, November 9). Finally, this identification of substance leads to consubstantiation where individuals or the group become one (Hauser, 1998, November 2). Now, a situation has developed with all the proper elements Burke deemed necessary for persuasion.

Next, Burke creates a set of terms within his theme of evaluation of a persuasive situation. Here, Burke creates his dramatistic pentad containing the terms agent, agency, scene, act, and purpose. Although, each of these elements can be applied differently regarding the same

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