Logos, ethos, and pathos

The dominant mode of persuasion in Nelson Mandela’s “I Am Prepared to Die” speech is logos. The whole address is an appeal to the Court’s reason, in which the speaker argues for his views using logical and factual arguments.

However, there are also instances when the speaker uses ethos, appealing to trust and authority, and when he uses pathos, appealing to the audience’s emoti…

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Ethos

Ethos is an appeal to trust or authority. It means the speaker wants to make himself and those he mentions in the speech appear trustworthy, skilled, caring or knowledgeable.

On various occasions, Nelson Mandela supports his case by appealing to the authority of certain documents such as the Freedom Charter of his party, the ANC: “The African Nationalism for which the ANC stands is the concept of freedom and fulfilment for the African people in their own land. The most important political document ever adopted by the ANC is the ‘Freedom Charter.’ ”

The speaker mentions these documents in order to help the audience accept the idea that the ANC is a leg…

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Pathos

Speakers appeal to emotions to gain their audience’s sympathy and make them more likely to respond to their arguments on an emotional level.

Nelson Mandela often combines pathos with the other two modes of persuasion for a more impressive effect. One example is: “…communists were the only political group in South Africa who were prepared to treat Africans as human beings and their equals; who were prepared …

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