Friday, November 30, 2012

Visual Rhetoric 1: logos, mythos, ethos, and pathos

This photograph engages us through the rhetorical strategies of logos, mythos, ethos, and pathos.

Logos: engages our intellect through the written word: slogans

Mythos: engages our sense of humanity and connection with others and with nature

Ethos: engages our sense of identifying what is credible

Pathos: engages our feeling

The aftermath of a fire affects everyone; even animals feel the wrath of the destruction that is caused by fire. You can imagine the look of despair that is on the animals faces as they watch the flames burn in front of them as if they are wondering where will they go (pathos), their homes have been destroyed and this could have been prevented.

The image above is of the famous Smokey the Bear (mythos and ethos); standing around the charred trees with his fellow forest friends with the slogan “Only you can prevent forest fires”.  The picture grabs your attention and the message (logos) to me is clear, that the careless actions of humans can affect not only the innocent lives of the animals but also thousands of trees. 

Yes, you can read too much into the picture and know a bear is not going to be friends with a deer or a squirrel, which is lunch to him, but Smokey the bear has been a major campaign for fire prevention awareness for over 68 years (ethos).   It gets you to think about the cute animals, the poor innocent victims (pathos). 

Let’s face it, accidents do happen, but the consequences of a forest fire will have a major impact on nature for years to come (mythos).  It will take years for the trees and vegetation to grow so animals can have food and cover for protection (mythos).

All humans need to stop and think about our behavior and to inform our children the danger of playing with matches.  We need to be careful and use caution when making a camp fire. Make sure you clear the land around your fire pit.  A spark can fly and easily catch the woods on fire.  Due to the remote areas, the fire can grow out of control before the firefighters even arrive (mythos).

Also, we need to be careful when smoking cigarettes or cigars.  Make sure you properly dispose of the cigarette butt.  A lot of smokers carelessly discard of them, either throwing the butt out the car window or on the ground while it is still lit, causing a fire. 

When a fire starts, animals can’t escape in a car or receive a warning from the TV so they can evacuate.   Please remember Smokey and his friends, only you can prevent forest fires (ethos)!

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