We spend a lot of time persuading others. Whether it is what kind of take-out food we want, what to watch at the cinema, or just exactly what to think of Donald Trump. One thing is certain, a lot more time than we think is spent trying to persuade. For most, persuasion is part of their daily routine. For some, their job is built entirely around it. We often see politicians persuading people that their party is the best, celebrities persuading the public to give to charity, lawyers persuading an audience of someone’s innocence or guilt.
So, it’s safe to say that the ability to persuade is pretty important, which is why my focus has been on classical rhetoric of late. If you’ve been following my blog recently, you may have noticed that I have been writing a lot about classical rhetoric and how it can improve writing. I have talked about structure and techniques, but – apart from some small quotes from literature – have provided very little in the way of an example of how it could be used. With this in mind, I have decided to give an example of a polemic I wrote a month or so before Christmas as a piece of coursework for my Master’s degree.
So what exactly is a polemic? It is, in the briefest terms, a strong verbal or written attack on someone or something. Politicians are often seen delivering these. The idea of a polemic is to persuade the audience, often by creating an emotional response or call to action.