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In the excerpt from A Room
of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf argues that women writers face unfair
educational, financial and social disadvantages. Throughout the excerpt, she hopes
to persuade readers that in a patriarchal society, a woman must have privacy
and financial independence in order to fulfill her literary potential. To
accomplish this goal, Woolf effectively appeals to logos, pathos and ethos; however,
her emphasis on establishing credibility most successfully persuades her readers.

 

                  Throughout her essay, Woolf drives
her argument home by using strong appeals to logos and pathos. In many
instances, she shares empirical evidence to appeal to the reader’s intellect: “The
only charge I could bring against the Fellows and Scholars was that …in protection of their turf…they had sent my thoughts
into hiding” (Woolf). This anecdotal
obstacle delineates the effects of interruption
on the reflective process, supporting her claim that privacy would
remove women from their disadvantage. In addition to her logos appeal,
Woolf makes effective appeal to pathos by including rhetorical devices such as
metaphors. The direct comparison of women to “babes in the cradle” (Woolf) evokes
in the reader negative feelings of hostility towards patriarchal superiority. Collectively, Woolf’s appeals to logos
and pathos support her argument that women writers face marginalized
disadvantages.

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                  Despite effective appeals to
both logos and pathos however, Woolf most compellingly persuades her readers by
appealing to her credibility. From the beginning, she establishes herself as an
informed writer knowledgeable on the topic. As an accomplished author whose essay succeeds several lectures delivered at two women’s colleges, she is a respected expert in the field (CITE). In the opening of her
piece, Woolf also alludes to historical female writers such as Jane Austen,
George Eliot and the Brontës to add to her credibility as an educated writer on
the topic.

                   In addition to her knowledge on women and
fiction, Woolf further appeals to
ethos by building a trustful connection with her readers. She presents herself as an honest character, assuring to describe “as
fully and freely as she can” and admitting that “lies will flow from her
lips” (Woolf). This transparency not
only dismisses her potential biases but it also proves she is someone reliable. Furthermore, Woolf involves her
readers by offering them the power to judge her claims: “It is for you to seek out this truth and decide whether any part
of it is worth keeping (Woolf). This
approach skillfully shifts the locus of credibility from the writer to the
reader who, intuitively, will not doubt his or her own credibility. Overall, the
author’s appeal to ethos is the most effective because negotiated readers do
not feel obliged to accept her “expert” opinion, but rather encouraged to
become active adjudicators of information.

                  Although Woolf successfully
appeals to logos, pathos and ethos, her emphasis on establishing credibility is
the most persuasive factor. As suggested by the author herself, the topic of
patriarchy and its effects on women is highly controversial (Woolf). Nonetheless,
the truth of the matter comes from within each reader and fortunately, Woolf facilitates
the drawing of independent conclusions. 

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