Pathos is an argument that appeals to a reader's emotions. Many speech writers use pathos rather than facts or logic to appeal to the emotions of an audience.
Pathos can also be found in the images associated with words. Many advertisements contain emotional appeals.
Advertisement about donating to a charity includes scenes of emaciated children and the words, "For just $1.00 a day, you can feed a starving child."
Politician is pictured holding a child, while a voice talks about his opponent's stance on abortion.
Grocery store commercial shows a grandmother and granddaughter baking a cake together just before the entire family arrives for Thanksgiving dinner.
Examples of Pathos in Literature and Speech:
From Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have a Dream:
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
From Maya Angelou's "Caged Bird":
"The free bird thinks of another breeze
and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees
and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn
and he names the sky his own
But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams
his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream
his wings are clipped and his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing."
Literary Terms Examples