The discourse of human rights has been a pervasive topic of rhetorical analysis since the earliest days of America. As different groups of people have moved through social reform, the pursuit of natural rights is often the underlying desire. What makes a human being subject to the freedoms of natural rights? Is every human entitled to such rights, and on what grounds is this justification warranted? In an article entitled The Constitution of Aspiration and The Rights That Belong to Us All', Hendrick Hartog (1987) paints an answer to these questions by proposing the statement: If our Constitutional beliefs are synonymous with a guaranteed membership in We the people , then it is seemingly inappropriate to define oneself by such an metaphorical image of rights due to the fact that the Constitution itself excludes many types of individuals from many of these said rights.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton's 1982 speech entitled The Solitude of Self is a critical piece of American literature that finds itself in the middle of a body of historical rhetoric about natural rights. Stanton was a prominent figure associated with The Women's Right Movement of the ninetieth century. Before The Solitude of Self was delivered in 1982, she had spoken about women's rights and suffrage many times before, including one of her most famous speeches at the Seneca Fall convention, The Declaration of Sentiments. In the Solitude of Self however, Stanton refutes a sole interest in strictly women's rights and draws her audience into an overarching discussion about human and individual rights in general.
[...] As discussed before as a major rhetorical obstacle, the interest in subject matter was a concern for Stanton and the style of this speech helped her overcome that obstacle. Without the use of the lyrical form, Stanton may not have been able to evoke this type of empathy in her audience which would have significantly weakened her argument and caused her audience to loose interest. Conclusion The unconventional stylistic and philosophical stance Elizabeth Cady Stanton chose to employ in The Solitude of Self make this piece a highly successful piece of legislative and personal discourse. [...]
[...] the People” is of course the quintessential opening line of the preamble of the Constitution, and in this instance represents a categorization of American citizens as a group unified under the principles and rights of the U.S. Constitution. It is also known that Elizabeth Cady Stanton used this famous phrase in other works of hers, namely The Declaration of Sentiments in 1848. A more conclusive definition of the term “humanism” as it is used in the context of this paper is: " . [...]
[...] The Style of the Speech in Connection with its Purpose While the content of Stanton's speech offers rhetoric that argues from a humanistic viewpoint, not gender specific, the style in which Stanton carries out her ‘argument' proves to be its own rhetorical tool. The speech utilizes the lyrical style to provide rich detail with vivid imagery and examples about the tragic state of human solitude. In using example about the nature of death and birth, Stanton (1892) points out the state of solitude we enter and leave our lives: think for a moment about the immeasurable solitude of self. [...]
[...] The Solitude of Self has become renowned for its author and critic Karlyn Kohrs Campbell states that the Solitude of Self "stands as a rhetorical masterpiece because it explores the values underlying natural rights philosophy, because it responds creatively to the problems faced by social movements as their arguments become familiar to audiences, and because it still has the capacity to speak to contemporary audiences”. (1989). This evaluation of the poignancy and lasting effect of this speech helps us understand why this piece has become an exemplar of human rights speeches and rhetoric. [...]
[...] Analyzing Solitude of Self” as a rhetorical artifact, Stanton ignores a singular focus on women in this speech and through her poetic style, attempts to convey need and desire that every indivuald has for the most fundamental rights. Beginning with an excerpt from the opening of the speech, Elizabeth Cady Stanton begins with a declarative statement stating her purpose as humanistic in nature: The point I wish plainly to bring before you on this occasion is the individuality of each human soul-our Protestant idea. [...]
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