Anahi Tejeda – Response to “The Rhetorical Situation” by Lloyd F. Bitzer

The article “The Rhetorical Situation” by Lloyd F. Bitzer explored and discussed the definition and different aspects of the concept of a rhetorical situation. Previous to reading this article, I was under the impression that a rhetorical situation was a moment in which the reaction to a situation was an anomaly. For example,  a serious situation such as a loss of a loved one being funny or taken lightly.  However, as I read this article Bitzer stated, “A work of rhetoric is pragmatic; it comes into existence for the sake of something beyond itself; it functions ultimately to produce action or change in the world.” To clarify, a rhetorical situation is a cause and effect; for the sole purpose of causing a positive change. It is composed of three main aspects: audience, constraint beliefs, and exigence. The audience is the person or group who you are trying to reach or get the attention of. Exigence “is rhetorical when it is capable of positive modification and when positive modification requires discourse or can be assisted by discourse”(Bixer 7). Basically, it is something that is capable of a positive change. Lastly, constraint beliefs are basically what affects the audience, it causes the reaction and is what moves the audience to reform or make changes. One idea that I found interesting was that although the rhetoric is meant to have a positive effect or change not every situation can be fixed by rhetoric. Situations such as natural disasters, loss, etc are things that are inevitable and can not be changed. This puts a limitation to what a rhetorical situation refers to as he said it must be a situation with a “fitting response.” From my understanding, his perspective on this conveys that a rhetorical situation has to be present. For example, police brutality is an issue that is present and which needed to be reformed, through informing the audience it caused an outcome of protest and change. It can not be a situation that is sporadic or that something can not be done to resolve or change it. In addition, I found it intriguing the fact that Bitzer used constant repetition of different examples to emphasize the importance and distinction of what a rhetorical situation is. The examples gave a better description and painted a picture of his stance about rhetoric situations.

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