What rhetorical devices are used in “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God”?

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Rhetorical devices used in “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” include pathos, repetition, imagery, metaphor, and simile.

Rhetorical devices are elements of language that the author employs in order to persuade the reader of the validity of a position or to prompt debate...

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Rhetorical devices used in “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” include pathos, repetition, imagery, metaphor, and simile.

Rhetorical devices are elements of language that the author employs in order to persuade the reader of the validity of a position or to prompt debate on a topic. Jonathan Edwards employs both pathos and ethos to persuade the reader of the importance of living a moral life that conforms to God’s laws. His use of vivid imagery, which often includes metaphors and similes, factors into his persuasive approach by invoking fear in the minds of the audience and thus discouraging them from involvement in sinful behavior.

Pathos is the appeal to emotion. An example is his insistence that humans’ bad behavior makes God angry and, by extension, that good Christians would not want to upset their deity. This point is reinforced through repetition of “anger” or “angry” and synonyms, especially “wrath.”

Imagery is the use of one or more of the five senses to create an impression on the reader. The images that Edwards invokes often rely on metaphor and simile. One potent visual image is of a person as a spider about to be cast into a fire. Edwards also uses the sense of hearing as he mentions the horrible shrieks of the burning, condemned person.

Metaphor is the direct comparison of unlike things for effect. God’s wrath is metaphorically compared to fire. A simile is a comparison of unlike things for effect using the words like or as. A contrasting image of wrath as water rather than fire uses a simile:

The wrath of God is like great waters that are dammed for the present ...

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