What are some rhetorical devices used in "The Education of Women" by Daniel Defoe?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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There are, of course, many rhetorical devices in this short essay.  I will list a few of them:

  • Defoe says that the soul is placed in the body "like a rough diamond" and that, like the diamond, it needs to be polished.  The soul, he says, needs to be polished by education.  This is a simile.
  • He asks "But why then should women be denied the benefit of instruction?"  This is, of course, a rhetorical question.  There are quite a few of these in the same paragraph.
  • For one more, here is an example of hyperbole

And, without partiality, a woman of sense and manners is the finest and most delicate part of God's Creation, the glory of Her Maker, and the great instance of His singular regard to man, His darling creature: to whom He gave the best gift either God could bestow or man receive. And 'tis the sordidest piece of folly and ingratitude in the world, to withhold from the sex the due lustre which the advantages of education gives to the natural beauty of their minds.

This passage seems to be going to excess in praise of a woman of sense and manners.

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