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Redemption Through Victimage

Dramatism Chapter 22
Redemption Through Victimage page 293
There is so much good material to discuss in this section, let alone in this chapter. I was not sure where to begin, or which direction to go. One of Burke's defining ideas about rhetoric is its use, “as a continual pattern of redemption through victimage” (Griffin, 293). He defines victimage as, “the process of designating an external enemy as the source of all our ills” (293). In other words finding a scapegoat to use as common ground (identification) between you and your audience members. I thought it was very interesting how he paralleled the God terms and devil terms with this idea, ultimately portraying the scapegoat as the “personification of evil,” which aesthetically juxtaposes the victim. These opposing terms, and characters make it much easier for an audience to choose the victims side. I speak for myself when I say that as an audience member, I am much more likely to agree with a speaker that I feel compassion, and empathy for. If I feel that we are in the same boat, and are both victims of whatever or whomever the scapegoat is, I will side with the victim. The bigger the gap of opposition between the two extremes, the easier it is to pick a side. If they are too similar, too close in position (golden mean), the harder it will be to decipher right from wrong, good from bad. This obviously has a lot to do with my value system, and perceptions; but if the speaker is good he/she will know these general values well enough to adapt to his audience.

1 comment:

  1. Not everyone is this enthusiastic about Burke's work, but I find his writing fascinating as well. He offers important insights into human behavior. In my research on Al Anon that I conducted for my master's thesis, I found Burke's guilt-purification-redemption cycle provided insight into the organization's rhetoric. Al Anon, for families and friends of alcoholics, uses mortification for redemption rather than victimage. It would seem like the latter would be the more logical route--blame the alcoholic for all the family and friendship problems. But Al Anon literature argues that family members and friends must look to themselves and their role in causing dysfunctional relationships.

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