The Writings of Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine was an English born revolutionary writer who supported American independence from England. His most famous writing was a pamphlet titled Common Sense. In this pamphlet, Thomas Paine used literary devices to educate his readers to liberate from England. Paine used direct language to clearly lay out the argument he was making against the English Constitution. ‘In the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense; and I have no other preliminaries to settle with the reader, than that he will divest himself of prejudice and prepossession, and suffer his reason and feelings to determine for themselves; that he will put on, or rather that he will not put off, the true character of a man, and generously enlarge his views beyond the present day.” Paine’s straightforward and honest approach builds trust in the reader by way of ethos which enables him to sound sincere and logos by offering facts over opinion. This form of persuasiveness allowed all readers, regardless of their education, to easily comprehend his message. ‘As it is my design to make those that can scarcely read understand, I shall, therefore, avoid every literary ornament and put it in language as plain as the alphabet.” Paine knew that he needed to reach an audience of colonists that existed outside of the major cities with simple logic.

The sparse demographic was not able to decipher the academic language which that was used in most of the writings of the time. By reaching those who had little access to literature that was understandable, Paine was able to inform the reader that the King was the last link that tied the Americans to unfavorable circumstances. Paine knew he could persuade the colonists to see that all monarchies were self-promoting and not in the best interests of the common people, who together, could achieve a united state. Paine believed American’s were God’s chosen children. Though Paine was not overly religious himself, he knew the audience who he was targeting in his phamphlet. “The Sun never shined on a cause of greater worth”. In this statement, Paine uses the figurative language of pathos by appealing to the colonist’s who may have been feeling reluctant to abandon the idea of reconciliation. His direct language gave the reader a choice; to give up reconciliation or lose the chance to ever be a independent state. It was considered treason to talk in public the way Paine was writing, and the discussion of independence was only done in private. ‘No man in his senses can say that their claim under William the Conqueror is a very honorable one. A French bastard landing with an armed banditti, and establishing himself king of England against the consent of the natives, is in plain terms a very paltry rascally original.” Paine uses straightforward language to shock and provoke the readers to challenge the crown’s authority. The pathos that he used, emotionally invested the reader with a vivid description discrediting the king. His emotional tone was humorous and full of sarcasm which excited those who felt a need for change but rendered powerless against the English government. If he could shed light by refusing to recognize the King and English Monarchy as the only way to be governed, then it would discredit the English Constitution as well, opening the door to new possibilities of survival and freedom.

Paine called out the ignorance of Monarchies and the general supporters. He claimed that Britain chose to protect America because it was also benefited by doing so and not because it cared for the interests of the Americans. ‘Though I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offense, yet I am inclined to believe that all those who espouse the doctrine of reconciliation may be included within the following descriptions; Interested men, who are not to be trusted, weak men who cannot see, prejudiced men who will not see, and a certain set of moderate men who think better of the European world than it deserves; and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this continent than all the other three.” This dramatic challenge bought the readers to focus on the second paragraph of his pamphlet where he calls them into action to fight for the vision of independence.

Paine continues to express the need for independence from England through metaphors ‘if America is a child, it is now coming of age when it needs to be independent of the parent and take care of its own children, as a young man who is mature and supports his own.” This useful metaphor represents that America is maturing and needs to break away from its mother country, England. ‘Everything that is right or reasonable pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ?TIS TIME TO PART.” This passage defines logos appealing to the reader through the use of logic. Thomas Paine’s literary devices were passionate, straightforward and thoroughly explained the benefit of independence by portraying a unified and strong nation to the reader. Paine persuades his readers with scientific facts, analogies, quotes, informed opinions, vivid descriptions, emotional examples, humor, sarcasm, disappointment, and excitement. This brilliant pamphlet was one of the most influential writings which encouraged an unsure nation to rebel against its mother country in a desperate pursuit of freedom and solidarity. In the end, his style of writing anonymously called to action the use of common sense.

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