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Rhetorical Analysis of Split Skins

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Rhetorical Analysis of Split Skins

The essay titled "Split Skins: Female Agency and Bodily Mutilation in The Little Mermaid," was written by Susan White, an English professor whose research is mainly on film criticism. Her essay was originally published in Film Theory Goes to the Movies, an anthology of film criticism in 1993 and again published in the Third Edition of the University Book, an anthology of writings, in 2003. In "Split Skins," White uses rhetorical strategies such as style, diction, and knowledgability to persuade her readers to think about how we should interpret an "authentic woman's story" (White, 316). According to White, movies such as Disney's The Little Mermaid, have placed a stereotype of women that has been weaving itself into the minds of many generations young and old.

The style of an essay can help reflect a rhythm or arrangement the direction the author wants its reader to go. White's style is descriptive and has smooth transitions into how each description relates to her point. For example, " In a day and age when high school girls tend to be convinced of their physical inadequacy, are "twice as likely as boys to perceive themselves as fat"(Byrd, A12) is no wonder that a narrative like The Little Mermaid has been widely successful among pre-adolescent girls" (White, 321). Here White smoothly states her point, adds detail, cites a source, and ties in how it is relative to the main point of her essay. From a sentence like this, White's direction, for the audience, is to take into account the idea that girls are easier to convince than boys. Having that in mind, it is easy to see why movies such as The Little Mermaid, appeal so easily to so many young females. It is the non-stop stereotypes brought forth by the media, concerning how females (particularly young females) are "supposed" to look and act like.

Along with her smooth transitions, another element of White's style is having the reader think about the issue at hand by posing a deep question. Posing a question is something rarely utilized by authors due to the complicated nature and misunderstood strategies involved in implementing one into a piece of writing. In the essay she asks, "how then do we discern or even conceptualize an "authentic woman's story?" (White, 316). By including this thought provoking question, White wills the reader to contemplate possible answers while being informed of all the information that follows. She explains its relevance concerning the essay as a whole and the specific relationship to that paragraph. Once again, White shows yet another example of her many smooth and eloquent ways of transitioning her paper from one point to the next.

Another rhetorical strategy White incorporates into her essay is diction. Diction, or more commonly known as word choice, can be applied as a way to sway, impress, or add emphasis to any piece of writing. Her extensive choice of words used throughout the essay help to capture the audience. The array of descriptive words help in assisting the reader to truly understand her point of view, as witnessed here; "Although The Little Mermaid "anaesthetizes" the physical pain Andersen describes as part of achieving adulthood, the girl's physical and psychological endurance and loss mark almost every moment of the film" (White, 322). In addition to understanding her point, it is apparent that the arrangement of words and length of a sentence play major roles in how the sentence is viewed. White chooses the word "anaesthetizes" to convey the message of having pain, but not being able to actually feel it. The length is due to making sure the thought in the sentence is complete and the arrangement shows the objective, the explanation of the objective and the end point being made.

Small words could have actually been put in place of "anaesthetizes," but White aims for a higher level of direction to send her reader, which shows to be an allied component of how word choice can affect its



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