How Our Environment Affects Us is a persuasive essay written by Gladwell. It intends to educate the readers on the effects of the environment on the behavior and the life of man. The major objective of the novelist is to give the reader a different view of human behavior that is shaped by the physical and social environment. Gladwell uses this art to portray the factors that make people the way we see them (Eugene 114). In his essay, Gladwell argues that many people assume that human behavior is shaped by various moral characters. However, the social surrounding, physical world, the streets in which people walk and the people that one encounters have a great contribution in shaping a person's way of conduct. What people pass through in their day-to-day activities, the physical environment in their life and the social ecology in which an individual lives defines their behavior. He points out that those individuals are shaped by the external environment. In this essay, he comes up with a theory that states that, the immediate physical environment of a person defines their character and behavior. The author targets to reach former literature students who had passed through an extremely difficult environment. At the same time, he targets to reach all literature students and emphasizes the contribution of the physical environment to human behavior. The targeted audience of this essay is all the individuals who deal with human conduct and behavior such as teachers, parents, social workers and those who work at rehabilitation centers. This essay offers them new strategies of handling human behavior through addressing human's physical and social environment. This topic is interesting to the audience since it goes contrary to what most of the readers believe. A big number of people believe that human behavior is defined by moral support and background. It is also interesting since it relates human life to day-to-day activities. Since this assay provides a new strategy of analyzing human behavior, it keeps the reader attentive and eager to read more and more. The author achieves his purpose through the use of rhetoric appeals and a persuasive tone that makes the essay convincing.
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Moral characters together with values contribute in shaping human behavior. However, the immediate physical and social world, the areas and streets that people walk in, people they meet and activities that they engage in play an important role in making them act the way they do. In other words, human behavior is shaped by the external environment. When a person is in a harsh environment, they are adaptive to the environment, and in most cases, they are stubborn when handling issues in their life. At the same time, people who face little challenges in life are weak and cannot endure tough situations without difficulties (Timmerman and Schiappa 43-66). The behavior of men and women is determined by the encounters they meet in life consisting of happy moments, challenging situations together with the physical environment. In this case, human beings adopt a lifestyle that is comfortable within the areas where they reside. If the environment has a lot of challenges, the residents of that area adapt behavior that enables them to live in the environment without difficulties. As the author says, "our inner states are the results of our outer circumstance" (Gladwell 152). This implies that one behaves towards another person in respect to their former relationship. If their relationship is ill today, in the future, the relationship is expected to be poor. This is because the two did not create a friendly physical environment towards one another. The author drives his point home; thus, human beings are sensitive to the environment and they conduct themselves according to the nature of the physical environment. For example, the writer gives an instance of the occurrence of violent crimes in a city. He argues that violence occurs because of too many challenging issues that the residents face. These issues can be defined as changes in the environment that allow other factors to bring about the reduction of security and increase violence. The author defines how the environment affects human behavior through the use of child behavior. Children conduct themselves according to the external environment and eventually adopt the behavior. This is where the writer indicates that the difference in behavior that is seen in human beings is fully related to the environment that they grow up. This explains why different cultures behave in different ways. According to the author, this is contributed by the difference in the social and physical environment that every culture is located.
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In How Our Environment Affects Us by Malcolm Gladwell, he attempts to persuade his audience that human behavior is shaped by the physical environment of an individual. The behavior of human beings is contributed by many factors. However, social and physical environments are the key factors that define how an individual behaves. He uses various rhetorical appeals including ethos, pathos and logos. In his essay, Gladwell applies unique strategies to put in place the rhetorical appeals and make the essay more persuasive. These strategies are effective because they make the essay appealing and convincing to the reader.
Use of Logos
Malcolm Gladwell uses logos as the logical reasoning in his statement. He uses logos effectively. For instance, on page 160, he argues that human beings are very sensitive to the environment and behave accordingly. This implies that when the environment is tough, we expect people who grow up in these areas to be tough and have more endurance. In addition, the author gives an example of crime violence in a city. He argues that crime in a city is contributed by a number of physical factors that reduce the security. At the same time, the solution to such violence can only be acquired through influential changes in the environment of the city that will allow major reduction of crime. This example is convincing to the reader since it supports the author's claim (Gladwell 160). In addition, this is a simple example of issues that happen in our day-to-day life – a factor that makes it easy for a reader to understand.
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Use of Ethos
The author uses ethos to bring the moral character as part of his persuasion to the reader. This works effectively as he uses a trustworthy source to make the reader believe his claims. For example, he offers a true story regarding New York City and the state of insecurity in the city. He relates the story with his argument basing his evidence on the effects of the environment on human behavior. In every community, environmental challenges bring about misconduct, which ends up with insecurity. In this case, it is easy for the reader to understand the writer's message with the use of this example (Gladwell 161). In addition, Gladwell also uses ethos as an essential tool to keep his readers interested and keen to learn more. For instance, on page 161, the author claims that "the features of our immediate social and physical world play a huge role in shaping who we are and how we act" (Gladwell). In this case, the author treats the audience as equals. When the author treats the audience as equals, it gives the reader an understanding that this is an issue that the author has researched well enough. Furthermore, the reader has the impression that both the writer and them are going through the same situation. In this essay, the organization of the art starting from the introduction, sections to the conclusion is effective and set in a good flow that ensures that the reader does not get confused.
Use of Pathos
Gladwell uses pathos in his literature to evoke the feelings and emotions of the reader. He uses pathos to have the readers agree with him. For instance, he does not deny the fact that human behavior is defined by values and moral characters. However, he convinces the reader that the key determinant of human behavior is the physical environment of each individual. On page 165, he criticizes the part that the social and physical environment contributes towards human behavior. To convince his audience, he gives a real-life example, such as the behavior of women in Nafisi. These are interesting experiences that contribute towards making the reader agree with the author's argument (Gladwell 165).
The author's writing style enables him to support the rhetoric appeals that he applied in his art. This is acquired through an effective use of metaphors, parallels, descriptive sensory details together with effective language. He uses simple language that is easy for his readers to understand. In the essay, the vocabulary is limited hence giving the reader an easy task of evaluating the real meaning of the essay. He has made sure that he comes up with clear sentence structures all over the essay (Garver 114). This has made his essay easy to understand and eliminate boredom to the reader. The use of punctuation marks has given his essay a good flow and makes it easy to understand. The author has also used the correct grammar observing all the basic requirements in the essay. This makes the essay a good one to all the readers irrespective of their age. The tone of the author is serious. He addresses an issue that requires a serious tone since his point is to prove something different from what most of his readers believe. He chooses a good topic since the topic relates to the issues that affect all human beings in their day-to-day activities. The use of imagery in this essay makes the reader have an imagination of the real ground in every example given by the author. This promotes the author to imagine a real situation and human behaviors that are expected and their causes. Furthermore, the reader is capable of coming up with a convinced direction. Through this, he has managed to convince most of his readers to agree with his argument (Garver 114).
In conclusion, the topic of human behavior is important and should be addressed giving consideration to the environment. However, as the author states, there are many factors that contribute towards forming the behavior of a person. From this point of view, to come up with an overview of the issues that influence human behavior, the author could have looked at the topic human behavior instead of specializing on the environment. Nevertheless, the environment in influencing human behavior is vital since everything revolves around the environment. The use of rhetorical appeals in this essay makes this essay convincing and appealing. These tools combined with the writer's strategies provide the essay with a good conclusion that proves the author's argument. Gladwell is an experienced writer who employs literature elements, such as imagery, humor and styles, to prove his themes and draw a conclusion that supports his argument.
- Timmerman, David M., and Edward Schiappa. Classical Greek Rhetoric Theory and the Disciplining of Discourse. Cambridge, New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010. Print.
- Garver, Eugene. Aristotle's Rhetoric: An Art of Character. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994. Print.
- Gladwell, Malcolm. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. New York: Black Bay Books, 2002. Print.