Posted by: Jack Henry | July 16, 2019

Editor’s Corner: Bathos and Pathos

Hello readers! Today I have some interesting information for you on two literary devices from The Grammarist: bathos and pathos. But first I must say, you have no idea what I suffer through during my research for you. The Grammarist has the most disgusting “click bait” on their website. Sometimes I can hardly make it through the material because of the toe fungus remedies and the bladder control issues that the people on the medication Metformin supposedly have. Why people, why?

Okay. I will suffer through it to bring you new, and hopefully interesting, tidbits about our language. From the people who are supported by ads of guys putting twigs in their ears to cure tinnitus, The Grammarist:

Bathos isa noun and a literary term that describes a situation in which a serious, emotional and heartfelt story full of genuine insight and emotion suddenly sinks to contemplate something trivial or everyday. Bathos is an anticlimax, it is banality. If the writer intends to stir deep thought and emotions in the reader, bathos will sabotage that intention. It is an anticlimax to an idea full of sentiment and meaning. Synonyms of the word bathos that may be found in a thesaurus are anticlimax, letdown, mawkishness. Bathos is usually a transgression performed by poor writers, though bathos may be used by comedy writers to great effect. Consider the Groucho Marx quote: “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.” The word bathos was coined by Alexander Pope in 1728 in his essay, Peri Bathous, from the Greek word bathos, which means depth.

Pathos is a noun and a literary term that means to invoke deep or sentimental emotions or feelings in the reader, especially empathy, pity, sympathy, sorrow and longing. Pathos is used in fiction to inspire a depth of sentiment in the reader, but it is also used in persuasive arguments to appeal to the listener in a fundamental way. Synonyms of the word pathos that may be found in a thesaurus are poignancy, sentiment, tenderness. Aristotle described the use of pathos to persuade the listener in an argument of logic. The word pathos has been in use in the English language since the mid-1600s, derived from the Greek word pathos, which means feeling, emotion, calamity.

Kara Church

Technical Editor, Advisory

Symitar Documentation Services

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