Post #4: A Dramatistic Analysis of You Season 1

Image result for you netflix


The Rhetorical Situation and Plot Summary

The 2018 Netflix Original tv show You is based on a novel with the same title by Caroline Kepnes which was originally published in 2014. The show takes place in modern-day New York City (2018), specifically at Mooney’s Bookstore which is run by the protagonist Joe Goldberg. Joe is a charismatic man in his mid 20’s. When he meets a young woman in his bookstore, Guinevere Beck (who goes by Beck), he becomes infatuated by her. HisImage result for joe goldberg cap obsession begins with the socially acceptable behavior of online social media profile stalking, but then it escalates to him watching her outside of her first-floor windows at night in the clever disguise shown. His obsession eventually drives him to murder Beck’s on-again-off-again boyfriend, Benji, and best friend/admirer, Peach. In doing so, he is able to grow closer to Beck and they eventually begin dating and living together.

Why the Dramatistic Perspective is Important

The goal of using the Dramatistic Perspective is to analyze artifacts like You to better understand why someone like Joe who is breaking away from socially acceptable behavior is still considered an overall good or moral person. This is done by using Burke’s philosophy on the human condition to better understand a person’s or character’s motivation(s) which absolve them from guilt.

The Pentad

Kenneth Burke created the Pentad to help us identify and interpret the motivations of a rule-breaking person. In the case of You, the agent is Joe Goldberg – our protagonist – and the act is Joe stalking Beck and killing her friends. Image result for benji glass roomStalking someone and murdering their friends is obviously not considered normal or good behavior. In order to commit these acts, Joe uses a cap and jacket to disguise his identity, his computer to stalk Beck and her friends’ social media profiles, and the basement of his bookstore which conveniently has a climate-controlled book preservation room with a lock; all of which are considered the tools or agency Joe uses. The scene, as previously mentioned in the rhetorical situation, is modern-day New York City but a lot of the acts take place in the basement of Mooney’s Bookstore (as pictured) and at Beck’s apartment where he physically stalks her. The general purpose of doing all of this is to remove obstacles that Joe believes is keeping Beck from falling in love with him.


Burke says that motivation “… argues what makes the rule-breaking behavior justifiable” (Sellnow 82). Based on the pentad and my own interpretation of You, Joe’s motivation for stalking Beck and murdering her friends is to make Beck happy. This type of motivation is categorized by Burke as transcendence because Joe is following a higher calling of making Beck happy. He kills her boyfriend because he was a drug addict working as an entrepreneur for a dead-end company. He kills her best friend because she was preventing Beck’s writing career from launching and she had a lot of blackmail on her. Although Joe is motivated to make Beck happy, he is also motivated to make himself happy by having Beck all to himself. Thus, when he kills Peach, her best friend, his motivation is considered victimage because he staged her suicide to cover up the murder.


Although Joe’s motivation can be considered transcendence and victimage and he is technically absolved of guilt, there is still an uneasiness concerning Joe’s motivation because of the means in which he achieved his goal of being with Beck. This show is also blatantly toxic to society because it shows how someone like Joe, a charismatic, good-looking, white man, can get away with murder and still be rewarded by getting the girl. Although Beck does eventually find out about the murders and the stalking (spoiler), Joe is not caught by the police, at least not yet.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Post #3: Narrative Analysis of Disney’s Mulan

Image result for mulan 1998Mulan is a 1998 animated film by Disney that was made to retell the Chinese legend of Hua Mulan. In the legend as well as in the movie, Mulan takes her father’s place in the army and saves China from Shun Yu, the Hun’s leader who murders many Chinese families with his army. Disney’s audience is American families, but especially children. Although Mulan’s story involves war, genocide, and gender roles – topics that are not generally discussed with children – Disney is able to present these concepts in a child-sensitive way. Meaning, the parents and other more mature audience members are able to better understand these serious concepts from the movie’s imagery whereas the children just see it as a part of a fun and interesting story. However, one of the reasons for this retelling of Hua Mulan’s story is to have children and parents discuss these tough concepts together. Thus, one of the main constraints of the film is how the animators presented these complicated concepts as well as how they presented a Chinese legend to a predominantly American audience.

The goal of using the narrative perspective analysis, in this case, is to focalize my analysis on the causal relations, the moral, and the overall effect of the film on its audience. More specifically, some of the causal relations include Mulan taking her father’s place in the army, therefore, she must crossdress as a man. Later, Mulan stops Shun Yu from killing the emperor using her skills from training with the Army, therefore, China is saved from being conquered by the Huns. The moral, then, is that women should be allowed equal rights, like being drafted, so that they can have the opportunity to successfully protect their country like Mulan.

Watching a female protagonist like Mulan defy traditional gender roles could potentially instill a new ideology in its younger audience of not allowing others to define your abilities. It may have also shown its more mature audience the importance of inclusion because, as I previously stated, without Mulan’s training in the army she would not have been able to save China.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Post #2: Neo-Aristotelian Analysis

In an opening speech of a Senate hearing on February 15, 2017, Ashton Kutcher testifies on the importance of the work his company, Thorn, is doing to fight the enslavement and sex trafficking of children. The exigence of this speech is to convince the Senate to help fund Thorn’s efforts in identifying victims to prevent trafficking. Kutcher’s audience is the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee as well as the world because the speech was filmed (a short clip is attached above). Kutcher must overcome the preconceived expectations his audience has of him because he commonly plays the comedic relief in the various movies and tv shows he has acted in. Kutcher also has to overcome the professional setting that can put a barrier between the audience members’ work and personal lives by making his speech personal to each of his listeners.

Ashton Kutcher’s main way of persuasion is his use of pathos in the invention of his argument. He arranged his speech to begin with a joke about internet trolls attacking him that attracts his audience’s attention, then he gets more serious. After explaining that his two days jobs are as the co-founder of Thorn and as a father of two children, Kutcher explains he has a duty as a father to defend his children’s right to the pursuit of happiness. Thus, he is building his argument of protecting children in the Constitutional right to the pursuit of happiness – a credible and widely accepted right. He later gives a personal testimony of what he has seen in his investigations.

In terms of style, Kutcher uses everyday prose and legal terms to describe the cases Thorn investigates. Contrasting this professional language, he uses more so unprofessional terms like ‘internet trolls’ to begin his speech. Kutcher’s rhetorical choice to focus on pathos his duty as a father as well as his imagery and emotional response to recalling a heartbreaking investigation creates a lasting memory in his audience which likely consists of parents or others who have a personal connection to children. His emotional reaction to recalling this investigation adds to his emotional appeal and delivery of his speech.

Overall, Ashton Kutcher’s speech was successful and created a lasting impression on his audience of politicians and those that viewed the video of his speech.  I referenced this CNN article on the event which highlights the alliances Thorn made with Senators like Bob Corker pictured below.

View image on Twitter


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Post #1

Hello, my name is Amber Thomas and I am a sophomore English major with a concentration in Rhetoric and Professional Writing at Longwood University. The purpose of this blog is to create an online portfolio of some of my rhetorical criticism I will be conducting for my English 301 course called Rhetorical Criticism of Film, Pop Culture, and Multimodal Texts with Dr. Guler. The only other class I have taken concerning my Professional Writing concentration is Technical Writing with Dr. Lettner-Rust. By studying how rhetoric is used in popular culture, I hope to gain a better understanding of how I can use the different rhetorical appeals in my future career and writings. Some of the things I may be analyzing include speeches, movies, ads, and other artifacts of that nature. More obviously, this blog is for Dr. Guler to make sure I am completing my assignments. On the other hand, future employers of mine may look at this blog as a reference for my ability to analyze texts as well as my ability to navigate this platform, WordPress.

Watch this short video to learn more about the emergence of the study of rhetoric and how it is used to persuade: Rhetoric

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment