In her response to a letter from Melusina Fay Peirce, an insecure American woman from the 1860’s who looks up to Marian Evan Lewes and aspires to become a writer herself, Lewes uses rhetorical strategies to establish her position that writing is a process and that a writer must write faithfully and honestly and a writer should never be absolutely satisfied with their work.
Perhaps the strongest rhetorical strategy Lewes employs to establish her position is her personal anecdote. She writes of her experience of being a writer and how as a writer she did not write for glory and fame, she wrote to fulfill her ambition and she wrote faithfully and she wrote about what she knew she could do well but even still she was not satisfied. She also tells of her personal anecdote to encourage Peirce and to tell her that becoming a writer is a process and the most meaningful part of writing is the actual process and to not worry for her ability to write and be a successful writer will come with time.
Another strategy Lewes uses is figurative language. She compares pieces of writing and the process of becoming a writer to having a child in her metaphor, “like offspring, developing and growing by some force of which one’s own life has only served as a vehicle and that what is left of oneself is only a poor husk.” She does this to not only establish common ground with Peirce, who herself being a woman in the 1860s was most likely a mother, but also to create pathos. With her metaphor she makes it clear that a writer should put everything into their writing. She also does this to show that writing, just like having a child, is an experience that is beautiful and should not be missed while searching for glory and the ending result.
Throughout the letter, especially the last paragraph, Lewes uses a very humble tone. She admits that she has flaws without sounding self deprecating. Lewes lets Peirce know that not only she, but also her husband is thankful for her kind words. She knows that Peirce is an inexperienced and insecure writer and she wants to encourage her to pursue it rather than discourage her. By being humble and by creating a common ground with Peirce, Lewes is able to effectively get her message across to Peirce that being a
writer takes time, and that Peirce still has quite a lot of time for trial and error because she is no where near being too old to write.
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