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Essay on The Invisible Man

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The Invisible Man


Ralph Ellison speaks of a man who is “invisible” to the world around him because people fail to acknowledge his presence. The author of the piece draws from his own experience as an ignored man and creates a character that depicts the extreme characteristics of a man whom few stop to acknowledge. Ellison persuades his audience to sympathize with this violent man through the use of rhetorical appeal. Ethos and pathos are dominant in Ellison’s writing style. His audience is barely aware of the gentle encouragement calling them to focus on the “invisible” individuals around us. Ralph Ellison’s rhetoric in, “Prologue from The Invisible Man,” is effective when it argues that an individual with little or no identity will eventually resort to a life of aimless destruction and isolation.

To understand the narrator of the story, one must first explore Ralph Ellison. Ellison grew up during the mid 1900’s in a poverty-stricken household (“Ralph Ellison”). Ellison attended an all black school in which he discovered the beauty of the written word (“Ralph Ellison”). As an African American in a predominantly white country, Ellison began to take an interest in the “black experience” (“Ralph Ellison”). His writings express a pride in the African American race. His work, The Invisible Man, won much critical acclaim from various sources. Ellison’s novel was considered the “most distinguished novel published by an American during the previous twenty years” according to a Book Week poll (“Ralph Ellison”). One may conclude that the Invisible Man is, in a way, the quintessence Ralph Ellison. The Invisible Man has difficulty fitting into a world that does not want to see him for who he is. M...


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...e, a reliable source. Although the rhetorical appeal of logos is sparsely used, Ellison’s idea is not hindered.

Ralph Ellison lucratively establishes his point through the pathos and ethos of his fictional character, the invisible man. He persuades his readers to reflect on how they receive their identities. Ellison shows us the consequences of being “invisible.” He calls us to make something of ourselves and cease our isolationism. One comes to the realization that not all individuals will comply with society, but all individuals hold the potential to rise above expectations.

Works Cited

Ellison, Ralph. “The Prologue of the Invisible Man.” Constucting Others, Constructing Ourselves. Ed. Sibylle Gruber. Dubuque: Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, 2002. 145-152.

Ralph Ellison. <http://centerx.gseis.ucla.edu/weblio/ellison.html>.


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