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“Moral Bucket List” by David Brooks Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jun 21st, 2022

In his columnist essay, David Brooks writes on the moral bucket list. As implied in this title, the essay is about a list of qualities that people should endeavor to achieve before their death. In his introductory paragraph, the author mentions that he sometimes meets people who are selfless, inspiring, deeply good, and can work in any facet of life. The columnist recognizes that despite the fact that he has some level of career success, but he is deficient in some of the characters. The author notes that such individuals have more of the “eulogy virtues,” which are stated during one’s burial, than “resume virtues,” which are skills and knowledge that are relevant for marketplace. Brooks then urges the readers to pursue and learn some of the practices that make a person gain the inner light. Although Brooks’ essay contains some fallacious reasoning, he effectively uses rhetorical appeals to convince his audience on the need for them to develop intrinsic morals.

To start with, the author appeals to ethics which means convincing audience of his credibility and character. This is evident when he admits that he too has not achieved the character that he admires and aspires to have. Notably, David Brooks is a renowned op-ed columnist who writes for the New York Times on culture and political affairs. He is a well respectable man who influences the public with his essays. Therefore, for him to consider himself a person who still needs to learn some of the virtues that make a person radiate light, he is humble (Brooks). The impression that his confession brings to the readers is that a person can never stop growing. In turn, the reader is challenged also to desire to develop the good practices which they feel are deficient in their character.

Furthermore, the use of ethos by Brooks to persuade readers is evident in the reputation of the characters mentioned in the essay. The author provides a description of the kind of some people who can be “in any walk of life” (Brooks). His strategy of not mentioning the name of a specific person and explaining that such individuals can be found in any facet of life is prudent. It provokes the reader to think and identify a person they have met who has similar virtues. No one can miss finding a person who, at one point in their life, demonstrated selflessness and made them happy. Thus, Brooks is successful in making readers identify their heroes in the society and persuade them that they too can be morally admirable.

The essayist uses language that appeals to the emotions which convince the audience through shared experiences, memory, nostalgia and senses. An example in the essay is when Brooks states, “all the people I’ve ever deeply admired are profoundly honest about their own weaknesses”. The ethos is evident in this statement as it describes the character of the people who have achieved “generosity spirit”. This encourages the reader to do a quick self-evaluation to establish if they are capable of admitting their own wrongs. Few people have intense self-awareness and would therefore feel compelled to achieve such dimensions. Knowing one’s faults and working hard to improve is a goal that all people must have. The truth is that most people will agree with the author that there is always a weakness that needs to be rectified in their lives. Given that majority of humans will relate to the feeling, they are more likely to agree with Brooks.

Moreover, emptions are stirred since readers can relate with essay due to author’s choice of inclusive pronoun. For instance, the concluding sentence is “those are the people we want to be” (Brooks). The essayist intentionally uses the pronoun “we” which implies all people would like to have the eulogy virtues. It is this strategy that further reinforces the emotional appeal because saying that we all want to be internally write creates a connection between the readers and the authors. Brooks intentionally uses the language to relate with readers and make them feel that they are together. Since he has already shared his thoughts with the readers, the resolution is rightly assumed to be for all the audience. Thus, even with the fallacy, the author is still able to convince readers to pursue the eulogy virtues.

In addition, pathos which is an appeal to emotions is applied in the essay through use of rhetoric question that triggers the mind to think. Specifically, Brooks asks, “Have you developed deep connections that hold you up in times of challenge and push you toward the good?” The normal reaction after reading the inquiry is to pose for a second and scrutinize self to determine the genuine response to the question. It is apparent that Brooks knows how to use the correct language to achieve desired reactions from the readers. It is this skilfulness that convinces the audience to agree with the author’s viewpoint.

The use of logical appeals which include use of factual evidences and systematic organization of precepts also helps in persuading the audience to have similar perspectives on the topic. In his essay, Brooks exemplifies Frances Perkins as one of the individuals who demonstrated “the call within the call”. He proceeds to discuss how this attribute made Perkins be the first woman in the cabinet of the United States who served under Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 20th century. The information of both the president and Perkins are accurate and can be confirmed by studying history. The proper mention of past leaders and their positions during the specified era makes the essay convincing.

Logos is also evident in the overall logical structure of the essay as well as how each premise is in some way related to the thesis. Notably, the title of the article offers a clue on what the body is about; the word “bucket” in this context connotes kicking the bucket, which means die. This relates with the thesis, which urges readers to be more focused on the eulogy virtues. At the introduction, Brooks provide a brief on the character trait of the people who are rich in such intrinsic morals. Next, he proceeds to say that the accomplishment of such individuals amounts to a list of six practices which are then discussed. It is easy to follow through the flow of essay; hence, the article is more convincing as everything makes sense.

Conclusively, I agree that David Brooks’ op-ed achieves its objective of persuading readers to pursue the intrinsic morals that are better than the resume virtues. Brooks has evidently convinced me that people who have the former always radiate some light that brings joy to the people around them due to their internal character. Specifically, he uses ethos by admitting that he also lacks in some of the characters but is working towards achieving the same. In addition, Brooks allows the readers to think and identify their own idols who fi in the same category. Emotional appeal is evident in the sentimental statements and rhetoric question, which stirs individuals to feel connected with the author and self-examine their lives, respectively. The application of logos is evident in the connection and flow of thoughts from the title to the conclusion. People are more likely to understand and thus agree with the author. It is further commendable how Brooks uses fallacy to persuade his readers further to agree with his perspective.

Work Cited

Brooks, David. “The Moral Bucket List.” New York Times, 2015, Web.

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