The Figurative Language Used in Abigail Adams’ Letters

June 22, 2022 by Essay Writer

In the year 1780, Abigail Adams wrote a letter to her son John Quincy Adams, regarding his decision to not travel abroad with his father and his brother. Throughout, the letter, Adams attempts to convince John Quincy Adams of the journeys potential importance to his life by telling him the benefits such as travel will provide him. By using her rank as John Quincy Adams’s mother she easily establishes her ethos by providing strong logical examples. Abigail Adams also uses figurative language to provoke emotion and inspiration for her son’s journey.

We see that Adams’s uses a lot of ethos to remind her son as his mother, she knows what’s best for him. Abigail Adams starts the letter off by saying “My dear Son”, these few words shoe Abigail Adams’s role as mother, reminding him that she had the biggest influence on her son’s life. By putting “My dear Son” at the beginning of her letter Abigail Adams reminds us of the close, personal connection between her and her son. She hopes that the weight of her authority on him will open her son to her advice that follows in the letter. Abigail Adams also establishes her role as mother by saying “she cannot fulfill the whole of her duty to John Quincy Adams”. She is getting at the fact that as a mother she only wants the best for her “dearest” child. She wants her son to realize that her motivation for writing this letter was to only benefit him. Farther along she clearly states her ethos as his mother by saying “It will be expected of you, my son, that, as you are favored with superior advantages under the instructive eye of a tender parent, your improvement should bear some proportion to your advantages. She reminds him once again that she still has authority over him that he should take his knowledge and change the world with it. By applying her ethos as a mother, Abigail Adams hopes to convince her son that traveling abroad with his father and brother will only be to his advantage in the end.

Abigail Adams also uses figurative language to inspire and provoke emotion her son to go on the voyage with his father and brother. For example the third paragraph starts off with personification and comparison. She states “some author that I have met with compares a traveller to a river, than increases its stream the further it flows from its source”. With her use of comparison and personification she wants her son to feel inspired to go make a difference in the world. What she is getting at is that everything starts off small and can eventually branch out and turn into something amazing. Just like her son can. Further along she states “wake into life and farm the character of the hero and statesmen,” she uses personification here to provoke emotion and truly inspire her son to do great things. She makes her son feel that he is truly appreciated and someone who can be very important and revolutionary. With her wide and vast choice of words, Abigail Adams uses figurative language to spark up emotions and inspire her son to go out and change the world.

Through her appeals to ethos and pathos. Abigail Adams attempts to inspire John Quincy Adams because she knows of the remarkable things he can do for this world by pulling her rank as his mother, and using figurative language and ethos to butter up her son and emotionally provoke him to use his knowledge to his advantage. She hopes that her use of these things will truly inspire her son to go on the voyage and change the world.


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