The book Origin of Species (1859) by Charles Darwin illustrates the idea of Natural Selection. Evolution at the time was already an idea but nobody knew how it occured but Darwin changed everything by providing numerous evidence for Natural Selection. At the time, the book was released into a world unfamiliar with an evolutionary theory with such evidence and detail, and the book also steeped into religious ideology, fixed with the idea of a creator. It is considered to be one of the most influential books to ever be written. It changed the way we think about things, it paved the pathway for evolutionary biology, and the influentiality of it branched off into the darkness of what social darwinism and eugenics is, which indirectly fueled wars and genocide. Darwin had to be persuasive to convey what he was saying and so-forth used tone and language, appealed to theology, and used imagery to communicate and to appeal to readers that Natural Selection was the mechanism in which species evolved over billions of years.
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Darwin’s tone and language is in the form of simple english, theological, and poetic in which any skilled reader can understand. Darwin uses a more constrained form of writing. Almost every point he makes is in a cautious manner, with rich language and he never tries to make grand claims that would throw off the reader. He slowly builds up each argument with small details and examples and so on to where each small detail builds up into a huge wall of evidence. He appealed to readers from all backgrounds, and readers that also had an interest on life and death. In the quote “Nothing is easier than to admit in words the truth of the universal struggle for life, or more difficult–at least I have found it so–than constantly to bear this conclusion in mind.”, you can see that he definitely uses a more poetic form of writing then your standard scientific way of writing.
Darwin approached theology cautiously and never tried to slam religion and actually included the idea of it in his book. This appealed to the religious so they weren’t afraid of the idea of evolution and natural selection as Darwin said “I see no good reasons why the views and ideas given in this volume should shock the religious views of anyone.”. Darwin also uses the concept of a “creator” within the figurative explanations of natural selection itself as you can see in the quote; “There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”. And also with this quote, he introduces the idea of religion and evolution coexisting at the same time. The Catholic Church eventually came to accept Darwin’s theory, so in this day and age, evolution and Catholicism coincide with each other which shows that Darwin’s use of theology was successful in his book.
Darwin used imagery for the use of many realistic illustrations to establish a better idea of what he was talking about. Darwin’s text appeals to many different readers with the added emphasis of an entertaining visual and poetic narrative to strengthen his argument. Darwin said “As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications.”. In this quote, you can see the imagistic narrative that he uses in his writing. One example of the more definitive metaphors in the use of imagery in the book, is the “Tree of Life” which compares trees in nature, is an explanation for the mechanisms of evolution from a historical point. He also compares it with the biblical Genesis Tree of Life which adds on to his use of theology as stated before.
In conclusion, Darwin’s rhetoric edge shows the power of scientific literature. His use of tone and language, theology, and imagery shaped his writing and led it to be one of the most influential books of all time. Without Darwin’s persuasive and cautious way of writing, his book would have possibly never been what it is today. In The Origin of Species, it is apparent that Darwin had a strong grasp about his audience, and had the writing skills necessary for a revolutionary theory that changed everyone’s view of the world.
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