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The given essay provides an analysis of the poem “Labor” by an unknown proletarian, written in 1908. The poem raises the question of social inequality and injustice through addressing unfair and greedy capitalists who impudently make use of their workers in an attempt to meet their insatiable need of money and wealth.
The author believes that the wealth of the landowners is bought unfairly and maintained due to the suffering of poor people. From the poem, it is evident that such employers do not care about the welfare and well-being of their workers and deprive them of their rights, making women, men, as well as children work in unbearable conditions. “But if blood be the price of all your wealth Good God! we have paid in full.” (Labor, n.d.). This phrase strains the whole poem, sounding like a startling cry of despair repeated by several voices. It is obvious that the tone of this piece of literature is unbearably sad, painful and hopeless. Such effect is achieved through the use of different stylistic and rhetorical devices, which convey the author’s message perfectly. In addition, the author has successfully elaborated effective ethical, logical, and emotional appeals to the intended audience being the society, in general, and the employers as well as poor workers, in particular.
In his/her work, the unknown author appeals to the cruel capitalists who use the labor of poor strata without appreciation and proper remuneration. The overall message of the text is injustice towards poor workers and their labor. The writer says that during a long time, greedy wealthy people were being fed by ordinary people, and his words are full of resentment, insult, and indignation. In addition, the representatives of the working class can be regarded as an intended audience, as well. Through the use of startling imagery of injustice and suffering, the author attempts to appeal to the victims who should no longer tolerate this. Most poor people even cannot think about the rebellion against the capitalists. They need to open their eyes and see the truth. The author persuades the intended audience, poor workers, with the help of repeated exclamations, “Good God! we have paid it in”, “Good God! we have paid in full “, “Good God! we bought it fair.” (Labor, n.d.) To achieve a more dramatic effect, the author uses epithets “crimson wool”, “blown skyward”, “cursed wealth”, “forges red”, “lawful wealth”; and metaphors “blood be the price of all your wealth”, “but we are its ghastly crew “, “But we’re buried alive for you.” (Labor, n.d.)
The overall significance of this text is that workers need to see the truth about the reality of their lives. The poor mass just feeds the wealthy, their landowners, but when they will understand their true significance, they will be able to get rid of the cruel bosses. However, people do not even try to resent the social injustice they face. The author believes that the poor need to have their picture of the world turned right and to fight for labor rights.
In this poem, the writer uses an ethical appeal to reach the audience. It is evident in his manner of speech that sounds like a call for action. Due to his writing tone, as well as the application of particular stylistic devices, the writer creates an impression of being one of those poor workers. In the words “go reckon our dead by the forges red And the factories where we spin”, “you have taken our lives, and our babies and wives And we’re told it’s your legal share” (Labor, n.d.), the readers feel inner and just indignation. The impact made by the author’s examples of injustice is immense, which is indicative of his success in conveying the main idea of his poem.
As for pathos, the author appeals emotionally to the audience by using sorrowful and expressions. An appeal to pathos causes the audience not just to respond emotionally but to identify themselves with the writer’s point of view and share the author’s pain and suffering. The phrases “you chained us in your fields”, “though there’s never a dollar of all your wealth But marks the workers dead”, “we have yielded our best to give you rest And you lie on crimson wool” (Labor, n.d.) make the reader feel and share the true emotions of a worker, thinking about dishonesty in his factory. These words also reveal the writer’s message to motivate the audience to decision or action.
Finally, the logos comes. The author demonstrates the clarity of the claim, the logic of the reasons, and the effectiveness of his supporting evidence. His logical appeal is perfectly stated. The reasons to start the struggle against unfairness and cruelty are perfectly represented. The emotional tone, as well as the realistic examples of the sufferings, underwent by the employees add to the impression being created in the mind of the audience. For example, the author describes the issue, then gives examples of injustice “we’re buried alive for you” and finally appeals to the readers to fight against the landowners “Good God! we have paid in full.” (Labor, n.d.)
Due to the multiple devices applied by the author, it should be noted that the poem is effective and accomplishes the intended message. The main idea of the poem is to contrast the life of poor strata against the welfare of their landowners who do not care about prosperity of their workers and ignore labor rights. The author clearly reveals the reasons for the struggle against the endless desire of capitalists to make the welfare on the workers blood. The poem conveys the pain of innocent poor men and their great desire to change the attitude towards them and their families. This piece of literature is a great example of how effectively yet magnificently the author can appeal to the readers hearts through the use of different stylistic and rhetorical devices.