Barbara Whitehead

A rhetorical analysis of John Fowles’s “Daniel Martin”

Barbara M. Whitehead

  • School: Purdue University
  • Degree: PhD
  • Date: 2007 pp: 270
  • Advisor: Rose, Shirley; Lauer, Janice M.
  • Committee Members: Palmer, William J.; Weiser, Irwin
  • Source: DAI-A 69/04, p. 1348, Oct 2008
  • Keywords:: Fowles, John, Perelman, Chaim, Bakhtin, Mikhail, Burke, Kenneth, Aristotle, Persuasion, Rhetorical, Daniel Martin
  • Subjects: Literature, English literature, Rhetoric, Composition
  • ProQuest Document Number: 1564005181
  • UMI Number: AAT 3343993
  • ISBN: 9780549564515


This dissertation analyzes a novel to demonstrate how fiction provides strategies to influence its readers. Increasingly, critics have discussed rhetorical elements of fiction, yet what calls for more attention is the development of methods to examine the strategies of novelists and their fictional arguments. To direct more attention to the interrelationship of method and the persuasiveness of fictional worlds, this rhetorical analysis offers an exploratory method to show how one novel, Daniel Martin by John Fowles, seeks to influence readers. Daniel Martin is an ideal work for such an analysis because its author has made clear his rhetorical intent as a writer to use his work as a means to change society.

The exploratory method for Daniel Martin is pluralistic in approach as it draws upon ideas from the work of Aristotle, Chaim Perelman and Lucie Olbrechts-Tyteca, Mikhail Bakhtin, and Kenneth Burke. Of the six chapters in the dissertation, three through five constitute the application of the exploratory method, which utilizes the concepts of the classical appeals of logos, pathos, and ethosas well as modifications of Bakhtin’s idea of voices and Burke’s idea of identification. While the exploratory method itself represents a different way to analyze a novel as a source of potential influence, a distinctive feature of chapter three is the appropriation of The New Rhetoric’s discussion of informal reasoning in its recognition that values are indispensable to an argument. Developing a position that gains adherence from particular groups, Perelman focuses upon values, hierarchies, and loci of the preferable. Chapter three uses the six loci discussed–quantity, quality, order, existent, essence, person–to serve as elements of the logical appeal.

Using pluralism as a feature of the exploratory method to analyze how Daniel Martin seeks to gain adherence from readers results in a number of similarities. On the other hand, the use of different tools yields different emphases and perspectives that one analytical tool used alone cannot provide. In the end, this dissertation’s insights point to the need for additional dialogue about Daniel Martin as well as further study about novels as vehicles of persuasion.