Appeals to Compassion

Compassion is a powerful emotion that writers play on when writing persuasively.

When appealing to compassion, a writer may draw on a range of other techniques to evoke a sense of empathy concern in their readers. Imagery, for example, may be used to evoke concern. A rhetorical question could encourage readers to ponder the misfortune of others. An anecdote might be used to elicit sympathy. 

Although appeals to compassion can take various forms, the intention is to manipulate the emotions of a reader, to illustrate distress or suffering endured by those close to an issue, and ultimately build support for a particular point of view.

Appeals to compassion in action

Read the following article. Identify the issue, contention, audience and tone of the piece. Identify the persuasive techniques in the piece and explain the effect the are intended to have on the audience.

Click here to download the ‘A little heart will fix homelessness’ worksheet to help you analyse this article.

Photo: Harrison Haines.