Rhetorical Analysis – Pathos

PLEASE NOTE: This page contains amazon affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

The essential difference between emotion and reason is that emotion leads to action while reason leads to conclusions.

   -Donald Calne


Pathos deals with the emotional influence on the audience. This can be done in numerous ways: by showing elements that create emotions in the audience, thus inducing emotional spikes, by rhetorical figures and elements that create an – usually not consciously noticeable – emotional appeal and by addressing topics or vividly explaining details that create emotional reactions in the audience.

The Overall Factors

Steve Jobs elicits a range of positive emotions throughout keynote. He does this with the use of audio-visual material, stylistic elements, non-content, and content aspects. His verbal messages are underlined with an according nonverbal and paraverbal subcommunication. Generally, the local audience has an enhancing effect on the video experience through their positive reactions and feedback, which is to certain degree also conveyed on the video.

Steve Jobs also used different levels of style, which correlate with his different ethos characters. This is discussed in detail in the analysis of his figures of speech. He adheres to the virtues of style. The speech was delivered in correct English only with a very few glitches. The text of the speech is clear and easy to understand, there were no complicated or difficult parts. The overall sentence structure was simple and straightforward. Additionally, the wide range of style, materials, and characters appear to address various tastes without losing focus or the key audience. Looking at brevity, there were only a few redundant facts, yet they were used to put an emphasis on the content and/or to enhance the style.


Storytelling provides a way to subtly influence the audience, by inhibiting critical response mechanisms and also by providing an indirect solution for a problem. Steve Jobs uses a few stories and yet these stories mainly work on ethos, because they are more about self-portrayal than creating emotions in the audience. Steve Jobs only uses a few short stories.

The first one, is about a person inside of Apple to whom he showed the iPhone and he concluded “you had me at scrolling” at [00:48:35]. This sentence is a reference to the movie Jerry Maguire. The other story is about Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs in the “early days.” Yet, this story could be an unplanned one, because Steve Jobs had to bridge the pause, when his clicker was not working at around [01:41:15]. Nevertheless, it is possible that this event was staged.

Persuasion Model

What follows is a discussion about the values that Steve Jobs addressed in his keynote. Persuasion works mainly in building on known prepositions called anchors. Steve Jobs resonated and reminded existing anchors between the audience and Apple (products) various times, when he referred to known products or the company’s history. Additionally, to a certain degree mentioned in ethos, Jobs self-portrayal reflected certain values.
Steve Jobs addressed a wide range of anchors. Yet, only a certain set is discussed with a combination of a summarized version of the value catalog from the creative class.


These values are mainly concerned with what people of the creative class want from their workplace; yet, these values build upon a wider set of other similar values. Addtitionally, an equality of values creates identification – indifferent of their topic – this works in favor of the persuader.

  • Self-expression
    • No dress code
    • Flexibility in working schedule.
    • Stimulating environment.
    • Fulfilling job.
    • (”[T]he content of the job and the nature of the work environment mattered much more than compensation.”)

  • Challenging environment.
  • On-demand mentality, things should be available and just work (functionality).
  • Diversity and openness.
  • Ethnic diversity.

Steve Jobs’ obvious disregard for dress code is quite obvious; additionally his two high level executives Phil Schiller and Jony Ive are also dressed casually. The flexibility in the working schedule may be a special value, yet it is addressed – only once though – but in negative way. When Steve Jobs thanks the families and employees, it appears that the working schedules at Apple are quite heavy. Generally, Apple is presented as a stimulating environment, especially when Steve Jobs introduces the second iPod advertisement, where he explains that the team was so creative that they did another version. He states directly various times that Apple creates great products, which indirectly communicates that creative people like to work there. The whole event appears “larger than life.” People cheer about features of a mobile phone, thus the impression that something great is done at Apple is clearly communicated. Due to this impression and the innovation of the products, a challenging atmosphere seems apparent.

The creative class has an on-demand mentality, which implies to a certain degree that “things” should just work. This is mostly addressed by the portrayal of simplicity and user-friendliness of Apple products at various points in the keynote. Steve Jobs states about regular phones and smartphones that “they are not so easy to use”, whereas the aim of the iPhone is to be “super easy” to use. The simplicity of Apple products is expressed various times in the tech demos and phrases like “It’s that simple.” It is also clearly resonated by the applause of the audience, especially when shown for the first time how the scrolling on the iPhone works.
The aspect of diversity is also addressed in numerous ways with different kinds of music, video clips, etc. Ethnic diversity is also shown in the Mammoth slideshow, which is discussed in more detail in the visual analysis and interpretation.

Generally, a large subset of the value set of the creative class are addressed within the keynote.

Affects through the Usage of Material/Media

Jobs uses a wide range of visual material throughout the keynote that has an emotional appeal towards the audience. He also uses some songs, but due to the short amount of their playing time a discussion is unnecessary. Yet, the used songs are from a wide variety of different pop and rock bands, like Sheryl Crow, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, etc., which underlines the diversity and popular statements.

Movie and TV Clips

are used mostly before the introduction of the iPhone. The examination of the emotions of these clips showed that the last four clips have all elements of tension in them.

Starting about ten minutes before the beginning of the introduction of the iPhone, the Good Shepherd Trailer (Thriller) is shown, which is filled with exciting and tense scenes. It is followed by three humours clips, yet all of these clips also have a certain degree of tension in them. The Zoolander (Comedy) clip shows the prelude to a “fight”. It is followed by a clip from Heroes (TV Show), which portrays a poker game with a slight hostile atmosphere. The last clip is from 30 Rock (TV Show), where the “boss” confronts an employee with a series of very fast and intimidating questions that are promptly answered in a very fast and open manner. Generally, fast sentences create a stronger emotional effect than slow sentences. The clip ends about one and half minutes before Steve Jobs announces: “This is a day I’ve been looking forward to for two-and-a-half years.”([00:26:22] to [00:26:28]) This sentence marks the beginning of the section with the highest density of rhetorical figures. Furthermore, he builds up additional tension with style, content, and his behavior.

It follows a list of the the shown material with associated emotions and appearing time. Note that all these clips are shown in full screen in the video, except for the last one, which is also the only one during which Jobs continues to talk. 
The clips in order of appearance:

  • Get a Mac Advertisement – Vista: Humor ([00:03:39] – [00:04:17])
  • iPod Advertisement I: Action and positive energy ([00:10:22] – [00:10:58])
  • iPod Advertisement II: Action and positive energy ([0:11:20] – [0:11:55])
  • Good Shepherd: Tension + excitement ([00:17:23] – [00:18:01])
  • Zoolander: Tension + humor ([00:18:17] – [00:19:07])
  • Heroes: Tension + curiosity + humor ([00:19:26] – [00:20:47])
  • 30 Rock: Humor + sexual tension + high frequency talk ([00:24:24] – [00:25:05])
  • The Office (TV Show): Humorous ([00:45:38] – [00:46:33])
  • Pirates of the Caribbean ([00:46:48] – [00:47:15])

To conclude, within ten minutes there is a series of clips shown that tend towards tension and excitement. This is followed by the main part of the keynote that starts with series of rhetorical measures that create further tension, curiosity and excitement in the audience. Thus, it can be assumed that the movie clips were selected to build up and emphasize tension and curiosity in the audience prior to the main announcement of the keynote.

The Photos

are in contrast to the clips; not so dense in their emotional content. Yet, they span a wide range from the golden meadows in the U.S., to family pictures in Italy, to penguin photos in the Antarctic. There are some basic guidelines for all the photos. If there are people visible they appear – except maybe for the photo with the “proud father” – younger than 30 or even 25 years old. The variety covers exotic places, people, family pictures, architecture, wild-life, road-trips, etc. Thus, it appears that the main intention of the photos is to reach a wide audience and generate a positive youthful undertone.

Jokes and Humorous Elements

During the keynote there a various times, when the audience laughs. As already mentioned in ethos analysis, Steve Jobs strives to appear funny. Pathos is concerned with the effects of humor on the audience. Generally, an audience in a good mood is easier to persuade, but humor is also a motivational aspects and creates diversion.

The list of all parts that generated laughter in the audience (see below) shows that there are only three times in 105 minutes, when there is more than five minutes between a laughter of the audience. The longest period is from about [00:33:54] to [00:45:05], which is part of the speech with the highest level of style. Since the use of humor can have disruptive effects on such a style this is not surprising. Additionally, Steve Jobs does not even shows a sign of laughter with some jokes in this time period, e.g., “It works like magic,” and “And boy, have we patented it.”

Generally, the high frequency of humorous effects during the keynote shows the importance it was given by the creators. Yet, they also seemed to be aware that at certain parts of the keynote it would be inappropriate. Thus, the humorous elements were used intentionally and with regards to propriety of the situation.

Here is a list of the parts that generated laughter in the audience. This list is in order of appearance:

  • Quoting Jim Allchin (Microsoft executive): “I would buy a Mac today if I was not working at Microsoft.” [00:03:15]
  • Announcement that Microsoft Visa is coming out soon. [00:03:40]
  • Mac vs. PC – Vista Advertisement [00:03:45] – [00:04:17]
  • “And the new shuffle is the world’s most wearable MP3 player.” [00:05:21]
  • “I don’t know what data they’re looking at, but uh this is our data, and what we see is iTunes sales were really up this past year.” [00:06:04]
  • “And you can guess who our next Target might be.” [00:07:11]
  • “All.. all six Star Trek movies.” [00:08:38] – [00:08:45]
  • “And we had a new competitor this last holiday season, which was, of course, Microsoft’s Zune.” [00:09:21]
  • About Microsoft’s 2 percent market share “So, no matter how you try to spin this, UHM what can you say?” [00:10:01]
  • “Which comes in handy for something I’m about to show you.” [00:14:10]
  • Zoolander Clip [00:18:17] – [00:19:07]
  • Heroes Clip [00:19:26] – [00:20:47]
  • Laughter after Steve Jobs corrected himself, when he was saying iTV instead of AppleTV. [00:20:56]
  • 30 Rock Clip [00:24:24] – [00:25:05]
  • “An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone … are you getting it?” [00:29:01]
  • Showing a mockup iPhone that resembles an iPod with a rotary dial. [00:29:30]
  • “so if you kinda make a… Business School 101 graph of the smart axis and the easy-to-use axis” [00:30:22]
  • “Well, the problem with them is really sort of in the bottom 40 there.” [00:31:42]
  • “No. No. Who wants a stylus?” [00:33:11]
  • “It works like magic.” [00:33:33]
  • “And boy, have we patented it.” [00:33:54]
  • “Alright. I could play with this for a long time.” [00:45:05]
  • The Office Clip [00:45:38] – [00:46:33]
  • “You had me at scrolling.” [00:48:45]
  • “Now, what’s the killer app? The killer app is making calls!” [00:49:11]
  • Phil Schiller calls, he wanted to be the first call. [00:52:45]
  • “And uh listen I gotta get back to my keynote.” [00:53:34]
  • Jony Ive: “it’s not to shabby?” [00:53:46]
  • Tim Cook about revenues “ahhh I will tell you later…” [00:56:34]
  • “And I can send that. And there it is, right.” [00:58:17]
  • “I don’t really wanna call them so I’m going to end the call here.” [01:05:30]
  • “I like it especially when Disney’s are at the top.” [01:09:24]
  • “You know, if you’ve ever used what’s called a Web browser on a mobile phone, you’ll know how incredible this is. I hope you’ll never really know, …” [01:10:51]
  • “And uh that’s fantastic. Let’s look at the percentages here. Oh, good. Good good.” [01:11:23]
  • “We’ll just stay in here until it warms up.” [01:11:41]
  • “Starbucks, so I’m gonna search for Starbucks, and sure enough, there’s all the Starbucks.” [01:12:48]
  • “Yes, I’d like to order 4,000 lattes to go, please. No, just kidding, wrong number. Thank you. Bye-bye. OK.” [01:13:01] (This aspect was well prepared, since it was even printed on Steve Jobs notes, as can be seen here.)
  • “Yep. Isn’t that incredible. Right on my phone! It’s unbelievable.” [Washington Monument] [01:14:41]
  • “There’s people at the Eiffel Tower you can see.” [01:14:50]
  • “As a boardmember you’ll get one of the first ones.” [01:19:50]
  • “Got a phone call coming in. So I can ignore it, but I think I’m gonna answer it.” [01:24:17]
  • Phil Schiller tells Steve Jobs that he should not put too much into it. [01:26:00]
  • “So what should we price it at?” [01:30:58]
  • “We know, we sell the iPod.” [01:31:35]
  • While Steve goes repeatedly through the list of features before announcing the price, the audience starts to laugh two times. [01:32:35]
  • “We’re gonna be shipping these in June. Yeah, June.” [01:33:10]
  • “We’re announcing it today because with products like this we gotta go and get FCC approval which takes a few months, and we thought it would be better if we introduced this rather than ask the FCC introduce… to to introduce it for us.” [01:33:23]
  • “They’re scrambling backstage right now.” [01:41:41]
  • Story about Woz (Steve Wozniak) and Steve Jobs and the TV Jammer. [01:41:52] – [01:42:30]
  • “And I didn’t sleep a wink last night.” [01:44:26]
  • The picture of Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs [01:44:26]


The examination of the different ways the audience was emotionally affected shows that the keynote is well prepared and orchestrated. One could say it is a design in the sense that Jobs described it in an interview in the 1990ies, where he said that design is not only about an aesthetical appeal, but also about functionality.

Steve Jobs uses a wide range of techniques and material to affect the local audience. He addresses a range of values of the creative class, which is the assumed audience. The varied usage of rhetorical figures of speech is adapted to the style and content of the speech. The slogans throughout the keynote are supported and synchronized by a strong medial presentation. Materials like movie and TV clips are used to promote a certain range of emotions that is in alignment with the content. The high frequency of jokes also supports the mostly calm and easy-going atmosphere of the keynote. Yet, they are mostly omitted in parts that put an emphasis on dramatic effect.

We can see two levels of emotional appeal here. The first is the selection and delivery of certain elements into sub-units that fulfill a certain effect. The second is the combination and alignment of these sub-units in order to support the overall message and effect of the entire keynote. The first is about how to affect people; the second is about doing the same within a big picture. The second can not work without the first, whereas the effects of the elements of the first is enhanced due to the synergy with the second. This reflects the interdependency and synergy of the structure and its elements.

1 Response to Rhetorical Analysis – Pathos

  1. Pingback: iosapps You had me at scrolling. Notas para desarrollo en iOS (I) / iosapps

Leave a Reply