Rhetorical Essay Draft: Poison Persuasion


A Fairy Tale of Poison Persuasion

       Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess, a girl whose voice serenaded the animals in the nearby forest, whose beauty trumped all those in the land and attracted a multitude of suitors, whose life appeared perfectly wonderful. Then one day, there was a revolution where her beauty flipped upside down. Radiant white teeth, glowing sun-kissed skin, and hair elegantly flowing in the wind transformed into a piercing stare, deathly pale skin, and a messy coiffure. This fairy tale may not end with a “happily ever after” after all. But maybe a “happily ever after” isn’t what we want. It isn’t what Dior wants, as it presents a different kind of fairy tale, one that we wouldn’t necessarily expect.

Dior introduces this new concept of fairy tale in the advertisement for its perfume, Midnight Poison. Walk into any Sephora and you might be greeted by the model hauntingly floating out of the dark, cold depths of water. Her ice blue eyes, intensified against the darkness of her eyeliner, penetrate our own eyes as the stinging stare never fades. With very pale skin juxtaposed against the blackness of her hair, the darkened indigo background, and the blood red color of her lips, she is Dior’s new definition of beautiful and Dior’s new version of a princess, a view that pulls at its consumers’ emotional desire for the perfume. Thus, by creating a new perspective of beauty through reconstructing the societal idea of “princess”, Dior utilizes pathos to convince its consumers to purchase its newest perfume.



  • Claim: This new version of beauty appeals to our emotions because we want to stand out and yet stay beautiful
  • Data: Describing the beauty of the model
    • Frigid blue eyes
    • Smooth white skin
    • Mysteriously sexy appeal; coming out of the water, like a mythical creature- peaks our curiosity
    • Juxtapose it with the typical image of a princess: smiling all the time. This model is the complete opposite
    • Trumping of  a commonplace, what we think a princess is
    • How humans want
  • Warrant:
    • It deals with emotions because it toys with our desires to be a certain way, to feel a certain way, to look a certain way.
    • Because it is a human desire to feel attractive and sexy, the perfume directly addresses that desire, and attracts us into buying it.

HOW THE PATHOS IS SUCCESSFUL: However, Dior’s appeal to pathos is only solidified and impactful by its usage of ethos and logos.

By establishing its ethos, Dior instills trust within the customers so that they can become more easily emotionally persuaded into purchasing the perfume. Dior is without doubt one of the world’s most famous and successful fashion houses today. When I think about Dior, I can’t help but think of Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Chanel among other famous luxury brands; Dior is just as valuable, a brand that is well respected among common customers, fashion gurus, and celebrities alike. In fact, Dior was ranked fourteenth out of fifty in 2012 on Brand Finance’s Top Fifty Cosmetic Brands annual ranking (Brand Finance). This situated ethos that Dior possesses gives a credibility that lowers the barrier customers need to overcome in order to accept the products that Dior has to offer, especially a product that is overturning society’s typical definition of beauty in a princess. We are so used to seeing princesses that are gently elegant with proper-looking dresses and full of smiles. Their animated beauty is translated across the movie screen to real-life beauty young women want to emulate. And then, Dior crumbles that version we’ve grown with and shows us a drastically different version that may not be necessarily greeted well if it were not for Dior’s high status in the luxury brand market. Being in the business since 1946, customers can trust Dior’s taste in fashion and beauty. Not only do customers more easily accept this new definition of princess, but also want to participate in this revolution of beauty. Thus, because Dior is so largely recognized throughout the globe as a reputable luxury brand, consumers trust its validity in fashion and value in its products, allowing for the pathos argument to effortlessly persuade buyers into purchasing this perfume.


Moreover, Dior uses an appeal to logos through the use of the enthymeme to explain why this newly defined version of fairy tale princess is better than the concept of princess society has established. On the advertisement, the slogan “A New Cinderella Is Born” lies under the image of the perfume. This enthymeme has hidden within itself a meaning that strengthens the pathos appeal of the advertisement. It can be broken down into two different parts: that this beauty that the model possesses is worthy of Cinderella status, that this new beauty is better than the old.  This enthymeme implies that by wearing this perfume, the older version of Cinderella dissolves and a new one, the individual wearing the perfume, is born. Therefore, this argument follows that the individual who sprays Midnight Poison on that day will be a better version of Cinderella, perhaps the most famous princess and fairy tale story told in today’s society. By forming this type of argument, Dior is directly addressing the customer’s desire to become a princess, to feel beautiful, which is the ultimate purpose of any beauty product. Dior logically establishes how this product will satisfy the emotional wants of the customer, and thus, the audience of the advertisement will more likely see the appeals to pathos that Dior utilizes in this advertisement, strengthening emotional aspects of this beauty revolution.


  • Summary of points:
    • Pathos argument that appeals to our desires to stand out and be different and yet continue to be beautiful when wearing the perfume
    • Ethos argument that Dior twists this new perspective of beauty in a credible way because of its high status as a luxury brand
    • Logos argument that new is better than old, that this version of beauty then, is better than the old typical version of beauty that society sees
    • Tying it all back together; Connection to thesis, proving that pathos convinces customers to buy Midnight Poison
    • The So What? The nature of beauty in society, how it is pliable, and never set in stone. There is no such thing as simply one image of beauty that the princesses in our society make it seem. There is no need for a prince charming, mythical gnomes,
      • One’s own confidence and individuality is what is beautiful.
      • Witty ending that combines poison and beauty and a revolution of it all.
        • Our own happily ever after.


What I need help in:

  • Pathos body paragraph: I feel like I know what I want to say, but I can’t phrase it in a way so that my point gets across
  • Need to prove that humans want to stand out and satisfy this rebellious side in the pathos paragraph, but I do not have substantial data that supports that…I just intrinsically think so, and that in itself is another argument.
  • How do I prove that some women want to be that “bad girl” and be sexy and mysterious, enigma. What about an enigma is appealing?
  • Need help dissecting the enthymeme: “A New Cinderella Is Born”


Works Cited


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2 Responses to Rhetorical Essay Draft: Poison Persuasion

  1. Matt Swatski says:

    Sarah, when I first read through your blog post, the thesis that I immediately picked up on was “The women who buy this perfume don’t always want a “happy ever after” or previous constructions of princesses. This poster uses pathos to convince the aforementioned women to buy this perfume.” I can answer about the question about enigmas. I think that women (and men) find mysterious things appealing, because there is always more to something that is mysterious. A women may be “sexier” because she conceals her true self which attracts lovers who want to find that true self. I am still a little confused myself about pathos in my own essay, so I can tell you when I figure it out. Finally, I think that the enthymeme “A New Cinderella is Born” refers to a syllogism that

    1. Cinderella is Beautiful
    2. Cinderella is Old
    3. New is Better
    4. A New Cinderella would be more Beautiful

    Good Luck, this is really, really good by the way.

  2. Amy Ketcham says:

    Your thesis is very strong. You are trying to argue that Dior is attempting to create a new idea of what being a princess means by using pathos, ethos, and logos to persuade women to buy their perfume. Immediately when I began reading your paper, I thought of how you could really use logos with describing the enthymeme that many women want to be princesses. I think maybe you can elaborate more on this, however, so that it is more obvious to the readers that that is what the enthymeme is. You described it pretty well, but it might be able to be amplified more. I loved, loved, loved how you described the imagery of the ad in the introductory paragraph. Great so far!

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