Narrative and Persuasion in Victor Hugo's Claude Gueux

Argumentation 26 (1):143-159 (2012)
The article deals with the question of persuasion by comparing two passages taken from a text written by Victor Hugo entitled Claude Gueux The first passage is taken from the first part of the text in which Hugo tells the story of the murder of the director of the Clairvaux prison workshop perpetrated by a prisoner, Claude Gueux, followed by the latter’s trial and execution. The second passage studied is taken from the second part of the text in which Hugo argues against the death penalty. This article begins with an intuitive sense that the styles of these passages are “different”: the second one clearly shows Hugo’s persuasive intention, which is to say his effort to make his position be accepted. That said, does this extract have semantic properties that the descriptive passage does not have? The hypothesis advanced is that the organization of contents is of a similar nature in both passages of Claude Gueux and that it is only in an enunciative way that the passages are distinguishable. This enunciative difference allows the militant passage’s locutor to portray himself in a favorable light and, herewith, to convince the reader to his point of view. It is, hence, but in an indirect manner that Hugo’s persuasive intention appears; as it is without a semantic mark
Keywords Narrative  Argumentation  Enunciation  Ethos  Persuasion  Victor Hugo
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DOI 10.1007/s10503-011-9236-5
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