There are many views on death penalty with some people defending it, and others saying it is wrong because it leads to killing. Whenever it comes to defending a certain position, images can be very powerful. There are two pictures with the main message of death penalty being wrong. One of them portrays a death penalty in a form of an executioner who is about to be executed himself, and the other one portrays a man being dragged to a gas chamber for the same reason. I believe that the first picture is more effective when it comes to portraying death penalty because it shows the horrible hypocrisy of death penalty and the injustice and pains it may cause.
The picture is very effective for many reasons. When it comes to appeal to logos, one would like to note that it appeals to people’s intellect successfully. The message of the picture is rather easy to comprehend. The image portrays a man who looks like a traditional executioner who is about to be hanged. There is a tattoo on his right arm, which says it is death penalty of the state of Illinois. The executioner, who already has a rope around his neck, says that he did not have a fair trial while the man facing him (with the “Gov. Ryan” on his back) says: “Now you know how it feels.” Hence, the message of this image is very easy to follow because it shows that death penalty is unfair, and it may cause many innocent people to die. I believe that the simplicity of the image is the best appeal to logos because it is easy for people to understand and follow the idea in it, and it is also very memorable and appealing to the person’s brain.
I would also like to praise pathos, or appeal to people’s emotions, which is seen on the image. People look at it, and they are disgusted with the executioner. They view him as a cruel man who deserves his punishment, so his plea looks rather ironical. I believe that people develop very negative emotions toward the executioner named Death Penalty of Illinois, and that is why they want him to get lost. With these emotions, people turn their negativity from executioner to the general concept of the death penalty, and that proves that the emotional appeal of the picture is working.
When it comes to ethos, I believe that people do value the fact that it has the author and that it was published in a media outlet, which proves its credibility and trustworthiness. It also makes people see that others chose the image as something worth sharing with the world. People may be unfamiliar with the author or the media, but the fact that it was published somewhere proves the importance of the image to them. A cartoon-like traditional image portrayal is a good argument for pathos being effectively used in this picture.
I have already mentioned the traditional cartoon-like style used for this image. It uses thick lines, which enables the viewers to see the things clearly and separate one object from the other. I would like to focus on the lines around the executioner the most. His body is surrounded by a very thick line, with a shadow around it. The lines around the “Death Penalty” guy are thicker than any other lines, so it makes him look like the main focus of the picture, and it also makes the character look very separate from the rest of the objects.
I also think that the author used such a line in order to make the character more disgusting. He has a very fat and hairy body, which is shown naked, so the lines only accent the imperfections of it. With lines being black and thick, people view the “Death Penalty” guy as somebody who represents evil.
Shapes are also important in this image because the faces of the characters are rather disfigured, and they do not look attractive. On the contrary, due to strange shapes, the faces and the entire characters look like some sort of strange objects, and they have very little in common with the normal human beings.
Thanks to the shadow on the top right of the picture, and the clouds with words, the viewers get the feeling that the executioner is the central focus of the image. Whether they want it or not, their eyes turn on executioner who looks like the main figure of the work, and whose fate means the most. I believe that the focus of the picture is dictated by its message, so no wonder that the executioner who is about to be executed is central in it.
The descriptions of the characters found in the picture also help viewers focus, so it is easier for them to get an idea of the main meaning of the work. The light and shadows help determine the centre of the work and turn the eyes onto it.
I would also like to say that the second image is interesting, too. It portrays a man about to be killed in a gas chamber who screams about life being sacred. There is a great irony in this work too because similarly to the first one, it shows the hypocrisy of death penalty.
Nevertheless, unlike the first picture, there are no thick lines, so it is more difficult to see the objects than on the first image. It is also more difficult to determine the central object of the work, and that complicates the understanding of the entire message of the picture. I would also like to say that I did not like gray tones of the image, so it made me less interested to look at it. Hence, the picture was not very effective when it came to appealing to logos, pathos, and ethos, and it did not use the image tools effectively in order to convince myself to look at it longer.
As a result, I found the first picture to be much more effective since it convinced its audience well. I believe that the intended audience includes the entire population of Illinois as well as other Americans living in the states where death penalty is legal. The angle of vision of the picture is very powerful because it portrays the aggressor from the perspective of the victim, and it gives viewers a new look at the things within the death penalty discussion. Compositional features enable viewers to focus on the central figure of Death Penalty with everything else being secondary. Thanks to it, it is possible to realize the main idea and reason to publish this work.
I also think that this picture makes great cultural assumptions because it grasps an important aspect of American culture regarding death penalty. Many people state that death penalty should be legal because it helps criminals like the horrifying executioner on the picture to get the punishment they deserve. However, what if the trial is unfair, and the innocent man is being sent to be killed? The culture of Americans is very pragmatic, so they often think with their wallets, calculating the costs and benefits of different criminal policies. Nevertheless, this picture makes people think not only based on the financial issues, but using their morals and ethical beliefs. Is it ethical to kill a person who killed somebody else? Is it just? Is murder a good choice to fight murder? This picture raises all of these questions, making people lose their support toward death penalty, and it proves the effectiveness of the work.