Rhetorical Analysis of a Cartoon

As the presidential election approaches, America is split, debating between Republicans and Democrats, but there is one thing that they all would agree on: the price of gas, and how ridiculous it has become. Over the summer, for the first time ever the national average for gas hit four dollars a gallon. I am going to guess that I didn’t have to tell you that- you already knew. Since most Americans are against high gas prices, it makes it easy for a cartoonist to publish works relative to the subject.

Marshall Ramsey’s 2008 cartoon,” Make them wish for $3 dollar gas,” focuses on the role of the oil corporations in the highly inflated price of gasoline by depicting the company heads as greedy conmen swindling money from the U. S. citizens. When first glancing at the cartoon I noticed what appears to be a business meeting going on. The largest image on the screen is the major chart on the wall with the arrow pointing from three dollars to four dollars. The graph is also on the far left of the cartoon and we usually look at things from left to right, so it is the first thing we see.

This is used mainly as an attention-getter, for when the reader first looks at the graph it draws the question, “Why does the graph show the values three and four dollars? ” I generally think of an office meeting graph containing large value of money, not three dollars. The graph is also very plain, containing a single line pointing in one direction. Why would the creator not put much detail into the graph? He doesn’t have to, the graph does exactly what it is supposed to: to draw attention and introduce us to the subject of the cartoon. After the initial glance we are drawn from the graph to the actual meeting that is being depicted.

There are three funny looking men who are obviously supposed to represent the CEOs of the gasoline companies. They don’t look like CEOs to me, I think they depict conmen. Looking at the facial expressions the men display, they look almost like evil smiles, or someone who is doing wrong and knows they are getting away with it. The conmen look comes into play here and is supported by the black suits, the facial expressions mentioned earlier, and the cigar in the middle man’s mouth, conmen are known for being cigar smokers. This is suggesting that the eople running up the gas prices are evil men and are running up the prices purposely, obviously trying to draw negative emotions from the reader towards the men. This cartoon doesn’t rely solely on imagery though, it’s also well supported by the text present. The text includes the quote from one of the men and says,” Operation “Make them wish for $3 gas” is almost complete. ”

The quote lets us know what the “conmen” are raising the price of, gas. The quote supports the conclusion to the reader that these men are raising the price on purpose to satisfy their own selfish greed, also bringing an emotion of anger to anyone who read it. to think that they would do that on purpose) Even though the cartoon is drawing emotions of resentment toward the gas companies, it is mainly depicted as comical. Both the imagery of the men and the general area is all drawn to be caricatured and not to be realistic. This makes the cartoon very light and humorous. Also, the wording is meant to be funny, calling it an “Operation,” like it is a mission, and they are secret agents or something of that nature. It all just puts off an aura of comedy.

The comedic tone brings humor to the big problem of high gas prices, to kind of lighten the mood of the whole situation while still making the gas companies look appalling. When gas prices jump the way they have in the past year, it seems as if there is some foul play going on. So Marshall Ramsey depicts the price jump as a result of the CEOs trying to rip off the good people of America by inflating the prices. He portrays the characters as untruthful men and quotes one of them saying something that conveys the idea of the greed of the oil companies, yet he keeps the mood light by mocking the whole situation.

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