Samuel E Evans

“An Autumn Effect” by Stevenson, “The Rhetorical Situation” by Bitzer

Progym: Description

The vales of Buckinghamshire lay in glorious autumnal colors below; winding grassy valleys turning bronze in the changing weather, framed by gently rolling peaks masked by smears of beeches and alder. The trees are half-bare and frosty leaves crackle underfoot, along with beechnuts and shells left by red squirrels and robins.

Below in the valley, beyond the golden fields of barley being harvested for the mills and brewers lays the town. The little hedge-lined lanes of the countryside converge upon the town like rivulets, and in the center is the faintly visible, distinctive spire of an old, stone Anglican church. The homes, sheds, inns, and stores clustered around it are a mix of thatch and slate roofing, and many have pleasantly sagged with old age. In the foreground, a small stream runs around the side of a large hill and past a paddock where the white dots of sheep can be seen, and a farmhand and his dog are sauntering up the hill.

The path, rutted, muddy, but well-worn, leads out of the trees and down the hill into the valley. A small bridge can be seen in the distance where it crosses the stream, and not far beyond the path ends at a road, presumably leading into town. I follow the path, which, set deep into the soft earth of the downs, must be old and long-established. It must have been used for centuries before, previously the main conduit over these hills and towards the lush lowlands below. Now I tread it, as the sun rises in the sky, casting light through the amber leaves and warming my back as I set off down the way.


Stevenson describes the countryside in Buckinghamshire that he walks through somewhat like this. I have also had the happy fortune of being able to go for long walks in this very same area, and many other places in the south of England, as my mother is from the town of Hemel Hempstead which is in neighboring Hertfordshire.

Bitzer also writes that

“rhetorical discourse comes into existence as a response to a situation”, which is also a little bit of what I am attempting here (Bitzer 5).

I have visited countless times at this point, and so I decided this would be a good opportunity to tackle the Description progymnasmatum, basing it both off of my personal experience, but also Stevenson’s description and his writing style. It seemed the perfect opportunity for me to try this rhetorical strategy.

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