The Song “Mockingbird” by Eminem

As soon as anyone hears those lyrics they automatically know that Marshall Mathers (Eminem) is the master behind this piece. For decades Mathers has been known as the “rap god” and has inspired many individuals through his music as the violence and addiction problems described in his music can be relatable to many. In December, 1995 he became the father of a daughter, Hailie, whose mother, Kimberly Scott, he had dated sporadically since the late 1980s (Bio Ref Bank, 2014). In his song, “Mockingbird” Mathers uses rhetorical devices such as ethos, logos, and pathos to help the audience understand how there are many parents that strongly desire to provide a better future for their children, but encounter many difficulties and make mistakes in the process of doing so.

Mathers starts the first verse of “Mockingbird” with the lyrics “Hailie, I know you miss your mom, and I know you miss your dad. When I’m gone but I’m trying to give you the life that I never had.” This is a common purpose seen in multiple families where parents that had a low quality of life seek to provide a better environment and lifestyle for their children, but can become distant in the process and can affect their children emotionally especially when the parents are having issues within their relationship as well. Through these few words Mathers is quick to introduce the theme of the song and uses pathos by creating a melancholy feeling as many parents in today’s society are left to face similar problems and sacrifices when providing a better lifestyle for their children.

As the song continues into the first verse Mathers lets the audience know that kind of relationship he had with his wife, was what can best be described as toxic and Hailee could not grow in such environment. He explains how he tried to keep his daughter, Hailie from seeing how bad their relationship was in order to prevent her from growing up with negatives views of their relationship. Unfortunately this wasn’t the case and Hailee indeed did end up seeing and growing up with domestic violence in their home for a few years. It is known that Kim and Mathers started dating a very young age, which is a problem because young adults’ romantic relationships are often unstable and commonly breakup, so it is understable as to why their relationship might have failed. Mathers ends the first verse by mentioning how he had to leave their home in order to prevent his daughter from reliving his tragic life. Due to these circumstances, his daughter was left to grow up without Mathers and a father figure.

This is where logos and ethos comes into role because Denisse Fernandes (2002) states, that there were numerous failed relationships in Mathers family, a history of deadbeat fathers and violence that built the negative household Mathes grew up in so he completely understood and knew the damage living in such environment could create for an individual’s physiological state. It is reasonable as to why he made the sacrifice of leaving although it was known that Hailee would be hurt in the process of their divorce. In general Mathers wants the audience to understand that a separation can be painful for a family, but is necessary for the mental health of children living in a broken home.

In the second verse, Mathers continues talking about the sacrifices he had to make to provide Hailee a better future but in terms of money and his career. He mentions how there was one Christmas where he didn’t have money to buy his family presents and how “he’ll never forget that Christmas he sat up the whole night crying because cause daddy felt like a bum.” He didn’t want this future for his daughter and in the upcoming lyrics he explains how he started making money through the start of his musical career, but in the process of making music and money he made the mistake of being extremely separated from Hailee and wasn’t around to see see her grow up. Although, making music and fame are something mainly celebrities experience the issue of being a parents who over works and experiences missing out on the growth of their children is a problem anyone can experience especially in the capitalist economy in the United States.

This is where a mixture of logos and pathos can be seen. The feeling of knowing that your job can result in missing out on seeing your children grow is depressing and it is logical to understand that being away from your children for a long period of time can give negative results. In today’s society, men and women desire to have both a career and a family—not simply sacrifice one for the other, which raises the issue of reconciling work and family life (Feierabend, 2016). Mathers was unable to balance family and work, which sadly led to conflicts in his relationships.

Mathers ends the song with saying he would do anything for his daughter such as buying her a bird and ring and includes the lyrics “ if that mockingbird don’t sing and that ring don’t shine. I’mma break that birdie’s neck. I’ll go back to the jeweler who sold it to ya” to emphasize that he would go through any means to provide the best for his daughter. Ethos is seen here because Mathers creates a feeling of determination since most parents would do the same and even take extreme measures to see their children happy and provide the best for them at any cost.

Overall, this song has had an impact on many parents who are constantly facing the same conlifts that Mathers once did in providing a better future while encountering many obstacles for his daugher or from the other perspective of being a child who has or is living in an unstable home. In 2005, “Mockingbird” was number eleven on the Billboard Hot 100 and received a grammy nomination for the best rap solo performance so it was a song that influenced many. Through the use of ethos, logos, and pathos Mathers is effectively able to argue how difficult it can be for a parent to give their child a stable and well life when living in a broken home surrounded by constant problems. At the end of the day, most parents will always seek ways and make sacrifices to provide the best future for their children and in the process unfortunate outcomes and mistakes can sadly occur, which this is the overall purpose that Mathers is effectively able to stress in this song.

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