Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department / School


First Advisor

James L. Johnson


One of the problems faced by critics in the past was a lack of critical resources that would allow for viewing a film as more than just moving pictures. Certainly, it would be difficult to understand or appreciate Fellini's use of the spiritual and metaphysical realms of reality if a critic did not have a means for such analysis. This writer believes that a rhetorical analysis serves as that means to the interpretive end. This study seeks to shed light on Fellini's definition of man's reality through its rhetorical analysis. Noted philosopher of rhetoric Kenneth Burke proclaims that a "rhetorical analysis throws light on literary texts and human relations 5 generally." Film is a special form of literary text; a very powerful form of literature combining the audio with the visual. Its power is in its ability to communicate to an audience the attitudes of the filmmaker. Film's rhetorical nature warrants a need for a rhetorical analysis. Burke recognizes rhetoric's reflection of human relations. Burke's insight is a key point when studying the work of Fellini. Furthermore, the Burkean approach allows for the holistic viewing of a film, addressing all realms of reality within the film and the reality in which the film was created and produced. Burke's dramatistic pentad is universally recognized as an effective tool for rhetorical analysis. Burke introduces his pentad as such: We shall use five terms as generating principle of our investigation. They are: Act, Scene, Agent, Agency, Purpose. In a rounded statement about motives, you must have some word that names the act (names what took place, in thought or deed), and-­ another that names the scene (the background of the act, the situation in which it occurred); also, you must indicate what person or kind of person (agent) performed the act, what means or instruments he used (agency), and the purpose. Men may violently disagree about the purposes behind a given act, or about the character of the person who did it, or how he did it, or in what kind of situation he acted; or they may even insist upon totally different words to name the act itself. But be that as it may, any complete statement about motives will offer some kind of answers to these five questions: what was done (act), when or where it was done (scene), who did it (agent), how he did it (agency, and why (purpose). To illustrate the pentad, this study approaches the rhetorical act, La Strada, by viewing its agent's, Fellini's, use of his agency, the film medium, in communicating his purpose as it emerged within his scene, post-World War II Italy. In this study, with the pentad serving as a means to the end, the end translates into Fellini's purpose.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Fellini, Federico -- Criticism and interpretation

La Strada (Motion picture) -- History and criticism



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University