The “Mouseland” Metaphor: How Rhetoric and Affect can Mobilize Political Change
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Audiences use their own methods of verbal and emotional persuasion, which has created a gap of understanding between them and diminishes the ability for a consensus and removes opportunities for widespread political mobilization to occur. This paper analyzes Tommy Douglas’s 1944 performance of “Mouseland”, a metaphorical speech representing the Canadian Parliamentary system that has succeeded in removing the communication gap between members of different domains, or audiences. The speech’s impact continues today, with references to Douglas’s performance recurring in a variety of contexts. “Mouseland” is written as an affective metaphor whose purpose is to persuade an audience through affect. Douglas, the speaker, uses a comical metaphor to accomplish this affective response in his audience, which provides an example for how a speech can act beyond the confines of language into the emotional realm for the purposes of persuasion and mobilization. Persuasion and mobilization are two key aspects of political decision-making, and are crucial in creating structural political change.