How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Key Concepts | Outline | Example

This article will discuss about What Rhetorical Analysis Essay is, Key Concepts of Rhetoric, Rhetorical Analysis Outline and How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay.

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay

A rhetorical analysis is an essay that examines and evaluates a text (or sometimes other types of media, such as video) based on its rhetoric. Rather than focusing on what the actual message is, a rhetorical analysis looks at how that message is created and delivered.

This essay studies how writers and speakers have used words to influence their audience. It examines the author’s intent and technique rather than the content of the work being examined.

To complete a rhetorical analysis, you must ask yourself certain questions to determine the purpose of an author’s work and whether it achieved its desired outcome.

The purpose of a rhetorical analysis is to assess the writer’s goal or purpose and the techniques they used to make their argument. Rather than agreeing or disagreeing with the author’s argument, you are describing how they presented their opinion and whether they effectively made their case.

In writing your rhetorical analysis, you’ll examine the author or creator’s goals, techniques, and appeals to their audience.

The Key Concepts of Rhetoric

Rhetoric is the art of effective or persuasive writing, especially the exploitation of figures of speech and other compositional techniques to figure out how they are designed to persuade the readers.

Here are a few important rhetoric concepts that you should know about.

Text and Context

When analyzing text in terms of rhetoric, a text is not necessarily a piece of writing but a piece of information that needs to be analyzed. This means that a text can be a piece of writing, an advertisement, a speech, or a sarcastic image.

So, in rhetoric, you will examine not only the language but also the visual components of the piece of information.

Take into consideration all the elements surrounding the text, including the information about the author (or creator, designer, maker, etc.), the audience the text was developed for, and where, when, and why the text was developed.

Keeping these elements of the text in mind can help you produce an informed rhetorical analysis essay.

For example, the iconic “I Have a Dream” speech from Martin Luther King, Jr.’ remains one of the most powerful and influential speeches. However, a person who doesn’t know the civil rights movement’s context will not understand its power.

Appeals: Logos, Ethos, Pathos

It is the appeals that enable the author to persuade the readers. The three rhetoric appeals, including logos, ethos, and pathos, were defined by famous philosopher Aristotle and referred to as the rhetoric triangle.

Logos

Also known as logical appeal, is the most popular approach to making an argument in academic writing. In rhetoric, it refers to the use of reasoned argument to convince the audience.

Ethos

Also called the ethical appeal, is about the writer painting themselves as a subject expert. For example, if you are making an argument about the quality of distance education, then indicate your qualifications to show you are an expert in the field of education.

Similarly, if you are arguing for the moral permissibility of after-birth abortion, then you could present yourself as a medical expert to enhance your authority and authenticity.

Pathos

Also called the pathetic appeal, evokes the readers’ emotions of anger, love, sympathy, or hate. It involves the use of vivid imagery and emotional speaking to try to induce the audience’s emotions.

All three appeals are essential aspects of rhetoric. The author can use one or all three of them to persuade the readers.

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Claims, Supports, and Warrants

Rhetoric always aims to express an argument, whether the readers must deduce one (e.g. from a sarcastic text) or the author who clearly and logically defines one.

The arguments involve claims, support, and warrants.

A claim is a bold statement that the author expresses to grab the attention of the readers.

The argument can be made out of one single claim or out of several.

Claims are generally overtly specified, but they may also just be implied in some kinds of text.

Each claim needs support, which could be anything that enables the author to persuade the audience.

These may appear in the form of hard evidence or responsive appeals.

Claims need support and the warrant act as a bridge between them. A warrant takes the form of an assumption or logic.

The warrant may not be stated outside the boundaries of formal argumentation – the author shoulders the readers will recognize the connection between the claim and the support. Still, it would help if you aimed to establish the implied warranty.

For example, consider the following rhetorical statement:

Rhetoric Statement: Both teams were missing their star performers; the crowd was not entertained.

We can see a claim and support in the above statement, but the warrant is not apparent. It is up to the readers to assume the warrant implied in the statement.

For example, the warrant in the above statement assumes that the presence of star performers in the two teams would have entertained the crowd. Depending on the individual reader’s assumption, they may or may not be convinced by this argument.

Rhetorical Analysis Outline

The following outline is an example of how you could structure your rhetorical analysis.

To make planning your essay easier, you can simply copy and paste this outline and fill it in with your thesis and supporting examples.

Introduction

  • Describe the 4 elements of rhetoric (audience, purpose, medium, and context), and identify the speaker
  • State your thesis

Body Paragraph #1: Ethos

  • Describe how the speaker makes an appeal to ethos (the audience’s sense of ethical responsibility)
  • Use specific examples, referring to word choice, tone, anecdotes, and other devices

Body Paragraph #2: Pathos

  • Describe how the speaker makes an appeal to pathos (the audience’s emotions)
  • Use specific examples, referring to word choice, tone, anecdotes, and other devices

Body Paragraph #3: Logos

  • Describe how the speaker makes an appeal to logos (logic)
  • Use specific examples, referring to word choice, tone, anecdotes, and other devices

Conclusion

  • Rephrase your thesis
  • Leave your audience with a call to action, or something to think about (this could be a question or a parting thought

Five Rhetorical Situations

The rhetorical situation explains the circumstances behind and around a piece of rhetoric. It helps you think about why a text exists, its purpose, and how it’s carried out.

The rhetorical situations are:

  1. Purpose: Why is this being written? (It could be trying to inform, persuade, instruct, or entertain.)
  2. Audience: Which groups or individuals will read and take action (or have done so in the past)?
  3. Genre: What type of writing is this?
  4. Stance: What is the tone of the text? What position are they taking?
  5. Media/Visuals: What means of communication are used?

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How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay
How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Examples

The top 5 rhetorical analysis essay examples include:

   1. Visual Rhetorical Analysis Essays

The Visual Rhetorical Analysis Essay will determine how images and pictures will communicate a message and persuade the audience.

This type of essay will, in most cases, be written for adverts.

2.     Comparative Rhetorical Analysis Essays

You can write a rhetorical analysis essay to explain the comparison between two items.

3.     AP Language Rhetorical Analysis Essays

A rhetorical analysis essay can be done in AP composition and language.

4.     Speech Rhetorical Analysis Essays

A rhetorical analysis can be performed on a speech. You will need to determine your strategy of persuasion before you can formulate a concise thesis statement. Once you have created your outline, you can then write using an appropriate writing style.

5.     Non-Fictional Rhetorical Analysis Essays

In performing an analysis of non-fiction essays, you will need to identify the purpose of the text and whether it fits the writer’s purpose.

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

A rhetorical analysis typically includes five paragraphs and three parts: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.

To begin, break a creative work down into parts and describe how the parts act together to produce a certain result.

The author’s desired effect could be to inform, entertain or persuade.

Follow these steps when writing your rhetorical analysis essay:

1. Gather information

Use the SOAPSTone technique to identify the components of the work and plan your analysis.

SOAPSTone is an acronym commonly used in literary analysis that stands for Speaker, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Subject, Tone.

  • Speaker: The writer or the voice narrating or telling the story
  • Occasion: When and where the work takes place and under what context
  • Audience: Who the text is written for
  • Purpose: The reason behind the work or what the writer wants to achieve
  • Subject: The topic of the text
  • Tone: The writer’s attitude toward the subject

2. Examine the appeals / Rhetorical Analysis Strategies

Writers use appeals, also called persuasive strategies, to get readers to have certain reactions to their work.

The three appeals are:

  • Ethos: Ethical appeals that establish the writer’s credibility, such as mentioning one’s qualifications.
  • Logos: Logical appeals, such as evidence and data, are used to make an argument.
  • Pathos: Pathetic appeals are designed to have an emotional effect, such as personal and relatable details about a crime victim.

3. Identify style choices and details

These are tools the writer can use to generate a certain reaction from the reader.

These include elements such as word choice, word order, tone, repetition, imagery, analogies, and figurative language.

4. Build an analysis

Ask yourself questions about the information you have collected.

Your answers will help you determine the reasons for the writer’s choices and how well they support the writer’s argument.

Focus on what the writer does and why.

Examples include:

  • What is the writer’s intention?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What is the argument?
  • What is the writer’s strategy to make that argument? Why?
  • What appeals does the writer use to persuade the reader? Why?
  • What kind of style does the writer use?
  • What effect does this work have on the audience?

5. Write the introduction

Your introduction should be one clear and concise paragraph that states the main ideas you are going to discuss in the essay.

Provide a brief background about the author, the relevance of their text and the message they are trying to send.

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6. Write your thesis

Your thesis statement should be one sentence at the end of the introduction that summarizes the argument you want to make about the writer’s choices and strategies.

The thesis is one of the most important parts of your essay.

7. Write your body text

Include at least three body paragraphs that provide evidence for your thesis. Each paragraph should be about a new, clearly stated topic.

You can organize your paragraphs by appeals (examples of ethos, pathos, and logos) and their efficacy, by techniques the writer used and their efficacy, chronologically, and more.

Regardless of how you organize your paragraphs, support each one with examples, data, facts, and quotes rather than opinions or emotions. At the end of each paragraph, tie that topic back to your thesis.

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How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay
How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

8. Write your conclusion

Repeat your thesis and summarize the main points of your essay in a brief conclusion.

Explain why your argument matters and include a call to action or for more research if needed.

Related FAQs

1. What is a rhetoric analysis?

This article defines some key rhetorical concepts and provides tips on how to write a rhetorical analysis. Rhetoric, the art of effective speaking and writing, is a subject that trains you to look at texts, arguments and speeches in terms of how they are designed to persuade the audience.

2. How to write a literary analysis essay?

In a nutshell, a literary analysis essay explores the techniques, goals, and appeals to the readers. The structure of a rhetorical analysis essay is similar to that of an argumentative essay. It starts by making a bold claim to hook the readers and present the thesis statement in the introduction section.

3. How do you write a commentary on a rhetorical analysis?

Format correctly. A rhetorical analysis should be written in third-person point of view (he, she, they) rather than first person (I, we), and use present tense (“… the speech examines social issues,” rather than “… the speech examined social issues.” Make sure that at least half of your essay is your commentary. Choose your words wisely.

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