A rhetorical analysis essay articulates how a writer writes to influence his readers. It evaluates and describes the words in the original text and how they impact an audience. The goal of a rhetorical analysis is not to criticize or support an argument, but to examine how a text communicates and connects with an audience to persuade them of its point of view. These skills may be very helpful the day you’ll have to prepare for dissertation defense.
What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?
It’s important to know that a rhetorical analysis is not a summary of text in any form. It does not encourage students to understand the true meaning of a written text, television show, speech, a picture or any other communicative medium. Rather, the purpose of a rhetorical analysis essay is to analyze the strategies used by the author to make his argument.
It’s difficult for students to write a rhetorical analysis essay when they don’t clearly understand it. Therefore, before you learn how to write a rhetorical analysis essay, you must understand what a rhetorical analysis is and what it is not. Once you understand it, it will be much easier for you to apply your critical thinking and reading skills to analyze a text.
Writing a Rhetorical Analysis Essay Step-by-Step
Great essays are written in stages, so if you want to write an effective rhetorical analysis essay, you have to do it step-by-step. Always remember that academic writing, especially literature review, involves critical thinking, and so if you truly want to persuade your readers, you will have to come up with a good rhetorical analysis essay outline and give importance to each paragraph.
Here’s how to write a rhetorical analysis essay step by step:
- Gather the information: Start gathering information by analyzing the rhetorical features of the original text. You can start by writing your first impression of the subject, which will later be analyzed carefully to persuade your audience. You should gather information such as:
- Find the name of the writer and whether he has any credentials to prove his authority on the subject.
- What type of text it is? What is the sentence structure? What is the word choice?
- Why did the writer choose to study this particular subject?
- Does the writer want to inform, criticize or persuade? What is his purpose?
- Who is the writer’s intended audience?
You can ask other questions too to point out the ideas and rhetorical strategies that the writer has used. The key here is to understand why the writer chose to write this way.
Write the introduction: In the introductory paragraph, you should give a partial summary of the text that you are analyzing. Avoid giving details, because they would go in the body paragraphs where you will be defending your analysis. Write a persuasive introduction that grabs the attention and establishes a connection with your readers. The introductory paragraphs should provide the context and purpose of your analysis.
You will also insert your own thesis statement in the introduction. Think about the main point that you want to put across regarding the rhetorical choices of the author. Identify whether the rhetorical strategies used by the author makes his argument weak or strong. The thesis should narrow down the focus of your analytical essay while still stating the overall intentions of your essay.
Write the body: In the main body paragraphs, you need to arrange the author’s rhetorical strategies in a chronological way. You can also choose to organize your paragraphs by rhetorical appeals (logos, ethos and pathos), but writing your analysis in a chronological order is going to make more coherent sense. You can present your analysis in the same way that the author has chosen in the original text. The main idea here is to transition from one paragraph to another in a logical manner while analyzing specific rhetorical strategies used by the author. Concentrate on the strategies that the author has used often and has a purpose behind it.
Your rhetorical analysis essay should maintain an objective tone. Although you can make your own argument in a rhetorical analysis, it’s better to remain scholarly with your analysis of the original text. Similarly, you should avoid using your personal opinion and rather depend on hard evidence for your analysis.
Write the conclusion: In the rhetorical analysis essay conclusion, you should restate your thesis and main ideas. Do not just copy-paste your thesis statement; rather rephrase it to add more sophistication and depth to it. This will give a better understanding of your thesis to your readers now that they have read your analysis. Briefly summarize your main ideas to show how they support your thesis. Finally, let your audience know if further research is required on the subject and how it will help.
Rhetorical Appeals (logos, ethos and pathos)
According to Aristotle, there are 3 different modes of persuasion in an argument: logos, ethos and pathos. These modes of persuasion are also referred to as rhetorical appeals or ethical strategies.
- Logos (logic) means that the author has used clear logic, facts, evidence and statistics to make an argument.
- Ethos (character) means that the author has used his credibility and character to build the argument.
- Pathos (emotion) means that the author has used emotions, needs or values to gain approval from his audience.
Writing an Effective Rhetorical Analysis
To write an effective rhetorical analysis, students can follow these tips:
- Start by understanding what a rhetorical analysis truly is.
- Check a rhetorical analysis essay example before writing your initial draft.
- Check rhetorical analysis essay topics to get topic ideas for your essay.
- Determine the author’s purpose and intended audience.
- Don’t argue, just analyze.
- Revise twice before submission.
To write an effective rhetorical analysis, you just have to figure out why the writer chose to write the way he did. But first, you have to carefully read the text to understand the main idea behind it. Only when you truly understand the overall arguments of a text, you can analyze it for rhetorical features.