How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay
When it comes to learning how to write a rhetorical analysis, it may seem a difficult task for beginners, but once you know the tricks and tips, you will be writing like an expert in no time.
In this article, we’ll discuss the rhetorical analysis definition and show you a step-by-step guide with an outline, tips, and examples. Nonetheless, if you would just prefer to skip all of this and have one of our professionals help you do it, feel free to contact our research paper writing service by clicking the button below.
What Is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?
As you may know, different literary works are written with the sole purpose to persuade readers in the validity of the author’s ideas and point of view. There are a variety of strategies and literary and rhetorical devices that help authors’ reach this goal; and this is exactly what you will have to deal with while working on your rhetorical analysis essay.
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So, what is the definition of a rhetorical analysis? In a nutshell, a rhetorical analysis is the process of measuring how successful the author was in persuading, informing, or entertaining their audience. There are thousands of writing strategies used to analyze modern, as well as historical, texts, but note that in any rhetorical analysis essay you must identify the writing style of the author and their point of view. This requires analyzing the author’s methods of persuasion (words and phrases that the author creates) and how effective they are to readers.
Rhetorical Analysis Strategies
There are three universal methods of persuasion—also called rhetorical strategies. To handle the task, you need to have a good understanding of these strategies and their use.
So, what are the 3 rhetorical strategies? Let’s define each and look closer at their key attributes with our essay editor service:
The ethos rhetorical device is what establishes the author’s credibility in a literary piece. Simply put, the skillful use of this strategy is what helps readers determine whether or not a particular author can be trusted on a specific matter. Credibility is defined by the author’s expertise, knowledge, and moral competence for any particular subject. According to Aristotle, there are three categories of ethos: arete (virtue, goodwill), phronesis (useful skills & wisdom), and eunoia (goodwill towards the audience).
For example, when the author of a book is a well-known expert in a specific subject, or when a product is advertised by a famous person – these are uses of ethos for persuasion.
According to the pathos literary definition, this Greek word translates to “experience,” “suffering,” or “emotion” and is one of the three methods of persuasion authors are able to use to appeal to their readers’ emotions. In a nutshell, the key goal of this strategy is to elicit certain feelings (e.g. happiness, sympathy, pity, anger, compassion, etc.) in their audience with the sole goal of persuading them of something. The main goal is to help readers relate to the author’s identity and ideas.
Some of the common ways to use pathos in rhetoric are through:
- Personal anecdotes, etc.
Just to give you an example, when you see an advertisement that shows sad, loveless animals and it asks you to donate money to an animal shelter or adopt an animal – that’s clear use of emotional appeal in persuasion.
According to the logos literary definition, this word translates from Greek as “ground,” “plea,” “reason,” “opinion,” etc. This rhetorical strategy is solely logical; so, unlike ethos or pathos that rely on credibility or emotions, the logos rhetorical device is used to persuade readers through the use of critical thinking, facts, numbers and statistics, and other undeniable data.
For example, when the author of a literary piece makes a statement and supports it with valid facts – that’s logos.
These three strategies: logos, ethos, and pathos play an essential role in writing a rhetorical analysis essay. The better you understand them, the easier you will be able to determine how successful the author of the assigned text was in using them. Now, let’s take a look at how to start.
Rhetorical Analysis Topics
To write an excellent rhetorical analysis essay, a student first needs to pick a compelling topic. Below are some of the best tips to consider for choosing a topic that engages the audience:
- Focus on your interests. The main trick for writing a top-notch paper is to focus on a topic that you are genuinely interested in. Plenty of students make the huge mistake of picking topics that are promising and trending, but not engaging to them. Such an approach can make rhetorical writing even more of a challenge. But, if you decide to deliberate your interests and write about something that really engages you, the writing process will become much more pleasant and simple.
- Pick a topic you are familiar with. Another helpful trick is to choose a subject that reflects your knowledge. Picking something entirely unfamiliar to you can get you stuck even before you begin writing. Keep in mind that this academic paper requires you to make a thorough analysis of an author’s writing and evidence-building style, and the more well-versed in a particular topic you are, the easier it will be to handle the analysis.
- Do some background research. When choosing a topic, it is vital to ensure that that topic will have a broad enough scope, and enough information, for you to conduct your research and writing. Therefore, it is crucial that you do some background research prior to choosing a specific topic. To do this, you can create a list of topics that seem captivating to you. Then, take your time to research the available information from the chosen topics and pick the one that is not only engaging, but also offers good research and analysis opportunities. Also, be sure to take notes on the topic’s most important points when doing background research. These notes will come in handy later.
- Ask your instructor for advice. If you have already outlined the most interesting topics and done your background research on them but still cannot make up your mind, it will be a good idea to get suggestions from your instructor. Ask your instructor to look through your list to advise you on the most suitable subject.
Following the tips described above, you should be able to find a topic that is both interesting and promising. to give you a few ideas to think about, let’s look at a list of good rhetorical analysis topics:
Easy Rhetorical Analysis Essay Topics
- “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” Speech
- “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
- Symbolism in Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”
- “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain
- The Use of Symbolism in the “Harry Potter” Series
- “Witches Loaves” By O’Henry
- The Main Themes in Chuck Palahniuk’s “Fight Club”
- “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson.
- Chief Joseph’s “Surrender Speech”
High School Rhetorical Analysis Essay Topics
- Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”
- “Death of a Salesman” by Arthur Miller
- The Main Themes in Agatha Christie’s “And Then There Were None”
- “Beloved” by Toni Morrison
- The Use of Symbolism in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”
- “The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer
- The Central Idea in “An Enemy of the People” by Henrik Ibsen
- Symbolism in Virginia Woolf’s “The Waves”
- Sam Berns’ “My Philosophy for a Happy Life” Speech
- “Young Goodman Brown” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
College Rhetorical Analysis Essay Topics
- The Main Themes in “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury
- “Antigone” by Sophocles
- Rhetorical analysis of Macbeth
- “The Birthmark” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- The “Every Man a King” Speech by Huey Pierce Long
- “East of Eden” by John Steinbeck
- The Literary Devices Used by William Shakespeare
- “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller
- Rhetorical Analysis of “The Phantom of the Opera” Movie
- Analysis of Poe’s Poetry in “The Raven”
2020 Rhetorical Analysis Essay Topics
- Analysis of Beyonce’s Speech to the Class of 2020
- “Profiles in Corruption” by Peter Schweizer
- Pink’s VMA Speech about Acceptance
- “The Price Of Inequality” By Joseph Stiglitz
- The Main Themes in Michelle Obama’s “Becoming”
- “Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator” TED Talk Speech by Tim Urban
- Rhetorical Analysis of the 2020 Commencement Speech by Barack Obama
- “Cri De Coeur” By Romeo Dallier
- Feminism in Oprah’s Golden Globes Speech
- President Donald Trump’s Latest Speech
How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis: Step-by-Step
Step 1: Read and analyze the text
Writing a rhetorical analysis essay starts with reading and analyzing the assigned text. As you begin reading, take notes of valuable information that will help you simplify the analysis process.
Step 2: Identify the author’s strategies
Here are the questions you should consider while reading that you can try to answer later in your analysis:
- Who is the author and who was their intended target audience?
- What was the purpose of writing the speech/project?
- Does the setting have any importance or connection to the main message(s)? If so, why did the author choose that specific context?
Having these questions in mind will make it easier to analyze the author’s strategies once you start writing. At the very least, these questions give you a template to work off of and will help you understand the author’s methods of persuasion.
Step 3: Look for persuasive tactics used by the author
The ingredients for persuasion, as Aristotle called them, can be broken down into three categories: ethos, pathos, and logos.
After giving the reader some perspective, it’s time to do some critical analysis. A large part of your time will be focused on creating informative body paragraphs. In the body, explain the methods the author used to inform, persuade, and entertain the reader.
- If the author used persuasive language, then say that he/she used persuasive language.
- If the author used sympathetic language, explain it and use quotes for proof.
Keep in mind that all writing should be consistent and have a clear structure. It’s wise to have different paragraphs explaining the author’s strategies, rather than jamming
- Restatement of the thesis statement
- Reflection on the ideas and examples provided in the body
- Explanation of how the strategies used by the author were effective in conveying his or her thesis/claim/purpose