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What Is a Rhetorical Analysis and How to Write a Great One

Helly Douglas

Helly Douglas

Cover image for article

Do you have to write a rhetorical analysis essay? Fear not! We’re here to explain exactly what rhetorical analysis means, how you should structure your essay, and give you some essential “dos and don’ts.”

What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

How do you write a rhetorical analysis, what are the three rhetorical strategies, what are the five rhetorical situations, how to plan a rhetorical analysis essay, creating a rhetorical analysis essay, examples of great rhetorical analysis essays, final thoughts.

A rhetorical analysis essay studies how writers and speakers have used words to influence their audience. Think less about the words the author has used and more about the techniques they employ, their goals, and the effect this has on the audience.

Image showing definitions

In your analysis essay, you break a piece of text (including cartoons, adverts, and speeches) into sections and explain how each part works to persuade, inform, or entertain. You’ll explore the effectiveness of the techniques used, how the argument has been constructed, and give examples from the text.

A strong rhetorical analysis evaluates a text rather than just describes the techniques used. You don’t include whether you personally agree or disagree with the argument.

Structure a rhetorical analysis in the same way as most other types of academic essays . You’ll have an introduction to present your thesis, a main body where you analyze the text, which then leads to a conclusion.

Think about how the writer (also known as a rhetor) considers the situation that frames their communication:

  • Topic: the overall purpose of the rhetoric
  • Audience: this includes primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences
  • Purpose: there are often more than one to consider
  • Context and culture: the wider situation within which the rhetoric is placed

Back in the 4th century BC, Aristotle was talking about how language can be used as a means of persuasion. He described three principal forms —Ethos, Logos, and Pathos—often referred to as the Rhetorical Triangle . These persuasive techniques are still used today.

Image showing rhetorical strategies

Rhetorical Strategy 1: Ethos

Are you more likely to buy a car from an established company that’s been an important part of your community for 50 years, or someone new who just started their business?

Reputation matters. Ethos explores how the character, disposition, and fundamental values of the author create appeal, along with their expertise and knowledge in the subject area.

Aristotle breaks ethos down into three further categories:

  • Phronesis: skills and practical wisdom
  • Arete: virtue
  • Eunoia: goodwill towards the audience

Ethos-driven speeches and text rely on the reputation of the author. In your analysis, you can look at how the writer establishes ethos through both direct and indirect means.

Rhetorical Strategy 2: Pathos

Pathos-driven rhetoric hooks into our emotions. You’ll often see it used in advertisements, particularly by charities wanting you to donate money towards an appeal.

Common use of pathos includes:

  • Vivid description so the reader can imagine themselves in the situation
  • Personal stories to create feelings of empathy
  • Emotional vocabulary that evokes a response

By using pathos to make the audience feel a particular emotion, the author can persuade them that the argument they’re making is compelling.

Rhetorical Strategy 3: Logos

Logos uses logic or reason. It’s commonly used in academic writing when arguments are created using evidence and reasoning rather than an emotional response. It’s constructed in a step-by-step approach that builds methodically to create a powerful effect upon the reader.

Rhetoric can use any one of these three techniques, but effective arguments often appeal to all three elements.

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.

Image showing 5 rhetorical situations

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?

Understanding and analyzing the rhetorical situation is essential for building a strong essay. Also think about any rhetoric restraints on the text, such as beliefs, attitudes, and traditions that could affect the author's decisions.

Before leaping into your essay, it’s worth taking time to explore the text at a deeper level and considering the rhetorical situations we looked at before. Throw away your assumptions and use these simple questions to help you unpick how and why the text is having an effect on the audience.

Image showing what to consider when planning a rhetorical essay

1: What is the Rhetorical Situation?

  • Why is there a need or opportunity for persuasion?
  • How do words and references help you identify the time and location?
  • What are the rhetoric restraints?
  • What historical occasions would lead to this text being created?

2: Who is the Author?

  • How do they position themselves as an expert worth listening to?
  • What is their ethos?
  • Do they have a reputation that gives them authority?
  • What is their intention?
  • What values or customs do they have?

3: Who is it Written For?

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • How is this appealing to this particular audience?
  • Who are the possible secondary and tertiary audiences?

4: What is the Central Idea?

  • Can you summarize the key point of this rhetoric?
  • What arguments are used?
  • How has it developed a line of reasoning?

5: How is it Structured?

  • What structure is used?
  • How is the content arranged within the structure?

6: What Form is Used?

  • Does this follow a specific literary genre?
  • What type of style and tone is used, and why is this?
  • Does the form used complement the content?
  • What effect could this form have on the audience?

7: Is the Rhetoric Effective?

  • Does the content fulfil the author’s intentions?
  • Does the message effectively fit the audience, location, and time period?

Once you’ve fully explored the text, you’ll have a better understanding of the impact it’s having on the audience and feel more confident about writing your essay outline.

A great essay starts with an interesting topic. Choose carefully so you’re personally invested in the subject and familiar with it rather than just following trending topics. There are lots of great ideas on this blog post by My Perfect Words if you need some inspiration. Take some time to do background research to ensure your topic offers good analysis opportunities.

Image showing considerations for a rhetorical analysis topic

Remember to check the information given to you by your professor so you follow their preferred style guidelines. This outline example gives you a general idea of a format to follow, but there will likely be specific requests about layout and content in your course handbook. It’s always worth asking your institution if you’re unsure.

Make notes for each section of your essay before you write. This makes it easy for you to write a well-structured text that flows naturally to a conclusion. You will develop each note into a paragraph. Look at this example by College Essay for useful ideas about the structure.

Image showing how to structure an essay

1: Introduction

This is a short, informative section that shows you understand the purpose of the text. It tempts the reader to find out more by mentioning what will come in the main body of your essay.

  • Name the author of the text and the title of their work followed by the date in parentheses
  • Use a verb to describe what the author does, e.g. “implies,” “asserts,” or “claims”
  • Briefly summarize the text in your own words
  • Mention the persuasive techniques used by the rhetor and its effect

Create a thesis statement to come at the end of your introduction.

After your introduction, move on to your critical analysis. This is the principal part of your essay.

  • Explain the methods used by the author to inform, entertain, and/or persuade the audience using Aristotle's rhetorical triangle
  • Use quotations to prove the statements you make
  • Explain why the writer used this approach and how successful it is
  • Consider how it makes the audience feel and react

Make each strategy a new paragraph rather than cramming them together, and always use proper citations. Check back to your course handbook if you’re unsure which citation style is preferred.

3: Conclusion

Your conclusion should summarize the points you’ve made in the main body of your essay. While you will draw the points together, this is not the place to introduce new information you’ve not previously mentioned.

Use your last sentence to share a powerful concluding statement that talks about the impact the text has on the audience(s) and wider society. How have its strategies helped to shape history?

Before You Submit

Poor spelling and grammatical errors ruin a great essay. Use ProWritingAid to check through your finished essay before you submit. It will pick up all the minor errors you’ve missed and help you give your essay a final polish. Look at this useful ProWritingAid webinar for further ideas to help you significantly improve your essays. Sign up for a free trial today and start editing your essays!

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You’ll find countless examples of rhetorical analysis online, but they range widely in quality. Your institution may have example essays they can share with you to show you exactly what they’re looking for.

The following links should give you a good starting point if you’re looking for ideas:

Pearson Canada has a range of good examples. Look at how embedded quotations are used to prove the points being made. The end questions help you unpick how successful each essay is.

Excelsior College has an excellent sample essay complete with useful comments highlighting the techniques used.

Brighton Online has a selection of interesting essays to look at. In this specific example, consider how wider reading has deepened the exploration of the text.

Image showing tips when reading a sample essay

Writing a rhetorical analysis essay can seem daunting, but spending significant time deeply analyzing the text before you write will make it far more achievable and result in a better-quality essay overall.

It can take some time to write a good essay. Aim to complete it well before the deadline so you don’t feel rushed. Use ProWritingAid’s comprehensive checks to find any errors and make changes to improve readability. Then you’ll be ready to submit your finished essay, knowing it’s as good as you can possibly make it.

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Helly Douglas is a UK writer and teacher, specialising in education, children, and parenting. She loves making the complex seem simple through blogs, articles, and curriculum content. You can check out her work at hellydouglas.com or connect on Twitter @hellydouglas. When she’s not writing, you will find her in a classroom, being a mum or battling against the wilderness of her garden—the garden is winning!

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How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay–Examples & Template

essays to write a rhetorical analysis on

What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

A rhetorical analysis essay is, as the name suggests, an analysis of someone else’s writing (or speech, or advert, or even cartoon) and how they use not only words but also rhetorical techniques to influence their audience in a certain way. A rhetorical analysis is less interested in what the author is saying and more in how they present it, what effect this has on their readers, whether they achieve their goals, and what approach they use to get there. 

Its structure is similar to that of most essays: An Introduction presents your thesis, a Body analyzes the text you have chosen, breaks it down into sections and explains how arguments have been constructed and how each part persuades, informs, or entertains the reader, and a Conclusion section sums up your evaluation. 

Note that your personal opinion on the matter is not relevant for your analysis and that you don’t state anywhere in your essay whether you agree or disagree with the stance the author takes.

In the following, we will define the key rhetorical concepts you need to write a good rhetorical analysis and give you some practical tips on where to start.

Key Rhetorical Concepts

Your goal when writing a rhetorical analysis is to think about and then carefully describe how the author has designed their text so that it has the intended effect on their audience. To do that, you need to consider a number of key rhetorical strategies: Rhetorical appeals (“Ethos”, “Logos”, and “Pathos”), context, as well as claims, supports, and warrants.

Ethos, Logos, and Pathos were introduced by Aristotle, way back in the 4th century BC, as the main ways in which language can be used to persuade an audience. They still represent the basis of any rhetorical analysis and are often referred to as the “rhetorical triangle”. 

These and other rhetorical techniques can all be combined to create the intended effect, and your job as the one analyzing a text is to break the writer’s arguments down and identify the concepts they are based on.

Rhetorical Appeals

Rhetorical appeal #1: ethos.

Ethos refers to the reputation or authority of the writer regarding the topic of their essay or speech and to how they use this to appeal to their audience. Just like we are more likely to buy a product from a brand or vendor we have confidence in than one we don’t know or have reason to distrust, Ethos-driven texts or speeches rely on the reputation of the author to persuade the reader or listener. When you analyze an essay, you should therefore look at how the writer establishes Ethos through rhetorical devices.

Does the author present themselves as an authority on their subject? If so, how? 

Do they highlight how impeccable their own behavior is to make a moral argument? 

Do they present themselves as an expert by listing their qualifications or experience to convince the reader of their opinion on something?

Rhetorical appeal #2: Pathos

The purpose of Pathos-driven rhetoric is to appeal to the reader’s emotions. A common example of pathos as a rhetorical means is adverts by charities that try to make you donate money to a “good cause”. To evoke the intended emotions in the reader, an author may use passionate language, tell personal stories, and employ vivid imagery so that the reader can imagine themselves in a certain situation and feel empathy with or anger towards others.

Rhetorical appeal #3: Logos

Logos, the “logical” appeal, uses reason to persuade. Reason and logic, supported by data, evidence, clearly defined methodology, and well-constructed arguments, are what most academic writing is based on. Emotions, those of the researcher/writer as well as those of the reader, should stay out of such academic texts, as should anyone’s reputation, beliefs, or personal opinions. 

Text and Context

To analyze a piece of writing, a speech, an advertisement, or even a satirical drawing, you need to look beyond the piece of communication and take the context in which it was created and/or published into account. 

Who is the person who wrote the text/drew the cartoon/designed the ad..? What audience are they trying to reach? Where was the piece published and what was happening there around that time? 

A political speech, for example, can be powerful even when read decades later, but the historical context surrounding it is an important aspect of the effect it was intended to have. 

Claims, Supports, and Warrants

To make any kind of argument, a writer needs to put forward specific claims, support them with data or evidence or even a moral or emotional appeal, and connect the dots logically so that the reader can follow along and agree with the points made.

The connections between statements, so-called “warrants”, follow logical reasoning but are not always clearly stated—the author simply assumes the reader understands the underlying logic, whether they present it “explicitly” or “implicitly”. Implicit warrants are commonly used in advertisements where seemingly happy people use certain products, wear certain clothes, accessories, or perfumes, or live certain lifestyles – with the connotation that, first, the product/perfume/lifestyle is what makes that person happy and, second, the reader wants to be as happy as the person in the ad. Some warrants are never clearly stated, and your job when writing a rhetorical analysis essay is therefore to identify them and bring them to light, to evaluate their validity, their effect on the reader, and the use of such means by the writer/creator. 

bust of plato the philosopher, rhetorical analysis essay

What are the Five Rhetorical Situations?

A “rhetorical situation” refers to the circumstance behind a text or other piece of communication that arises from a given context. It explains why a rhetorical piece was created, what its purpose is, and how it was constructed to achieve its aims.

Rhetorical situations can be classified into the following five categories:

Asking such questions when you analyze a text will help you identify all the aspects that play a role in the effect it has on its audience, and will allow you to evaluate whether it achieved its aims or where it may have failed to do so.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

Analyzing someone else’s work can seem like a big task, but as with every assignment or writing endeavor, you can break it down into smaller, well-defined steps that give you a practical structure to follow. 

To give you an example of how the different parts of your text may look when it’s finished, we will provide you with some excerpts from this rhetorical analysis essay example (which even includes helpful comments) published on the Online Writing Lab website of Excelsior University in Albany, NY. The text that this essay analyzes is this article on why one should or shouldn’t buy an Ipad. If you want more examples so that you can build your own rhetorical analysis template, have a look at this essay on Nabokov’s Lolita and the one provided here about the “Shitty First Drafts” chapter of Anne Lamott’s writing instruction book “Bird by Bird”.

Analyzing the Text

When writing a rhetorical analysis, you don’t choose the concepts or key points you think are relevant or want to address. Rather, you carefully read the text several times asking yourself questions like those listed in the last section on rhetorical situations to identify how the text “works” and how it was written to achieve that effect.

Start with focusing on the author : What do you think was their purpose for writing the text? Do they make one principal claim and then elaborate on that? Or do they discuss different topics? 

Then look at what audience they are talking to: Do they want to make a group of people take some action? Vote for someone? Donate money to a good cause? Who are these people? Is the text reaching this specific audience? Why or why not?

What tone is the author using to address their audience? Are they trying to evoke sympathy? Stir up anger? Are they writing from a personal perspective? Are they painting themselves as an authority on the topic? Are they using academic or informal language?

How does the author support their claims ? What kind of evidence are they presenting? Are they providing explicit or implicit warrants? Are these warrants valid or problematic? Is the provided evidence convincing?  

Asking yourself such questions will help you identify what rhetorical devices a text uses and how well they are put together to achieve a certain aim. Remember, your own opinion and whether you agree with the author are not the point of a rhetorical analysis essay – your task is simply to take the text apart and evaluate it.

If you are still confused about how to write a rhetorical analysis essay, just follow the steps outlined below to write the different parts of your rhetorical analysis: As every other essay, it consists of an Introduction , a Body (the actual analysis), and a Conclusion .

Rhetorical Analysis Introduction

The Introduction section briefly presents the topic of the essay you are analyzing, the author, their main claims, a short summary of the work by you, and your thesis statement . 

Tell the reader what the text you are going to analyze represents (e.g., historically) or why it is relevant (e.g., because it has become some kind of reference for how something is done). Describe what the author claims, asserts, or implies and what techniques they use to make their argument and persuade their audience. Finish off with your thesis statement that prepares the reader for what you are going to present in the next section – do you think that the author’s assumptions/claims/arguments were presented in a logical/appealing/powerful way and reached their audience as intended?

Have a look at an excerpt from the sample essay linked above to see what a rhetorical analysis introduction can look like. See how it introduces the author and article , the context in which it originally appeared , the main claims the author makes , and how this first paragraph ends in a clear thesis statement that the essay will then elaborate on in the following Body section:

Cory Doctorow ’s article on BoingBoing is an older review of the iPad , one of Apple’s most famous products. At the time of this article, however, the iPad was simply the latest Apple product to hit the market and was not yet so popular. Doctorow’s entire career has been entrenched in and around technology. He got his start as a CD-ROM programmer and is now a successful blogger and author. He is currently the co-editor of the BoingBoing blog on which this article was posted. One of his main points in this article comes from Doctorow’s passionate advocacy of free digital media sharing. He argues that the iPad is just another way for established technology companies to control our technological freedom and creativity . In “ Why I Won’t Buy an iPad (and Think You Shouldn’t, Either) ” published on Boing Boing in April of 2010, Cory Doctorow successfully uses his experience with technology, facts about the company Apple, and appeals to consumer needs to convince potential iPad buyers that Apple and its products, specifically the iPad, limit the digital rights of those who use them by controlling and mainstreaming the content that can be used and created on the device . 

Doing the Rhetorical Analysis

The main part of your analysis is the Body , where you dissect the text in detail. Explain what methods the author uses to inform, entertain, and/or persuade the audience. Use Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle and the other key concepts we introduced above. Use quotations from the essay to demonstrate what you mean. Work out why the writer used a certain approach and evaluate (and again, demonstrate using the text itself) how successful they were. Evaluate the effect of each rhetorical technique you identify on the audience and judge whether the effect is in line with the author’s intentions.

To make it easy for the reader to follow your thought process, divide this part of your essay into paragraphs that each focus on one strategy or one concept , and make sure they are all necessary and contribute to the development of your argument(s).

One paragraph of this section of your essay could, for example, look like this:

One example of Doctorow’s position is his comparison of Apple’s iStore to Wal-Mart. This is an appeal to the consumer’s logic—or an appeal to logos. Doctorow wants the reader to take his comparison and consider how an all-powerful corporation like the iStore will affect them. An iPad will only allow for apps and programs purchased through the iStore to be run on it; therefore, a customer must not only purchase an iPad but also any programs he or she wishes to use. Customers cannot create their own programs or modify the hardware in any way. 

As you can see, the author of this sample essay identifies and then explains to the reader how Doctorow uses the concept of Logos to appeal to his readers – not just by pointing out that he does it but by dissecting how it is done.

Rhetorical Analysis Conclusion

The conclusion section of your analysis should restate your main arguments and emphasize once more whether you think the author achieved their goal. Note that this is not the place to introduce new information—only rely on the points you have discussed in the body of your essay. End with a statement that sums up the impact the text has on its audience and maybe society as a whole:

Overall, Doctorow makes a good argument about why there are potentially many better things to drop a great deal of money on instead of the iPad. He gives some valuable information and facts that consumers should take into consideration before going out to purchase the new device. He clearly uses rhetorical tools to help make his case, and, overall, he is effective as a writer, even if, ultimately, he was ineffective in convincing the world not to buy an iPad . 

Frequently Asked Questions about Rhetorical Analysis Essays 

What is a rhetorical analysis essay.

A rhetorical analysis dissects a text or another piece of communication to work out and explain how it impacts its audience, how successfully it achieves its aims, and what rhetorical devices it uses to do that. 

While argumentative essays usually take a stance on a certain topic and argue for it, a rhetorical analysis identifies how someone else constructs their arguments and supports their claims.

What is the correct rhetorical analysis essay format?

Like most other essays, a rhetorical analysis contains an Introduction that presents the thesis statement, a Body that analyzes the piece of communication, explains how arguments have been constructed, and illustrates how each part persuades, informs, or entertains the reader, and a Conclusion section that summarizes the results of the analysis. 

What is the “rhetorical triangle”?

The rhetorical triangle was introduced by Aristotle as the main ways in which language can be used to persuade an audience: Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, Ethos to the writer’s status or authority, and Pathos to the reader’s emotions. Logos, Ethos, and Pathos can all be combined to create the intended effect, and your job as the one analyzing a text is to break the writer’s arguments down and identify what specific concepts each is based on.

Let Wordvice help you write a flawless rhetorical analysis essay! 

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Lindsay Ann Learning English Teacher Blog

70 Rhetorical Analysis Essay Topics for Secondary ELA

rhetorical-analysis-essay

May 28, 2019 //  by  Lindsay Ann //   8 Comments

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Before we get to the rhetorical analysis essay prompts (a.k.a. tons of ready-to-analyze texts at your fingertips), let’s take a time-out to lay the groundwork for understanding a rhetorical analysis essay using ethos, pathos, and logos.

Rhetoric is Defined As…

Put simply, rhetoric refers to any technique an author uses to persuade an audience.

Or, the behind-the-scenes choices an author makes to give you all the feels. 

Chances are, if you consider a text or speech to be  really good , rhetorical techniques are working like a master puppeteer to pull at your heart strings, make an impact on your brain, and get you to let down your guard because you trust the author or speaker.

That’s why political figures have speech writers.

That’s why authors spend time fine-tuning their words and sentences.

Rhetoric is important.

In addition, rhetoric goes back to the ancient Greek philosophers like Aristotle, the “father” of rhetoric.

rhetorical-analysis-essay-high-school

The Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Moving on, if rhetoric is the art of persuasion, then the rhetorical analysis essay analyzes how an author or speaker creates opportunity for persuasion in his/her text.

Writing a rhetorical analysis essay involves understanding of context and occasion for writing. It also involves understanding the subject matter of the speech and intended audience.

Beyond this, noticing how the author uses rhetorical appeals and rhetorical devices to impact the target audience can help you to write an in-depth rhetorical essay analysis.

The BEST Rhetoric Topics

rhetorical-analysis-essay

As a teacher, I’m always in search of engaging texts for students to analyze. In this post, I’m sharing the best speeches, advertisements, and essays  for rhetorical analysis. You’ll never run out of rhetorical analysis essay topics again!

So, you’ll definitely want to stop right now and pin this post. 

Your future English-teacher-self will thank you. 

47 Rhetoric Examples in Speeches

The following speeches work well individually, but I’ve also tried to add value by pairing texts together.

Whether you’re analyzing rhetorical appeals such as ethos, pathos, and logos or looking at rhetorical devices, these speeches will work for discussion or as the text for a rhetorical analysis essay.

rhetorical-analysis-essay

  • Gettysburg Monologue in Remember the Titans  – Pair with “ The Gettysburg Address ” by Abraham Lincoln
  • “ Full Power of Women ” by Priyanka Chopra – Pair with Emma Watson’s speech on the Power of Women
  • Speech from Finding Forrester – Pair with “ Integrity ” by Warren Buffet
  • Red’s Parole Hearing from Shawshank Redemption – Pair with the Freedom Speech from Braveheart
  • Ending Scene from The Breakfast Club – Pair with  “ The Danger of a Single Story ” by Chimamanda Ngozi Achichi
  • Authentic Swing Speech from The Legend of Bagger Vance – Pair with  “ How Winning is Done ” from  Rocky Balboa
  • Maximus’ Speech to Commodus from Gladiator – Pair with  The Revolutionary Speech  from  V for Vendetta
  • The Natural State of Mankind from Amistad – Pair with “ Our Diversity Makes Us Who We Are ” by Michelle Obama
  • Denzel Washington’s  Dillard University Commencement Speech – Pair with “ The Last Lecture ” by Randy Pausch
  • “ Like Pieces of Glass in my Head ” from The Green Mile – Pair with “ Eulogy for Beau Biden ” by Barack Obama
  • Oprah’s  2018 Golden Globes speech – Pair with  Seth Myers’ Golden Globes Monologue  and/or  Ellen says #MeToo
  • Independence Day speech – Pair with  Aragorn’s Helm’s Deep Speech  from LOTR: The Two Towers
  • Pair  “I am Human”  &  “Love Liberates” , both by Maya Angelou
  • Pink’s  VMA acceptance speech – Pair with “ If I Should Have a Daughter ” by Sarah Kay
  • Ellen’s  People’s Choice Humanitarian Award Acceptance Speech – Pair with “ Pep Talk ” by Kid President
  • Gandalf Speaks to Frodo in Moria  from  LOTR : Fellowship of the Ring – Pair with   Sam’s Speech   in LOTR: The Two Towers
  • Obama’s  Final Farewell Speech – Pair with Al Pacino’s  Any Given Sunday  speech – clean version
  • Harvard Graduation Speech by Donovan Livingston – Pair with Steve Jobs  2005 Stanford Commencement Speech
  • “ Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator ” by Tim Urban – Pair with “ Five Second Rule ” by Mel Robbins
  • Rachel Hollis “Inspire Women to be Their Best” (mild profanity)
  • My Philosophy for a Happy Life by Sam Berns
  • “ To this Day: For the Bullied and the Beautiful ” by Shane Koyczan – Pair with Kid President’s “ Pep Talk to Teachers and Students “
  • “ The Power of Introverts ” by Susan Cain – Pair with “ Don’t Let Others Stop You From Living Your Own Truth “

Rhetoric in Advertising: 23 Examples

This next list holds a blend of print advertisements and commercials, perfect for introducing close reading and rhetorical analysis and for writing a rhetorical analysis essay.

Ads are short, but pack a punch. Honestly, my students love analyzing the rhetoric of advertisements a lot because they are accessible and visual.

Rhetoric Commercials & Print Advertisements

  • “ Web of Fries “
  • Duracell “ Teddy Bear ” Commercial
  • Apple 1984 Commercial Introducing the New Macintosh Computer
  • Nike “ Find Your Greatness ” Ads
  • Pepsi, Superbowl 53 Commercial: “ More than Okay ”
  • “ Get a Mac ” Commercial Compilation
  • “ Can You Hear Me Now ” Verizon Wireless
  • Apple iPhone X – “ Unlock ”
  • Kiwi “ First Steps ” Print Advertisement
  • Vauxhall’s  Backwards Cinderella
  • Lego Print Advertisement
  • Top 10 Powerful Ads of 2014

Rhetoric of the Image

  • Entourage NGO for the Homeless Print Advertisement Images
  • 33 Creative Print Ads
  • Protege Group
  • Greenpeace Print Advertisement Collection
  • “ Divorce Furniture “
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  • “ It’s Not Acceptable to Treat a Woman Like One”
  • “ 50 Creative and Effective Advertising Examples “
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Writing a Rhetorical Analysis Essay Using Ethos, Pathos, and Logos

No doubt, writing a rhetorical analysis essay is like taking apart a puzzle and putting it back together again. Teachers, help your students to understand how all of the pieces fit together in order to see the bigger picture of what the author is trying to accomplish.

First, take time to understand how a text “works” for a rhetorical analysis essay using ethos, pathos, and logos:

  • Read or listen to understand overall content. Look up unfamiliar words.
  • Mark the text for the author’s main points and sub-points.
  • descriptive
  • compare/contrast
  • cause/effect
  • argumentative
  • Take notes on SOAPS: subject, occasion, audience, purpose, speaker
  • Discuss the text(s) in Socratic Seminar .

Next, identify rhetorical appeals . 

  • Ethos: How an author demonstrates credibility and builds trust.
  • Pathos: How an author creates an emotional response.
  • Logos: How an author demonstrates expertise and knowledge.

Look for rhetorical devices & patterns in the text.

  • Rhetorical devices refer to an author’s use of diction and syntax.
  • Does the author repeat key words / phrases? What’s the impact?
  • Does the author return to the same idea or image? Why?

Finally, write a clear thesis statement & topic sentences for your rhetorical analysis essay.

  • Use your thesis statement to generate topic sentences.
  • In your body paragraphs, identify a technique, provide an example, and discuss the “right there” and “beneath the surface” meanings. How does the author’s choice impact the audience, further a message, establish a tone?
  • What’s the context for the repetition?
  • What connotations are important?
  • How is the anaphora used to move the reader to greater understanding (logos), emotional investment (pathos), and/or trust in the author’s ideas (ethos)?

Six Strategies for Teaching Rhetorical Analysis

I’ve created an awesome free guide to inspire English teachers who teach rhetoric and the rhetorical analysis essay in their classrooms. Even if you don’t teach AP lang, you can benefit from these strategies !

rhetorical-analysis-teaching-guide

Rhetorical Analysis Essay FAQ’s

How do you write a rhetorical analysis essay.

Writing a rhetorical analysis essay is like writing a literary analysis essay, except the focus is on one or more non-fiction texts and the analysis targets an author’s style or rhetorical “moves” (a.k.a. use of rhetorical appeals and/or devices). Rhetorical analysis essays usually prove a claim about the author’s message or purpose for writing. The paragraphs in a rhetorical analysis essay unpack “what” an author is doing to send this message and “how” these choices impact the audience.

What does it mean to write a rhetorical analysis?

Writing a rhetorical analysis means that you are aware, as an audience member, reader, listener, human being, of the messages you consume. As a critical consumer of others’ ideas, you ask hard questions about how these messages are shaped, why they’re being delivered in certain ways, and why this is important for you and for society.

What are the three rhetorical strategies?

The three most commonly known rhetorical strategies are known as rhetorical appeals. Ethos (ethics) refers to credibility and trustworthiness. Pathos (passion) refers to engaging an audience’s emotions. Logos (logic) refers to engaging an audience’s brain through logical organization and use of evidence and arguments.

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About Lindsay Ann

Lindsay has been teaching high school English in the burbs of Chicago for 18 years. She is passionate about helping English teachers find balance in their lives and teaching practice through practical feedback strategies and student-led learning strategies. She also geeks out about literary analysis, inquiry-based learning, and classroom technology integration. When Lindsay is not teaching, she enjoys playing with her two kids, running, and getting lost in a good book.

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January 9, 2023 at 9:38 am

Hi Lindsay Ann, thanks so much for these great resources. Just wanted to gently point out a couple errors that you might want to fix:

#12: should be Seth Myers’ (not Seth Myer’s) #13: should be independence (not independance)

Teachers have to help each other out 🙂

Best, Nikkee

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January 9, 2023 at 5:44 pm

Thank you so much for letting me know, Nikkee!

[…] a lot of options and extensions for analyzing rhetoric in social media. Who knows, maybe your next rhetorical analysis essay assignment will be focused on rhetoric in social […]

[…] 70 Rhetorical Analysis Essay Topics for Secondary ELA […]

[…] find that teaching rhetorical analysis and close reading skills go hand-in-hand with teaching voice in […]

[…] helps students to remember that everything comes back to the author’s purpose or message in rhetorical analysis. Author’s purpose is central to unpacking an author’s choices, including use of […]

[…] you assigning a rhetorical analysis essay? Why not try having students use rhetorical analysis sentence […]

[…] I introduced students to rhetoric. First, we journaled on this topic: Think of a time someone talked you into doing something or believing something. How did they do it? What tactics did they use? Students may share out journals. I gave students a graphic organizer with a PAPA analysis (purpose, audience, persona, argument) and picked a speech. Frankly, the speech I picked, which was Samwise Gamgee’s speech to Frodo Baggins in The Two Towers, failed spectacularly since students had no frame of reference. Note: that movie is old now. I know. It makes me sad, too. So go cautiously if you use this, but maybe pick something else. You can find a massive list here. […]

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How to write a rhetorical analysis

Rhetorical analysis illustration

What is a rhetorical analysis?

What are the key concepts of a rhetorical analysis, rhetorical situation, claims, supports, and warrants.

  • Step 1: Plan and prepare
  • Step 2: Write your introduction
  • Step 3: Write the body
  • Step 4: Write your conclusion

Frequently Asked Questions about rhetorical analysis

Related articles.

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion and aims to study writers’ or speakers' techniques to inform, persuade, or motivate their audience. Thus, a rhetorical analysis aims to explore the goals and motivations of an author, the techniques they’ve used to reach their audience, and how successful these techniques were.

This will generally involve analyzing a specific text and considering the following aspects to connect the rhetorical situation to the text:

  • Does the author successfully support the thesis or claims made in the text? Here, you’ll analyze whether the author holds to their argument consistently throughout the text or whether they wander off-topic at some point.
  • Does the author use evidence effectively considering the text’s intended audience? Here, you’ll consider the evidence used by the author to support their claims and whether the evidence resonates with the intended audience.
  • What rhetorical strategies the author uses to achieve their goals. Here, you’ll consider the word choices by the author and whether these word choices align with their agenda for the text.
  • The tone of the piece. Here, you’ll consider the tone used by the author in writing the piece by looking at specific words and aspects that set the tone.
  • Whether the author is objective or trying to convince the audience of a particular viewpoint. When it comes to objectivity, you’ll consider whether the author is objective or holds a particular viewpoint they want to convince the audience of. If they are, you’ll also consider whether their persuasion interferes with how the text is read and understood.
  • Does the author correctly identify the intended audience? It’s important to consider whether the author correctly writes the text for the intended audience and what assumptions the author makes about the audience.
  • Does the text make sense? Here, you’ll consider whether the author effectively reasons, based on the evidence, to arrive at the text’s conclusion.
  • Does the author try to appeal to the audience’s emotions? You’ll need to consider whether the author uses any words, ideas, or techniques to appeal to the audience’s emotions.
  • Can the author be believed? Finally, you’ll consider whether the audience will accept the arguments and ideas of the author and why.

Summing up, unlike summaries that focus on what an author said, a rhetorical analysis focuses on how it’s said, and it doesn’t rely on an analysis of whether the author was right or wrong but rather how they made their case to arrive at their conclusions.

Although rhetorical analysis is most used by academics as part of scholarly work, it can be used to analyze any text including speeches, novels, television shows or films, advertisements, or cartoons.

Now that we’ve seen what rhetorical analysis is, let’s consider some of its key concepts .

Any rhetorical analysis starts with the rhetorical situation which identifies the relationships between the different elements of the text. These elements include the audience, author or writer, the author’s purpose, the delivery method or medium, and the content:

  • Audience: The audience is simply the readers of a specific piece of text or content or printed material. For speeches or other mediums like film and video, the audience would be the listeners or viewers. Depending on the specific piece of text or the author’s perception, the audience might be real, imagined, or invoked. With a real audience, the author writes to the people actually reading or listening to the content while, for an imaginary audience, the author writes to an audience they imagine would read the content. Similarly, for an invoked audience, the author writes explicitly to a specific audience.
  • Author or writer: The author or writer, also commonly referred to as the rhetor in the context of rhetorical analysis, is the person or the group of persons who authored the text or content.
  • The author’s purpose: The author’s purpose is the author’s reason for communicating to the audience. In other words, the author’s purpose encompasses what the author expects or intends to achieve with the text or content.
  • Alphabetic text includes essays, editorials, articles, speeches, and other written pieces.
  • Imaging includes website and magazine advertisements, TV commercials, and the like.
  • Audio includes speeches, website advertisements, radio or tv commercials, or podcasts.
  • Context: The context of the text or content considers the time, place, and circumstances surrounding the delivery of the text to its audience. With respect to context, it might often also be helpful to analyze the text in a different context to determine its impact on a different audience and in different circumstances.

An author will use claims, supports, and warrants to build the case around their argument, irrespective of whether the argument is logical and clearly defined or needs to be inferred by the audience:

  • Claim: The claim is the main idea or opinion of an argument that the author must prove to the intended audience. In other words, the claim is the fact or facts the author wants to convince the audience of. Claims are usually explicitly stated but can, depending on the specific piece of content or text, be implied from the content. Although these claims could be anything and an argument may be based on a single or several claims, the key is that these claims should be debatable.
  • Support: The supports are used by the author to back up the claims they make in their argument. These supports can include anything from fact-based, objective evidence to subjective emotional appeals and personal experiences used by the author to convince the audience of a specific claim. Either way, the stronger and more reliable the supports, the more likely the audience will be to accept the claim.
  • Warrant: The warrants are the logic and assumptions that connect the supports to the claims. In other words, they’re the assumptions that make the initial claim possible. The warrant is often unstated, and the author assumes that the audience will be able to understand the connection between the claims and supports. In turn, this is based on the author’s assumption that they share a set of values and beliefs with the audience that will make them understand the connection mentioned above. Conversely, if the audience doesn’t share these beliefs and values with the author, the argument will not be that effective.

Appeals are used by authors to convince their audience and, as such, are an integral part of the rhetoric and are often referred to as the rhetorical triangle. As a result, an author may combine all three appeals to convince their audience:

  • Ethos: Ethos represents the authority or credibility of the author. To be successful, the author needs to convince the audience of their authority or credibility through the language and delivery techniques they use. This will, for example, be the case where an author writing on a technical subject positions themselves as an expert or authority by referring to their qualifications or experience.
  • Logos: Logos refers to the reasoned argument the author uses to persuade their audience. In other words, it refers to the reasons or evidence the author proffers in substantiation of their claims and can include facts, statistics, and other forms of evidence. For this reason, logos is also the dominant approach in academic writing where authors present and build up arguments using reasoning and evidence.
  • Pathos: Through pathos, also referred to as the pathetic appeal, the author attempts to evoke the audience’s emotions through the use of, for instance, passionate language, vivid imagery, anger, sympathy, or any other emotional response.

To write a rhetorical analysis, you need to follow the steps below:

With a rhetorical analysis, you don’t choose concepts in advance and apply them to a specific text or piece of content. Rather, you’ll have to analyze the text to identify the separate components and plan and prepare your analysis accordingly.

Here, it might be helpful to use the SOAPSTone technique to identify the components of the work. SOAPSTone is a common acronym in analysis and represents the:

  • Speaker . Here, you’ll identify the author or the narrator delivering the content to the audience.
  • Occasion . With the occasion, you’ll identify when and where the story takes place and what the surrounding context is.
  • Audience . Here, you’ll identify who the audience or intended audience is.
  • Purpose . With the purpose, you’ll need to identify the reason behind the text or what the author wants to achieve with their writing.
  • Subject . You’ll also need to identify the subject matter or topic of the text.
  • Tone . The tone identifies the author’s feelings towards the subject matter or topic.

Apart from gathering the information and analyzing the components mentioned above, you’ll also need to examine the appeals the author uses in writing the text and attempting to persuade the audience of their argument. Moreover, you’ll need to identify elements like word choice, word order, repetition, analogies, and imagery the writer uses to get a reaction from the audience.

Once you’ve gathered the information and examined the appeals and strategies used by the author as mentioned above, you’ll need to answer some questions relating to the information you’ve collected from the text. The answers to these questions will help you determine the reasons for the choices the author made and how well these choices support the overall argument.

Here, some of the questions you’ll ask include:

  • What was the author’s intention?
  • Who was the intended audience?
  • What is the author’s argument?
  • What strategies does the author use to build their argument and why do they use those strategies?
  • What appeals the author uses to convince and persuade the audience?
  • What effect the text has on the audience?

Keep in mind that these are just some of the questions you’ll ask, and depending on the specific text, there might be others.

Once you’ve done your preparation, you can start writing the rhetorical analysis. It will start off with an introduction which is a clear and concise paragraph that shows you understand the purpose of the text and gives more information about the author and the relevance of the text.

The introduction also summarizes the text and the main ideas you’ll discuss in your analysis. Most importantly, however, is your thesis statement . This statement should be one sentence at the end of the introduction that summarizes your argument and tempts your audience to read on and find out more about it.

After your introduction, you can proceed with the body of your analysis. Here, you’ll write at least three paragraphs that explain the strategies and techniques used by the author to convince and persuade the audience, the reasons why the writer used this approach, and why it’s either successful or unsuccessful.

You can structure the body of your analysis in several ways. For example, you can deal with every strategy the author uses in a new paragraph, but you can also structure the body around the specific appeals the author used or chronologically.

No matter how you structure the body and your paragraphs, it’s important to remember that you support each one of your arguments with facts, data, examples, or quotes and that, at the end of every paragraph, you tie the topic back to your original thesis.

Finally, you’ll write the conclusion of your rhetorical analysis. Here, you’ll repeat your thesis statement and summarize the points you’ve made in the body of your analysis. Ultimately, the goal of the conclusion is to pull the points of your analysis together so you should be careful to not raise any new issues in your conclusion.

After you’ve finished your conclusion, you’ll end your analysis with a powerful concluding statement of why your argument matters and an invitation to conduct more research if needed.

A rhetorical analysis aims to explore the goals and motivations of an author, the techniques they’ve used to reach their audience, and how successful these techniques were. Although rhetorical analysis is most used by academics as part of scholarly work, it can be used to analyze any text including speeches, novels, television shows or films, advertisements, or cartoons.

The steps to write a rhetorical analysis include:

Your rhetorical analysis introduction is a clear and concise paragraph that shows you understand the purpose of the text and gives more information about the author and the relevance of the text. The introduction also summarizes the text and the main ideas you’ll discuss in your analysis.

Ethos represents the authority or credibility of the author. To be successful, the author needs to convince the audience of their authority or credibility through the language and delivery techniques they use. This will, for example, be the case where an author writing on a technical subject positions themselves as an expert or authority by referring to their qualifications or experience.

Appeals are used by authors to convince their audience and, as such, are an integral part of the rhetoric and are often referred to as the rhetorical triangle. The 3 types of appeals are ethos, logos, and pathos.

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How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

3-minute read

  • 22nd August 2023

A rhetorical analysis essay is a type of academic writing that analyzes how authors use language, persuasion techniques , and other rhetorical strategies to communicate with their audience. In this post, we’ll review how to write a rhetorical analysis essay, including:

  • Understanding the assignment guidelines
  • Introducing your essay topic
  • Examining the rhetorical strategies
  • Summarizing your main points

Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to rhetorical analysis.

What Is a Rhetorical Strategy?

A rhetorical strategy is a deliberate approach or technique a writer uses to convey a message and/or persuade the audience. A rhetorical strategy typically involves using language, sentence structure, and tone/style to influence the audience to think a certain way or understand a specific point of view. Rhetorical strategies are especially common in advertisements, speeches, and political writing, but you can also find them in many other types of literature.

1.   Understanding the Assignment Guidelines

Before you begin your rhetorical analysis essay, make sure you understand the assignment and guidelines. Typically, when writing a rhetorical analysis, you should approach the text objectively, focusing on the techniques the author uses rather than expressing your own opinions about the topic or summarizing the content. Thus, it’s essential to discuss the rhetorical methods used and then back up your analysis with evidence and quotations from the text.

2.   Introducing Your Essay Topic

Introduce your essay by providing some context about the text you’re analyzing. Give a brief overview of the author, intended audience, and purpose of the writing. You should also clearly state your thesis , which is your main point or argument about how and why the author uses rhetorical strategies. Try to avoid going into detail on any points or diving into specific examples – the introduction should be concise, and you’ll be providing a much more in-depth analysis later in the text.

3.   Examining the Rhetorical Strategies

In the body paragraphs, analyze the rhetorical strategies the author uses. Here are some common rhetorical strategies to include in your discussion:

●  Ethos : Establishing trust between the writer and the audience by appealing to credibility and ethics

●  Pathos : Appealing to the audience’s emotions and values

●  Logos : Employing logic, reason, and evidence to appeal to the reader

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●  Diction : Deliberately choosing specific language and vocabulary

●  Syntax : Structuring and arranging sentences in certain ways

●  Tone : Conveying attitude or mood in certain ways

●  Literary Devices : Using metaphors, similes, analogies , repetition, etc.

Keep in mind that for a rhetorical analysis essay, you’re not usually required to find examples of all of the above rhetorical strategies. But for each one you do analyze, consider how it contributes to the author’s purpose, how it influences the audience, and what emotions or thoughts it could evoke in the reader.

4.   Summarizing Your Main Points

In your conclusion , sum up the main points of your analysis and restate your thesis. Without introducing any new points (such as topics or ideas you haven’t already covered in the main body of your essay), summarize the overall impact that the author’s rhetorical strategies likely had on their intended audience.

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Rhetorical Analysis

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Almost every text makes an argument. Rhetorical analysis is the process of evaluating elements of a text and determining how those elements impact the success or failure of that argument. Often rhetorical analyses address written arguments, but visual, oral, or other kinds of “texts” can also be analyzed. 

Rhetorical Features—What to Analyze

Asking the right questions about how a text is constructed will help you determine the focus of your rhetorical analysis. A good rhetorical analysis does not try to address every element of a text; discuss just those aspects with the greatest [positive or negative] impact on the text’s effectiveness. 

The Rhetorical Situation

Remember that no text exists in a vacuum. The rhetorical situation of a text refers to the context in which it is written and read, the audience to whom it is directed, and the purpose of the writer. 

The Rhetorical Appeals

A writer makes many strategic decisions when attempting to persuade an audience. Considering the following rhetorical appeals will help you understand some of these strategies and their effect on an argument. Generally, writers should incorporate a variety of different rhetorical appeals rather than relying on only one kind. 

Ethos (appeal to the writer’s credibility)

  • What is the writer’s purpose (to argue, explain, teach, defend, call to action, etc.)?
  • Do you trust the writer? Why?
  • Is the writer an authority on the subject? What credentials does the writer have?
  • Does the writer address other viewpoints?
  • How does the writer’s word choice or tone affect how you view the writer?

Pathos (appeal to emotion or to an audience’s values or beliefs)

  • Who is the target audience for the argument?
  • How is the writer trying to make the audience feel (i.e., sad, happy, angry, guilty)?
  • Is the writer making any assumptions about the background, knowledge, values, etc. of the audience?

Logos (appeal to logic)

  • Is the writer’s evidence relevant to the purpose of the argument? Is the evidence current (if applicable)? Does the writer use a variety of sources to support the argument?
  • What kind of evidence is used (i.e., expert testimony, statistics, proven facts)?
  • Do the writer’s points build logically upon each other?
  • Where in the text is the main argument stated? How does that placement affect the success of the argument?
  • Does the writer’s thesis make that purpose clear?

Kairos (appeal to timeliness)

  • When was the argument originally presented?
  • Where was the argument originally presented?
  • What circumstances may have motivated the argument?
  • Does the particular time or situation in which this text is written make it more compelling or persuasive?
  • What would an audience at this particular time understand about this argument?

Writing a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

No matter the kind of text you are analyzing, remember that the text’s subject matter is never the focus of a rhetorical analysis. The most common error writers make when writing rhetorical analyses is to address the topic or opinion expressed by an author instead of focusing on how that author constructs an argument.

You must read and study a text critically in order to distinguish its rhetorical elements and strategies from its content or message. By identifying and understanding how audiences are persuaded, you become more proficient at constructing your own arguments and in resisting faulty arguments made by others.

A thesis for a rhetorical analysis does not address the content of the writer’s argument. Instead, the thesis should be a statement about specific rhetorical strategies the writer uses and whether or not they make a convincing argument.

Incorrect: Smith’s editorial promotes the establishment of more green space in the Atlanta area through the planting of more trees along major roads.

This statement is summarizing the meaning and purpose of Smith’s writing rather than making an argument about how – and how effectively – Smith presents and defends his position.

Correct: Through the use of vivid description and testimony from affected citizens, Smith makes a powerful argument for establishing more green space in the Atlanta area.

Correct: Although Smith’s editorial includes vivid descriptions of the destruction of green space in the Atlanta area, his argument will not convince his readers because his claim is not backed up with factual evidence.

These statements are both focused on how Smith argues, and both make a claim about the effectiveness of his argument that can be defended throughout the paper with examples from Smith’s text.

Introduction

The introduction should name the author and the title of the work you are analyzing. Providing any relevant background information about the text and state your thesis (see above). Resist the urge to delve into the topic of the text and stay focused on the rhetorical strategies being used.

Summary of argument

Include a short summary of the argument you are analyzing so readers not familiar with the text can understand your claims and have context for the examples you provide.

The body of your essay discusses and evaluates the rhetorical strategies (elements of the rhetorical situation and rhetorical appeals – see above) that make the argument effective or not. Be certain to provide specific examples from the text for each strategy you discuss and focus on those strategies that are most important to the text you are analyzing. Your essay should follow a logical organization plan that your reader can easily follow.

Go beyond restating your thesis; comment on the effect or significance of the entire essay. Make a statement about how important rhetorical strategies are in determining the effectiveness of an argument or text.

Analyzing Visual Arguments

The same rhetorical elements and appeals used to analyze written texts also apply to visual arguments. Additionally, analyzing a visual text requires an understanding of how design elements work together to create certain persuasive effects (or not). Consider how elements such as image selection, color, use of space, graphics, layout, or typeface influence an audience’s reaction to the argument that the visual was designed to convey.

This material was developed by the KSU Writing Center and is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License . All materials created by the KSU Writing Center are free to use and can be adopted, remixed, and shared at will as long as the materials are attributed. Please keep this information on materials you adapt or adopt for attribution purposes. 

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essays to write a rhetorical analysis on

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis: Full Guide

essays to write a rhetorical analysis on

Have you ever been completely fascinated by a speech or ad, wondering how it managed to convince you so effectively? From powerful political speeches to catchy commercials, persuasion is all around us, shaping our thoughts and choices every day.

In this guide, we'll explain all about a rhetorical analysis essay. We'll break down the clever tricks writers and speakers use to win over their audience, like how they choose their words carefully and play with our emotions. This article will give you the tools you need to understand and analyze texts more deeply. So, let’s jump right in and start by understanding the nature of this assignment first.

What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

A rhetorical analysis essay is a type of essay where you examine how authors or speakers use words, phrases, and other techniques to influence or persuade their audience. This type of essay focuses on analyzing the strategies used by the writer or speaker to achieve their purpose, whether it's to inform, persuade, entertain, or provoke.

You'll dissect the text or speech into its components, looking at how each part contributes to the overall message. This might involve examining the introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs, evidence, and conclusion.

Once you've identified the strategies used, you'll assess their effectiveness in achieving the author's or speaker's purpose. This involves considering the intended audience, context, and the impact of the communication.

As per our essay writing service , some common topics for rhetorical analysis include analyzing speeches by influential leaders, dissecting political advertisements, or examining the rhetoric used in literary works.

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Rhetorical Analysis Topic Ideas

Now that we've grasped the essence of a rhetorical analysis essay let's explore some potential topics you might consider for your own analysis. Here are 15 specific ideas to get you started:

  • The Use of Metaphors in Barack Obama's 'Yes We Can' Speech
  • Visual Rhetoric in Dove's 'Real Beauty' Advertising Campaign
  • The Role of Irony in Jonathan Swift's 'A Modest Proposal'
  • The Manipulation of Emotions in Coca-Cola's 'Share a Coke' Campaign
  • The Repetition Technique in Winston Churchill's 'We Shall Fight on the Beaches' Speech
  • The Argument Structure in Michelle Obama's Speech on Education
  • The Use of Imagery in Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Raven'
  • Gender Stereotypes in Old Spice's 'The Man Your Man Could Smell Like' Ad
  • Satirical Elements in George Orwell's 'Animal Farm'
  • The Influence of Tone in Greta Thunberg's Climate Change Speeches
  • Political Symbolism in Banksy's Street Art
  • Humor as Persuasion in Ellen DeGeneres' Stand-Up Comedy
  • The Power of Silence in Emma Watson's UN Speech on Gender Equality
  • Ethical Appeals in ASPCA's Animal Rights Advertisements
  • The Cultural References in Super Bowl Commercials: A Case Study

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

Understanding how to start a rhetorical analysis essay involves dissecting a piece of communication to learn how it works and what effect it aims to achieve. This analytical process typically includes five paragraphs and three main parts: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Below, our analytical essay writing service will explain each in more detail

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

Major Rhetorical Elements

Before heading towards the analysis process, it's essential to grasp some key rhetorical concepts that will help guide your examination of the text or speech. These concepts provide a framework for understanding how authors and speakers use language to persuade and influence their audience.

Ethos, pathos logos in rhetorical analysis form the foundation of persuasive communication and are often intertwined in rhetorical strategies. Ethos refers to the credibility or authority of the speaker or author. Pathos involves appealing to the audience's emotions, while logos appeals to reason and logic.

There are also other rhetorical devices that are specific techniques or patterns of language used to convey meaning or evoke particular responses. Examples include metaphor, simile, imagery, irony, repetition, and hyperbole. Recognizing and analyzing these devices can provide insight into the author's intended message and its impact on the audience.

Tone and mood also play crucial roles in shaping the audience's perception and response to the communication. Tone refers to the author's attitude toward the subject matter, while mood describes the emotional atmosphere created by the text.

Whether you ask us - write my essay , or tackle the task yourself, familiarizing yourself with these concepts will help you analyze the text and persuade the audience more effectively.

Understanding Rhetorical Appeals

Understanding Rhetorical Appeals

First off, what is ethos in rhetorical analysis? Well, it revolves around establishing the credibility and authority of the speaker or author. This appeal seeks to convince the audience that the communicator is trustworthy, knowledgeable, and reliable. Ethos in rhetorical analysis can be built through various means, including:

  • Professional Credentials : Demonstrating expertise in the subject matter through relevant qualifications or experience.
  • Personal Character : Highlighting traits such as honesty, integrity, and sincerity to engender trust and respect.
  • Association : Aligning oneself with respected individuals, institutions, or causes to enhance credibility by association.

For instance, in a health-related speech, a doctor might leverage their medical expertise and professional experience (credentials) to establish ethos. Similarly, a celebrity endorsing a product is using their fame and reputation (association) to persuade consumers.

Now, let's understand what is pathos in rhetorical analysis. Pathos involves appealing to the audience's emotions, aiming to evoke feelings such as empathy, sympathy, joy, anger, or fear. This emotional connection can be a powerful tool for persuasion, as it resonates with the audience on a personal level. Strategies for employing pathos in rhetorical analysis include:

  • Vivid Imagery : Painting a vivid picture or narrative that elicits strong emotional responses from the audience.
  • Anecdotes : Sharing personal stories or anecdotes that evoke empathy or sympathy and make the message more relatable.
  • Language Choice : Using emotive language, sensory details, and rhetorical devices to evoke specific emotional reactions.

For example, in a charity advertisement for children in need, images of impoverished and suffering children coupled with heart-wrenching stories (anecdotes) are used to evoke feelings of compassion and a desire to help.

Lastly, what is logos in rhetorical analysis, you may ask. It appeals to reason and logic, aiming to persuade the audience through rational argumentation and evidence. This appeal relies on facts, statistics, logical reasoning, and sound arguments to convince the audience of the validity of the message. Strategies for employing logos in rhetorical analysis include:

  • Factual Evidence : Providing empirical data, research findings, or expert opinions to support the argument.
  • Logical Reasoning : Presenting a well-structured argument with clear premises and conclusions that logically follow one another.
  • Counterarguments : Addressing potential counterarguments and refuting them with logical reasoning and evidence.

For instance, in a persuasive essay advocating for environmental conservation, the author might present scientific data on climate change (factual evidence) and use logical reasoning to explain the consequences of inaction.

Text and Context

Text analysis involves closely examining the language, structure, and rhetorical devices employed within the communication. This includes identifying key themes, rhetorical appeals, persuasive strategies, and stylistic elements used by the author or speaker to convey their message.

For example, in a political speech advocating for healthcare reform, text analysis might involve identifying the use of rhetorical appeals such as ethos (e.g., highlighting the speaker's experience in healthcare policy), pathos (e.g., sharing anecdotes of individuals struggling with medical costs), and logos (e.g., presenting statistics on healthcare affordability).

Contextual analysis involves considering the broader social, cultural, and historical factors that shape communication and influence its reception. This includes examining the audience demographics, the political and cultural climate, the historical events surrounding the communication, and any relevant societal norms or values.

For instance, when analyzing a historical speech advocating for civil rights, contextual research paper writers might involve considering the social and political context of the time, including prevailing attitudes towards race, ongoing civil rights movements, and recent legislative developments.

Claims, Supports, and Warrants

A claim is a statement or assertion that the author or speaker is advocating for or seeking to prove. Claims can take various forms, including factual claims (assertions of fact), value claims (judgments about what is good or bad), and policy claims (proposals for action). For example, in an argumentative essay about the importance of exercise, the claim might be that regular physical activity is essential for maintaining good health.

Supports are the evidence, reasoning, or examples provided to substantiate and strengthen the claims being made. Supports can take many forms, including empirical data, expert testimony, personal anecdotes, logical reasoning, and analogies. The quality and relevance of the supports provided play a critical role in the persuasiveness of the argument.

Continuing with the example of the argumentative essay about exercise, supports might include scientific studies demonstrating the health benefits of physical activity, testimonials from fitness experts, and personal stories of individuals who have experienced positive changes from incorporating exercise into their routine.

Warrants are the underlying assumptions or principles that connect the supports to the claims. They provide the reasoning or justification for why the supports are relevant and valid evidence for supporting the claims. Warrants are often implicit rather than explicit and require careful analysis to uncover. In the context of the essay on exercise, the warrant connecting the supports to the claim might be the assumption that actions that promote good health are inherently valuable and worthy of pursuit.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

Whether you opt for the option to buy essay or start writing it yourself, it's important to use a clear plan to organize your thoughts well. This plan usually includes four main steps, each looking at different parts of your analysis.

Analyzing the Text

Before writing a rhetorical analysis, take the time to thoroughly analyze the text you'll be examining. This means more than just skimming through it; it requires a thorough understanding of its subtleties and complexities. Here are some questions to guide your analysis:

  • How does the text try to sway its audience? What methods does it use to convince or influence them?
  • Which rhetorical appeals—ethos (credibility), pathos (emotion), logos (logic)—does the author use, and how do they contribute to the overall argument?
  • What specific rhetorical devices and strategies does the author employ to effectively convey their message? Are there any patterns or recurring motifs?
  • How does the structure of the text contribute to its persuasive power or overall impact?
  • Are there any cultural, historical, or contextual factors that influence how the text is perceived or understood?

By scrutinizing the text in this manner, you'll gain a deeper understanding of how it functions and the techniques employed by the author to achieve their desired effect.

Rhetorical Analysis Introduction

The introduction sets the stage for your analysis by providing essential context and framing the discussion. Start by introducing the text you're analyzing, including the author's name and the title of the work. Provide some background information to give context to your analysis. For example, if you're analyzing a speech, mention the occasion or event where it was delivered.

Next, summarize the main arguments or claims made by the author. Highlight the rhetorical techniques they use to persuade their audience. Are they appealing to logic, emotion, credibility, or a combination of these? Use specific examples from the text to illustrate these techniques discussed by our dissertation service .

For instance, if you're analyzing a speech on climate change, mention the speaker's expertise in environmental science to establish credibility. Summarize the key points they make about the consequences of inaction and the urgent need for change.

Finally, conclude your introduction with a clear thesis statement. This statement should encapsulate the main argument or purpose of your analysis.

Rhetorical Analysis Body Paragraph

The body paragraphs form the crux of your analysis, where you delve into the details of the text and dissect its rhetorical strategies. Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of the text, such as the use of ethos, pathos, logos, or specific rhetorical devices.

Utilize Aristotle's rhetorical triangle and other key concepts introduced earlier to guide your analysis. Provide quotations or examples from the text to illustrate your points and explain why the author chose certain approaches. Evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies in achieving the author's goals and persuading the audience.

For instance, if you're discussing the use of pathos in a marketing campaign, analyze the emotional appeal of the imagery or language used and consider how it resonates with the target audience.

Rhetorical Analysis Conclusion

In the conclusion, it's crucial to reinforce your main arguments and evaluate the author's effectiveness in achieving their goals, whether you're writing an MLA or APA essay format . Reflect on the overall impact of the text on both its immediate audience and society at large, underscoring the importance of your analysis.

Resist the temptation to introduce new ideas in the conclusion. Instead, draw upon the points you've already explored in the body of your essay to strengthen your analysis. Conclude with a poignant statement that resonates with your readers, encapsulating the essence of your interpretation and leaving a lasting impression. This final remark should tie together the threads of your analysis, leaving the reader with a deeper understanding of the text's rhetorical strategies and significance.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

In this section, you'll discover two essay samples that skillfully demonstrate the application of rhetorical analysis. These examples offer insightful insights into the effective use of rhetorical techniques in writing.

5 Rhetorical Analysis Essay Tips

Here are five focused tips that will help you lay a solid foundation for your examination.

  • Dissect Rhetorical Strategies : Break down the text to identify specific rhetorical devices such as metaphor, simile, or parallelism.
  • Evaluate Tone and Diction : Pay attention to the author's tone and word choice. Analyze how these elements contribute to the overall mood of the text.
  • Probe Ethos, Pathos, Logos : Explore how the author establishes credibility (ethos), evokes emotions (pathos), and employs logic (logos) to sway the audience.
  • Contextualize Historical Significance : Consider the historical, cultural, and social backdrop against which the text was written.
  • Craft a Structured Analysis : Organize your essay with a clear introduction, body paragraphs focusing on specific rhetorical elements, and a conclusion that synthesizes your findings.

Final Words

As we near the end, it's important to analyze carefully whether you're examining a speech, an advertisement, or a story. Pay attention to the smart tactics that influence our thinking. It's all about revealing how we communicate and relate to one another. Ultimately, understanding rhetoric offers a fresh perspective on the world beyond just academic success.

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What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

How to structure a rhetorical analysis essay, how to write a rhetorical analysis essay, related articles.

 How to Write a Policy Analysis Paper Step-by-Step

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Outline, Steps, & Examples

If you are assigned to write a rhetorical analysis essay, you have one significant advantage. You can choose a text from an almost infinite number of resources. The most important thing is that you analyze the statement addressed to an audience. The task of a rhetorical analysis essay is to identify the speaker’s main objectives. However, it is also crucial to work through the rhetorical strategies the speaker uses.

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In this article by Custom-Writing.org experts, you will get to know the SOAPSTone and rhetorical appeals. This is included in our seven-step guide on how to write a rhetorical analysis essay. You’ll find out the essential tips on formatting and formulating the thesis statement. There are also a rhetorical essay outline and examples at the end for your reference!

  • ❓ What Is Rhetorical Analysis?
  • 👣 Writing Steps
  • 👀 Essay Examples

🔗 References

❓ what is a rhetorical analysis essay.

In a rhetorical analysis essay, you have to divide a text into parts and explain whether they work together or not . It is quite different from a usual literary analysis . The task is to find out how successful the speaker is at reaching their objective.

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Main Steps

There are several steps you should follow to hit the highest score for your essay. First, you should work with SOAPSTone and rhetorical appeals. Then, you should proceed with basic tasks, such as writing a thesis statement and outline. When you have these done, it’s time to put it all together into the three main parts of the essay.

To do rhetorical analysis, identify the SOAPSTone of the text & its rhetorical appeals, make a thesis & an outline, then write your essay.

Step #1: Identify the SOAPSTone of the Text

SOAPSTone is a very handy tool to help you understand the text you are dealing with. The following questions allow you to gather all the information you will need for future analysis.

SOAPSTone: S - Speaker, O - Occation, A - Audience, P - Purpose, S - Subject.

Step #2: Identify Rhetorical Appeals Used in the Text

Rhetorical appeals are also known as “modes of persuasion” and include ethos, pathos, and logos. They can be understood as tools for making others believe a particular point of view. Some of the most potent examples can be found in advertisements.

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Ethos is related to the speaker’s credibility. Mentioning some impressive qualifications or years of practice reassures the reader of the speaker’s reliability and trustworthiness. It helps to persuade the audience.

For example, a doctor might write an article about the surgery success rate after 30 years of practicing in the field. Demonstrating one’s expertise like this is an excellent example of ethos.

Pathos is all about emotions. Evoking deep feelings in the listeners is a powerful tool, which helps the speaker convince them. The range of emotions varies from love, admiration, and sympathy to anger and hate. Whenever the response from the audience aligns with what the speaker is expecting, it is a win. Usually, it is achieved by using provocative language.

For instance, a mayoral candidate shouts out into the crowd that hundreds of people could lose their jobs if they don’t do something. The speaker aims to make the audience feel resentful of the current situation and sympathetic to a new plan. This way, they are more likely to vote for this candidate since they feel passionate about the promises.

Emotions are not always enough to convince someone to follow you, are they? Therefore, the last crucial mode is logos. Logos is responsible for logic. Appealing to reason is mostly used in an academic environment , but it’s not uncommon in other fields. The speaker could use reliable data , facts, and evidence to convince the audience.

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Using numbers is always a good idea. For example, during the presentation, the speaker can include some graphs and percentages: “Last year, we finished 23% of projects ahead of schedule, saving over two million dollars for our customers.”

Step #3: Formulate Your Thesis Statement

Remember that your thesis statement is considered to be the front page of your paper. When successfully composed, it points out the main idea of your essay. Therefore, it has to be as clear and specific as possible.

You want to include everything you found out about the chosen text in this single sentence. If you didn’t skip the first two steps, it shouldn’t be a problem! A decent thesis statement would look like this:

“In her article, the writer mentions her expertise and up-to-date statistics, and appeals to the readers’ pity to convince them of the necessity of regular yearly check-ups for disease prevention.”

Don’t worry if you still can’t come up with anything decent. try using a rhetorical analysis thesis generator that will give you some ideas of what direction you should take in your writing.

Step #4: Create Your Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

Even though keeping your essay organized is not your most important task, it is undoubtedly helpful! If you don’t want to forget anything and save yourself quite a lot of time, follow our advice and write an outline . This can be especially helpful if you mostly use visual memory.

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Introduction, main body, and conclusion create the basic layout of any essay. The main body of the paper includes at least three paragraphs. The rhetorical analysis essay outline also fits this rule.

Carefully go through all the notes you’ve made and mark the main points you want to include in your essay. Think about the evidence you have to support them. Along with the thesis statement, write it all down in a format of a list. When you are done with it, you may use it as a cheat sheet during the next steps of the writing process.

Now, you’re all set up and ready to begin writing your essay!

Step #5: Write Your Rhetorical Analysis Essay Introduction

There are several things you need to consider when writing an introduction:

  • If it’s not your school assignment, let the reader know that it’s a rhetorical analysis.
  • Come up with a hook to interest the reader.
  • Don’t forget to mention the text or speech you’re analyzing. You can also drop a few facts about it.
  • Think of the SOAPSTone details that matter and include them here as well. You don’t have to mention all of the parts, just the ones that make sense to you.
  • At the end of the introduction, write your thesis statement . It brings more clarity to this part of the essay.

Step #6: Write Your Body Paragraphs

As usual, this is where you put all your findings and support them with some facts. Don’t forget that there should be at least three body paragraphs . Since it fits the number of rhetorical appeals, you can go ahead and write about ethos, pathos, and logos. Another way of organizing the paragraphs is to present the text’s details chronologically, meaning from beginning to end. In this case, whatever text or speech you chose, it was probably well-prepared, so it helps your analysis look coherent.

It doesn’t matter which option you prefer, but make sure you provide enough support for your arguments . The most effective way to make it work is to use quotes. Also, stick to using the third-person so that you don’t break the rules of academic writing.

You can see how your main points can be organized most effectively in the rhetorical analysis essay sample at the end of the article.

Step #7: Write Your Rhetorical Analysis Essay Conclusion

The purpose of the conclusion is to sum up the most important findings of your analysis . You need to include your thesis statement here as well, but not word-for-word. Aim to paraphrase it and make it seem more sophisticated. This can be achieved by using new terminology. Maybe there is something the readers now understand from your essay that they couldn’t have before.

Then, in the form of a summary, briefly mention the main ideas that support your thesis. You don’t have to be a professional summary typer , just get your idea across in a concise manner. You might add a few words about the importance of your analysis as well. If you think that this issue is worth further research, write that down too.

👀 Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Examples

Below you’ll find an essay aiming to analyze On Women’s Right to Vote by Susan B. Anthony – a speech regarded as one of the best in American history. In this rhetorical analysis essay example, you can see how to put everything together by following the seven-step guide above. Here, the main body is divided into three paragraphs presenting one rhetorical appeal each.

Here are some other essay examples for you to check out.

  • Obama Speech: Rhetorical Analysis and Evaluation
  • “Get Out” Movie’s Rhetorical Analysis
  • Susan B. Anthony’s Speech: Rhetorical Analysis
  • Rhetorical Analysis of John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address
  • Steve Jobs’ Commencement: Rhetorical Analysis
  • Blogs on Euthanasia: Rhetorical Analysis
  • Rhetorical Writing Analysis of Jenna Berko’s Essay

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Topics

  • A rhetorical analysis of one of Hallmark’s commercials .
  • Steve Jobs’ speech at Stanford University in 2005: rhetorical analysis.
  • The use of rhetorical devices in Gary Shteyngart’s Only Disconnect .
  • Rhetorical strategies used in horror film Us by Jordan Peele.
  • Analyze Hamlet’s monologues in W. Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark .
  • Discuss how Martin Luther King Jr. uses rhetorical appeals in his Letter from Birmingham Jail .
  • Describe the rhetorical devices used in Greta Thunberg’s speech .
  • The common rhetorical aspects used in articles of Carolyn Gregoire and Sophie Reeves .
  • Examine the rhetoric in Brooks’ Reading Too Much Political News Is Bad for Your Well-Being .
  • Analyse the persuasive devices in Google Analytics App .
  • Study the application of rhetorical strategies in Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence by Martin Luther King, Jr .
  • Compare the lyrics rhetoric in The Times They Are A-Changing and The Wind of Change .
  • Rhetorical analysis for applying critical thinking .
  • Describe the rhetorical devices used in Confessions of a Female Chauvinist Sow by Anne Roiphe .
  • Examine the persuasive techniques in the Gillette commercial We Believe: The Best Men Can Be .
  • Compare the rhetorical schemes of Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and Emily Dickinson’s Success is Counted Sweetest .
  • Rhetorical analysis of Media Control by Noam Chomsky .
  • Analyse the persuasive devices used in political debates The Issue of Women and Race (2019).
  • Rhetorical appeal in Andrew Cadelago’s film Snack Attack .
  • Discuss the rhetorical strategies in Hidden Intellectualism by Gerald Graff .
  • Analyse the persuasive devices used in Angelina Jolie’s speech on female empowerment .
  • Describe the rhetorical appeals applied by Steinbeck in Of Mice and Men to stir up the emotions of the readers.
  • Compare the rhetoric of Margaret Fuller and Fredrick Douglass . .
  • Body by Milk and Moms Demand Action advertising campaigns: rhetorical analysis.
  • Describe the use of three appeals in Coors Light Beer ad .
  • Discuss the persuasive tactics in the 1950s advertising with Marilyn Monroe .
  • Analyze the rhetorical strategies in Aveeno advertisement .
  • Examine the efficiency of persuasive devices in the Stop Bullying public campaign .
  • The instruments used to persuade the audience in Anti-Drug Abuse public campaign .
  • Explore the rhetorical appeals in Julius Caesar by W. Shakespeare .
  • Analyze the persuasive strategies of FIFA franchise .
  • Rhetoric of The American Scholar by Ralph Waldo Emerson.
  • Describe the rhetorical devices that made Pericles’ Funeral Oration one of the world’s most influential speeches.
  • Persuasive techniques in American Crisis by Thomas Paine .
  • Analyze the rhetorical strategies used by Linda Hogan in Dwellings .
  • Explore the modes of persuasion in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas .
  • The Myth of the Charioteer : rhetorical analysis.
  • Discuss the rhetorical appeals of Pop Can: Popular Culture in Canada .
  • The three appeals in Claire Giordano’s Virtual Promise .
  • Rhetorical devices in the film Henry V (1944) directed by Laurence Olivier.
  • Describe the rhetoric technique used by Michelle Obama in her TED speech .
  • Analyze the persuasive tactics in James Q. Wilson’s Just Take Away Their Guns .
  • Compare the rhetorical strategies in Moore’s Idiot Nation and Gatto’s Against School .
  • What in the world is a rhetorical analysis? – NC State University
  • Rhetorical Analysis – Stanford University
  • Rhetorical Strategies // Purdue Writing Lab
  • Rhetorical Analysis – Writers Workshop (Illinois)
  • Rhetorical Analysis – SAGE Research Methods
  • Rhetorical Analysis | Department of English | University of Washington
  • Doing a Rhetorical Analysis of a Text (CSU)
  • Aristotle’s Rhetorical Situation // Purdue Writing Lab
  • Ethos, logos, pathos: Strategies of persuasion in social/environmental reports
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How to Write the AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay (With Example)

November 27, 2023

how to write AP Lang rhetorical analysis essay example

Feeling intimidated by the AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay? We’re here to help demystify. Whether you’re cramming for the AP Lang exam right now or planning to take the test down the road, we’ve got crucial rubric information, helpful tips, and an essay example to prepare you for the big day. This post will cover 1) What is the AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay? 2) AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Rubric 3) AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis: Sample Prompt 4) AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example 5)AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example: Why It Works

What is the AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

The AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay is one of three essays included in the written portion of the AP English Exam. The full AP English Exam is 3 hours and 15 minutes long, with the first 60 minutes dedicated to multiple-choice questions. Once you complete the multiple-choice section, you move on to three equally weighted essays that ask you to synthesize, analyze, and interpret texts and develop well-reasoned arguments. The three essays include:

Synthesis essay: You’ll review various pieces of evidence and then write an essay that synthesizes (aka combines and interprets) the evidence and presents a clear argument. Read our write up on How to Write the AP Lang Synthesis Essay here.

Argumentative essay: You’ll take a stance on a specific topic and argue your case.

Rhetorical essay: You’ll read a provided passage, then analyze the author’s rhetorical choices and develop an argument that explains why the author made those rhetorical choices.

AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Rubric

The AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay is graded on just 3 rubric categories: Thesis, Evidence and Commentary, and Sophistication . At a glance, the rubric categories may seem vague, but AP exam graders are actually looking for very particular things in each category. We’ll break it down with dos and don’ts for each rubric category:

Thesis (0-1 point)

There’s nothing nebulous when it comes to grading AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay thesis. You either have one or you don’t. Including a thesis gets you one point closer to a high score and leaving it out means you miss out on one crucial point. So, what makes a thesis that counts?

  • Make sure your thesis argues something about the author’s rhetorical choices. Making an argument means taking a risk and offering your own interpretation of the provided text. This is an argument that someone else might disagree with.
  • A good test to see if you have a thesis that makes an argument. In your head, add the phrase “I think that…” to the beginning of your thesis. If what follows doesn’t logically flow after that phrase (aka if what follows isn’t something you and only you think), it’s likely you’re not making an argument.
  • Avoid a thesis that merely restates the prompt.
  • Avoid a thesis that summarizes the text but does not make an argument.

Evidence and Commentary (0-4 points)

This rubric category is graded on a scale of 0-4 where 4 is the highest grade. Per the AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis rubric, to get a 4, you’ll want to:

  • Include lots of specific evidence from the text. There is no set golden number of quotes to include, but you’ll want to make sure you’re incorporating more than a couple pieces of evidence that support your argument about the author’s rhetorical choices.
  • Make sure you include more than one type of evidence, too. Let’s say you’re working on your essay and have gathered examples of alliteration to include as supporting evidence. That’s just one type of rhetorical choice, and it’s hard to make a credible argument if you’re only looking at one type of evidence. To fix that issue, reread the text again looking for patterns in word choice and syntax, meaningful figurative language and imagery, literary devices, and other rhetorical choices, looking for additional types of evidence to support your argument.
  • After you include evidence, offer your own interpretation and explain how this evidence proves the point you make in your thesis.
  • Don’t summarize or speak generally about the author and the text. Everything you write must be backed up with evidence.
  • Don’t let quotes speak for themselves. After every piece of evidence you include, make sure to explain your interpretation. Also, connect the evidence to your overarching argument.

Sophistication (0-1 point)

In this case, sophistication isn’t about how many fancy vocabulary words or how many semicolons you use. According to College Board , one point can be awarded to AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis essays that “demonstrate sophistication of thought and/or a complex understanding of the rhetorical situation” in any of these three ways:

  • Explaining the significance or relevance of the writer’s rhetorical choices.
  • Explaining the purpose or function of the passage’s complexities or tensions.
  • Employing a style that is consistently vivid and persuasive.

Note that you don’t have to achieve all three to earn your sophistication point. A good way to think of this rubric category is to consider it a bonus point that you can earn for going above and beyond in depth of analysis or by writing an especially persuasive, clear, and well-structured essay. In order to earn this point, you’ll need to first do a good job with your thesis, evidence, and commentary.

  • Focus on nailing an argumentative thesis and multiple types of evidence. Getting these fundamentals of your essay right will set you up for achieving depth of analysis.
  • Explain how each piece of evidence connects to your thesis.
  • Spend a minute outlining your essay before you begin to ensure your essay flows in a clear and cohesive way.
  • Steer clear of generalizations about the author or text.
  • Don’t include arguments you can’t prove with evidence from the text.
  • Avoid complex sentences and fancy vocabulary words unless you use them often. Long, clunky sentences with imprecisely used words are hard to follow.

AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis: Sample Prompt

The sample prompt below is published online by College Board and is a real example from the 2021 AP Exam. The prompt provides background context, essay instructions, and the text you need to analyze. For sake of space, we’ve included the text as an image you can click to read. After the prompt, we provide a sample high scoring essay and then explain why this AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis essay example works.

Suggested time—40 minutes.

(This question counts as one-third of the total essay section score.)

On February 27, 2013, while in office, former president Barack Obama delivered the following address dedicating the Rosa Parks statue in the National Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol building. Rosa Parks was an African American civil rights activist who was arrested in 1955 for refusing to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Read the passage carefully. Write an essay that analyzes the rhetorical choices Obama makes to convey his message.

In your response you should do the following:

  • Respond to the prompt with a thesis that analyzes the writer’s rhetorical choices.
  • Select and use evidence to support your line of reasoning.
  • Explain how the evidence supports your line of reasoning.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the rhetorical situation.
  • Use appropriate grammar and punctuation in communicating your argument.

AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

In his speech delivered in 2013 at the dedication of Rosa Park’s statue, President Barack Obama acknowledges everything that Parks’ activism made possible in the United States. Telling the story of Parks’ life and achievements, Obama highlights the fact that Parks was a regular person whose actions accomplished enormous change during the civil rights era. Through the use of diction that portrays Parks as quiet and demure, long lists that emphasize the extent of her impacts, and Biblical references, Obama suggests that all of us are capable of achieving greater good, just as Parks did.

Although it might be a surprising way to start to his dedication, Obama begins his speech by telling us who Parks was not: “Rosa Parks held no elected office. She possessed no fortune” he explains in lines 1-2. Later, when he tells the story of the bus driver who threatened to have Parks arrested when she refused to get off the bus, he explains that Parks “simply replied, ‘You may do that’” (lines 22-23). Right away, he establishes that Parks was a regular person who did not hold a seat of power. Her protest on the bus was not part of a larger plan, it was a simple response. By emphasizing that Parks was not powerful, wealthy, or loud spoken, he implies that Parks’ style of activism is an everyday practice that all of us can aspire to.

AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example (Continued)

Even though Obama portrays Parks as a demure person whose protest came “simply” and naturally, he shows the importance of her activism through long lists of ripple effects. When Parks challenged her arrest, Obama explains, Martin Luther King, Jr. stood with her and “so did thousands of Montgomery, Alabama commuters” (lines 27-28). They began a boycott that included “teachers and laborers, clergy and domestics, through rain and cold and sweltering heat, day after day, week after week, month after month, walking miles if they had to…” (lines 28-31). In this section of the speech, Obama’s sentences grow longer and he uses lists to show that Parks’ small action impacted and inspired many others to fight for change. Further, listing out how many days, weeks, and months the boycott lasted shows how Parks’ single act of protest sparked a much longer push for change.

To further illustrate Parks’ impact, Obama incorporates Biblical references that emphasize the importance of “that single moment on the bus” (lines 57-58). In lines 33-35, Obama explains that Parks and the other protestors are “driven by a solemn determination to affirm their God-given dignity” and he also compares their victory to the fall the “ancient walls of Jericho” (line 43). By of including these Biblical references, Obama suggests that Parks’ action on the bus did more than correct personal or political wrongs; it also corrected moral and spiritual wrongs. Although Parks had no political power or fortune, she was able to restore a moral balance in our world.

Toward the end of the speech, Obama states that change happens “not mainly through the exploits of the famous and the powerful, but through the countless acts of often anonymous courage and kindness” (lines 78-81). Through carefully chosen diction that portrays her as a quiet, regular person and through lists and Biblical references that highlight the huge impacts of her action, Obama illustrates exactly this point. He wants us to see that, just like Parks, the small and meek can change the world for the better.

AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example: Why It Works

We would give the AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis essay above a score of 6 out of 6 because it fully satisfies the essay’s 3 rubric categories: Thesis, Evidence and Commentary, and Sophistication . Let’s break down what this student did:

The thesis of this essay appears in the last line of the first paragraph:

“ Through the use of diction that portrays Parks as quiet and demure, long lists that emphasize the extent of her impacts, and Biblical references, Obama suggests that all of us are capable of achieving greater good, just as Parks did .”

This student’s thesis works because they make a clear argument about Obama’s rhetorical choices. They 1) list the rhetorical choices that will be analyzed in the rest of the essay (the italicized text above) and 2) include an argument someone else might disagree with (the bolded text above).

Evidence and Commentary:

This student includes substantial evidence and commentary. Things they do right, per the AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis rubric:

  • They include lots of specific evidence from the text in the form of quotes.
  • They incorporate 3 different types of evidence (diction, long lists, Biblical references).
  • After including evidence, they offer an interpretation of what the evidence means and explain how the evidence contributes to their overarching argument (aka their thesis).

Sophistication

This essay achieves sophistication according to the AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis essay rubric in a few key ways:

  • This student provides an introduction that flows naturally into the topic their essay will discuss. Before they get to their thesis, they tell us that Obama portrays Parks as a “regular person” setting up their main argument: Obama wants all regular people to aspire to do good in the world just as Rosa Parks did.
  • They organize evidence and commentary in a clear and cohesive way. Each body paragraph focuses on just one type of evidence.
  • They explain how their evidence is significant. In the final sentence of each body paragraph, they draw a connection back to the overarching argument presented in the thesis.
  • All their evidence supports the argument presented in their thesis. There is no extraneous evidence or misleading detail.
  • They consider nuances in the text. Rather than taking the text at face value, they consider what Obama’s rhetorical choices imply and offer their own unique interpretation of those implications.
  • In their final paragraph, they come full circle, reiterate their thesis, and explain what Obama’s rhetorical choices communicate to readers.
  • Their sentences are clear and easy to read. There are no grammar errors or misused words.

AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay—More Resources

Looking for more tips to help your master your AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay? Brush up on 20 Rhetorical Devices High School Students Should Know and read our Tips for Improving Reading Comprehension . If you’re ready to start studying for another part of the AP English Exam, find more expert tips in our How to Write the AP Lang Synthesis blog post.

Considering what other AP classes to take? Read up on the Hardest AP Classes .

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Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Organizing Your Analysis

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This resource covers how to write a rhetorical analysis essay of primarily visual texts with a focus on demonstrating the author’s understanding of the rhetorical situation and design principles.

There is no one perfect way to organize a rhetorical analysis essay. In fact, writers should always be a bit leery of plug-in formulas that offer a perfect essay format. Remember, organization itself is not the enemy, only organization without considering the specific demands of your particular writing task. That said, here are some general tips for plotting out the overall form of your essay.

Introduction

Like any rhetorical analysis essay, an essay analyzing a visual document should quickly set the stage for what you’re doing. Try to cover the following concerns in the initial paragraphs:

  • Make sure to let the reader know you’re performing a rhetorical analysis. Otherwise, they may expect you to take positions or make an evaluative argument that may not be coming.
  • Clearly state what the document under consideration is and possibly give some pertinent background information about its history or development. The intro can be a good place for a quick, narrative summary of the document. The key word here is “quick, for you may be dealing with something large (for example, an entire episode of a cartoon like the Simpsons). Save more in-depth descriptions for your body paragraph analysis.
  • If you’re dealing with a smaller document (like a photograph or an advertisement), and copyright allows, the introduction or first page is a good place to integrate it into your page.
  • Give a basic run down of the rhetorical situation surrounding the document: the author, the audience, the purpose, the context, etc.

Thesis Statements and Focus

Many authors struggle with thesis statements or controlling ideas in regards to rhetorical analysis essays. There may be a temptation to think that merely announcing the text as a rhetorical analysis is purpose enough. However, especially depending on your essay’s length, your reader may need a more direct and clear statement of your intentions. Below are a few examples.

1. Clearly narrow the focus of what your essay will cover. Ask yourself if one or two design aspects of the document is interesting and complex enough to warrant a full analytical treatment.

The website for Amazon.com provides an excellent example of alignment and proximity to assist its visitors in navigating a potentially large and confusing amount of information.

2. Since visual documents often seek to move people towards a certain action (buying a product, attending an event, expressing a sentiment), an essay may analyze the rhetorical techniques used to accomplish this purpose. The thesis statement should reflect this goal.

The call-out flyer for the Purdue Rowing Team uses a mixture of dynamic imagery and tantalizing promises to create interest in potential, new members.

3. Rhetorical analysis can also easily lead to making original arguments. Performing the analysis may lead you to an argument; or vice versa, you may start with an argument and search for proof that supports it.

A close analysis of the female body images in the July 2007 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine reveals contradictions between the articles’ calls for self-esteem and the advertisements’ unrealistic, beauty demands.

These are merely suggestions. The best measure for what your focus and thesis statement should be the document itself and the demands of your writing situation. Remember that the main thrust of your thesis statement should be on how the document creates meaning and accomplishes its purposes. The OWl has additional information on writing thesis statements.

Analysis Order (Body Paragraphs)

Depending on the genre and size of the document under analysis, there are a number of logical ways to organize your body paragraphs. Below are a few possible options. Which ever you choose, the goal of your body paragraphs is to present parts of the document, give an extended analysis of how that part functions, and suggest how the part ties into a larger point (your thesis statement or goal).

Chronological

This is the most straight-forward approach, but it can also be effective if done for a reason (as opposed to not being able to think of another way). For example, if you are analyzing a photo essay on the web or in a booklet, a chronological treatment allows you to present your insights in the same order that a viewer of the document experiences those images. It is likely that the images have been put in that order and juxtaposed for a reason, so this line of analysis can be easily integrated into the essay.

Be careful using chronological ordering when dealing with a document that contains a narrative (i.e. a television show or music video). Focusing on the chronological could easily lead you to plot summary which is not the point of a rhetorical analysis.

A spatial ordering covers the parts of a document in the order the eye is likely to scan them. This is different than chronological order, for that is dictated by pages or screens where spatial order concerns order amongst a single page or plane. There are no unwavering guidelines for this, but you can use the following general guidelines.

  • Left to right and top to down is still the normal reading and scanning pattern for English-speaking countries.
  • The eye will naturally look for centers. This may be the technical center of the page or the center of the largest item on the page.
  • Lines are often used to provide directions and paths for the eye to follow.
  • Research has shown that on web pages, the eye tends to linger in the top left quadrant before moving left to right. Only after spending a considerable amount of time on the top, visible portion of the page will they then scroll down.

Persuasive Appeals

The classic, rhetorical appeals are logos, pathos, and ethos. These concepts roughly correspond to the logic, emotion, and character of the document’s attempt to persuade. You can find more information on these concepts elsewhere on the OWL. Once you understand these devices, you could potentially order your essay by analyzing the document’s use of logos, ethos, and pathos in different sections.

The conclusion of a rhetorical analysis essay may not operate too differently from the conclusion of any other kind of essay. Still, many writers struggle with what a conclusion should or should not do. You can find tips elsewhere on the OWL on writing conclusions. In short, however, you should restate your main ideas and explain why they are important; restate your thesis; and outline further research or work you believe should be completed to further your efforts.

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Writing a rhetorical analysis essay for academics can be really demanding for students. This type of paper requires high-level analyzing abilities and professional writing skills to be drafted effectively.

As this essay persuades the audience, it is essential to know how to take a strong stance and develop a thesis. 

This article will find some examples that will help you with your rhetorical analysis essay writing effortlessly. 

Arrow Down

  • 1. Good Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example
  • 2. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example AP Lang 2023
  • 3. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Examples for Students 
  • 4. Writing a Visual Rhetorical Analysis Essay with Example 
  • 5. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Writing Tips

Good Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

The step-by-step writing process of a rhetorical analysis essay is far more complicated than ordinary academic essays. This essay type critically analyzes the rhetorical means used to persuade the audience and their efficiency. 

The example provided below is the best rhetorical analysis essay example:

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Sample

In this essay type, the author uses rhetorical approaches such as ethos, pathos, and logos .  These approaches are then studied and analyzed deeply by the essay writers to weigh their effectiveness in delivering the message.

Let’s take a look at the following example to get a better idea;

The outline and structure of a rhetorical analysis essay are important. 

According to the essay outline, the essay is divided into three sections: 

  • Introduction
  • Ethos 
  • Logos 

A rhetorical analysis essay outline is the same as the traditional one. The different parts of the rhetorical analysis essay are written in the following way:

Rhetorical Analysis Introduction Example

The introductory paragraph of a rhetorical analysis essay is written for the following purpose:

  • To provide basic background information about the chosen author and the text.
  • Identify the target audience of the essay. 

An introduction for a rhetorical essay is drafted by:

  • Stating an opening sentence known as the hook statement. This catchy sentence is prepared to grab the audience’s attention to the paper. 
  • After the opening sentence, the background information of the author and the original text are provided. 

For example, a rhetorical analysis essay written by Lee Jennings on“The Right Stuff” by David Suzuki. Lee started the essay by providing the introduction in the following way:

Analysis of the Example: 

  • Suzuki stresses the importance of high school education. He prepares his readers for a proposal to make that education as valuable as possible.
  • A rhetorical analysis can show how successful Suzuki was in using logos, pathos, and ethos. He had a strong ethos because of his reputation. 
  • He also used pathos to appeal to parents and educators. However, his use of logos could have been more successful.
  • Here Jennings stated the background information about the text and highlighted the rhetorical techniques used and their effectiveness. 

Thesis Statement Example for Rhetorical Analysis Essay 

A thesis statement of a rhetorical analysis essay is the writer’s stance on the original text. It is the argument that a writer holds and proves it using the evidence from the original text. 

A thesis statement for a rhetorical essay is written by analyzing the following elements of the original text:

  • Diction - It refers to the author’s choice of words and the tone
  • Imagery - The visual descriptive language that the author used in the content. 
  • Simile - The comparison of things and ideas

In Jennings's analysis of “The Right Stuff,” the thesis statement was:

Example For Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement

Rhetorical Analysis Body Paragraph Example 

In the body paragraphs of your rhetorical analysis essay, you dissect the author's work, analyze their use of rhetorical techniques, and provide evidence to support your analysis. 

Let's look at an example that analyzes the use of ethos in David Suzuki's essay:

Rhetorical Analysis Conclusion Example

All the body paragraphs lead the audience towards the conclusion.

For example, the conclusion of “The Right Stuff” is written in the following way by Jennings:

In the conclusion section, Jennings summarized the major points and restated the thesis statement to prove them. 

Rhetorical Essay Example For The Right Stuff by David Suzuki

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example AP Lang 2023

Writing a rhetorical analysis for the AP Language and Composition course can be challenging. So drafting it correctly is important to earn good grades. 

To make your essay effective and winning, follow the tips provided by professionals below:

Step #1: Understand the Prompt

Understanding the prompt is the first thing to produce an influential rhetorical paper. It is mandatory for this academic writing to read and understand the prompt to know what the task demands from you. 

Step #2: Stick to the Format

The content for the rhetorical analysis should be appropriately organized and structured. For this purpose, a proper outline is drafted. 

The rhetorical analysis essay outline divides all the information into different sections, such as the introduction, body, and conclusion.  The introduction should explicitly state the background information and the thesis statement. 

All the body paragraphs should start with a topic sentence to convey a claim to the readers. Provide a thorough analysis of these claims in the paragraph to support your topic sentence. 

Step #3: Use Rhetorical Elements to Form an Argument 

Analyze the following things in the text to form an argument for your essay:

  • Language (tone and words)
  • Organizational structure
  • Rhetorical Appeals ( ethos, pathos, and logos) 

Once you have analyzed the rhetorical appeals and other devices like imagery and diction, you can form a strong thesis statement. The thesis statement will be the foundation on which your essay will be standing. 

AP Language Rhetorical Essay Sample

AP Rhetorical Analysis Essay Template

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example AP Lang

AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Examples for Students 

Here are a few more examples to help the students write a rhetorical analysis essay:

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Ethos, Pathos, Logos

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Outline

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example College

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example APA Format

Compare and Contrast Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Comparative Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

How to Start Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example High School

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example APA Sample

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Of a Song

Florence Kelley Speech Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example MLA

Writing a Visual Rhetorical Analysis Essay with Example 

The visual rhetorical analysis essay determines how pictures and images communicate messages and persuade the audience. 

Usually, visual rhetorical analysis papers are written for advertisements. This is because they use strong images to convince the audience to behave in a certain way. 

To draft a perfect visual rhetorical analysis essay, follow the tips below:

  • Analyze the advertisement deeply and note every minor detail. 
  • Notice objects and colors used in the image to gather every detail.
  • Determine the importance of the colors and objects and analyze why the advertiser chose the particular picture. 
  • See what you feel about the image.
  • Consider the objective of the image. Identify the message that the image is portraying. 
  • Identify the targeted audience and how they respond to the picture. 

An example is provided below to give students a better idea of the concept. 

Simplicity Breeds Clarity Visual Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Writing Tips

Follow the tips provided below to make your rhetorical writing compelling. 

  • Choose an engaging topic for your essay. The rhetorical analysis essay topic should be engaging to grab the reader’s attention.
  • Thoroughly read the original text.
  • Identify the SOAPSTone. From the text, determine the speaker, occasions, audience, purpose, subject, and tone.
  • Develop a thesis statement to state your claim over the text.
  • Draft a rhetorical analysis essay outline.
  • Write an engaging essay introduction by giving a hook statement and background information. At the end of the introductory paragraph, state the thesis statement.
  • The body paragraphs of the rhetorical essay should have a topic sentence. Also, in the paragraph, a thorough analysis should be presented.
  • For writing a satisfactory rhetorical essay conclusion, restate the thesis statement and summarize the main points.
  • Proofread your essay to check for mistakes in the content. Make your edits before submitting the draft.

Following the tips and the essay's correct writing procedure will guarantee success in your academics. 

We have given you plenty of examples of a rhetorical analysis essay. But if you are still struggling to draft a great rhetorical analysis essay, it is suggested to take a professional’s help.

MyPerfectWords.com can assist you with all your academic assignments. The top essay writer service that we provide is reliable. If you are confused about your writing assignments and have difficulty meeting the deadline, get help from the  legal essay writing service .

Hire our  analytical essay writing service  today at the most reasonable prices. 

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay

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How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

Last Updated: January 27, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Megan Morgan, PhD . Megan Morgan is a Graduate Program Academic Advisor in the School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Georgia. She earned her PhD in English from the University of Georgia in 2015. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,376,194 times.

A rhetorical analysis can be written about other texts, television shows, films, collections of artwork, or a variety of other communicative mediums that attempt to make a statement to an intended audience. In order to write a rhetorical analysis, you need to be able to determine how the creator of the original work attempts to make his or her argument. You can also include information about whether or not that argument is successful. To learn more about the right way to write a rhetorical analysis, continue reading.

Gathering Information

Step 1 Identify the SOAPSTone.

  • The speaker refers to the first and last name of the writer. If the writer has any credentials that lend to his or her authority on the matter at hand, you should also briefly consider those. Note that if the narrator is different from the writer, though, it could also refer to the narrator.
  • The occasion mostly refers to the type of text and the context under which the text was written. For instance, there is a big difference between an essay written for a scholarly conference and a letter written to an associate in the field.
  • The audience is who the text was written for. This is related to the occasion, since the occasion can include details about the audience. In the example above, the audience would be a conference of scholars versus an associate in the field.
  • The purpose refers to what the writer wants to accomplish in the text. It usually includes selling a product or point of view.
  • The subject is simply the topic the writer discusses in the text.

Step 2 Examine the appeals.

  • Ethos, or ethical appeals, rely on the writer's credibility and character in the garnering of approval. Mentions of a writer's character or qualifications usually qualify as ethos. For instance, if a family therapist with 20 years of practice writes an article on improving familial relations, mention of that experience would be using ethos. Despite their name, these appeals don't have anything to do with "ethics" as we usually think of them.
  • Logos, or logical appeals, use reason to make an argument. Most academic discourse should make heavy use of logos. A writer who supports an argument with evidence, data, and undeniable facts uses logos.
  • Pathos, or pathetic appeals, seek to evoke emotion in order to gain approval. These emotions can include anything from sympathy and anger to the desire for love. If an article about violent crime provides personal, human details about victims of violent crime, the writer is likely using pathos.

Step 3 Note style details.

  • Analogies and figurative language, including metaphors and similes, demonstrate an idea through comparison.
  • Repetition of a certain point or idea is used to make that point seem more memorable.
  • Imagery often affects pathos. The image of a starving child in a low income country can be a powerful way of evoking compassion or anger.
  • Diction refers to word choice. Emotionally-charged words have greater impact, and rhythmic word patterns can establish a theme more effectively.
  • Tone essentially means mood or attitude. A sarcastic essay is vastly different from a scientific one, but depending on the situation, either tone could be effective.
  • Addressing the opposition demonstrates that the writer is not afraid of the opposing viewpoint. It also allows the writer to strengthen his or her own argument by cutting down the opposing one. This is especially powerful when the author contrasts a strong viewpoint he or she holds with a weak viewpoint on the opposing side.

Step 4 Form an analysis.

  • Ask yourself how the rhetorical strategies of appeals and style help the author achieve his or her purpose. Determine if any of these strategies fail and hurt the author instead of helping.
  • Speculate on why the author may have chosen those rhetorical strategies for that audience and that occasion. Determine if the choice of strategies may have differed for a different audience or occasion.
  • Remember that in a rhetorical analysis, you do not need to agree with the argument being presented. Your task is to analyze how well the author uses the appeals to present her or his argument.

Writing the Introduction

Step 1 Identify your own purpose.

  • By letting the reader know that your paper is a rhetorical analysis, you let him or her know exactly what to expect. If you do not let the reader know this information beforehand, he or she may expect to read an evaluative argument instead.
  • Do not simply state, "This paper is a rhetorical analysis." Weave the information into the introduction as naturally as possible.
  • Note that this may not be necessary if you are writing a rhetorical analysis for an assignment that specifically calls for a rhetorical analysis.

Step 2 State the text being analyzed.

  • The introduction is a good place to give a quick summary of the document. Keep it quick, though. Save the majority of the details for your body paragraphs, since most of the details will be used in defending your analysis.

Step 3 Briefly mention the SOAPS.

  • You do not necessarily need to mention these details in this order. Include the details in a matter that makes sense and flows naturally within your introductory paragraph.

Step 4 Specify a thesis statement.

  • Try stating which rhetorical techniques the writer uses in order to move people toward his or her desired purpose. Analyze how well these techniques accomplish this goal.
  • Consider narrowing the focus of your essay. Choose one or two design aspects that are complex enough to spend an entire essay analyzing.
  • Think about making an original argument. If your analysis leads you to make a certain argument about the text, focus your thesis and essay around that argument and provide support for it throughout the body of your paper.
  • Try to focus on using words such as "effective" or "ineffective" when composing your thesis, rather than "good" or "bad." You want to avoid seeming like you are passing value judgments.

Writing the Body

Step 1 Organize your body paragraphs by rhetorical appeals.

  • The order of logos, ethos, and pathos is not necessarily set in stone. If you intend to focus on one more than the other two, you could briefly cover the two lesser appeals in the first two sections before elaborating on the third in greater detail toward the middle and end of the paper.
  • For logos, identify at least one major claim and evaluate the document's use of objective evidence.
  • For ethos, analyze how the writer or speaker uses his or her status as an "expert" to enhance credibility.
  • For pathos, analyze any details that alter the way that the viewer or reader may feel about the subject at hand. Also analyze any imagery used to appeal to aesthetic senses, and determine how effective these elements are.
  • Wrap things up by discussing the consequences and overall impact of these three appeals.

Step 2 Write your analysis in chronological order, instead.

  • Start from the beginning of the document and work your way through to the end. Present details about the document and your analysis of those details in the order the original document presents them in.
  • The writer of the original document likely organized the information carefully and purposefully. By addressing the document in this order, your analysis is more likely to make more coherent sense by the end of your paper.

Step 3 Provide plenty of evidence and support.

  • Evidence often include a great deal of direct quotation and paraphrasing.
  • Point to spots in which the author mentioned his or her credentials to explain ethos. Identify emotional images or words with strong emotional connotations as ways of supporting claims to pathos. Mention specific data and facts used in analysis involving logos.

Step 4 Maintain an objective tone.

  • Avoid use of the first-person words "I" and "we." Stick to the more objective third-person.

Writing the Conclusion

Step 1 Restate your thesis.

  • When restating your thesis, you should be able to quickly analyze how the original author's purpose comes together.
  • When restating your thesis, try to bring more sophistication or depth to it than you had in the beginning. What can the audience now understand about your thesis that they would not have without reading your analysis?

Step 2 Restate your main ideas.

  • Keep this information brief. You spent an entire essay supporting your thesis, so these restatements of your main ideas should only serve as summaries of your support.

Step 3 Specify if further research needs to be done.

  • Indicate what that research must entail and how it would help.
  • Also state why the subject matter is important enough to continue researching and how it has significance to the real world.

Writing Help

essays to write a rhetorical analysis on

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Avoid the use of "In conclusion..." While many writers may be taught to end conclusion paragraphs with this phrase as they first learn to write essays, you should never include this phrase in an essay written at a higher academic level. This phrase and the information that usually follows it is empty information that only serves to clutter up your final paragraph. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Do not introduce any new information in your conclusion. Summarize the important details of the essay. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Do not argue in an analysis. Focus on the "how" they made their point, not if it's good or not. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

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  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/establishing_arguments/rhetorical_strategies.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.tamu.edu/Students/Writing-Speaking-Guides/Alphabetical-List-of-Guides/Academic-Writing/Analysis/Rhetorical-Analysis
  • ↑ https://courses.lumenlearning.com/englishcomp1/chapter/text-an-overview-of-the-rhetorical-modes/
  • ↑ https://schools.stlucie.k12.fl.us/lpa/files/2019/05/AP-Language-Rhetorical-Analysis-Setup-Resource.pdf
  • ↑ https://oer.pressbooks.pub/informedarguments/chapter/rhetorical-modes-of-writing/
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/visual_rhetoric/analyzing_visual_documents/organizing_your_analysis.html
  • ↑ https://www.pfw.edu/offices/learning-support/documents/WriteARhetoricalAnalysis.pdf

About This Article

Megan Morgan, PhD

To write a rhetorical analysis, start by determining what the author of the work you're analyzing is trying to argue. Then, ask yourself if they succeeded in making their argument. Whether you think they did or didn't, include quotes and specific examples in your analysis to back up your opinion. When you're writing your analysis, use the third-person to appear objective as opposed to using "I" or "we." Also, make sure you include the author's name, profession, and purpose for writing the text at the beginning of your analysis to give reader's some context. To learn different ways to structure your rhetorical analysis from our English Ph.D. co-author, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Satellite photo showing a container ship entangled with the wreckage of a bridge.

Baltimore bridge collapse: a bridge engineer explains what happened, and what needs to change

essays to write a rhetorical analysis on

Associate Professor, Civil Engineering, Monash University

Disclosure statement

Colin Caprani receives funding from the Department of Transport (Victoria) and the Level Crossing Removal Project. He is also Chair of the Confidential Reporting Scheme for Safer Structures - Australasia, Chair of the Australian Regional Group of the Institution of Structural Engineers, and Australian National Delegate for the International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering.

Monash University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation AU.

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When the container ship MV Dali, 300 metres long and massing around 100,000 tonnes, lost power and slammed into one of the support piers of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, the bridge collapsed in moments . Six people are presumed dead, several others injured, and the city and region are expecting a months-long logistical nightmare in the absence of a crucial transport link.

It was a shocking event, not only for the public but for bridge engineers like me. We work very hard to ensure bridges are safe, and overall the probability of being injured or worse in a bridge collapse remains even lower than the chance of being struck by lightning.

However, the images from Baltimore are a reminder that safety can’t be taken for granted. We need to remain vigilant.

So why did this bridge collapse? And, just as importantly, how might we make other bridges more safe against such collapse?

A 20th century bridge meets a 21st century ship

The Francis Scott Key Bridge was built through the mid 1970s and opened in 1977. The main structure over the navigation channel is a “continuous truss bridge” in three sections or spans.

The bridge rests on four supports, two of which sit each side of the navigable waterway. It is these two piers that are critical to protect against ship impacts.

And indeed, there were two layers of protection: a so-called “dolphin” structure made from concrete, and a fender. The dolphins are in the water about 100 metres upstream and downstream of the piers. They are intended to be sacrificed in the event of a wayward ship, absorbing its energy and being deformed in the process but keeping the ship from hitting the bridge itself.

Diagram of a bridge

The fender is the last layer of protection. It is a structure made of timber and reinforced concrete placed around the main piers. Again, it is intended to absorb the energy of any impact.

Fenders are not intended to absorb impacts from very large vessels . And so when the MV Dali, weighing more than 100,000 tonnes, made it past the protective dolphins, it was simply far too massive for the fender to withstand.

Read more: I've captained ships into tight ports like Baltimore, and this is how captains like me work with harbor pilots to avoid deadly collisions

Video recordings show a cloud of dust appearing just before the bridge collapsed, which may well have been the fender disintegrating as it was crushed by the ship.

Once the massive ship had made it past both the dolphin and the fender, the pier – one of the bridge’s four main supports – was simply incapable of resisting the impact. Given the size of the vessel and its likely speed of around 8 knots (15 kilometres per hour), the impact force would have been around 20,000 tonnes .

Bridges are getting safer

This was not the first time a ship hit the Francis Scott Bridge. There was another collision in 1980 , damaging a fender badly enough that it had to be replaced.

Around the world, 35 major bridge collapses resulting in fatalities were caused by collisions between 1960 and 2015, according to a 2018 report from the World Association for Waterborne Transport Infrastructure. Collisions between ships and bridges in the 1970s and early 1980s led to a significant improvement in the design rules for protecting bridges from impact.

A greenish book cover with the title Ship Collision With Bridges.

Further impacts in the 1970s and early 1980s instigated significant improvements in the design rules for impact.

The International Association for Bridge and Structural Engineering’s Ship Collision with Bridges guide, published in 1993, and the American Association of State Highway and Transporation Officials’ Guide Specification and Commentary for Vessel Collision Design of Highway Bridges (1991) changed how bridges were designed.

In Australia, the Australian Standard for Bridge Design (published in 2017) requires designers to think about the biggest vessel likely to come along in the next 100 years, and what would happen if it were heading for any bridge pier at full speed. Designers need to consider the result of both head-on collisions and side-on, glancing blows. As a result, many newer bridges protect their piers with entire human-made islands.

Of course, these improvements came too late to influence the design of the Francis Scott Key Bridge itself.

Lessons from disaster

So what are the lessons apparent at this early stage?

First, it’s clear the protection measures in place for this bridge were not enough to handle this ship impact. Today’s cargo ships are much bigger than those of the 1970s, and it seems likely the Francis Scott Key Bridge was not designed with a collision like this in mind.

So one lesson is that we need to consider how the vessels near our bridges are changing. This means we cannot just accept the structure as it was built, but ensure the protection measures around our bridges are evolving alongside the ships around them.

Photo shows US Coast Guard boat sailing towards a container ship entangled in the wreckage of a large bridge.

Second, and more generally, we must remain vigilant in managing our bridges. I’ve written previously about the current level of safety of Australian bridges, but also about how we can do better.

This tragic event only emphasises the need to spend more on maintaining our ageing infrastructure. This is the only way to ensure it remains safe and functional for the demands we put on it today.

  • Engineering
  • Infrastructure
  • Urban infrastructure
  • container ships
  • Baltimore bridge collapse

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

    Revised on July 23, 2023. A rhetorical analysis is a type of essay that looks at a text in terms of rhetoric. This means it is less concerned with what the author is saying than with how they say it: their goals, techniques, and appeals to the audience. A rhetorical analysis is structured similarly to other essays: an introduction presenting ...

  2. 120+ Interesting Rhetorical Analysis Essay Topics (2024)

    Introduction to Rhetorical Analysis Essay Writing. In a rhetorical analysis essay, a writer deeply analyzes a work of literature, art, or film, takes a stance, and thoroughly evaluates the purpose of the original content.. The goal is to ensure effective delivery to the audience. Having said that, a rhetorical analysis essay finds out how effective the message of the original content was.

  3. How to Write a Great Rhetorical Analysis Essay: With Examples

    Name the author of the text and the title of their work followed by the date in parentheses. Use a verb to describe what the author does, e.g. "implies," "asserts," or "claims". Briefly summarize the text in your own words. Mention the persuasive techniques used by the rhetor and its effect.

  4. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay-Examples & Template

    Rhetorical appeal #2: Pathos. The purpose of Pathos-driven rhetoric is to appeal to the reader's emotions. A common example of pathos as a rhetorical means is adverts by charities that try to make you donate money to a "good cause". To evoke the intended emotions in the reader, an author may use passionate language, tell personal stories ...

  5. 70 Rhetorical Analysis Essay Topics

    The Rhetorical Analysis Essay. Moving on, if rhetoric is the art of persuasion, then the rhetorical analysis essay analyzes how an author or speaker creates opportunity for persuasion in his/her text. Writing a rhetorical analysis essay involves understanding of context and occasion for writing. It also involves understanding the subject matter ...

  6. Rhetorical Analysis

    Rhetorical Analysis. Rhetoric is the study of how writers and speakers use words to influence an audience. A rhetorical analysis is an essay that breaks a work of non-fiction into parts and then explains how the parts work together to create a certain effect—whether to persuade, entertain or inform. You can also conduct a rhetorical analysis ...

  7. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis: 6 Steps and an Outline for Your

    5. State your thesis. Now that you've completed your analysis of the material, try to summarize it into one clear, concise thesis statement that will form the foundation of your essay. Your thesis statement should summarize: 1) the argument or purpose of the speaker; 2) the methods the speaker uses; and 3) the effectiveness of those methods ...

  8. How to write a rhetorical analysis [4 steps]

    To write a rhetorical analysis, you need to follow the steps below: Step 1: Plan and prepare. With a rhetorical analysis, you don't choose concepts in advance and apply them to a specific text or piece of content. Rather, you'll have to analyze the text to identify the separate components and plan and prepare your analysis accordingly.

  9. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay in 6 Steps

    Follow this step-by-step guide to write your own effective rhetorical analysis essay. 1. Choose and study a text. Review the work you're analyzing more than once to become as familiar as possible with the author's argument and writing style. Make sure you have read the text thoroughly, and that you fully understand each point that the ...

  10. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

    A rhetorical analysis essay is a type of academic writing that analyzes how authors use language, persuasion techniques, and other rhetorical strategies to communicate with their audience. In this post, we'll review how to write a rhetorical analysis essay, including: Understanding the assignment guidelines; Introducing your essay topic ...

  11. PDF How to Write a RHETORICAL ANALYSIS ESSAY Step 1: Full Comprehension of

    Step 2: MAD TO WRITE! Follow this process to prepare for any timed rhetorical analysis essay. Some of this is redundant, but this portion has more to do with the actual process of writing an essay, whereas the previous questions are part of simply gaining full comprehension of the text. Main ideas - read to determine what points the speaker makes

  12. Rhetorical Analysis

    Almost every text makes an argument. Rhetorical analysis is the process of evaluating elements of a text and determining how those elements impact the success or failure of that argument. Often rhetorical analyses address written arguments, but visual, oral, or other kinds of "texts" can also be analyzed.

  13. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

    Evaluate Tone and Diction: Pay attention to the author's tone and word choice. Analyze how these elements contribute to the overall mood of the text. Probe Ethos, Pathos, Logos: Explore how the author establishes credibility (ethos), evokes emotions (pathos), and employs logic (logos) to sway the audience.

  14. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay Step by Step

    Learn what a rhetorical analysis essay is. Learn how to write a rhetorical analysis essay and get an example of a rhetorical analysis essay outline.

  15. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Outline, Steps, & Examples

    Step #2: Identify Rhetorical Appeals Used in the Text. Rhetorical appeals are also known as "modes of persuasion" and include ethos, pathos, and logos. They can be understood as tools for making others believe a particular point of view. Some of the most potent examples can be found in advertisements. Just in 1 hour!

  16. How to Write the AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay (With Example)

    Her story "The Astronaut" won the 2018 Shirley Jackson Award for short fiction and received a "Distinguished Stories" mention in the 2019 Best American Short Stories anthology. How to write the AP Lang rhetorical analysis essay. We look at a AP lang rhetorical analysis essay example and explore do's and don'ts.

  17. Organizing Your Analysis

    There may be a temptation to think that merely announcing the text as a rhetorical analysis is purpose enough. However, especially depending on your essay's length, your reader may need a more direct and clear statement of your intentions. Below are a few examples. 1. Clearly narrow the focus of what your essay will cover.

  18. PDF A Simplified Guide to Writing a Rhetorical Analysis

    Rhetorical analysis separates a work of non-fiction into manageable parts and then demonstrates how these parts together create a persuasive argument. When writing a rhetorical analysis you are NOT summarizing a text NOR are writing whether you agree with the author or not. A rhetorical analysis is writing about HOW the author makes his/her ...

  19. How To Write a Rhetorical Analysis in 8 Simple Steps

    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. 2.

  20. 20+ Best Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example & Sample Papers

    Step #2: Stick to the Format. The content for the rhetorical analysis should be appropriately organized and structured. For this purpose, a proper outline is drafted. The rhetorical analysis essay outline divides all the information into different sections, such as the introduction, body, and conclusion.

  21. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

    The purpose refers to what the writer wants to accomplish in the text. It usually includes selling a product or point of view. The subject is simply the topic the writer discusses in the text. 2. Examine the appeals. Appeals are the first classification of rhetorical strategy and involve the ethos, logos, and pathos.

  22. PDF Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statements

    A strong thesis statement for a rhetorical analysis is NOT… A simple statement of your topic A broad statement A statement of facts or statistics A summary of the author's essay you are analyzing A statement of what you're going to do in the essay Examples of weak rhetorical analysis thesis statements:

  23. Free Rhetorical Analysis Generator + Guide & Examples

    Our rhetorical analysis creator evaluates all kinds of writing, including essays, articles, advertisements, etc. ⌚ Time-saving. There is no need to spend hours analyzing the rhetorical aspects of a work, as the tool does this in minutes. 🎯 Accurate results.

  24. Baltimore bridge collapse: a bridge engineer explains what happened

    Write an article and join a growing community of more than 181,000 academics and researchers from 4,921 institutions. Register now. Editorial Policies; Community standards;

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    Jan 25, 2020 - how to write a good essay introduction for your assignment. Jan 25, 2020 - how to write a good essay introduction for your assignment. Pinterest. Today. Watch. Shop. Explore. Log in. ... Rhetorical Analysis. Critical Essay. Essay Writing. Essay Topics. Patta. Comments. No comments yet! Add one to start the conversation. More like ...