How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay
A rhetorical analysis essay seeks to critically evaluate the work of an author. It is an analysis of ‘how’ the author writes, not about ‘what’ he writes. Writing a rhetorical analysis essay requires planning and skill. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to write a rhetorical analysis essay:
- Allot Time for Reading, Analyzing, and Writing
The process of writing a rhetorical analysis essay can be broken down into 3 parts – reading, analyzing, and writing.
- The first thing you should keep in mind while starting a rhetorical analysis is to allow a specific time period for reading, analyzing, and writing.
- Proper planning in advance is necessary so that once you get started, you don’t lose track of time.
- Breaking down the process into these parts makes it easier to pay attention to detail and to increase the efficiency of your work.
- Whenever you are about to write a rhetorical analysis, make sure to go in order, read the work carefully, analyze it step by step, and only then begin with the writing part.
- Read the Work Carefully
In order to write a compelling rhetorical analysis, you should be well versed with the work you are going to write about.
- Read the work slowly and precisely. Absorb each sentence minutely and re-read the text if some part is unclear or ambiguous.
- Read between the lines and look for hidden meanings or phrases which might convey what the author actually wanted to explain.
- Do not rush through the whole text; you may miss some significant detail. Give yourself enough time to get a clear idea of what the author has written.
- Analyze the Text and Ask Questions
Once you have carefully read and understood your text, the next step is to dissect and analyze.
- Note down all the points on which you could comment in your rhetorical analysis. Highlight the significant sentences written by the author.
- Ask questions to yourself which will help you to analyze objectively and logically.
- Ask a bunch of questions like – Who is the author? What is writing about? Why is he writing about this particular topic? Who is the target audience? What is the purpose of writing this? Did the author succeed in sending across his message to the audience?
- Identifying the answers to these questions will help you understand the context and motive of the text. This will help you to frame your analysis accordingly.
- Examine the Appeals – Ethos, Pathos, and Logos
Ethos, pathos, and logos are the first set of classification of the rhetorical strategy. Collectively, they are known as appeals.
- Ethos, or ethical appeals, is the strategy the author applies by using his credentials or authority to get across a point. For example, if the author of a text about antidepressants mentions that he has been practicing psychiatry for 20 years, it will lend him credibility and the audience will be more receptive to the text.
- Pathos, or pathetic appeals, is used to elicit an emotional response in the audience. Texts which evoke sentiments like anger, love, compassion use the pathos appeals to draw in the audience.
- Logos, or logical appeals, is the use of logical and rational explanations. Stating facts and empirical evidence makes the text accurate and appeals to the logical side of the audience.
- Identify the Style Details
The second classification of the rhetorical strategy is the style details which include the tone, imagery, diction, and syntax.
- Similes, analogies, and metaphors describe or explain different ideas in the text.
- Repetition emphasizes a particular point or states its importance.
- Imagery can be used to strike a chord with the audience by painting a picture in their heads which would produce strong emotions like joy or sadness.
- The tone implies the style or mood of writing. The tone of a text could be scientific or witty or even sarcastic.
- Diction refers to the choice of words and the range of vocabulary the author has used in his text.
- Start Writing Your Rhetorical Analysis
Once you have successfully dissected the text, you can begin writing your actual rhetorical analysis.
- You should divide your essay into 3 main parts: Introduction, Body, and Conclusion.
- Categorize all of your analysis and in order.
- Ideally, you should write your paragraphs sequentially and chronologically, analyzing the text from the top going downwards eventually.
- Make sure that all your paragraphs come together seamlessly and are coherent.
The introduction of your rhetorical analysis essay must be impactful and captivating. You should hook the audience onto your text and not lose their interest in the beginning.
- The introduction should contain an anecdote, a quote, a fact, or a question that grabs the eyeballs.
- It is essential to mention the text which you are going to analyze, its author, the audience, and the purpose.
- It should be clear from your introduction paragraph that you are writing a rhetorical analysis of a text.
- The introduction should highlight the main ideas of your rhetorical analysis so that the audience has an idea of what to expect.
- Thesis Statement
The thesis statement is an important part of your rhetorical analysis. It will set the tone for the body of your essay.
- The thesis statement is the main theme or argument that you will raise in your essay and your entire essay will be built around that argument.
- The thesis statement should be impactful as it will let the audience know what point you are trying to make.
- The main elements highlighted in the text can be used in the thesis statement to analyze the author’s techniques and prove the effectiveness of his text in achieving the purpose.
Ideally, you should cover the body of your rhetorical analysis essay in 3 paragraphs:
- The body of your rhetorical analysis should explain your thesis statement by discussing the rhetorical strategies applied by the author.
- You can categorize the body based on the appeals – Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. Analyze how and where the author has used which set of appeals and whether it has made his text more persuasive or not.
- Describe the style details and how the author has used their various elements to strengthen his argument. Analyze the tone, diction, imagery, and comment on whether they have been used appropriately or not.
- Mention facts, figures, and evidence to state your point.
The conclusion of your rhetorical analysis essay should be powerful and state your thesis statement in a refined, sophisticated way.
- The conclusion should bring forth all the significant points you have discussed in your rhetorical analysis and combine them to give a final verdict.
- It should summarize your rhetorical analysis in a way that the audience can acknowledge your thesis statement in a new light.
- If there is scope for further research and examination, explain its significance, and mention its scope.
- Check your rhetorical analysis once you have written it to make sure there are no mistakes.
- Practice writing rhetorical analysis with different samples to improve your analytical and writing skills.
- Write your rhetorical analysis in the form of commentary and use third person narrative instead of writing ‘I’ or “we’.