How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Published by at November 1st, 2021 , Revised On January 19, 2022

The word rhetoric means persuasive speaking and writing. The speaker or writer chooses compositional techniques, words, and figures of speech to impress the audience or readers.

Rhetorical analysis definition:

A rhetorical analysis essay is a piece of writing where you pay close attention to the technique and style the writer has adopted to impress the readers. Instead of just focusing on what the writer has said, it focuses on how the writer has said something.

Example:
Political or influential speeches, advertisements to evoke emotions among people.

In simple words, you need to break down the text to identify the writer’s persuasive style and techniques to elicit people’s desired reactions.

These styles and techniques include:

  • context of writing
  • compositional techniques
  • language (literature)

A speaker or writer may use humorous or poetic lines to explain a serious topic.

Example:

Advertisement:

  1. This face wash is a smart people’s choice (It persuades the buyers to purchase the product targeting their emotions)
  2. The caring mothers choose this baby oil (This line is likely to persuade moms challenging them for being caring mothers)

Also read: How to write a literary analysis essay

Rhetoric modes

A speaker or writer can persuade people using the following rhetoric modes

Rhetoric Modes

What does it mean?

  • Compare and contrast

 

Comparing and contrasting two different or same ideas, concepts, people, procedures, or situations.

  • Narration

storytelling

  • Description

describing a person, place, or thing

  • Definition

explaining a word, topic, or idea

  • Argumentation

 

 Arguing about a specific topic with a supporting evidence

  • Illustration

explaining general statements with specific examples

  • Process explanation

stepwise info about how to complete a specific task

  • Cause and effect

examining and explaining the outcomes and reasons behind a situation, process, or incident

Key components of rhetorical analysis of the text

In persuasive writing, writers use various contexts, composition techniques, phrases, and words to persuade them. These strategies enable readers to understand and most likely agree with the author’s perception.

  1. Textual context, composition techniques, and language

Textual context

Context refers to the circumstances location settings during which a speech or a piece of writing is completed. It means a deep meaning surrounds a written or spoken word that the author wants to convey to the audience.

Example:
It could be any quote, example, or literary figure of speech that describes a climate, person, situation, or emotion. heart diseases.”

Composition techniques
It includes the strategies used to persuade the audience by:

  • Choosing a topic for a specific audience
  • Selection of words, phrases, quotes, and language
  • Stressing on and repeating a specific point to grab the audience attention
  • Adapting a persuasive style, mood, and tone to speak or write to make the speech or writing interesting
  • Develop persuasion by aligning the argument logically.

Language
An author can use language in the form of quotes, idioms, and

literary devices like:

  • Metaphors
  • Similes
  • Personification
  • Repetition
  • Alliteration
  • Imagery
  • Rhyming

This type of literary speech triggers the audience’s emotions, a technique often used in creative writing pieces.

You may usually get a prompt or speech delivered by a famous personality in a rhetoric analysis essay. And you will be asked to analyze how the written text works together to persuade the people?

Also read: How long should be an essay?

  1. Important parts of the argument

Whether it is a political or motivational speech or philosophical essay, rhetorical writing uses an argument that convinces the readers. The claims, ground, and warrant are integral parts of a strong argument.

Integral parts of a strong argument What does it mean?
  • Claims 
A claim is a conclusion or a point to persuade viewers or listeners. It is often called a conclusion statement in an argumentative article.
  • Ground 
The ground is known as evidence, data, or fact used to support the claim.
  •  Warrant 
The warrant refers to the reasoning, logic, and explanation that shows how the evidence supports the claim.

Check this article out to learn more about claims, ground, and warrants.

  1. Persuasive writing appeals

Appeals have been the most important technique used by writers since the Aristotle era. The appeals include ethos, logos, and pathos.

  • Ethos
    This appeal lets the readers know how credible and trustworthy the writer is in discussing this topic. It means ethos shows whether the speech conveyed is based on solid evidence, personal experience, expert recommendations, and in-depth knowledge of the topic.

Example:
When your friend suggests you use medicated skincare products to get rid of your acne, you will be sceptical about it as your friend might not be a dermatologist or skincare expert.

Instead, if you see an advertisement recommending a dermatologist/dermatologist’s choice, it builds trust, and you are more likely to buy it.

Why so? Because a professional is recommending it, who knows the product, its usage, effects, and has expertise in that specific field.

  • Pathos 

Pathos refers to the writing style used to target the audience’s emotions like anger, happiness, sorrow, and grief. Pathos is used to convince the audience by creating an emotional bond to agree with the author’s perception.

For example, politicians use many persuasive words and phrases that target the audience’s emotions.

Pathos is usually used in literary writings such as novels, dramas, and poems.

  • Logos

It includes logical arguments based on solid proof and reasoning to demonstrate a certain perception. The author must provide legitimate justifications before presenting an argument to validate the claim and make it more authentic. If an author uses a compelling argument, readers would most definitely be persuaded by a specific perspective.

Also read: Steps of writing an essay

How to analyse the rhetoric text?

Read the given text or speech carefully and start taking notes of the important points. While doing so, you can ask yourself the following questions to summarise the text.

  • Who is the author?
  • Who is the target audience?
  • What’s the purpose of the writer’s speech?
  • What was the writer’s/speaker’s setting while delivering or writing the speech?
  • What’s the role of location and set in impacting the crowd?

If you find out the answers to the above questions, your text analysis process will get simplified in no time.

Also read: Types of essays in academic writing

How to write a rhetorical analysis essay?

Like other essay types, a rhetorical analysis essay outline includes an introduction, body, and conclusion.

Introduction of rhetorical analysis

In the rhetorical analysis introduction, you need to introduce the topic, text, or speech you will discuss in the essay. You will also write about the text’s history and background, followed by summarising the Argument’s main points. You end the introduction with a strong thesis statement.

Body paragraphs

In the rhetorical analysis essay body, you will discuss

  • How has the author developed the persuasion?
  • What strategies and techniques he used?
  • What was the influence of each persuasive style and strategy on the audience?

Remember to devote each paragraph to critically analysing a specific strategy used by the writer.

For example, you can also use specific quotes or literary figures used by the author and craft a paragraph to explain.

Conclusion

In a rhetorical analysis conclusion, you need to summarise the main points of the Argument in a proper sequence.

You can wrap this section by highlighting:

  • What was the purpose of the speech?
  • How has it been delivered or written?
  • What effect does the speech have on the audience?

How do those quotes exemplify the technique used by the writer?

You can try to discuss the answer to the following questions.

  • What’s the purpose of this specific persuasive style or technique?
  • How does it work? How does it work in this particular example?
  • Why has the author chosen that particular style or technique for this type of audience?
  • What effect did it create on the audience?

You can keep one paragraph of your essay’s body or break it down into 2-3 small paragraphs depending on the paragraphs’ length. However, it is a great idea to use short paragraphs to provide a better reading experience.

Do not forget to provide references and in-text citations of the quotes, statements, evidence, and facts you use to support your Argument.

About Ellie Cross

I am Content Manager at this prestigious organization who has been assisting students for a long time. I have been part of Essays UK since its inception and have seen all the ups and downs it has faced in all those years. I manage a growing team of great writers and content marketers who are contributing to a great extent to help students with their academics.