How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Knowing how to write a rhetorical analysis essay entails understanding how an author implements different rhetorical techniques and tools in fulfilling the purpose of creating his or her work as well as how he/she effectively realizes this goal. A rhetorical analysis essay can be defined as an essay in which nonfiction work is broken down into parts after which the writer explains how these parts work together in creating the desired effect. The created effect can be to entertain, inform or persuade.

In most cases, instructors assign rhetorical analysis essays to students in upper high school level or lower level students in college. The goal of the instructors is to teach the students how they should analyze other people’s work. Unlike other essays, rhetorical analysis essays focus on how the author says something rather than what the author says. Therefore, while writing a rhetorical analysis essay your focus should not be on the content of the work under analysis but on the way the author presents the content to the audience. For instance, if you are writing a rhetorical analysis essay on a journal article on abortion, the stance taken by the author regarding the topic is irrelevant. Your focus should be on the way the author present his/her case instead of the case that he/she makes.

How to write a rhetorical analysis essay step by step

  1. Study the work under analysis carefully

Start the process of writing your rhetorical analysis essay by analyzing the work. Your instructor can ask you to write a rhetorical analysis essay on a poem, a speech, text or artifacts among other types of work. Analyze the specified work carefully while providing an explanation for its context in your notes. Start by introducing the author, his/her background and other aspects of his/her personality that you find necessary. Try to relate various aspects of the author such as gender, occupation and age with the work on the basis of your comprehension of the work that you will be referring to in your analysis.

For instance, if the author has criticized something in a sarcastic way, look for more details of sarcasm in the work and whether the author is biased or if he/she has used an overzealous tone. Also find out whether the author is simply trying to make a point using a language that makes the work seem like someone is only imposing his or her thoughts directly on the audience. Also study the work keenly to establish whether the author evokes a personal message.

  1.  Identify the intended or target audience

Once you are done studying the work and identifying its characteristics, identify the target audience. Who was the work created for? Is it for the working class, housewives, single parents, a particular tribe, religion or country? Are you a member of the target group of the audience? Are there places where the author makes the target audience explicit? Does the author depict correct notions regarding the intended audience? What methods and ways have been employed in transmitting these notions to the intended audience? This is a critical step of a guide on how to write a rhetorical analysis essay because answering these questions will partly enable you to determine the effectiveness of the work in accomplishing its goal or purpose.

  1. Gather relevant information from the work

After analyzing the presentation style and identifying the audience, find more information from the work under analysis. For instance, what is the subject or major issue of the topic or what is the author trying to address? What is the author trying to convey or prove by writing or creating his/her work on that particular topic? This information should form the basis of your rhetorical analysis essay.

  1. Identify structures and strategies employed in the work

Find out what structures and strategies the author has used in conveying his/her message to the audience. Identify the examples, details or evidence that the author has presented while conveying the main message. For instance, are all angles considered during presentation or is the work biased? What could be the reasons why the author omitted some angles or included all angles while presenting the issue, topic or matter? Analyze the work carefully to find answers to such questions.

  1. Find out how the author uses the three rhetorical elements

Evaluate the work keenly to find out if the author has employed the rhetorical elements of pathos, ethos and logos. Ethos simply means appeal to ethics, logos means appeal to logic while pathos means appeal to emotions. Find out which elements the author has used in the work in his/her attempts to appeal or convince the audience on an issue, topic or subject.

  1. Identify the goal or purpose of the work

After identifying the appeal method that the author has used in the work, identify the purpose. Find out what the author is trying to accomplish through the work. For instance, is the author trying to entertain the audience, to inspire, to persuade or to inform them? How can you confirm that claim with evidence? Are there specific strategies that the author has used to achieve this goal? Is the author successful in accomplishing this goal or not and why?

  1. Identify the used tone or style

Analyze the work carefully to identify the used tone or style in accomplishing the identified purpose or goal. For instance, an author can use sophisticated language or simple language to express his/her opinions. Special facts or figures can also be referred to in expressing points. Some authors use dialogues, quotes or anecdotes in making claims. Others employ personal narratives and figurative language to make claims.

It is also important that you study the work keenly to establish the tone of the work. Is the author angry, humorous, passionate, sarcastic or bitter? How does the used tone help in accomplishing the goal of the work? Does it have positive or negative impact? Does including strong personal view in the work alienate the reader? Is the used tone a cause of humiliation, resentment or anger among the target audience or does it make them agree with the point of the author with ease. Finally, do all the used techniques have effect on or are they relevant in enhancing the comprehension of the target audience?

  1. Write the introduction

How you write the introduction of a rhetorical analysis essay will tell readers if you know how to write a rhetorical analysis essay. The introduction of your rhetorical analysis essay should provide an overview of the entire essay. In a single paragraph, compose a good introduction that identifies the author or creator of the work under analysis and a brief description of it. Also include a thesis statement, information about the target audience, purpose of the work, occasion, speaker and the subject matter.

  1. Compose the body

The body of your rhetorical analysis essay should have several paragraphs. Have a separate paragraph for every point or appeal that you discuss in your essay. Maintain a chronological order in writing the analysis. Be objective in your writing and provide adequate evidence to support your claims or analysis.

  1. Write the conclusion

Just like the introduction, the conclusion of your rhetorical analysis essay should be a single paragraph. Restate and emphasize your thesis statement in the conclusion. Synthesize the main points that you discussed in the body. If necessary, suggest further research on the work.

Bonus hints and reminders on how to write a rhetorical analysis essay

  • Have a clear thesis statement

A thesis statement should depict your position on the work under analysis in a clear manner. For instance, it can tell readers that you will be analyzing how the author uses certain strategies in accomplishing the goal of the work. It can also tell readers what you will be arguing for or trying to prove in the essay. Your thesis should also give a hint of the strategies that you will use in proving your stance.

  • Analyze and not summarize

Be careful to ensure that you provide an analysis of the given work and not a summery. Come up with a paragraph for each point and include it in the topic sentence. Maintain a unified focus throughout the analysis.

  • Edit your rhetorical analysis essay

Consider how your essay reads or looks to the readers. Remember that you may state something in your essay that you consider clear but readers might find it unclear. Your instructor will be evaluating you on the basis of your comprehension of rhetorical appeals and strategies as well as clear presentation of the analysis. Therefore, take time to edit your essay to ensure proper organization and clear presentation. Also remove all errors.

  • Use rhetorical analysis essay sample

Using a rhetorical analysis essay example is one of the most effective ways of grasping the steps on how to write a rhetorical analysis essay. Click here for a rhetorical analysis essay sample.

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay: References

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