How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay
Among all the various types of papers that students are assigned with in college or high school, a rhetorical analysis essay is considered to be one of the most challenging. It requires great analytical skills and critical thinking in order to break the topic into smaller pieces and analyze them in detail to get to the core of the subject – usually a written piece. Let’s find out how you can write a rhetorical analysis essay of your own.
Step 1. Preparation
Every essay begins with proper research and study of the topic, subject, or problem. When you have all the information, including the piece that you have to analyze, you should start breaking it into segments, answering the following questions:
- Who is the author of the piece?
- What is the background of it?
- What is the situation or problem described in the piece?
- What is the goal of the text that you are analyzing?
- What are the intentions of the author?
- Who are the people that the piece is addressed to?
Once you know what the piece that you are analyzing is about, you can start diving into it to be able to read “between the lines” and get a better understanding of what the intentions of the author are and how they achieve their goal when turning to a reader or audience.
Before you start writing your rhetorical analysis essay, you should be aware of the methods that are usually used in pieces like the one that you are about to analyze. Here are these three persuasive methods that you should be able to identify in the text:
- Ethos – a mode of persuasion that depends on the personal characteristics of the speaker or author, their authority and credibility.
- Pathos – a way of convincing that creates an emotional response to a story or a situation that the audience is put in.
- Logos – persuasion is achieved through logic – facts and reasons.
These three appeals are widely used by authors and speakers in order to convince the audience and make a speech or a written piece look credible and understandable.
Step 2. Information Gathering and Analysis
Once you understand the background of the piece, the audience it’s aimed at, and the main characteristics of it, you can start analyzing the piece if detail. Make sure you understand the structure of the piece and can identify the key elements of it. Here are the basic tips that will help you analyze the piece that you are assigned with:
- Identify the main point and phrase it clearly in one sentence, so you can use it in your essay. For example, “The speaker encourages people to consume less sugar in their diet.”
- Identify the structure of the piece and how it uses various claims, including the main and supporting ones, to persuade the audience and address the author’s point of view.
- Identify the motives (maybe a hidden message) and follow the author’s statements that prove your point of view.
- Put as many questions as you need to uncover the most detail about the piece. Such things as repetitions, syntax, figurative language, and literary methods are also important in order to make a final summary of the text.
After you analyze the piece and have an understanding of what you need to write about and what’s the main things in the text that you will refer to in your essay to support your claims, you can start writing your piece.
Step 3. Writing Your Essay
The majority of learning institutions, when assigning students with a rhetorical analysis essay, expect students to come up with a five-paragraph essay that would consist of three main parts – introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.
The introduction of your essay shouldn’t be long but should provide some background information on the author, occasion, and subject of the piece. You should also point out the key message of the text and come up with a strong thesis statement.
You can also describe in a few brief sentences how the author develops their thesis, how they support their claims, and how they establish a connection with their audience throughout the text.
The main part of your essay, where you put all of your claims and evidence usually consists of three body paragraphs. In the case of a rhetorical essay, this part should contain:
- The explanation of the methods, devices, and strategies that the author used and what their target is (did the author succeed in their task?)
- The supportive evidence from the text that helps to make your claims more credible.
- Your opinion on the text as a whole, its tone, and mood, logical flow, etc.
It’s important to make sure you use the direct quotes from the text and avoid deviating from the topic, making your essay too theoretical instead of keeping it close to the text that you are analyzing.
The conclusion is the ending part of your essay that summarizes all the thoughts and ideas elaborated in the text. You should not put any new information in here except the claims that you have already put in your body paragraphs. Outline the key thoughts and points to make your essay’s ending even stronger.
These were our best tips on how to write a rhetorical analysis essay. We hope that you find them useful, good luck!