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How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay – A Complete Guide

By the time you have gotten into college, you will notice that the conventional formats of the assignments you used to get have changed drastically. Back in high school, you would be writing basic essays and reports. Whereas in college, you will have to write more complex essays. You will be introduced to new forms of writing like; dissertations, response papers, critical analysis essays and most importantly, rhetorical analysis essay. 

The essays you wrote in your junior years would only require you to have an observer’s perspective. Whereas, when you reach college, your teachers will demand you to have a critically analytical approach when you are writing essays and papers. Here, everything needs to be based on facts and your facts need to be structured so that it becomes easier for the reader to understand the message you are trying to convey. 

When you are writing something like a rhetorical analysis essay, you will not just be judged based on the composition of the essay; there will be several other factors involved in determining your performance. 

This article will provide you with a detailed guide on how to write the perfect rhetorical analysis essay. As we move ahead, we will also cover all the important factors that make up the perfect assignment.  

What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

Rhetorical analysis essay outline & definition

By creating a rhetorical essay outline, you will write with conviction and have clarity of thoughts. 

Here’s the rhetorical analysis essay definition;

A rhetorical analysis essay is a form of writing in which you are asked to analyse another piece of writing in immense detail. The purpose of writing this type of essay is to develop a standpoint and to elaborate on it. Your standpoint needs to be elaborated with the use of effective and persuasive methods. 

Many people refer to a rhetorical essay as; ‘writing about writing’. The reason why it gets this name is pretty self-explanatory. But if you want another analogy to develop a better understanding, try viewing it as; ‘teaching a teacher’. 

You are supposed to craft an essay to persuade the readers to develop an understanding of your standpoint. You will have to convince your readers using proper facts and reasoning that support your claims about the topic at hand. What you will be judged on by your teachers is whether or not you can intrigue different characteristics of the readers, using different methods and approaches. 

Other types of essays are based on special or subjective issues, whereas a rhetorical analysis essay is based on several things like; the situation in the initial piece of writing that you are examining, who wrote that piece of writing, the message that the original writer was trying to convey in his writing and whether or not the initial author’s ideology supports his objective. 

It is absolutely imperative for you to know all of the steps involved in composing persuasive content.     

Key concepts in rhetoric

The word rhetoric refers to the ability to speak and write effectively. It is an approach that enables you to examine other writing, arguments, and speeches and conclude the way the author has structured them to persuade or convince the readers. As you read ahead, you will find a couple of key points that you must remember in this field.

  1. Appeals: Logos, Ethos, pathos

The concept of an appeal is for the author to convince the readers about the topic at hand. According to the great philosopher Aristotle, three main types of appeals are part of rhetoric writing. He referred to them as the rhetorical triangle, which consisted of logos, Ethos and pathos.  

Also known as a logical appeal, Logos refers to when the writer uses a well-reasoned argument or debate to persuade his readers about the topic at hand. Logos is a more conventional approach to the composition of academic content as it uses reasoning and evidence to form an argument about something.

Also known as an ethical appeal, Ethos entails the writer to portray themselves to have a superior understanding of the topic being discussed. Basically, suppose you are writing a rhetorical analysis essay in the event that you are trying to put up an argument about morality. In that case, you can admirably highlight your own moral behaviour. 

In the same way, take an example where you are writing about a technical subject; you can highlight yourself as a professional in the field by talking about your qualifications.  

Lastly, there is the touching appeal which is often referred to as; Pathos. This approach entails the writer to use a passionate or expressive way of speaking in order to intrigue emotions like; sympathy, anger, inquisition and other emotional reactions within the readers. The writer can trigger these emotions by using vivid imagery as well.   

All three of these appeals mentioned to us by the great philosopher Aristotle are integral parts of rhetoric. All three of these approaches can be combined by the writer to persuade his readers. 

  1. Text and context

When you are writing a rhetoric essay, the text being discussed does not necessarily have to be a document or piece of writing. It can be that, but the text that is being referred to here is; any form of communications. Such as; a satirical image, an advertisement and even a speech can be considered as text which you can analyse rhetorically.  

If the material you are analysing is not some form of text or a document, it can still be visual and sonic versions of the text. You do not necessarily have to focus on the language. 

The setting is all that is encompassing the content: Who is the person who wrote the content (author or speaker, planner, and so on)? Who is their (expected or genuine) crowd? When and where was the content delivered, and for what reason?

Observing the context from a close point of view is important. For example, the Nehru Report was a speech that formed the foundations of an entire country. Still, the context of it in terms of the opposing party plays an integral part in understanding the reason behind the report. 

  1. Claims, supports, and warrants

In a rhetoric essay, you will always come across an argument of some sort. This argument can be a vague one that the reader has to infer to and it can also be a logical one that has been defined in a very clear manner. The similarity between these two arguments is that they are built up using claims, supports and warrants. 

The idea that the composer wants to make it clear to the audience is referred to as a claim. You can create an argument that revolves around one specific claim, or you can create one that is based on multiple claims. On normal occasions, claims are stated very explicitly, whereas they can also be emphasised through basic texts. 

Being the writer of rhetoric, you will need to support your claim so that it stands firm. You will need evidence to support your claims and this can be done through emotional appeals and hard evidence. In other words, you can use any form of appeal to convince a reader to support or to develop an understanding of your claim.  

A warrant is a kind of like a junction that connects the claim and the support. It can be referred to as logic or assumption that aids in justifying your claims and the supporting evidence you have used to back up that claim. Normally, authors prefer not to state the warrant because they assume that the readers will build the connection without its help. 

This does not necessarily mean that you should ignore this important step. Rather you should use it to exploring the implicit warrant in these scenarios. 

For example;

‘Both of the designs were heavily flawed; the sales turnover was extremely low.’

This rhetoric statement starts with a claim and ends with support. In contrast, the warrant is implicit in this statement. In this case, the warrant assumes that a better design would have led to a higher number of sales. The readers being convinced by the writer’s argument is always dependent on how fair the assumption is.

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

How to write a rhetorical analysis essay, you ask? Writing a rhetorical analysis essay can be an extremely daunting task because the approach of composing such an essay is very different from any other essays that you might have written before. 

The complexity of the analysis is the reason you do not come across such an essay till you reach college. Many students fear these types of assignments because they know that it is relatively difficult to secure marks in them. Most of these students save money for such situations to hire professional essay writers to do their rhetoric assignments for them. 

What needs to be understood is that you need to have a refined vocabulary and a developed sense of critical thinking. When you combine these two things, only then can you produce content that is to the point and argumentative simultaneously. If your composition of words lacks clarity, you are unlikely to fulfil the purpose of this type of essay. 

There is a procedure that must be followed when you are writing a rhetorical analysis essay. Such essays need to be structured in a specific way; otherwise, there is no clarity in the purpose of the assignment. The structure makes it easier for the writer to put forward his arguments. 

While writing a rhetoric essay, always remember that you need to state your argument and then remember to support it. If you do not keep in mind this tip, all the arguments you put forth will look extremely vague and the reader will not be convinced of your standpoint. The sole purpose of this paper is to develop the skills to convince your audience using relevant facts. 

As you read ahead, you will find an entire guide for writing the perfect rhetorical analysis essay.

  1. Analysing the text

This is the first step before you begin to compose a rhetorical essay. As mentioned before, you will be provided with some form of text that you will need to analyse to be able to write your essay. 

This type of essay revolves around studying the work of another author, writer or producer. You are given data that needs to be analysed by you and then presented so that your standpoint about the text is obvious to the readers. 

To perform the perfect analysis of the text you have been provided with, you will need to study it thoroughly. Start by highlighting the main points to turn into an argument or try to identify the writer’s standpoint. You will also need to highlight any claims you come across and the support that accompanies it. 

Once you have highlighted everything you can use in your composition, you need to write it down in a structured way. Write them in the same order that you wish to present them in your essay. 

To perform a perfect analysis of the content you have been provided with, you will need to use some rhetorical analysis strategies. The strategy is very simple; you are supposed to keep an eye out for statements to start an argument over. 

  1. Create a rhetorical analysis essay outline

After you have analysed the text and then noted down all the useful points that you can base your argument upon, you will need to illustrate an outline that will act like a step by step guide for you to write the perfect rhetorical essay. 

Your outline needs to be structured the same way you want your essay to be structured. Use all the points from your analysis that you noted down. Start by noting down the important points for your introduction first, then your main body and then your conclusion. You will need to mention all the important information here because you are likely to miss out on them while writing your essay if you do not set a reminder. You can also include all the references and citations (if any) not to forget them while writing the essay. 

  1. Introducing your rhetorical analysis

Once you are done illustrating your outline, you will now need to move on to the actual writing part. You will use your outline to begin with this. Your introduction is supposed to give the readers a briefing about your topic, the text you have based your essay on and the person who created that text. Your introduction can also include details about what the readers can expect to read as they move ahead. 

  1. The body: Doing the analysis

Once you have introduced the readers to the purpose of your rhetorical essay and what it revolves around, you need to move on to the actual analysis that you have conducted. This is the part where all your arguments will be presented. You will need to make sure not to miss out on any supporting details from the text. 

This part of the essay will be extremely detailed because it will contain the standpoint of the person who created the text that you analysed and it will also contain your personal standpoint. You will use this part of your essay to convince the readers of your argument. 

This is the part that will determine your actual purpose. Your teacher will most likely grade you based on this part. They will see if you could fulfil the purpose of bringing the reader to the same conclusion as you. 

  1. Concluding a rhetorical analysis

After presenting all your arguments and the data supporting your arguments, you will now be done with the main part. You can now move ahead to concluding your rhetorical analysis essay. Your conclusion will include your final statement about the message that you had been trying to convey throughout the essay. After you have made your purpose clear to the readers once again, you can now end the essay by stating whether you are in support of the text that you analysed or not. 

Dos and Don’ts of Rhetorical Analysis Essay

  • Explains the use of Rhetorical devices to support the author’s argument.
  • Provide convincing explanations.
  • Use good vocabulary to phrase your sentences.
  • Always remember to back your argument with at least two pieces of evidence. 
  • Use straightforward sentences that are to the point.
  • Do not repeat anything that you have mentioned before.
  • Do not leave any argument open-ended.
  • Refrain from being too controversial.
  • Do not put up arguments that are too unfair. 

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example 

If you wish to get a clearer picture of what your final rhetorical analysis essay should look like, you can find an essay example here.

Rhetorical Analysis Topics

Your teacher doesn’t need to provide you with a topic to write your essay on. Your teacher might even tell you to choose your topic on your own. Over here, you will find some examples that will help you get a better idea of what topics are suitable for conducting a rhetorical analysis. Here are thirty topics to help you out:

Famous Speeches

  • John F. Kennedy-Inaugural Address
  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt-First Inaugural Address
  • Barbara Jordan-1976 DNC Address
  • Jesse Jackson-1984 DNC Address
  • Richard Nixon-“Checkers”
  • Ronald Reagan-Space Shuttle Challenger
  • Hillary Clinton-UN 4th World Conference
  • Barbara Bush-Wellesley Commencement
  • Douglas MacArthur-Farewell Address to Congress
  • Elie Wiesel-The Perils of Indifference

Famous Movies

  • American beauty
  • A Beautiful Mind
  • The revenant
  • Unforgiven
  • Birdman 
  • The Shape of Water
  • Harry Potter
  • 1917 
  •  La La land
  • The Artist 
  • Scarface 

Famous Books

  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • The Great Gatsby
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • A Passage to India
  • Invisible Man
  • Don Quixote
  • Beloved
  • Mrs Dalloway
  • Things Fall Apart

Now that you have a clearer picture in front of you, it will be relatively easier for you to compose a rhetorical analysis essay. If you follow the entire procedure that is laid out in this article, you are likely to get very good marks on your assignment. It is a very complex type of essay and will take up a lot of your time but it will help you build upon your analytical skills. 

They teach you this in college to give you a better sense of how to convince your audience and how to come up with a standpoint about a topic and stick by your standpoint. Being firm on what you believe is the key. This form of writing will also teach you the importance of supporting your claims before diving into an argument, even if it is in real life. If you can support your statements, you convince almost anyone in your life. 

Also, if you are still not comfortable with this form of writing and you think that you cannot compose a rhetoric essay yourself, you can always get help from elsewhere. You can easily hire an essay writing company to do your work for you. They will most likely charge you with a low price and get your work done within the time frame that you need it. 

For those who feel that outsourcing your homework will be unethical, you can always practice through this article. Keep practising till you get the hang of how to compose a rhetorical analysis essay. If you study this article closely and keep practising, you are likely to get the hang of it! 


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