Principles of How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

Principles of How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

A rhetorical analysis is an evaluation of how an author, speaker or creator of an original piece of work uses different strategies to make his or her argument. You can write a rhetorical analysis about a speech, film, text, painting or any other media, used to pass a message to a target audience. Thus, your task when you have such assignment is to find out the techniques, which the rhetorician uses to accomplish his objective. Besides, you may also include the effectiveness of these approaches. To gain more knowledge on how to write a rhetorical analysis, continue reading this guide.

In this article, you will find the following sections:

  • Tips on rhetorical analysis
  • Steps to follow when writing rhetorical analysis
  • Selected examples of rhetorical analysis essays

This guide contains everything you need to enhance your rhetorical analysis ability. Do not read hurriedly; take your time, synthesize and apply these tips in your future assignments. Your plane to success is about to take off… are you ready? Here we go…

A summary of guidelines on how to write a rhetorical analysis

Every piece of literary work targets a specific audience. However, the challenge of passing the message is in influencing the listener, reader or viewer. Even more demanding is finding out the success of tools, which one applies to make a case.

A rhetorical piece influences the audience in the following three ways:

Entertaining – Creates light moment for the audience

Persuading – Tries to influence the audience to abandon their position on a subject or issue and support the author’s stand. It is common in political rallies, debates and argumentative writing.

Informing – Some rhetorical works explore a subject and offer insights to the audience to broaden their understanding of the subject matter and broaden their worldview.

Keep the three elements at the back of your mind as you delve into how to write a rhetorical analysis because they will help you evaluate an author’s strength or weakness.

Remember that as you work on your rhetorical analysis, you are not taking sides on whether you agree with the author or not. For the purpose of your assignment, stick to the ‘how’ the author makes his or her point and spare the critic for your critical analysis.

Elements to look out for when writing a rhetorical analysis

As you find out how a rhetorician applied various techniques in their work, your focus should aim at the following:

Target audience – These are the people the author had in mind while creating the piece of work. Ask yourself the people likely to read, watch or sit back and listen to that narration. If you can crack this nut, then you understand author’s mind.

Author’s purpose – Are you able to answer the ‘why’ question? What compelled the creator to put together that piece of work?

Organization of the work – Find out the structure of the work plus how this arrangement may affect the audience.

Language usage – What kind of language does the author use. Does this language match the level of the audience?  Establish different ways the language complements the author’s efforts to influence the reader.

Appeals – Perhaps this is the most important element that will give you a grip on how to write a rhetorical analysis. These are the tools, which rhetorician use to build an argument. They include pathos, logos and ethos. Do not be anxious about these appeals, we have a whole section explaining each with relevant examples.

Supporting evidence – These are proofs, which the creator of the work gives to back their argument.

3 Easy Steps to follow when writing your rhetorical analysis

With the above background about rhetorical analysis, let us look at three simple steps to follow when handling your assignment. By the time you are through with the third step, you will have honed your skills to a standard level.

Step 1: How to spice an introduction when writing a rhetorical analysis

The introduction of your rhetorical analysis plays a major role because it sets the pace for the rest of your paper. It will give the reader a reason to read on or trash it and move to something else.

Apply the following tips to come up with an excellent introduction for your rhetorical analysis:

Start with a hook: Pique your reader from the word go. Begin your analysis with something interesting that captures attention. For example, you can use anecdotes to tell short stories, which relate to your assignment. You may also use startling statistics, a quote from a famous personality etc. All these will leave your audience longing to read subsequent sections of your rhetorical analysis. If you can hold their interest, then you are on the right path towards mastering how to write a rhetorical analysis.

State the purpose of your rhetorical analysis – Orient your readers by saying why you are writing the paper.

Give the context of your analysis – Do not go straight into analyzing the text. Contextualize your analysis to move with every reader at the same pace. People want to know where you are coming from before you show them the destination ahead.

Do not forget your thesis statement. This statement comes at the end of your introduction paragraph. It captures your main idea and gives direction to your paper. Thesis will also enhance the logical flow of your points.

Let us look at an example before we move to the next section.

Example: Rhetorical analysis Intro

Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier” by Jessica Grose

[Hook]: ‘A woman’s work is never done’ is a common American saying, which most women grew up knowing it was true. [Context]: Jessica Grose, the author of “Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier,” is one such woman. [Author’s purpose]: In her article published by the New Republic in 2013, Jessica holds that while modern men are helping in childcare and cooking at home, cleaning unfairly remains a core responsibility of women. [Thesis Statement]: The author enhances her credibility through personal anecdotes and reliable sources, giving stats and applying emotional appeals successfully; but Grose’s argument weakens toward the end as she tries to woo the audience, denting her credibility.

Adapted from:

This is a nice rhetorical analysis introduction. Study it and try drafting your own using the secrets of how to write a rhetorical analysis, which we have previously covered in this guide.

Step 2: How to create appealing body paragraphs for your rhetorical analysis

This is the analysis section of your paper. The body will carry the weight of your paper and determine the quality of time you invested in research.

Explain the strategies, which the rhetorician uses to develop his argument. It is important to discuss what the author is saying chronologically such that you move from section to section or paragraph to paragraph.

The epicenter of your rhetorical analysis is the appeals (ethos, logos and pathos)

Using ethos in your rhetorical analysis

This refers to how the author presents himself as a reliable authority on the issue at hand in order to earn the audience’s trust and respect. The author’s past reputation, knowledge on the topic and style of writing marks his credentials.

How to blend pathos in your rhetorical analysis

This is how the author makes emotional appeals to the reader or viewer. Rhetoricians always humanize a topic by hitting the human element of the issue. You can look for an instance where the author uses evokes sympathy from the audience. Also, bring out overuse of pathos, which always results into manipulation of the audience.

Crowning your rhetorical analysis with logos

The last appeal that will help you master how to write a rhetorical analysis is logos. This is the author’s claim and use of evidence to back it. Look for credible sources plus how the author weaves the points together.

Conclusion: Final step of writing a rhetorical analysis

At this stage, you have done all the donkeywork. Crown you work with a positive lasting impression.  You can achieve this through:

Restating your thesis – Reword your thesis; explain how it harmonizes with the author’s main points.

Restating your main ideas – Be brief. Explain how these points support your thesis.

Call for action – State any action i.e. the need for further research. Also, challenge the audience to do something after reading your analysis.

At this point, you have enough tips on how to write a rhetorical analysis. What’s more, get on to your assignment and nail it, as simple as that.

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