Rhetorical Analysis Example

Rhetorical Analysis Example

One of the best ways of understanding rhetorical analysis is reading a well-written rhetorical analysis example. Rhetorical analysis is a form of close reading or criticism in which rhetoric principles are employed in examining the interactions between the author, text or content and the audience-follow the link grammar.about.com for more information. It is a writing in which the content or the message is separated from the rhetorical strategies or methods that have been used to convey the content successfully.

Rhetorical analysis can be applied on any text or even image. This analysis is commonly done on essays, advertisements, speeches, photographs, poems, web pages, and even bumper stickers. When rhetorical analysis is done on literary works, it considers the works as instruments that have been structured artistically for communication purposes rather than simple aesthetic objects. Simply put, rhetorical analysis is interested more on what a literary work is rather than what it is all about. To write a good rhetorical analysis especially for the first time, you need a well-written example to guide you.

Understand the question of a rhetorical analysis example that you use

In most cases, you will be asked or ask a question that requires you to write a rhetorical analysis. This question is the prompt for writing a rhetorical analysis. A rhetorical question is a question that a speaker poses without expecting a direct reply. Communicators use such questions in strategizing, posturing or setting the audience up to be persuaded or influenced. You have been subjected to messages that try to persuade or influence you in various ways. For instance, advertisements try to convince you to purchase a new car using rhetorical strategies.

To understand the modern life’s machinations, it is important to understand the intentions and techniques that underpin different messages that you encounter each day. Asking and answering rhetorical questions through analysis of different forms of communication is the best way of understanding or interpreting messages via a process of examining patterns and devices that are included in the text. Rhetorical analysis is highly transferable and multifaceted since it can be used in analyzing speeches, advertisements and other communications- See the this link  for more information.

Using a rhetorical analysis example in writing your rhetorical analysis

Once you have a good example of a rhetorical analysis, read it carefully against the text or literary work that it analyzes.

A good sample of a rhetorical analysis should include the following:

  • Summary of the main idea or argument of the work that is being analyzed.
  • A breakdown of the main argument into small pieces.
  • Identification of the major details or points that creates the main argument or thesis

A good example of a rhetorical analysis should analyze how the main argument is constructed by the author as well as the supporting details. It should also identify how the author uses ethos, logos and pathos as well as other rhetorical strategies or tropes- follow the link condor.depaul.edu  for more information. After reading a rhetorical analysis sample, keep it away before you start writing yours. Remember that even if you are writing a rhetorical analysis on the same work as the example, your analysis should be completely unique.

Steps in writing a rhetorical analysis

A rhetorical analysis example should act like your writing guide.  It should give you an idea of how the analysis should be written.

To write your analysis after reading and analyzing a rhetorical analysis sample follow these steps:

  1. Preparation
  2. Start by analyzing and understanding the prompt for writing your analysis as well as the effect that your analysis is required to analyze.
  3. Identify the author and the intended audience.
  4. Study and understand the work that you are supposed to analyze.
  5. Identify the techniques or strategies used in the work and select the ones to discuss in your analysis.
  6. Deal with the hidden questions including what the effects of the strategies or techniques are.
  7. Actual writing
  8. Analyze the angle taken by the author.

This entails identifying how the author selects or controls what is revealed to the audience. The author can do this by employing words that have specific connotations or using a specific style or tone.


In the article, Indian, by Jane Tompkins- found here, the author tries to depict the process of her research as objective. She does this by presenting the systematic way via which she consulted different historical accounts including primary sources by colonists and trained historians’ analyses in varying thought schools. The reader can ultimately see the process of the research via the perspective of Tompkins. She implicitly arrives at this point towards the end of the essay. This insight is highlighted through the use of the first-person approach which is unusual in academic articles. For example, she uses first person to tell readers that she did not care whether she had what she knew interfered with by real exemplars. This draws the attention of the readers to the reality that her approach to the research was influenced by personal feelings. Her persona as an academician also comes out clearly. For instance, the use of “antifoundationalist epistemology” terms indicates that she has undergone academic training.

  • Determine the purpose of the work

Consider and discuss the motivation of the author. The author can be writing to express an opinion or idea, respond to a certain occasion, explore a particular topic or attempt to answer a question. Inform readers about a specific topic, synthesize, analyze or interpret data, persuade readers, advocate for something or reflect on a specific topic.


There are many reasons why Tompkins wrote her article. However, her main reasons include responding to the issue of finding the reality or truth in different historical accounts, inform the audience about how writers construct history, and reflect on the issue of avoiding single perspective as well as attempting to convince readers to be skeptical in the process of research.

  • Come up with a thesis statement for your analysis

The thesis statement of your analysis should argue the most vital rhetorical features of the work and their impact. Focus on the features that are prevalent in the work and ones that you find interesting and possible for you to describe persuasively- as seen in the link writingcenter.tamu.edu.

  • Identify and discuss the audience

Analyze the work to determine who the work is authored for. A good rhetorical analysis example indicates clearly who the audience of the work under analysis is and your work should also reveal this.


Tompkins targets academic readers who understand historical research process. However her use of simplified language and first-person approach makes her essay accessible to more readers who may include educated readers in general and undergraduate students.

  • Identify and discuss claims

Determine the kind of claims that the author makes in his/her work. The author can make fact claims, policy claims or value claims.


Tompkins makes a value claim when she analyzes how facts are interpreted by other authors. She ends the essay with a value claim about the essence of going past moral relativism in making claims about the truth on the basis of the best reconciliation of varying viewpoints possible.

  • Identify and discuss refutations and concessions

Refutations include how the author indicates the problems in a different viewpoint while arguing his/her position. Concessions acknowledge the merit of another perspective.


Tompkins acknowledges relativism as being a useful and appealing tactic sometimes when handling irreconcilable historical accounts. However, she concludes that there are historical situations, including extreme brutality and genocide that require moral judgment that is more definitive.

  • Identify and discuss rhetorical appeals

These are mainly logos, pathos and ethos.

  • Ethos refers to how the author tries to depict herself as a credible personal.


Tompkins establishes professional credibility by systematically showing readers the process of her research and different sources that she consulted while writing her article using a narrative.

  • Logos appeals to logic


Through systematic explanation of the process of her research, Tompkins creates the logical sequence that readers can follow.

  • Pathos appeal to the emotions of the audience


Tompkins starts her article by giving her childhood’s personal account about the Indians. She also uses first-person, which is not the case for most academic works, to establish a personal bond with her audience.

Where to find a good rhetorical analysis example

You must use a good rhetorical analysis sample as your writing guide to write an excellent rhetorical analysis.

Here are links to such samples:

Get help with rhetorical analysis

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