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Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Learn How to Write It With Our Guide

How to Write Rhetorical Analysis
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A rhetorical analysis is an essay where you break down a text into its components to examine how these parts work together to create an effect. You will look at elements like the author's use of logos, ethos, and pathos. The goal of a rhetorical analysis essay is not to say if the text is good or bad. Instead, it's about understanding how the author communicates and persuades their audience. You should explain why the author might have chosen specific strategies and whether they are powerful.

Many students reading this article may have never heard about rhetorical essays. It makes sense because usually, only AP English or college students receive such assignments. Still, knowing how to complete one is beneficial.

With this guide from StudyCrumb, you will learn what rhetorical analysis is and which appeals authors can use. You will find out how to write a rhetorical analysis essay. Cheer yourself up, as after going through our recommendations, you will meet your professor's highest expectations!  

What Is a Rhetorical Analysis

Let's begin with a rhetorical analysis essay definition. It is crucial to understand the differences between various types of papers. As for rhetorical analysis – it is an essay that focuses on the publication author's main ideas. In contrast to literary analysis essay, we should be less concerned with what they say and notice how they sound instead.

While reading a suggested or assigned piece, students should keep an eye on:  

  1. What goals did the author pursue by writing their work?
  2. What rhetorical devices did they use?
  3. How do they appeal to the reader?

The primary task is breaking a non-fiction work (speech, advertisement, article) into parts. Then, one should define how they perform together to convince, educate or entertain an audience. You shouldn't write about whether you agree or disagree with the author. Alternatively, you aim at discussing how their argument is made and what tone they use. Evaluate their approach in terms of being successful.

Rhetorical Appeals

Writing a rhetorical analysis essay requires you to understand and distinguish rhetorical appeals. These persuasive techniques are used to convince readers and get their approval by calling to emotions, experience, and other characteristics of human nature. There are three main kinds of appeals: ethos, pathos, and logos. In his book "Rhetoric," Aristotle brought these concepts to life. Now, these rhetorical techniques are excellent strategies that authors use to persuade their audience.

But what exactly do these terms mean? Let's make it clear:  

  • Ethos As an ethical appeal, this approach focuses on proving that your expertise in subject matter is superior. The primary goal of using this technique is to make readers believe you. Provide evidence of your qualification and achieve stunning impact.
  • Pathos This approach suggests you call upon audience's emotions. In this context, pathetic doesn't mean something negative. Effective use of this concept can conjure various feelings in one's mind. Sympathy, anger, compassion, sadness – all of these can be used to make your audience accept your argument and acquire endorsement.
  • Logos It is a logical appeal that uses interpretation and evidence to prove an issue. One can notice this type of technique in academic writing as well. Most academic audiences appreciate logos-driven methods because they help provide undeniable facts and data.

Summing it up, a good persuasive argument can include all of these appeals. So if you want to make a massive impact on your public in your writing, consider using all of them.

Main kinds of rhetorical appeals: ethos, pathos, and logos

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

By now, you might be wondering: "How to start a rhetorical analysis essay?" The answer is clear – start with text evaluation. In context of rhetorical analysis, it's not necessarily a written piece you should review. It could also be a commercial, debate, or illustration. In such cases, you should also mind imagery and sound aspects.

While analyzing your text, consider applying the SOAPS action plan. Here, the first S stands for speaker, O – occasion, A – audience, P – purpose, and the last S is for subject. To put it into practice when you read the text, ask yourself these questions:  

  1. Who is the author?
  2. Why did they decide to write the article?
  3. Who are the readers, and why is the author appealing to them?
  4. What were the author's intentions while writing the piece?
  5. What is the author's main argument?

Lastly, you should closely examine the text's main point. Find an explicitly stated claim, define presented evidence that supports it. After that, find the warrant – reasoning that connects supporting evidence with a claim. Also, look at rhetorical appeals the writer uses and outline them in your paper.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Introduction

Once you complete your analysis part, get ready to write a rhetorical essay introduction. It should give your readers a message of what your paper will be about. An appropriately crafted opening paragraph should include:

  • Hook Start your paper with a catchy sentence to grab your readers' attention. This way, you will stir up their interest to know what comes next in your written piece.
  • Background on the context Add some relevant information about your subject to let readers know what exactly you are analyzing. Some exclusive details that might expand the context can also be helpful for such purposes. Refer to the author and their publication title in this part.
  • Thesis statement Your thesis should be the fundamental argument you make regarding author's rhetorical techniques used throughout the text. It should be a clear statement that defines your approach to analyzing the publication. Also, you can create a statement by Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement Generator.
Rhetorical analysis essay introduction

Rhetorical Paper: Body Paragraphs

The main body of a rhetorical analysis paper is where you directly describe your findings of a text. It usually consists of 3 paragraphs. Sometimes you can focus on a single appeal in each section. Dedicate one for showing how pathos works, the other one for ethos, and the last one for logos. However, it's not always necessary to follow this structure. If the text's part you are analyzing includes specifics of two concepts at once, you can outline this in a single paragraph.

Start each section with a topic sentence that gives an overview of what this paragraph will be about. Include quotations from your text as evidence and cite them correctly to avoid plagiarism. Next, express your argument by analyzing how this piece of text functions in rhetoric using ethos, pathos, or logos concepts. End each body paragraph with a brief concluding statement that shows the core of your analysis. And remember: your main body sections should directly relate to the thesis statement you have developed before. 

Rhetorical analysis essay body paragraphs

Rhetorical Analysis: Essay Conclusion

Last but not least, let's find out how to conclude a rhetorical analysis essay. This paragraph should draw the final line in your paper.

There are a couple of simple recommendations that will help to answer the question, "How to write a good conclusion for an easy?"

  • Begin with a brief synopsis of the claims you made in your essay.
  • Extend background by emphasizing relevance of analysis.
  • Conclude your investigation with a powerful, noteworthy statement leaving food for thought for your readers.
Rhetorical analysis essay Conclusion

After you've completed your essay, all that's left is editing and proofreading. Don't skip this process, and never overestimate your abilities. It's always better to double-check what you've done and ensure that your work is impeccable.

You may need rhetorical analysis topics for your essay. Check them out in our blog.

Bottom Line

A rhetorical analysis essay can be a tricky task. Nevertheless, writing one following our tips will help you breeze through this assignment and get a high grade. As you've got all necessary tools, completing this task won't be a headache anymore.

Need professional help?

If you still have questions or require writing help, feel free to contact us 24/7. Our team of professional writers will be delighted to assist you. If you need a rhetorical analysis paper, coursework, or any other type of work, we will do it for you. Expect a timely delivery and top-notch quality!  

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How many sources do I need in a rhetorical analysis essay?

As for the primary source – it will be the one you are analyzing. Secondary sources will help you find good evidence and data, as well as some relevant background information. So stick to 3-5 sources for first-rate outcome unless rubric given by your professor states otherwise.

2. How to write a visual rhetorical analysis?

The main idea is to choose good visuals – a photo, film scene, or youtube video. Then analyze it paying attention to selected visual choices, controversies, or elements that may seem irrelevant. After that, review popular media to see what other people think about your piece. Perhaps, you will determine that some of them feel exactly like you do. In the analysis part, mention your findings. Try to answer such questions:

  • Who cares about all this visual stuff?
  • What emotions does it bring?
  • How do chosen visual elements invoke these feelings?
  • Is there any allegory behind the visuals?
Article posted on:Apr 28, 2022
Article updated on:May 12, 2023


Leave your comment here:
6/22/2022 1:19 PM
Hi there. My teacher assigned me to write a rhetorical analysis essay and said to come up with a topic myself. I would really appreciate if you shared some rhetorical analysis topics for an essay!
6/23/2022 11:40 AM
Hi Jana,

You've come to the right place! We are here to help you choose the best topic. We have collected 10 best rhetorical essay topics you will definitely like:

1. Bob Dylan's "Banquet Speech" for Nobel Banquet.
2. Pride and Prejudice.
3. Martin Luther King Jr.'s last speech.
4. Lord Henry's speech about youth, "The picture of Dorian Gray".
5. Alexander the Great Speech.
6. Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own".
7. "The Tempest" by William Shakespeare.
8. A popular song.
9. Speech from President Obama.
10. Edgar Allen Poe's poem "Raven".

Hope you'll like one of these topics! Good luck!

6/23/2022 11:55 AM
Hi StudyCrumb! Thanks a lot for the list of really interesting topics! I just wanted to share some news with you. I picked a topic about lord Henry's speech about youth from the picture of Dorian Gray and I got an A grade for my essay! Thank you for your help.
6/23/2022 12:00 PM
We're happy to hear it, Jana! We always make every effort to help our visitors achieve their academic goals. Keep it up!
7/5/2022 4:35 PM
Hi! I started preparing my rhetorical analysis essay today. Can you please advise me on how to write an outline for a rhetorical analysis essay?
7/5/2022 5:08 PM
Hi Charlotte,

Thank you for a good question. Planning out your essay is one of the most crucial parts of the whole writing process. Before you start writing you have to arrange all the gathered ideas and information into a logical order. You will use the standard essay outline to arrange the content for your rhetorical analysis essay. According to the traditional outline, you should divide your essay into three sections and five paragraphs:

1. Introduction
2. Body Paragraph 1
3. Body Paragraph 2
4. Body Paragraph 3
5. Conclusion

Your introduction should include a hook, some background information, and a thesis statement. The body part should contain all the details and in-depth analysis on the topic. In the conclusion section summarize all the significant points you've given.

If you follow these simple steps, you will write an outline for a rhetorical analysis essay fast and easily. Good luck!
7/5/2022 5:18 PM
Thanks! It really helped. I have already written my essay and it seems very good. Hope I'll get an A for it.
7/5/2022 5:22 PM
We keep our fingers crossed!