How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

What Is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay? A Plagiarism free rhetorical analysis is a critical assessment of a text in regard to rhetoric, which is an examination of how symbols, values, and persuasive appeals elicit meaning. According to Aristotle, rhetoric “is the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion,” (qtd. In […]

Posted: September 8th, 2021

What Is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

A Plagiarism free rhetorical analysis is a critical assessment of a text in regard to rhetoric, which is an examination of how symbols, values, and persuasive appeals elicit meaning.

According to Aristotle, rhetoric “is the faculty of observing in any given case the available means of persuasion,” (qtd. In Roth). In order to study or employ rhetorical analysis , you must be able to look at something from an objective point-of-view. If you were studying advertising , for example, you would look at it from a consumer’s perspective. With a rhetorical analysis , however, most people tend to adopt the role of a critic or reviewer that evaluates a text based upon its selected mode(s) of communication .

When writing a rhetorical analysis , think of yourself as a writer. This means that you must have a strong command of the language and must know what words to use in order to achieve your desired outcome (i.e., persuade, inform, etc.). For example, if you were analyzing an advertisement for iced coffee drinks , you would determine whether or not it is persuasive, informative, offensive, or some combination thereof.

To begin your rhetorical analysis essay , first read the text carefully with pen in hand. Highlight words and phrases that seem effective (or ineffective) at accomplishing their purpose; i t can also help to write down specific quotes t hat serve as evidence for your claims . After reading the text through this way, go back over it and underline words that you believe are most effective at persuading . Note: keep in mind that sometimes certain quotations will not be used as evidence. This is acceptable; it just means that the text is so effective on its own that it is persuasive without needing any extra support.

With your highlighter and pen, divide up your paper into two columns. Label one column “Actions” and the other column “Claims.” Your rhetorical analysis essay should contain a thesis statement right at the top of your introductory paragraph, as well as several direct quotes from the text that pertain to both actions and claims. Both of these sections require evidence from the text itself — do not include personal observations or opinions.

Rhetorical Analysis Strategies

Rhetorical analysis is a term that describes literary and language devices that people use to influence others, and it helps us understand their perspective and reasoning. The most common writers’ tools we may use in our daily lives – adjectives, metaphors, rhetorical questions, hyperbole – are also some of the main devices used in writing. When you read an article or essay, look for these elements to help you fully comprehend what the author is trying to convey .

The first device one might find in rhetoric is allegory . An allegory uses symbolism , personification , or metaphor to give something human characteristics – not only humanizing it but attributing certain feelings or thought processes to it. For example, if I were reading an article about recycling plastic bottles and I found a sentence along the lines of “Plastic is taking over and contaminating Mother Nature,” the author would be using allegory.

The epic simile , also known as a grand comparison, takes something we know about and compares it to something we don’t in order to help us understand what that unknown thing is like or how it works. For instance, if you were reading an article on how smartphones work and saw this sentence: “A smartphone is just like any other machine – it’s two parts electricity and one part computer,” the paragraph would contain an epic simile.

Rhetorical Analysis Topics

The first step to understanding rhetorical theory is knowing the basics. One of the main components of this field of study is, of course, rhetoric. There are several types that exist – some use argumentation, others use style/formality, and still more that center on persuasion through language or action. However, one must first learn how to utilize these techniques in order to effectively utilize them on their own terms.

Without further ado, here are four great topics for a rhetorical analysis paper:

1) Gender Roles

The concept of gender roles has been around as long as humans have roamed the earth. The traditional roles were man provides the money while woman stays at home with the children; however, over time this has changed into a man providing the money and woman has more influence on family decisions than previously. Women can now get jobs, put themselves through college, and support themselves just as men do – but why is it that many women still choose to stay at home? Is this choice a result of tradition or simply due to personal preference, or could it be something else entirely? This topic can lead you down so many different paths and give you so much exposure to rhetorical techniques and theory – not only will you learn a lot about yourself in the process of writing your paper, but also about rhetoric.

2) Racism

It’s 2016 – shouldn’t we all be good with race by now? Well, sure some people are (and others aren’t), but there is still a lot of conversation that needs to be had. The simplest definition of race is the classification of people according to their skin color, hair type/color, eye shape and color. However, there are so many other parts to this topic – do you believe in cultural appropriation? What about racial profiling? Is it okay for someone to use slurs if they are part of that particular culture? Racism does not only mean black vs. white; perhaps you identify as an ethnic minority or feel like your race is misrepresented by pop culture/media – whatever it may be, don’t be afraid to explore what these topics could possibly mean for your life.

3) Animal Rights

More often than not, animals are seen as objects rather than living, breathing beings. For instance, they may be used for scientific testing or killed for their meat and/or fur when the majority of people in today’s society would rather wear clothes made from synthetic materials. There are some people who do not see animals as such, however; this is because they choose to believe that they possess souls like humans do – but why is it that many people still don’t care about animals’ lives? This topic is very hot-button and open to a lot of different arguments; you will definitely learn more about yourself and others through writing an argumentative paper on this topic.

4) Self-Love

This topic can actually encompass a range of topics: how does self-love from narcissism, after all, a healthy amount of confidence is necessary to function in society according to many. This can be looked at from the perspective of psychological disorders as well – do people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia find it difficult to love themselves? Why do some people feel like they are unworthy/inferior, yet others seem completely content with their lives and values? What do you think is required for self-love/self-hate, and how much say should someone else have in this?

There are endless topics that you could write about during your rhetoric classes – these just happen to be a few that would lead you down a path where you truly learn something about yourself. Whether or not writing thesis papers makes you anxious, being able to use rhetorical techniques will help you succeed in your classes regardless.

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis: Step-by-Step

When writing a rhetorical analysis, there are often many tools necessary to analyze the work. This article will go through those steps and provide examples for each step so you can learn how to write a rhetorical analysis.

The first thing you need to know about rhetorical analyses is that they do not simply summarize or restate what the text says. Rather, it uses the text as evidence of the author’s argument. It essentially answers “so what?”, not just “what”. For example, lets take a look at this excerpt from Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail:

I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

Now let’s look at a rhetorical analysis that summarizes the text:

In this letter, King argues that white moderates have been a major impediment to African American freedom and equality throughout history. He uses several independent clauses and examples from past events in history in order to convey his point.

This analysis certainly gives us more insight into how King feels about what has happened throughout history, but it does not get down to the main argument of the text which is why? Why do white moderates continue to impede black freedom? The analysis doesn’t answer this question (which is one of the most important elements of understanding rhetoric). Instead of summarizing or restating, we’ll analyze this work using the five rhetorical appeals.

The first step of a rhetorical analysis is to identify and explain the type of appeal that is used and how it affects the reader’s perspective.

Appeal to Logic: Martin Luther King Jr. makes several logical appeals throughout his letter which provide evidence for his argument. His use of “for instance” in sentence 3 gives us an example from history as to why white moderates don’t understand their role in black freedom. In sentence 4 he uses another instance from history (“by way of illustration”) with a quote from Thomas Jefferson who recognized that slavery degraded whites as well as blacks, but was too afraid that abolishing slavery would cause upheaval within society. In sentence 7, King warns the reader of the consequences he will receive if he continues to remain passive. He uses this appeal in order to convey that his readers need to act in order to affect change.

Appeal to Emotion: King tries very hard throughout the letter to convey how egregious it is that white moderates continue to block black freedom today when throughout history they played a major role. The use of words like “grave disappointment” show us how King feels about them not standing up for what they did before, yet continuing their silence now.

There are several other tools necessary for writing rhetorical analyses, but before knowing all the steps you must know why these tools are important and how they apply to different texts When reading any text, there are different tools to use that will help you understand the purpose, audience, and author.

Although there are many techniques for analyzing texts, it’s important to realize that every technique used must be backed up by evidence within the text itself. The analysis should not come from what you think yourself or any other outside sources. The text is the focus of any good rhetorical analysis essay.

Rhetorical Essay Outline

A rhetorical essay outline is a key component in the drafting of any paper. Although it can be created after an essay or other written piece has been planned, having the outline early on allows writers to be certain that their message is clear and logical throughout the project. Using this guide, students will learn how to write a rhetorical essay outline easily and effectively.

Instructions: Use this Rhetorical Essay Outline (click for file) when creating your own document

Rhetorical analysis requires both logic and creativity; therefore, it is extremely helpful to develop an organizational plan before beginning your writing process. While there are several different methods for outlining essays, outlines should always be used when composing rhetoric pieces because they allow authors to ensure that information is presented clearly and in a cohesive manner, assuring that the essay is easy to understand for readers.

Rhetorical essays outline should include the following parts:

+ Introduction (write intro here)

+ Body (write body here)

+ Conclusion (write conclusion here)

The introduction of an essay provides background information on your topic and often makes a general statement about the main ideas that will be discussed throughout writing process. It may also point out common misconceptions or widely held beliefs about the subject as well as present any previously overlooked perspectives. Following this initial paragraph, most rhetorical essays go on to provide three distinct pieces of evidence. These points are the foundation of your work; effectively presenting them allows you to successfully readers that your argument is logical and backed up with evidence.

+ Body (write body here)

The body of an essay is arguably the most important part, as it includes all of the information that supports your thesis. The first piece of evidence should include one solid example, which you can expand upon in the following paragraphs. Each paragraph should be devoted to a single portion of your argument; therefore, it’s beneficial for students to present their points one at a time and then follow up with rebuttals or explanations through the rest of the paper. This will result in better organization and more effective writing overall.

+ Conclusion (write conclusion here)

The final step to creating any outline is summarization. In this section, readers will find a brief summary of why each piece of evidence is relevant. The conclusion shouldn’t include any new information, but rather it should be the final chance for writers to prove why their argument is sound and use of evidence is appropriate. By following this basic outline, students will find that they are able to compose more descriptive and coherent rhetorical essays than ever before.


This article was written by __________ on _________. It can be found under _________________ when you search for text relating to writing process. Article may not be copied in part or full without author’s permission – All Rights Reserved © 2014 _______

+ Introduction (write intro here)

+ Body (write body here)

Conclusion (write conclusion here)



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