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The Lowdown on How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

by Feb 23, 2017Writing

An important part of the literature student’s curriculum is writing analyses. Whether it’s on books, plays, historical speeches or events, writing in detail your analysis is a must. So let us learn how to write a rhetorical analysis essay in a systematic manner.

Before we start thinking about how to write a rhetorical analysis essay, we must know what rhetoric actually is. Only then can we know what rhetorical analysis is.

What is rhetorical analysis?

Man is a social animal. And when you live within a group, in a society, your life is affected by opinion.  Opinions formed describe your image. It is a like an outer shell that communicates with the world. So forming an opinion is of utmost importance. In today’s media driven world, opinions can be shaped. Facts can be manipulated, truths can be moulded. These opinions, the by product of several shaping processes, is what is essentially called rhetoric.

Advertising brands, marketing brands, newspapers, movies, books, TV shows, politicians – all are tools for forming rhetoric. But you as a member of the society can choose whether to accept their version. Better even, you can form your own.

Every person needs to analyze and comment on happenings around them. Not only as a social tool, but in every other field as well. But when you are required to do it in a detailed manner that becomes rhetorical analysis.

You do not have to be a journalist, or even work for advertising to do such an analysis. As a student, you are often asked to do a detailed rhetorical analysis of any book or play you’ve read. Therefore, it becomes imperative that you know how to write a rhetorical analysis essay.

What to do before starting?

Before you start writing a rhetorical analysis, you need to gather some basic information. For instance, if you are analyzing a book, or a speech, there are some questions you need to ask.

  • What is the context?
  • What is the background?
  • How did the author try to shape the reader’s opinion, including your?
  • Was he successful in his intention?
  • Did the author try to manipulate facts?
  • If he did, what was the reason?
  • What was the overall tone?

These basic questions need to be asked if you want to know how to write a rhetorical analysis essay.

The introduction

You should always begin with the author. The author’s life, reputation and information of his/her other works is very essential. That gives us knowledge about the purpose of what he/she wrote.  That forms the very crux of the arguments the author has put forward in the work.

Also, do not forget to write about the main point you as an analyzer are trying to make. However, that should be in brief. That gives the reader an idea of what they should expect. Once this is done, you can start about why you think about the subject the way you do. So stating your thesis right at the start is crucial.

Once this is done, delve into what you have found. Start your main analysis. Form the body of the analysis, and clearly communicate about what you think is the tone of the work, whether the creator has been able to justify his arguments. Try and persuade your reader so that he/she agrees with your analysis.

Forming the main body

Aristotle, the great philosopher himself, had formulated a way to communicate effectively; a method to make one’s point in an analysis. Known as the Rhetoric Triangle, or the method of Persuasive Appeals, this method basically requires you to present three appeals – logos, ethos and pathos.

If you want to know how to write a rhetorical analysis essay, this is what you need to be good at. So, let us see what these three methods of persuading the reader are all about:

  • Logos

Logos, or logical appeal, is where you give proof in support of your claims. Suppose you claim that the author has not been able to justify his points. You will have to back your claim with facts. In this part you will need to provide evidence on why you made a specific inference.

You need to corroborate you findings. You will have to state facts in order to justify you findings. This is the STRONGEST part of your essay. This is where the reader will judge your capability as an analyser.

  • Ethos

This is where you try to make your points by evoking morality. We assume by default, that the readers have a sense of right and wrong. Principles and moral values take centre stage. You appeal to the readers’ power of reason, their sense of justice.

  • Pathos

An emotional pitch, this is all you do here. Make a passionate appeal; paint an image that evokes sympathy. Move people. This is another important part, which if you do rightly, can win the reader over. 

Forming this body in an effective manner gives the reader, or the teacher an idea of whether you know how to write a rhetorical analysis essay. This is the part you can’t afford to mess up.

Concluding your analysis

Once you’ve put forward all your arguments to your satisfaction, it is time for the conclusion. This is where you restate your main point, or the thesis, again. There is no need to state arguments in your favour again, since you have already done that in the body.

Unnecessary elaboration is to be avoided, since that can take away the reader’s interest from your analysis. Also, make sure you do not repeat the points that have already been made.

That is all, it’s that easy. So next time you think you do not know how to write a rhetorical analysis essay, make sure you go through this thoroughly! Also, make sure you check out blogs dedicated to helping you out for this specific task.