How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

By Dumb Little Man

January 10, 2024

A rhetorical analysis paper is somewhat different from the usual essays that you might come across. Usually, you would focus on the subject matter in an essay. For example, suppose you have to write about a paper focusing on the impact of World War I on Literature. In that case, you will focus on the far-reaching consequences of the war on literary works of the time.

But that’s not the case for a rhetorical essay. In a rhetorical piece, your focus is not on the subject matter. Instead, notice the way the author has written the paper. Place all your focus on the author’s writing techniques. It’s quite simple yet complex at the same time. So, if you need help with essay writing, go through this blog.

What is a Rhetorical Essay?

A rhetorical paper is a form of academic writing that is less concerned about the subject matter of a piece and more focused on the text itself. The purpose of such writing is pretty simple. It is meant to analyze the following –

In short, it focuses on how a text is written instead of what it is about.

No one expects you to agree or disagree with the author’s point of view. Instead, your task is to check the overall effectiveness of the paper. It’s quite different from your usual essays. Thus, you might consider paying someone to write your paper if you’re not confident.

But that won’t be necessary. The next section will cover the key terms related to this assignment type. They should help you understand such a paper better.

Key Concepts of Rhetoric

If you want to do justice to your rhetorical essay, you need a basic introduction to the key concepts related to it. Let’s go through them one by one.

I. Logos

Logos denotes the use of logical reasoning, evidence, and critical thinking to persuade the reader. Almost all academic papers use logos to present their arguments.

II. Ethos

Ethos refers to the ethical or authoritative appeal. In other words, you gain readers’ confidence by highlighting your morally superior nature or academic qualifications to prove you are a credible source of information for a topic.

III. Pathos 

Pathos tries to appeal to the emotions of the readers. This technique focuses less on logic and reasoning and more on evoking emotions like anger, sadness, happiness, etc.

 IV. Text

 Text doesn’t literally have to be a piece of writing. It can be any piece of work that you have to analyze, such as an image, a satirical post, etc.

 V. Context

The context refers to the additional information about the author and the times. For example, you need to understand the context of the Modernist era to figure out why poets chose free verse instead of the traditional verse forms.

 VI. Claim

A claim is an idea that the author believes in. It is the author’s intention to convince the reader of the same. 

VII. Support

To convince the reader of the claim, the author has to provide supportive statements. This includes evidence from reliable sources that corroborates the claim.

VIII. Warrant

A warrant is essential to the logical conclusion you come to after figuring out the connection between the claim and the support.

These concepts are the basic essentials of any rhetorical paper. When analyzing an author’s rhetoric, you have to critically go through each of these sections to check whether the author has been able to achieve their goal.

A Step-by-Step Guideline to Writing Rhetorical Analysis

Let’s finally figure out how to compose a rhetorical analysis paper. This step-by-step guide should be able to polish your writing skills.

 1. Collect background information

The first step to writing such content is to gather details about the piece of work that you have to analyze. This includes noting down the following –

  • The historical background
  • The intended audience
  • The writer’s purpose
  • The choice of tone
  • The main subject

Knowing the historical and literary context can help you understand more about the author’s intentions with their work.

 2. Understand persuasive technique

The writer chooses how they wish to appeal to the reader. You’ve already covered the three major ways to go about this – logos, pathos, and ethos. Check whether the rhetorician leans more towards the logical or the emotional side. If the writer is a notable expert in a topic, their preferred option is ethos.

3. Note the author’s stylistic choice

A writer’s choice of diction, tone, imagery, repetition of words, and other stylistic qualities is completely intentional. They have a goal that they want to reach. The essence of your analysis lies in figuring out if they were successful or not. For example, Edgar Allan Poe’s choice of words in The Raven plays a crucial role in setting the overall mood of the poem.

4. Analyze the writer’s strategy

Now that you’ve collected the basic information you need about the text, it’s time to put your thinking caps on. Go through the writer’s choices and ask yourself why they made them. Here are a few questions begin –

  • What is the author’s intention?
  • Who is the intended reader?
  • What methods did the writer adapt?
  • Was the writer successful?

These should be enough to get you started on your analyzing journey.

5. Create the essay outline

This type of writing follows the standard essay format. In other words, you have three basic sections –

  • Introduction
  • Body
  • Conclusion

The introductory and concluding paragraphs are of one paragraph each. Meanwhile, the body consists of three paragraphs. But there’s no strict rule regarding that. You can increase the number of paragraphs for your body as well. That takes care of the outline.

 6. Write your paper

You’ve got your outline. Now, get on to writing the essay. Expand on the points you’ve already noted, and make sure you don’t stray off-topic.

7. Proofread the content

The final step in the writing process is to proofread your paper. Catch those spelling and grammatical mistakes before it’s too late! You don’t want such issues to affect your grade.

In summary,

Writing a rhetorical analysis essay requires in-depth research on the historical, political, social, and literary context of the work. You need to set aside your personal opinion about the author’s work and analyze their writing style critically. Your paper should be able to justify whether the writer has been able to use rhetoric to achieve their goal.

Dumb Little Man

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