How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis in 3 Easy Steps

Rhetoric is the study of the words that authors and speakers employ to persuade their audiences. A rhetorical analysis is a work of nonfiction that analyses the structure and explains how it affects the reader’s ideas and emotions—whether it appeals to them, delights them, or instructs them.

In other words, it is a type of essay that emphasizes rhetoric. In essence, it considers the author’s words to be less important than how they express them; it is concerned with their goals, techniques, and appeals to the audience.

A rhetorical analysis is structured similarly to other essays; it begins with an introduction outlining the thesis, then examines the text in depth, and concludes with a summary statement. This article defines core rhetorical notions and provides practical suggestions on how to develop a rhetorical analysis.

writing rhetorical analysis essay.

Rhetorical key concepts.

When you study rhetoric, you learn to look at texts, arguments, and speeches as structures designed to persuade your audience. These topics are included in this section because they are crucial to understanding the subject.

Logos, ethos, and pathos are three types of appeals in philosophy.

By appealing to their audience, the author persuades them to endorse their position. The three fundamental appeals in rhetoric, according to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, are (1) logos, (2) ethos, and (3) pathos.

1.The Logos, or the application of reasoned reasoning, involves the application of logos. This is the most popular writing technique used by academics who utilize reasoning and facts to support their ideas.

2.Using their ethos, the author positions himself as an authority on their subject. Some people try to use a moral argument to highlight the good they have done in their life, while others utilize a technical issue to prove their credentials as an expert.

3.Pathos, or the pathetic appeal, can elicit intense emotional reactions from the audience. It might include passionately employing colorful vocabulary, speaking in a fiery way, or attempting to evoke wrath, sympathy, or any other emotional response from the audience.

These three appeals are all considered key components of rhetoric, and an author may use them in conjunction to accomplish their communication goals.

The text and its context.

Although it is not essential, a text can be a written document (though it may be this). A text is a piece of communication to which you are paying attention. A excellent example is a speech, a commercial, or a satirical image.

In these cases, you’d pay attention to more than simply the words. You may also look at the text’s visual and/or aural elements.

In all cases, the context is everything that surrounds the text. What is the author’s/speaker’s/name? designer’s Who is their target audience (s)? What was the text written for, and where and when was it published?

Understanding the context can help you comprehend rhetoric more effectively. The context of the civil rights movement is an important consideration while examining Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Claims, evidence, and warrants.

Any piece of rhetoric’s goal is to convince. Whether it is providing a clear and logical argument (as in a philosophical essay) or pushing the reader to develop their own conclusions, the primary purpose of all rhetoric is to persuade (e.g. in a satirical article). These statements, support, and warrants serve as the foundation for these arguments.

A claim is information or an idea that the author wants the reader to believe. A disagreement might arise from a single claim or from a series of them. The fact is that statements are frequently made openly, but they may also be stated solely in various types of writing.

Each assumption is backed up by evidence. This might include things like proof, testimonials, or emotions—anything used to persuade the reader to accept a claim.

The warrant serves as a link between the evidence produced in support of a claim and the conclusion reached as a result of that evidence. The author omits the warrant in less formal arguments, trusting that the audience would comprehend the relationship without being informed. While this prevents you from examining the implicit warrant, it does not rule out the possibility of looking for warrants in implicit conditions.

For example, consider the following statement:

Rhetorical assertion.

There was no popular candidate, and just a small number of people voted in the election.

The warrant is implied in this case. A warrant is predicated on the notion that if politicians were more popular, more people would vote for them. We may or may not believe in the argument depending on whether we consider this is a reasonable assumption.

Examining the text.

When doing a rhetorical analysis, you do not prepare your ideas ahead of time and then apply them to a text. It starts by closely examining the content and enquiring about how it works:

The author’s intention is to both entertain and educate.

The author’s intention is to both entertain and educate.

Are they narrowly focused on their main arguments, or do they cover a wide range of topics?

On a more intimate level, what tone do they adopt: enraged or sympathetic? genuine or one’s own? Are you laid-back or stiff?

What does the target audience resemble? Are we able to contact and persuade this audience?

What evidence does the group offer?

Finding these rhetorical strategies in the text might help you develop more compelling replies. Learn the most important words and phrases, rather than all of them.

This section of the essay demonstrates the many components of a rhetorical analysis.

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  • The academic style
  • Sentences that are vague
  • The rules of grammar
  • Consistency in style
  • Describe your rhetorical analysis.

An introduction should always come before the body of the content in any essay. This part provides context for the issue, defines your thesis statement, and introduces the content you will be presenting.

Hover over different portions of the sample below for a better understanding.

Introduction to rhetorical analysis.

Many people who admire American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. see this as one of the most important speeches in American history. On August 28, 1963, around 20,000 people heard Martin Luther King, Jr. speak to them from the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., and the speech is remembered today as a significant aspect of the American national story. According to this rhetorical interpretation, the King was more readily able to acquire the prophetic tone because of the grandiose scale of his audience, so amplifying his presence as a visionary leader.

examining the body.

In your body paragraph, you will address the material directly. It can be divided into three paragraphs, but in a longer essay, it may not be as easily divided.

Each paragraph should highlight a different feature of the text, and each paragraph should seek to advance your argument in favor of your thesis statement.

To understand how to write a common body paragraph, go to the sample.

Body paragraph for rhetorical analysis.

King’s discourse is filled with prophesy, as seen by his frequent use of prophetic vocabulary. His terminology foreshadows the famous “dream” segment of the speech even before it occurs. He refers to the Lincoln Memorial as a “hallowed site” and says that people are rising from the “dark and dreary valley of segregation” to “help ensure that justice prevails for all of God’s children.” King’s inclusion of heroes such as Abraham Lincoln and the Founding Fathers serves as the text’s strongest ethical argument, linking him with Biblical prophets and preachers of change.

As the audience for this address approaches a quarter-million people, Jesus declares not only what the future should be, but also what it will be: “the bright day of justice arises.” Despite its ominous tone, this warning concludes on a hopeful and optimistic note, with a depiction of a “bright day of justice.” The King’s visionary efficacy is based not only on the pathos of his vision of a better future, but also on the righteousness of his prophetic voice.

Concluding a rhetorical analysis.

In the conclusion, rhetorical analysis gives a review of the essay’s main topic and demonstrates how it has been expanded on by the analysis. It may also attempt to connect the text to broader concepts.

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