A rhetorical analysis essay studies how a writer or speaker uses words to influence the audience. Rhetoric is non-fiction work such as speeches, cartoons, advertisements, or visual work.
A rhetorical essay breaks down the non-fiction work to examine how the different parts and techniques have been used to bring out a certain effect or to accomplish the writer’s goal. The writer’s goal may be to persuade, inform, or entertain.
During a rhetorical analysis, you must not establish your point of view; rather the essay should serve as a tool for analysis.
Therefore, you are not to indicate whether you agree with the rhetorician’s (creator of the rhetoric) approach. Notably, a rhetorical analysis essay is not a summary of the work.
You then pick those parts and analyze how the author uses them to accomplish a given goal. Different writers in various disciplines use diverse writing techniques to achieve their goals.
In every work, try to identify the writer’s main idea otherwise known as a thesis statement.
Read the piece of work to get a sense of what the author or speaker’s work is about. Look out for answers to the following questions.
When taking an AP exam, you are time bound. Therefore, you do not have abundant time to read the work repeatedly.
The first time you peruse the work, take notes in regards to the questions above.
When writing a rhetoric essay, you have to consider elements such as the speaker, the occasion, the audience to which the piece was intended, and the purpose.
Moreover, you have to consider the subject and the tone. Speaker refers to the author or creator of the non-fiction work that you will be analyzing.
Identify the author’s names or initials that give him/her the authority to write on the subject. If the narrator and the writer are different, note down both.
Occasion refers to the type of content and its context. For instance, you will easily be able to pick out the difference between a research paper and a memo.
The audience is the primary target audience for whom the content is created. Depending on who the target audience, the writer will use different writing techniques.
For instance, a book written for students about a certain topic will be simplified while a professional or academic paper may use technical language and present numerous facts.
Purpose refers to the main idea or theme of the paper while subject simply refers to the topic or essay.
The following is a general outline of a rhetorical analysis essay although it may differ slightly depending on the work being analyzed.
If writing a rhetoric essay as part of your AP Exam, ensure to use the outline that your professor provided.
The introduction should state the title of the document, essay, or work you will be analyzing.
State the rhetoric situation you will be analyzing, the author of the rhetoric, intended audience, and the context of the work you will be writing about. This background information should be to the point and concise.
Thesis is usually written as part of the introduction. It can be the last paragraph of the introduction or the last few sentences of the last paragraph of the introduction.
Note that this is not the thesis statement for the text or work you will be analyzed; rather, it is a statement of the main objective of your rhetoric analysis.
It should give the reader a sense of what to expect in your essay.
This section of your essay should highlight the specifics of the various tools the author of the rhetoric uses to achieve a certain objective.
This is the section where you cover tone, language, diction, tenses, and other writing tools.
In the body, expound on the various tools and techniques that the rhetorician uses.
Give examples of each tool and explain how they have been used to achieve a specific objective.
Justify why the author uses a specific strategy and whether it is effective in regards to the audience, occasion, and purpose.
When analyzing the text, it is important to look at the techniques the author has used to influence the reader.
There are three main persuasion appeals: Pathos, Ethos, and Logos. Pathos refers to emotionally persuading the reader, logos appeals to logic, and ethos is the persuasion based on credibility.
Different writing tools are used for each persuasion mode. For instance, if the author has given his credentials, it establishes his credibility to talk about the subject.
Therefore, appealing to the readers’ ethos. Similarly, the logical presentation of ideas influences the audience’s interpretation of the piece of work.
Techniques such as the use of descriptive language appeal to the reader’s pathos.
Your conclusion should dwell on your overall argument. Give an overview of the text’s strengths and weaknesses and overall evidence for the text’s effectiveness or ineffectiveness in accomplishing the specific goal.
Various basic guidelines apply all essays regarding grammar, using tenses, tone, and coherence. Below are overall guidelines for writing a rhetorical essay analysis.
Vocabulary – Use a variety of vocabulary. Replace commonly used verbs with their appropriate synonyms. Avoid overusing certain words unless you are using the repetition to deliberately, bring out a certain effect such as for emphasis.
The length of your essay will vary depending on the text you are analyzing and the specific thesis statement.
However, AP exam rhetoric essays are 500-700 words. Your lecturer may give specific instructions on word count – adhere to them.
Grammar may sound obvious yet often overlooked. The reality is your professor will penalize you for work that has grammatical and punctuation errors.
Before submitting your essay, proofread it thoroughly. Check it to ensure there is a variety of sentence schemes and types; punctuation marks are well used, coherence, and proper spellings.
Ensure you have not used any abbreviations in your essay.
There are numerous applications available online to help you check for grammatical errors as well as detect plagiarism in your essay.
The recommended tense for rhetoric essays is present tenses. Although you may need to use past tense, your observations should be current.
Since a rhetoric essay aims to present an objective tone, it is advisable that you write in the third Avoid using first person pronoun “I.”
Using the first-person pronoun might give an impression that you are giving your personal opinions yet this is a fact-based type of essay.
Use a writing style and select words that create a seamless flow of your easy.
Use a variety of transition words appropriately to be able to transition from one idea to another.
Ensure that the ideas flow logically. This prevents you from jumping from one idea to a completely different one within the same paragraph.
Use the appropriate punctuation marks to ensure your essay is readable.
Keep in mind that a rhetoric essay is not just about identifying the various rhetoric strategies and techniques.
You will need to demonstrate the effectiveness of those strategies versus your thesis statement.
Ensure your essay has a suitable title. The title should give an idea of the theme statement as well as the text being analyzed.
Keep the title short and catchy. Use subtitles to categorize your work. This will help you present your arguments better while improving the readability of your essay.
The body is the main part of a rhetorical analysis essay. It contains all the important details of your analysis. The main purpose of the body is to answer the following questions:
You can adopt various strategies organize the paragraphs in your rhetoric essay body section.
First is organizing the paragraphs according to the appeals.
Depending on the amount of content available for each persuasion mode, you can write a paragraph or as many as you need to clarify each.
The order in which you arrange the appeals does not matter. For each mode, identify at least one claim and evaluate it by deriving examples from the text.
The last paragraph should evaluate the overall impact of the three appeals.
The second alternative for organizing your body is arranging the strategies chronologically.
Start from the beginning of the text identifying how the various appeal and styles have been used. Work your way to the end of the text.
When using this approach, ensure that every paragraph begins with a topic sentence.
Each sentence in each paragraph should further expound the topic sentence. You should not jump from one topic to another within a paragraph.
The third option is to analyze the content in four main broad categories: diction, syntax, punctuation, and tone.
Diction refers to the choice of words that the writer uses to convey a particular meaning.
Look out for specific words and phrases used words that have been used repetitiously, whether or not the author has used filler words. For instance, repetition can be used to create emphasis.
The appropriate diction varies with the purpose, occasion, and subject as well as the target audience. Technical text requires the use of field-specific vocabulary.
Concerning the purpose of the content, consider whether the writer intended to entertain, inform, or persuade and whether the words used had the intended impact.
For instance, if the author intended to inform, the diction is most likely going to be straightforward.
On the other hand, if the intention was to entertain the writer may have used some playful words.
Formal diction is the standard for scholarly writing and text while you may encounter slang or colloquial for informal texts.
Syntax refers to word arrangement within a sentence. The standard scheme for arranging words with a sentence is subject-verb-object.
However, the writer may deviate from this scheme to add emphasis. Another key aspect in regards to syntax is sentence length.
Long sentences are used to provide details and descriptions while short sentences straightforwardly bring the main idea.
Good writing is often characterized by the use of a variety of sentence lengths.
Sentence types range from simple, declarative, exclamative, compound, complex, compound-complex, interrogative, and imperative sentences.
Identify the type of sentences the writer has used and to what impact.
Appropriate use of punctuation marks is vital for any good writing. Bes sure to check how often punctuation marks such as semicolon, colon, dash, period and other have been used.
Finally, the tone is used to bring out the writer’s attitude about the subject.
Tone is a unique rhetorical strategy that is brought out by the use of the other rhetorical strategies.
A writer can bring out the tone in three major ways. First is combining Diction and Tropes, the second is combining syntax and schemes, and the third is whether the writing is detailed or lacks details.
A conclusion in any piece of writing is an opportunity for you to create a memorable impression on the reader. It is your chance to leave the readers with a sense of completeness. While the introduction familiarizes the reader with the content that will be discussed throughout the text, the conclusion sums up ideas discussed in the easy.
Choosing a good rhetoric essay topic is key to writing a good rhetoric essay. However, you may find yourself confused which topic to choose.
Consider these two guidelines. First, go for a topic that interests you or that you are familiar with.
Secondly, ensure that the topic you choose will be of interest to your readers.
Your analysis can be in text, speech, and poem, commercial or any other subject of interest provided it is not fiction.
You can analyze topics on a wide range of subjects such as culture and emerging issues.
When analyzing a piece of literature, you could be asked to describe the narrative voice, examine the literal context, describe the mood of the work, and examine characters among others.
That said, below is a list of 20 popular rhetoric analysis topics that you can choose from.
Essentially, the principles for writing a rhetorical analysis for a commercial are similar to that of text.
Just like in text, you will identify the target audience, subject matter, and the various rhetoric strategies used.
You will also identify the appeals and presentation in the commercial.
Unique to rhetorical analysis of a commercial, you will need to identify the characters used in the commercial.
Are the characters celebrities? How do they carry themselves? What role do they play in the commercial?
Also, identify the setting of the commercial and its relevance in bringing out the purpose of the commercial.
Analyze the use of language in the commercial and usage to persuade or bring out the message of the commercial.
The outline and general guidelines for writing a rhetorical analysis of a text and a rhetorical analysis of a commercial are the same.
While this article has done its best to offer you the tips and strategies for writing a good rhetorical essay, the process can be complicated and confusing.
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