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How To Write A Rhetorical Analysis Essay

When you need to write a rhetorical analysis essay, it is easy to get overwhelmed. You need to include just so many elements and keep track of them!

How do you write a rhetorical analysis essay?  Here is everything you need to know:

What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

A rhetorical analysis essay is a particular type of paper that focuses on the author's intended meaning.  The writer carefully considers tone, word choice, persuasive techniques, and the audience.

When writing a rhetorical analysis essay, you need to consider what types of techniques the author has used?  Have they used metaphors, hyperbole, or comparisons?  Has the author used adjectives to evoke a specific emotion from the reader?  Do they use anecdotes instead of statistics?

Rhetorical Analysis Strategies

To compose an effective rhetorical analysis essay, you need to do more than just brainstorm ideas.  You need to have a clear thesis statement supported by specific examples from the text.

The main elements of rhetoric analysis are often referred to as "modes."   The modes are:

1. Ethos - This is the author's credibility.  This can appeal to the author's knowledge and expertise on a specific topic or be built through careful textual evidence.

2. Logos - This is the argument and evidence that the writer uses to support their thesis statement.

3. Pathos - This refers to the emotions of the author's audience.  Pathos is what the author attempts to evoke from their reader.

4. Style refers to how the author presents their writing, including word choice and syntax.   

5. Allusion refers to another piece of literature or culture that the writer makes.  For example, when Shakespeare says, "All the world's a stage," he refers to the idea that life itself is like watching a play.

6. Hyperbole is an exaggeration used to create emphasis or humor.  "I am dying of boredom" would be considered hyperbole because it refers to a temporary state of being, rather than the that the person will die if they are not entertained.

7. Metaphor - This is when you use an implied comparison between two, unlike things to explain something.  For example, "Grace runs like a gazelle."

8. Onomatopoeia is the use of words that sound like what they mean.  For example, "Buzz" would be considered onomatopoeic because it sounds like a buzzing noise.

9. Oxymoron - Two contradictory terms are combined to create an effect, such as humor or shock.  For example, "deafening silence" is an oxymoron.

10. Personification - This is when you give human qualities to inanimate objects or animals that are not human.  For example, "The sun rose slowly over the ocean."

Step by step to writing Rhetorical Analysis

You need to follow specific steps when writing a rhetorical analysis essay. They are as follows:

1. Choose your topic of interest

With a significant topic in mind, you will have a much easier time with your rhetorical analysis essay.  Be sure to choose something narrow enough to write the paper without feeling overwhelmed.

2. Write a thesis statement that comments on the author's intended meaning, tone, and use of rhetorical techniques

Now it is time to write a thesis statement that explicitly claims the author's use of rhetorical devices.  Be sure that you have included specific examples from the text.

3. Write a paragraph about each of the rhetorical devices that you identified in your thesis statement

Write an explanatory paragraph that provides both textual evidence and analysis for each device you identify.  Be careful not to repeat your thesis statement; use different wording and focus on making the author's writing stand out.

4. Finish with a conclusion paragraph that is clear and concise

Your rhetorical analysis essay should be at least five paragraphs in length, so plan accordingly.  In your final paragraph, summarize how the author has used the device in question to influence their audience's thoughts and emotions.  Use specific examples from the text to support your claims.

5. Format in MLA style

You should plan out each paragraph in an outline form using MLA format.  It will make it much easier to cite textual evidence supporting your claims.

Be sure that you are using correct MLA formatting for your paper, including margins, spacing, title page, headers/footers, and in-text citations.  Most importantly, double-check that you have included the works cited page listing all of your sources.

Remember that you can always contact experts for help or clarification on any rhetorical analysis essay question. These experts will be available to help you through your order placement process.

Rhetorical Analysis Tips

1. Don't Treat Your Essay as a Term Paper

If you are assigned an essay about an author's use of rhetorical devices, don't treat it as though you are writing a term paper.  Term papers require much more research and analysis than the average rhetorical analysis essay.  Focus on examining each technique the author uses and showing how it changes the tone or meaning.

2. Be Sure to Cite to Your Sources

Your teacher will expect you to follow the proper MLA format in your essay, including citing all sources on the works cited page.  Ensure that you use direct quotations from the text when discussing specific examples of rhetorical devices.

3. Be Flexible with Your Topic

If you are struggling to think of a topic, don't settle on the first one that comes to mind.  Instead, brainstorm several ideas and then pick the one that genuinely interests you.  You will be much happier with your final essay if you choose something that appeals to you.

4. Use Specific Evidence in Your Paragraphs

You should explain how the device in question is used and provide specific examples from the text to support your claims.  It will help you get a higher grade because it shows that you have read and analyzed more thoroughly.

5. Relax and Have Fun with It!

Even if you struggle with writing, the rhetorical analysis essay is an excellent opportunity to flex your critical thinking skills.  Remember that it doesn't have to be perfect; share what interests you and follow proper MLA formatting.

Rhetorical analysis essays are among the most straightforward assignments college professors can give their students. This type of paper is often nothing more than an essay about how some author uses particular rhetorical devices. While this can be a difficult task, it also provides you with the opportunity to practice your critical reading and writing skills

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