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How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay–Examples & Template

thesis for a rhetorical essay

What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

A rhetorical analysis essay is, as the name suggests, an analysis of someone else’s writing (or speech, or advert, or even cartoon) and how they use not only words but also rhetorical techniques to influence their audience in a certain way. A rhetorical analysis is less interested in what the author is saying and more in how they present it, what effect this has on their readers, whether they achieve their goals, and what approach they use to get there. 

Its structure is similar to that of most essays: An Introduction presents your thesis, a Body analyzes the text you have chosen, breaks it down into sections and explains how arguments have been constructed and how each part persuades, informs, or entertains the reader, and a Conclusion section sums up your evaluation. 

Note that your personal opinion on the matter is not relevant for your analysis and that you don’t state anywhere in your essay whether you agree or disagree with the stance the author takes.

In the following, we will define the key rhetorical concepts you need to write a good rhetorical analysis and give you some practical tips on where to start.

Key Rhetorical Concepts

Your goal when writing a rhetorical analysis is to think about and then carefully describe how the author has designed their text so that it has the intended effect on their audience. To do that, you need to consider a number of key rhetorical strategies: Rhetorical appeals (“Ethos”, “Logos”, and “Pathos”), context, as well as claims, supports, and warrants.

Ethos, Logos, and Pathos were introduced by Aristotle, way back in the 4th century BC, as the main ways in which language can be used to persuade an audience. They still represent the basis of any rhetorical analysis and are often referred to as the “rhetorical triangle”. 

These and other rhetorical techniques can all be combined to create the intended effect, and your job as the one analyzing a text is to break the writer’s arguments down and identify the concepts they are based on.

Rhetorical Appeals

Rhetorical appeal #1: ethos.

Ethos refers to the reputation or authority of the writer regarding the topic of their essay or speech and to how they use this to appeal to their audience. Just like we are more likely to buy a product from a brand or vendor we have confidence in than one we don’t know or have reason to distrust, Ethos-driven texts or speeches rely on the reputation of the author to persuade the reader or listener. When you analyze an essay, you should therefore look at how the writer establishes Ethos through rhetorical devices.

Does the author present themselves as an authority on their subject? If so, how? 

Do they highlight how impeccable their own behavior is to make a moral argument? 

Do they present themselves as an expert by listing their qualifications or experience to convince the reader of their opinion on something?

Rhetorical appeal #2: Pathos

The purpose of Pathos-driven rhetoric is to appeal to the reader’s emotions. A common example of pathos as a rhetorical means is adverts by charities that try to make you donate money to a “good cause”. To evoke the intended emotions in the reader, an author may use passionate language, tell personal stories, and employ vivid imagery so that the reader can imagine themselves in a certain situation and feel empathy with or anger towards others.

Rhetorical appeal #3: Logos

Logos, the “logical” appeal, uses reason to persuade. Reason and logic, supported by data, evidence, clearly defined methodology, and well-constructed arguments, are what most academic writing is based on. Emotions, those of the researcher/writer as well as those of the reader, should stay out of such academic texts, as should anyone’s reputation, beliefs, or personal opinions. 

Text and Context

To analyze a piece of writing, a speech, an advertisement, or even a satirical drawing, you need to look beyond the piece of communication and take the context in which it was created and/or published into account. 

Who is the person who wrote the text/drew the cartoon/designed the ad..? What audience are they trying to reach? Where was the piece published and what was happening there around that time? 

A political speech, for example, can be powerful even when read decades later, but the historical context surrounding it is an important aspect of the effect it was intended to have. 

Claims, Supports, and Warrants

To make any kind of argument, a writer needs to put forward specific claims, support them with data or evidence or even a moral or emotional appeal, and connect the dots logically so that the reader can follow along and agree with the points made.

The connections between statements, so-called “warrants”, follow logical reasoning but are not always clearly stated—the author simply assumes the reader understands the underlying logic, whether they present it “explicitly” or “implicitly”. Implicit warrants are commonly used in advertisements where seemingly happy people use certain products, wear certain clothes, accessories, or perfumes, or live certain lifestyles – with the connotation that, first, the product/perfume/lifestyle is what makes that person happy and, second, the reader wants to be as happy as the person in the ad. Some warrants are never clearly stated, and your job when writing a rhetorical analysis essay is therefore to identify them and bring them to light, to evaluate their validity, their effect on the reader, and the use of such means by the writer/creator. 

bust of plato the philosopher, rhetorical analysis essay

What are the Five Rhetorical Situations?

A “rhetorical situation” refers to the circumstance behind a text or other piece of communication that arises from a given context. It explains why a rhetorical piece was created, what its purpose is, and how it was constructed to achieve its aims.

Rhetorical situations can be classified into the following five categories:

Asking such questions when you analyze a text will help you identify all the aspects that play a role in the effect it has on its audience, and will allow you to evaluate whether it achieved its aims or where it may have failed to do so.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

Analyzing someone else’s work can seem like a big task, but as with every assignment or writing endeavor, you can break it down into smaller, well-defined steps that give you a practical structure to follow. 

To give you an example of how the different parts of your text may look when it’s finished, we will provide you with some excerpts from this rhetorical analysis essay example (which even includes helpful comments) published on the Online Writing Lab website of Excelsior University in Albany, NY. The text that this essay analyzes is this article on why one should or shouldn’t buy an Ipad. If you want more examples so that you can build your own rhetorical analysis template, have a look at this essay on Nabokov’s Lolita and the one provided here about the “Shitty First Drafts” chapter of Anne Lamott’s writing instruction book “Bird by Bird”.

Analyzing the Text

When writing a rhetorical analysis, you don’t choose the concepts or key points you think are relevant or want to address. Rather, you carefully read the text several times asking yourself questions like those listed in the last section on rhetorical situations to identify how the text “works” and how it was written to achieve that effect.

Start with focusing on the author : What do you think was their purpose for writing the text? Do they make one principal claim and then elaborate on that? Or do they discuss different topics? 

Then look at what audience they are talking to: Do they want to make a group of people take some action? Vote for someone? Donate money to a good cause? Who are these people? Is the text reaching this specific audience? Why or why not?

What tone is the author using to address their audience? Are they trying to evoke sympathy? Stir up anger? Are they writing from a personal perspective? Are they painting themselves as an authority on the topic? Are they using academic or informal language?

How does the author support their claims ? What kind of evidence are they presenting? Are they providing explicit or implicit warrants? Are these warrants valid or problematic? Is the provided evidence convincing?  

Asking yourself such questions will help you identify what rhetorical devices a text uses and how well they are put together to achieve a certain aim. Remember, your own opinion and whether you agree with the author are not the point of a rhetorical analysis essay – your task is simply to take the text apart and evaluate it.

If you are still confused about how to write a rhetorical analysis essay, just follow the steps outlined below to write the different parts of your rhetorical analysis: As every other essay, it consists of an Introduction , a Body (the actual analysis), and a Conclusion .

Rhetorical Analysis Introduction

The Introduction section briefly presents the topic of the essay you are analyzing, the author, their main claims, a short summary of the work by you, and your thesis statement . 

Tell the reader what the text you are going to analyze represents (e.g., historically) or why it is relevant (e.g., because it has become some kind of reference for how something is done). Describe what the author claims, asserts, or implies and what techniques they use to make their argument and persuade their audience. Finish off with your thesis statement that prepares the reader for what you are going to present in the next section – do you think that the author’s assumptions/claims/arguments were presented in a logical/appealing/powerful way and reached their audience as intended?

Have a look at an excerpt from the sample essay linked above to see what a rhetorical analysis introduction can look like. See how it introduces the author and article , the context in which it originally appeared , the main claims the author makes , and how this first paragraph ends in a clear thesis statement that the essay will then elaborate on in the following Body section:

Cory Doctorow ’s article on BoingBoing is an older review of the iPad , one of Apple’s most famous products. At the time of this article, however, the iPad was simply the latest Apple product to hit the market and was not yet so popular. Doctorow’s entire career has been entrenched in and around technology. He got his start as a CD-ROM programmer and is now a successful blogger and author. He is currently the co-editor of the BoingBoing blog on which this article was posted. One of his main points in this article comes from Doctorow’s passionate advocacy of free digital media sharing. He argues that the iPad is just another way for established technology companies to control our technological freedom and creativity . In “ Why I Won’t Buy an iPad (and Think You Shouldn’t, Either) ” published on Boing Boing in April of 2010, Cory Doctorow successfully uses his experience with technology, facts about the company Apple, and appeals to consumer needs to convince potential iPad buyers that Apple and its products, specifically the iPad, limit the digital rights of those who use them by controlling and mainstreaming the content that can be used and created on the device . 

Doing the Rhetorical Analysis

The main part of your analysis is the Body , where you dissect the text in detail. Explain what methods the author uses to inform, entertain, and/or persuade the audience. Use Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle and the other key concepts we introduced above. Use quotations from the essay to demonstrate what you mean. Work out why the writer used a certain approach and evaluate (and again, demonstrate using the text itself) how successful they were. Evaluate the effect of each rhetorical technique you identify on the audience and judge whether the effect is in line with the author’s intentions.

To make it easy for the reader to follow your thought process, divide this part of your essay into paragraphs that each focus on one strategy or one concept , and make sure they are all necessary and contribute to the development of your argument(s).

One paragraph of this section of your essay could, for example, look like this:

One example of Doctorow’s position is his comparison of Apple’s iStore to Wal-Mart. This is an appeal to the consumer’s logic—or an appeal to logos. Doctorow wants the reader to take his comparison and consider how an all-powerful corporation like the iStore will affect them. An iPad will only allow for apps and programs purchased through the iStore to be run on it; therefore, a customer must not only purchase an iPad but also any programs he or she wishes to use. Customers cannot create their own programs or modify the hardware in any way. 

As you can see, the author of this sample essay identifies and then explains to the reader how Doctorow uses the concept of Logos to appeal to his readers – not just by pointing out that he does it but by dissecting how it is done.

Rhetorical Analysis Conclusion

The conclusion section of your analysis should restate your main arguments and emphasize once more whether you think the author achieved their goal. Note that this is not the place to introduce new information—only rely on the points you have discussed in the body of your essay. End with a statement that sums up the impact the text has on its audience and maybe society as a whole:

Overall, Doctorow makes a good argument about why there are potentially many better things to drop a great deal of money on instead of the iPad. He gives some valuable information and facts that consumers should take into consideration before going out to purchase the new device. He clearly uses rhetorical tools to help make his case, and, overall, he is effective as a writer, even if, ultimately, he was ineffective in convincing the world not to buy an iPad . 

Frequently Asked Questions about Rhetorical Analysis Essays 

What is a rhetorical analysis essay.

A rhetorical analysis dissects a text or another piece of communication to work out and explain how it impacts its audience, how successfully it achieves its aims, and what rhetorical devices it uses to do that. 

While argumentative essays usually take a stance on a certain topic and argue for it, a rhetorical analysis identifies how someone else constructs their arguments and supports their claims.

What is the correct rhetorical analysis essay format?

Like most other essays, a rhetorical analysis contains an Introduction that presents the thesis statement, a Body that analyzes the piece of communication, explains how arguments have been constructed, and illustrates how each part persuades, informs, or entertains the reader, and a Conclusion section that summarizes the results of the analysis. 

What is the “rhetorical triangle”?

The rhetorical triangle was introduced by Aristotle as the main ways in which language can be used to persuade an audience: Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, Ethos to the writer’s status or authority, and Pathos to the reader’s emotions. Logos, Ethos, and Pathos can all be combined to create the intended effect, and your job as the one analyzing a text is to break the writer’s arguments down and identify what specific concepts each is based on.

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Rhetorical Analysis


Almost every text makes an argument. Rhetorical analysis is the process of evaluating elements of a text and determining how those elements impact the success or failure of that argument. Often rhetorical analyses address written arguments, but visual, oral, or other kinds of “texts” can also be analyzed. 

Rhetorical Features—What to Analyze

Asking the right questions about how a text is constructed will help you determine the focus of your rhetorical analysis. A good rhetorical analysis does not try to address every element of a text; discuss just those aspects with the greatest [positive or negative] impact on the text’s effectiveness. 

The Rhetorical Situation

Remember that no text exists in a vacuum. The rhetorical situation of a text refers to the context in which it is written and read, the audience to whom it is directed, and the purpose of the writer. 

The Rhetorical Appeals

A writer makes many strategic decisions when attempting to persuade an audience. Considering the following rhetorical appeals will help you understand some of these strategies and their effect on an argument. Generally, writers should incorporate a variety of different rhetorical appeals rather than relying on only one kind. 

Ethos (appeal to the writer’s credibility)

  • What is the writer’s purpose (to argue, explain, teach, defend, call to action, etc.)?
  • Do you trust the writer? Why?
  • Is the writer an authority on the subject? What credentials does the writer have?
  • Does the writer address other viewpoints?
  • How does the writer’s word choice or tone affect how you view the writer?

Pathos (appeal to emotion or to an audience’s values or beliefs)

  • Who is the target audience for the argument?
  • How is the writer trying to make the audience feel (i.e., sad, happy, angry, guilty)?
  • Is the writer making any assumptions about the background, knowledge, values, etc. of the audience?

Logos (appeal to logic)

  • Is the writer’s evidence relevant to the purpose of the argument? Is the evidence current (if applicable)? Does the writer use a variety of sources to support the argument?
  • What kind of evidence is used (i.e., expert testimony, statistics, proven facts)?
  • Do the writer’s points build logically upon each other?
  • Where in the text is the main argument stated? How does that placement affect the success of the argument?
  • Does the writer’s thesis make that purpose clear?

Kairos (appeal to timeliness)

  • When was the argument originally presented?
  • Where was the argument originally presented?
  • What circumstances may have motivated the argument?
  • Does the particular time or situation in which this text is written make it more compelling or persuasive?
  • What would an audience at this particular time understand about this argument?

Writing a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

No matter the kind of text you are analyzing, remember that the text’s subject matter is never the focus of a rhetorical analysis. The most common error writers make when writing rhetorical analyses is to address the topic or opinion expressed by an author instead of focusing on how that author constructs an argument.

You must read and study a text critically in order to distinguish its rhetorical elements and strategies from its content or message. By identifying and understanding how audiences are persuaded, you become more proficient at constructing your own arguments and in resisting faulty arguments made by others.

A thesis for a rhetorical analysis does not address the content of the writer’s argument. Instead, the thesis should be a statement about specific rhetorical strategies the writer uses and whether or not they make a convincing argument.

Incorrect: Smith’s editorial promotes the establishment of more green space in the Atlanta area through the planting of more trees along major roads.

This statement is summarizing the meaning and purpose of Smith’s writing rather than making an argument about how – and how effectively – Smith presents and defends his position.

Correct: Through the use of vivid description and testimony from affected citizens, Smith makes a powerful argument for establishing more green space in the Atlanta area.

Correct: Although Smith’s editorial includes vivid descriptions of the destruction of green space in the Atlanta area, his argument will not convince his readers because his claim is not backed up with factual evidence.

These statements are both focused on how Smith argues, and both make a claim about the effectiveness of his argument that can be defended throughout the paper with examples from Smith’s text.


The introduction should name the author and the title of the work you are analyzing. Providing any relevant background information about the text and state your thesis (see above). Resist the urge to delve into the topic of the text and stay focused on the rhetorical strategies being used.

Summary of argument

Include a short summary of the argument you are analyzing so readers not familiar with the text can understand your claims and have context for the examples you provide.

The body of your essay discusses and evaluates the rhetorical strategies (elements of the rhetorical situation and rhetorical appeals – see above) that make the argument effective or not. Be certain to provide specific examples from the text for each strategy you discuss and focus on those strategies that are most important to the text you are analyzing. Your essay should follow a logical organization plan that your reader can easily follow.

Go beyond restating your thesis; comment on the effect or significance of the entire essay. Make a statement about how important rhetorical strategies are in determining the effectiveness of an argument or text.

Analyzing Visual Arguments

The same rhetorical elements and appeals used to analyze written texts also apply to visual arguments. Additionally, analyzing a visual text requires an understanding of how design elements work together to create certain persuasive effects (or not). Consider how elements such as image selection, color, use of space, graphics, layout, or typeface influence an audience’s reaction to the argument that the visual was designed to convey.

This material was developed by the KSU Writing Center and is licensed under a  Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License . All materials created by the KSU Writing Center are free to use and can be adopted, remixed, and shared at will as long as the materials are attributed. Please keep this information on materials you adapt or adopt for attribution purposes. 

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Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement

Surely you’ve already realized the difficulty involved in compacting all that is important in your essay into one key sentence – the thesis statement. Reaching a stage in writing your essay when you have decided on the main point that you would like to make can be quite challenging. That is especially when you consider the bearing that a single sentence could have on your entire essay. That's how important a thesis statement is. It's a focal point, a foundation on which you consequently build your paper, relating all the arguments you make back to this statement. Thesis statements vary depending on a particular type of essay you're writing. Here, we provide a detailed guide on how one formulates a rhetorical analysis thesis statement.

What is a rhetorical analysis essay?

Rhetorical analysis is a detailed study of how an author of a non-fiction work succeeded (or failed) in creating a specific effect – to convince, inform or entertain his/her audience. Analyzed work can be a text, a speech or a visual argument such as an advertisement or promotional video. You refer to the author of such work as a rhetorician. Important tools used by a rhetorician include factual evidence and, more importantly, appeals of an emotional (pathetic), ethical or logical type. Generally speaking, appeals represent attempts to earn the audience's approval by making use of fundamental human affinities or shared experience. Pathetic ones (here, we use the word pathetic without a negative connotation) primarily elicit an emotional response, sympathy or compassion, disappointment, sorrow or anger to persuade the audience of the rhetorician's argument. Logical ones use common sense to prove a point, while ethical ones rely upon the author's authority and trustworthiness to persuade the public of whatever attitude he/she has expressed towards a specific theme or topic. When performing a rhetorical analysis, you should look at which tool or technique the author has used, how successfully and what he/she has achieved by doing so.

Definitive essay outline page has useful information about authority and trustworthiness.

What is a rhetorical analysis thesis statement?

All thesis statements represent a final element of the introduction section of an essay. They consist of three parts: topic, argument and reason for it. A thesis statement written within a rhetorical analysis paper could look like this:

Author (name) effectively convinces readers (viewers) of the product quality by pointing to the (health or other) benefits of using it.

Alternatively, you could also argue:

Author (name) fails to persuade the audience of the product quality by using trivial argumentation and appealing to the wrong emotions.

But how do you decide what stand to take towards work you're analyzing? First of all, you should explore the goal a particular text or video is intended to reach. Next, check if the rhetorician has successfully achieved it. Then try to find out which techniques he/she used along the way and what has proven to be decisive in gaining the audience's approval or disapproval.

What to remember when writing a rhetorical thesis statement

  • Thesis statement is to serve as an orientation for readers, letting them know what will be discussed in a paper and from what angle or perspective.
  • It keeps you, as a writer, focused. It functions as an anchor to prevent you from drifting away from your topic. Without it, you would risk straying from your central theme which could cause you to end up not proving your point or seeming unclear of the message you're trying to get across.
  • It defines the overall content of your paper covering all points you would need for convincing your reader that your argument is indeed valid.
  • It is composed as an arguable claim. If something is an indisputable fact, then there is no use arguing its veracity. Thesis statement must have a potential to instigate discussion and provoke a reaction.

While there is no simple recipe on how to compose a compelling thesis statement for your rhetorical analysis essay, there are a few essential rules to follow:

  • Become sufficiently acquainted with analyzed material (text, audio or video) which acts as a topic of your rhetorical analysis. Read it thoroughly or watch it a couple of times to find out what impression it makes on you, what the author's primary goal was, what techniques he/she employed to reach this goal and whether it was successful. Analyze precisely what kinds of appeals the author used and to what avail. Don’t rush it. Take your time and if necessary go over the material several times to make sure that you didn’t miss anything.
  • After you've scrutinized the material and got to the bottom of every appeal used and to check for its efficiency, continue to next step which includes more specific analysis of things that were contrasted or made to appear similar in the material. Try to find out what was the aim and if it was successful.
  • Formulate a working hypothesis which will serve as an interim thesis statement while you further analyze material by examining factual evidence presented. It will be refined in the process until you reach a final thesis statement.

With what rules should a rhetorical analysis thesis statement comply?

  • Most importantly, it is supposed to be well-defined and precise. There is no room for vagueness and ambiguity when writing a thesis statement. It should provide a clear indication of your principle idea, which you will elaborate throughout your paper. Its formulation should make it clear to everyone what your essay will cover and what position you will be taking on this subject. If necessary, read your thesis statement to a few friends or family members and ask them what they think will be the theme of your essay. If what you get as an answer differs from your initial intention, then your thesis statement was not clear enough and you need to alter it.
  • Next, itemize rhetorical methods used by the author. Rhetorical analysis should identify all appeals used by the rhetorician to accomplish his/her goal. Determine which strategies were used and subject them to critical analysis. Decide if the author was successful in his use of common sense appeals, emotional cues or moral grounds for his argument. What impression do you think the audience got after reading or viewing the material?
  • Restrict the scope of your analysis to a particular segment of the material. You cannot possibly cover every conceivable aspect in one essay. So keep it specific. Decide upon a topic you find the most significant or appealing. Then thoroughly examine it to find enough support for your thesis.
  • Put some effort into finding a unique angle to your rhetorical analysis. Object essay examples may help with this one. It's an original essay and should be as distinctive as possible. Your essay provides your subjective view on how effectively the author has persuaded the audience of his argument. Of course, this perspective should be backed up with supporting evidence or facts but it remains personal and different from anyone else's nevertheless.
  • Although personal, your view should not be illogical or biased. Your task is not to pass judgment but to determine the author’s successfulness in accomplishing his work’s goal. So, do not claim that the material is good or bad, but establish if it was efficient in conveying a particular message or successful in creating a public opinion on a subject.
  • Discuss the author’s style and general tone he employed in his work. Consider the target audience for analyzed material and whether a particular style of presenting it is suited for them. If not, explain why. Talk about different techniques the author used to make an impression on his intended audience.
  • Your thesis statement should represent the point you would like to make in your essay. It should state your position clearly and provide a basis for further analysis.

Step-by-step refinement of rhetorical analysis thesis statement

Step #1: consider all possible angles of approaching your analyzed material. Read or watch it several times and write down everything that comes to your mind. Include impressions made on you by the author, as well as emotional responses these impressions elicited. Then think of the author's style and rhetorical appeals he utilized to accomplish his aim.

Step #2: restrict the scope of your analysis by deciding on which aspects of the material you would like to focus. These will be subjected to meticulous examination in your paper. Upon analysis, you will decide on the author's effectiveness in proving his point. What contributed to his success or failure?

Step #3: formulate your thesis. Now is the time to compose a compelling thesis which provides information on your general position regarding the material you analyzed and the main argumentation that you will discuss in more detail in the remaining parts of your essay. Take a stand on how you think the author's style, tone, and the various appeals used contributed to influencing the audience to think or feel in a particular way. If necessary, write multiple thesis statements and later decide on the most fitting one.

Step #4: refine your thesis. If you think your working version of the thesis statement is a bit rough around the edges, polish it to get a final version which pinpoints your position and expresses your point of view most clearly. A thesis statement is like a living organism; it changes and evolves over the time needed to write tips for rhetorical analysis . Adjusting it along the way is therefore crucial.

With a bit of luck, the information and guidance provided in this text will make the task of writing a rhetorical analysis thesis statement somewhat easier. It is a critically important part of the essay and should be given sufficient consideration so that you can structure the entire paper around it.

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What Is a Rhetorical Analysis and How to Write a Great One

Helly Douglas

Helly Douglas

Cover image for article

Do you have to write a rhetorical analysis essay? Fear not! We’re here to explain exactly what rhetorical analysis means, how you should structure your essay, and give you some essential “dos and don’ts.”

What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

How do you write a rhetorical analysis, what are the three rhetorical strategies, what are the five rhetorical situations, how to plan a rhetorical analysis essay, creating a rhetorical analysis essay, examples of great rhetorical analysis essays, final thoughts.

A rhetorical analysis essay studies how writers and speakers have used words to influence their audience. Think less about the words the author has used and more about the techniques they employ, their goals, and the effect this has on the audience.

Image showing definitions

In your analysis essay, you break a piece of text (including cartoons, adverts, and speeches) into sections and explain how each part works to persuade, inform, or entertain. You’ll explore the effectiveness of the techniques used, how the argument has been constructed, and give examples from the text.

A strong rhetorical analysis evaluates a text rather than just describes the techniques used. You don’t include whether you personally agree or disagree with the argument.

Structure a rhetorical analysis in the same way as most other types of academic essays . You’ll have an introduction to present your thesis, a main body where you analyze the text, which then leads to a conclusion.

Think about how the writer (also known as a rhetor) considers the situation that frames their communication:

  • Topic: the overall purpose of the rhetoric
  • Audience: this includes primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences
  • Purpose: there are often more than one to consider
  • Context and culture: the wider situation within which the rhetoric is placed

Back in the 4th century BC, Aristotle was talking about how language can be used as a means of persuasion. He described three principal forms —Ethos, Logos, and Pathos—often referred to as the Rhetorical Triangle . These persuasive techniques are still used today.

Image showing rhetorical strategies

Rhetorical Strategy 1: Ethos

Are you more likely to buy a car from an established company that’s been an important part of your community for 50 years, or someone new who just started their business?

Reputation matters. Ethos explores how the character, disposition, and fundamental values of the author create appeal, along with their expertise and knowledge in the subject area.

Aristotle breaks ethos down into three further categories:

  • Phronesis: skills and practical wisdom
  • Arete: virtue
  • Eunoia: goodwill towards the audience

Ethos-driven speeches and text rely on the reputation of the author. In your analysis, you can look at how the writer establishes ethos through both direct and indirect means.

Rhetorical Strategy 2: Pathos

Pathos-driven rhetoric hooks into our emotions. You’ll often see it used in advertisements, particularly by charities wanting you to donate money towards an appeal.

Common use of pathos includes:

  • Vivid description so the reader can imagine themselves in the situation
  • Personal stories to create feelings of empathy
  • Emotional vocabulary that evokes a response

By using pathos to make the audience feel a particular emotion, the author can persuade them that the argument they’re making is compelling.

Rhetorical Strategy 3: Logos

Logos uses logic or reason. It’s commonly used in academic writing when arguments are created using evidence and reasoning rather than an emotional response. It’s constructed in a step-by-step approach that builds methodically to create a powerful effect upon the reader.

Rhetoric can use any one of these three techniques, but effective arguments often appeal to all three elements.

The rhetorical situation explains the circumstances behind and around a piece of rhetoric. It helps you think about why a text exists, its purpose, and how it’s carried out.

Image showing 5 rhetorical situations

The rhetorical situations are:

  • 1) Purpose: Why is this being written? (It could be trying to inform, persuade, instruct, or entertain.)
  • 2) Audience: Which groups or individuals will read and take action (or have done so in the past)?
  • 3) Genre: What type of writing is this?
  • 4) Stance: What is the tone of the text? What position are they taking?
  • 5) Media/Visuals: What means of communication are used?

Understanding and analyzing the rhetorical situation is essential for building a strong essay. Also think about any rhetoric restraints on the text, such as beliefs, attitudes, and traditions that could affect the author's decisions.

Before leaping into your essay, it’s worth taking time to explore the text at a deeper level and considering the rhetorical situations we looked at before. Throw away your assumptions and use these simple questions to help you unpick how and why the text is having an effect on the audience.

Image showing what to consider when planning a rhetorical essay

1: What is the Rhetorical Situation?

  • Why is there a need or opportunity for persuasion?
  • How do words and references help you identify the time and location?
  • What are the rhetoric restraints?
  • What historical occasions would lead to this text being created?

2: Who is the Author?

  • How do they position themselves as an expert worth listening to?
  • What is their ethos?
  • Do they have a reputation that gives them authority?
  • What is their intention?
  • What values or customs do they have?

3: Who is it Written For?

  • Who is the intended audience?
  • How is this appealing to this particular audience?
  • Who are the possible secondary and tertiary audiences?

4: What is the Central Idea?

  • Can you summarize the key point of this rhetoric?
  • What arguments are used?
  • How has it developed a line of reasoning?

5: How is it Structured?

  • What structure is used?
  • How is the content arranged within the structure?

6: What Form is Used?

  • Does this follow a specific literary genre?
  • What type of style and tone is used, and why is this?
  • Does the form used complement the content?
  • What effect could this form have on the audience?

7: Is the Rhetoric Effective?

  • Does the content fulfil the author’s intentions?
  • Does the message effectively fit the audience, location, and time period?

Once you’ve fully explored the text, you’ll have a better understanding of the impact it’s having on the audience and feel more confident about writing your essay outline.

A great essay starts with an interesting topic. Choose carefully so you’re personally invested in the subject and familiar with it rather than just following trending topics. There are lots of great ideas on this blog post by My Perfect Words if you need some inspiration. Take some time to do background research to ensure your topic offers good analysis opportunities.

Image showing considerations for a rhetorical analysis topic

Remember to check the information given to you by your professor so you follow their preferred style guidelines. This outline example gives you a general idea of a format to follow, but there will likely be specific requests about layout and content in your course handbook. It’s always worth asking your institution if you’re unsure.

Make notes for each section of your essay before you write. This makes it easy for you to write a well-structured text that flows naturally to a conclusion. You will develop each note into a paragraph. Look at this example by College Essay for useful ideas about the structure.

Image showing how to structure an essay

1: Introduction

This is a short, informative section that shows you understand the purpose of the text. It tempts the reader to find out more by mentioning what will come in the main body of your essay.

  • Name the author of the text and the title of their work followed by the date in parentheses
  • Use a verb to describe what the author does, e.g. “implies,” “asserts,” or “claims”
  • Briefly summarize the text in your own words
  • Mention the persuasive techniques used by the rhetor and its effect

Create a thesis statement to come at the end of your introduction.

After your introduction, move on to your critical analysis. This is the principal part of your essay.

  • Explain the methods used by the author to inform, entertain, and/or persuade the audience using Aristotle's rhetorical triangle
  • Use quotations to prove the statements you make
  • Explain why the writer used this approach and how successful it is
  • Consider how it makes the audience feel and react

Make each strategy a new paragraph rather than cramming them together, and always use proper citations. Check back to your course handbook if you’re unsure which citation style is preferred.

3: Conclusion

Your conclusion should summarize the points you’ve made in the main body of your essay. While you will draw the points together, this is not the place to introduce new information you’ve not previously mentioned.

Use your last sentence to share a powerful concluding statement that talks about the impact the text has on the audience(s) and wider society. How have its strategies helped to shape history?

Before You Submit

Poor spelling and grammatical errors ruin a great essay. Use ProWritingAid to check through your finished essay before you submit. It will pick up all the minor errors you’ve missed and help you give your essay a final polish. Look at this useful ProWritingAid webinar for further ideas to help you significantly improve your essays. Sign up for a free trial today and start editing your essays!

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You’ll find countless examples of rhetorical analysis online, but they range widely in quality. Your institution may have example essays they can share with you to show you exactly what they’re looking for.

The following links should give you a good starting point if you’re looking for ideas:

Pearson Canada has a range of good examples. Look at how embedded quotations are used to prove the points being made. The end questions help you unpick how successful each essay is.

Excelsior College has an excellent sample essay complete with useful comments highlighting the techniques used.

Brighton Online has a selection of interesting essays to look at. In this specific example, consider how wider reading has deepened the exploration of the text.

Image showing tips when reading a sample essay

Writing a rhetorical analysis essay can seem daunting, but spending significant time deeply analyzing the text before you write will make it far more achievable and result in a better-quality essay overall.

It can take some time to write a good essay. Aim to complete it well before the deadline so you don’t feel rushed. Use ProWritingAid’s comprehensive checks to find any errors and make changes to improve readability. Then you’ll be ready to submit your finished essay, knowing it’s as good as you can possibly make it.

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Helly Douglas is a UK writer and teacher, specialising in education, children, and parenting. She loves making the complex seem simple through blogs, articles, and curriculum content. You can check out her work at hellydouglas.com or connect on Twitter @hellydouglas. When she’s not writing, you will find her in a classroom, being a mum or battling against the wilderness of her garden—the garden is winning!

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How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

Last Updated: January 27, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Megan Morgan, PhD . Megan Morgan is a Graduate Program Academic Advisor in the School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Georgia. She earned her PhD in English from the University of Georgia in 2015. There are 7 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,373,687 times.

A rhetorical analysis can be written about other texts, television shows, films, collections of artwork, or a variety of other communicative mediums that attempt to make a statement to an intended audience. In order to write a rhetorical analysis, you need to be able to determine how the creator of the original work attempts to make his or her argument. You can also include information about whether or not that argument is successful. To learn more about the right way to write a rhetorical analysis, continue reading.

Gathering Information

Step 1 Identify the SOAPSTone.

  • The speaker refers to the first and last name of the writer. If the writer has any credentials that lend to his or her authority on the matter at hand, you should also briefly consider those. Note that if the narrator is different from the writer, though, it could also refer to the narrator.
  • The occasion mostly refers to the type of text and the context under which the text was written. For instance, there is a big difference between an essay written for a scholarly conference and a letter written to an associate in the field.
  • The audience is who the text was written for. This is related to the occasion, since the occasion can include details about the audience. In the example above, the audience would be a conference of scholars versus an associate in the field.
  • The purpose refers to what the writer wants to accomplish in the text. It usually includes selling a product or point of view.
  • The subject is simply the topic the writer discusses in the text.

Step 2 Examine the appeals.

  • Ethos, or ethical appeals, rely on the writer's credibility and character in the garnering of approval. Mentions of a writer's character or qualifications usually qualify as ethos. For instance, if a family therapist with 20 years of practice writes an article on improving familial relations, mention of that experience would be using ethos. Despite their name, these appeals don't have anything to do with "ethics" as we usually think of them.
  • Logos, or logical appeals, use reason to make an argument. Most academic discourse should make heavy use of logos. A writer who supports an argument with evidence, data, and undeniable facts uses logos.
  • Pathos, or pathetic appeals, seek to evoke emotion in order to gain approval. These emotions can include anything from sympathy and anger to the desire for love. If an article about violent crime provides personal, human details about victims of violent crime, the writer is likely using pathos.

Step 3 Note style details.

  • Analogies and figurative language, including metaphors and similes, demonstrate an idea through comparison.
  • Repetition of a certain point or idea is used to make that point seem more memorable.
  • Imagery often affects pathos. The image of a starving child in a low income country can be a powerful way of evoking compassion or anger.
  • Diction refers to word choice. Emotionally-charged words have greater impact, and rhythmic word patterns can establish a theme more effectively.
  • Tone essentially means mood or attitude. A sarcastic essay is vastly different from a scientific one, but depending on the situation, either tone could be effective.
  • Addressing the opposition demonstrates that the writer is not afraid of the opposing viewpoint. It also allows the writer to strengthen his or her own argument by cutting down the opposing one. This is especially powerful when the author contrasts a strong viewpoint he or she holds with a weak viewpoint on the opposing side.

Step 4 Form an analysis.

  • Ask yourself how the rhetorical strategies of appeals and style help the author achieve his or her purpose. Determine if any of these strategies fail and hurt the author instead of helping.
  • Speculate on why the author may have chosen those rhetorical strategies for that audience and that occasion. Determine if the choice of strategies may have differed for a different audience or occasion.
  • Remember that in a rhetorical analysis, you do not need to agree with the argument being presented. Your task is to analyze how well the author uses the appeals to present her or his argument.

Writing the Introduction

Step 1 Identify your own purpose.

  • By letting the reader know that your paper is a rhetorical analysis, you let him or her know exactly what to expect. If you do not let the reader know this information beforehand, he or she may expect to read an evaluative argument instead.
  • Do not simply state, "This paper is a rhetorical analysis." Weave the information into the introduction as naturally as possible.
  • Note that this may not be necessary if you are writing a rhetorical analysis for an assignment that specifically calls for a rhetorical analysis.

Step 2 State the text being analyzed.

  • The introduction is a good place to give a quick summary of the document. Keep it quick, though. Save the majority of the details for your body paragraphs, since most of the details will be used in defending your analysis.

Step 3 Briefly mention the SOAPS.

  • You do not necessarily need to mention these details in this order. Include the details in a matter that makes sense and flows naturally within your introductory paragraph.

Step 4 Specify a thesis statement.

  • Try stating which rhetorical techniques the writer uses in order to move people toward his or her desired purpose. Analyze how well these techniques accomplish this goal.
  • Consider narrowing the focus of your essay. Choose one or two design aspects that are complex enough to spend an entire essay analyzing.
  • Think about making an original argument. If your analysis leads you to make a certain argument about the text, focus your thesis and essay around that argument and provide support for it throughout the body of your paper.
  • Try to focus on using words such as "effective" or "ineffective" when composing your thesis, rather than "good" or "bad." You want to avoid seeming like you are passing value judgments.

Writing the Body

Step 1 Organize your body paragraphs by rhetorical appeals.

  • The order of logos, ethos, and pathos is not necessarily set in stone. If you intend to focus on one more than the other two, you could briefly cover the two lesser appeals in the first two sections before elaborating on the third in greater detail toward the middle and end of the paper.
  • For logos, identify at least one major claim and evaluate the document's use of objective evidence.
  • For ethos, analyze how the writer or speaker uses his or her status as an "expert" to enhance credibility.
  • For pathos, analyze any details that alter the way that the viewer or reader may feel about the subject at hand. Also analyze any imagery used to appeal to aesthetic senses, and determine how effective these elements are.
  • Wrap things up by discussing the consequences and overall impact of these three appeals.

Step 2 Write your analysis in chronological order, instead.

  • Start from the beginning of the document and work your way through to the end. Present details about the document and your analysis of those details in the order the original document presents them in.
  • The writer of the original document likely organized the information carefully and purposefully. By addressing the document in this order, your analysis is more likely to make more coherent sense by the end of your paper.

Step 3 Provide plenty of evidence and support.

  • Evidence often include a great deal of direct quotation and paraphrasing.
  • Point to spots in which the author mentioned his or her credentials to explain ethos. Identify emotional images or words with strong emotional connotations as ways of supporting claims to pathos. Mention specific data and facts used in analysis involving logos.

Step 4 Maintain an objective tone.

  • Avoid use of the first-person words "I" and "we." Stick to the more objective third-person.

Writing the Conclusion

Step 1 Restate your thesis.

  • When restating your thesis, you should be able to quickly analyze how the original author's purpose comes together.
  • When restating your thesis, try to bring more sophistication or depth to it than you had in the beginning. What can the audience now understand about your thesis that they would not have without reading your analysis?

Step 2 Restate your main ideas.

  • Keep this information brief. You spent an entire essay supporting your thesis, so these restatements of your main ideas should only serve as summaries of your support.

Step 3 Specify if further research needs to be done.

  • Indicate what that research must entail and how it would help.
  • Also state why the subject matter is important enough to continue researching and how it has significance to the real world.

Writing Help

thesis for a rhetorical essay

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Avoid the use of "In conclusion..." While many writers may be taught to end conclusion paragraphs with this phrase as they first learn to write essays, you should never include this phrase in an essay written at a higher academic level. This phrase and the information that usually follows it is empty information that only serves to clutter up your final paragraph. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Do not introduce any new information in your conclusion. Summarize the important details of the essay. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
  • Do not argue in an analysis. Focus on the "how" they made their point, not if it's good or not. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

thesis for a rhetorical essay

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  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/establishing_arguments/rhetorical_strategies.html
  • ↑ https://writingcenter.tamu.edu/Students/Writing-Speaking-Guides/Alphabetical-List-of-Guides/Academic-Writing/Analysis/Rhetorical-Analysis
  • ↑ https://courses.lumenlearning.com/englishcomp1/chapter/text-an-overview-of-the-rhetorical-modes/
  • ↑ https://schools.stlucie.k12.fl.us/lpa/files/2019/05/AP-Language-Rhetorical-Analysis-Setup-Resource.pdf
  • ↑ https://oer.pressbooks.pub/informedarguments/chapter/rhetorical-modes-of-writing/
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/visual_rhetoric/analyzing_visual_documents/organizing_your_analysis.html
  • ↑ https://www.pfw.edu/offices/learning-support/documents/WriteARhetoricalAnalysis.pdf

About This Article

Megan Morgan, PhD

To write a rhetorical analysis, start by determining what the author of the work you're analyzing is trying to argue. Then, ask yourself if they succeeded in making their argument. Whether you think they did or didn't, include quotes and specific examples in your analysis to back up your opinion. When you're writing your analysis, use the third-person to appear objective as opposed to using "I" or "we." Also, make sure you include the author's name, profession, and purpose for writing the text at the beginning of your analysis to give reader's some context. To learn different ways to structure your rhetorical analysis from our English Ph.D. co-author, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Thesis Statement Examples for Rhetorical Analysis, How to Write, Tips

Rhetorical Analysis thesis statement examples

Rhetorical analysis is a nuanced and insightful approach to examining the strategies and techniques employed by authors to convey their messages effectively. Crafting a well-defined thesis statements is the cornerstone of a successful rhetorical analysis essay. This essay will explore effective thesis statement examples, provide guidance on how to formulate them, and offer valuable tips to enhance the overall quality of your rhetorical analysis. Through a detailed examination of various texts, we will uncover the art of dissecting persuasion and rhetoric.

What is a Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement? – Definition

A rhetorical analysis thesis statement is a concise and focused assertion that encapsulates the main argument or interpretation you intend to explore in your rhetorical analysis essay. It serves as a roadmap for your readers, outlining the key elements you will examine within the text, such as the author’s use of rhetorical devices, persuasive techniques, and overall effectiveness in conveying their message.

What is Thesis Statement Example for Rhetorical Analysis?

“In his compelling speech, Martin Luther King Jr. strategically employs poignant metaphors, rhythmic cadence, and passionate appeals to justice, effectively galvanizing the Civil Rights Movement and compelling societal change.”

This good thesis statement highlights the specific rhetorical elements (metaphors, cadence, appeals) that will be discussed in the analysis of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech and emphasizes the impact on social progress.

100 Thesis Statement Examples for Rhetorical Analysis

thesis statement examples for rhetorical analysis

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  • “Through her use of vivid imagery, Maya Angelou masterfully conveys the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity in her poem ‘Still I Rise.'”
  • “Through the skillful integration of statistics, personal anecdotes, and emotionally charged language, the documentary ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ persuasively conveys the urgency of addressing climate change.”
  • “By juxtaposing contrasting viewpoints and utilizing irony, George Orwell incisively critiques the manipulation of language for political control in his novel ‘1984.’”
  • “In his letter from Birmingham Jail, Martin Luther King Jr. employs rhetorical appeals and historical references to compellingly advocate for nonviolent protest as a means of achieving justice.”
  • “Through a combination of humor, satire, and logical reasoning, Jonathan Swift provocatively critiques British colonialism and social inequities in ‘A Modest Proposal.'”
  • “Gloria Steinem employs a combination of personal anecdotes, inclusive language, and impassioned appeals to justice to galvanize the feminist movement in her essay ‘If Men Could Menstruate.'”
  • “In his inaugural address, John F. Kennedy strategically employs pathos, ethos, and anaphora to inspire national unity and commitment to global progress.”
  • “Through the manipulation of tone, diction, and rhetorical questions, Frederick Douglass powerfully exposes the inherent contradictions of slavery in his narrative.”
  • “By utilizing allegory, biblical allusions, and emotional appeals, John Bunyan navigates complex spiritual themes and personal struggles in his work ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress.'”
  • “Through the strategic use of anecdotes, historical references, and logical reasoning, Malala Yousafzai compellingly advocates for girls’ education rights in her speech to the United Nations.”
  • “By intertwining personal narrative with universal themes, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie highlights the importance of diverse storytelling and challenges cultural stereotypes in her TED Talk ‘We Should All Be Feminists.'”
  • “Through the use of allegory, symbolism, and metaphors, Nathaniel Hawthorne explores the consequences of hidden sin and guilt in his novel ‘The Scarlet Letter.'”
  • “Utilizing juxtaposition, emotional anecdotes, and appeals to morality, Rachel Carson eloquently critiques the adverse effects of pesticide use on the environment in ‘Silent Spring.'”
  • “In his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, Martin Luther King Jr. employs repetition, allusion, and emotive language to inspire a nation towards racial harmony and equality.”
  • “Through a fusion of personal reflections, historical context, and persuasive arguments, Elizabeth Cady Stanton champions women’s suffrage in her speech ‘The Solitude of Self.'”
  • “By blending irony, satire, and rhetorical questions, Mark Twain critiques societal hypocrisy and human nature in his novel ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.'”
  • “Utilizing a combination of ethos, pathos, and logos, Ronald Reagan articulates his vision for a united America and small government in his speech ‘A Time for Choosing.'”
  • “Through vivid sensory descriptions, emotional appeals, and allegory, F. Scott Fitzgerald critiques the American Dream and the decadence of the Jazz Age in ‘The Great Gatsby.'”
  • “By employing allegorical characters, vivid imagery, and emotional appeals, George Orwell satirizes totalitarian regimes and political propaganda in ‘Animal Farm.'”
  • “Through the strategic use of anecdotes, expert opinions, and logical reasoning, Atul Gawande advocates for open discussions about end-of-life care in his essay ‘Letting Go.'”
  • “Combining anecdotes, historical references, and emotional appeals, Patrick Henry passionately advocates for colonial independence and unity in his speech ‘Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.'”
  • “By utilizing repetition, parallelism, and emotional appeals, Sojourner Truth powerfully challenges gender and racial prejudices in her speech ‘Ain’t I a Woman?'”
  • “Through allegory, anthropomorphism, and emotional appeals, George Orwell critiques authoritarianism and the corruption of power in his novella ‘Animal Farm.'”
  • “Utilizing vivid imagery, allegory, and emotional appeals, Langston Hughes critiques the deferred dreams of African Americans in his poem ‘Harlem.'”
  • “By weaving personal anecdotes, expert opinions, and rhetorical questions, Jill Bolte Taylor explores the complexities of human brain function and recovery in her TED Talk ‘My Stroke of Insight.'”
  • “Through the use of allegory, religious imagery, and emotional appeals, John Bunyan’s ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ explores the spiritual journey and personal salvation.”
  • “Utilizing humor, satire, and logical reasoning, Voltaire critiques religious dogma, social inequality, and human folly in his novella ‘Candide.'”
  • “By incorporating historical references, logical appeals, and emotional anecdotes, Abraham Lincoln persuades for the preservation of the Union and the end of slavery in his Gettysburg Address.”
  • “Through the combination of personal experiences, emotional appeals, and vivid language, Anne Frank’s diary captures the human spirit’s resilience amidst the horrors of the Holocaust.”
  • “Utilizing allegory, symbolism, and emotional appeals, William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies’ delves into the inherent conflict between civilization and primal instincts.”
  • “By employing irony, sarcasm, and logical reasoning, Jonathan Swift criticizes British colonial exploitation and economic policies in his essay ‘A Modest Proposal.'”
  • “Through the strategic use of metaphors, repetition, and emotional appeals, Emily Dickinson’s poetry explores themes of mortality, nature, and human emotions.”
  • “Utilizing rhetorical questions, emotional appeals, and vivid imagery, Martin Luther King Jr. addresses the issue of racial segregation and inequality in his ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail.'”
  • “By incorporating historical anecdotes, expert opinions, and emotional appeals, Susan B. Anthony advocates for women’s suffrage in her speech ‘On Women’s Right to Vote.'”
  • “Through allegory, symbolism, and emotional appeals, Franz Kafka explores the absurdity and alienation of modern life in his novella ‘The Metamorphosis.'”
  • “Utilizing logical appeals, emotional anecdotes, and expert opinions, Michael Pollan challenges the industrial food system and advocates for healthier eating habits in ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma.'”
  • “By blending satire, humor, and emotional appeals, Oscar Wilde critiques the shallow values of Victorian society in his play ‘The Importance of Being Earnest.'”
  • “Through the use of dialogue, rhetorical questions, and logical reasoning, Plato’s ‘Apology’ presents Socrates’ defense of his philosophical beliefs and principles.”
  • “Utilizing metaphors, emotional appeals, and expert opinions, Maya Angelou’s poetry reflects the struggles and triumphs of the African American experience in ‘Caged Bird.'”
  • “By incorporating historical context, emotional appeals, and rhetorical devices, Patrick Henry’s ‘Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death’ speech galvanizes colonial resistance against British oppression.”
  • “Through allegory, vivid imagery, and emotional appeals, Yann Martel’s ‘Life of Pi’ explores the journey of faith and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.”
  • “Utilizing emotional anecdotes, rhetorical questions, and vivid descriptions, Elie Wiesel’s ‘Night’ vividly conveys the horrors of the Holocaust and the endurance of human hope.”
  • “By blending personal reflections, expert opinions, and logical appeals, Sheryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’ advocates for women’s empowerment and equal opportunities in the workplace.”
  • “Through the use of allegory, emotional appeals, and vivid language, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ critiques the cyclical nature of history and human experience.”
  • “Utilizing rhetorical devices, emotional anecdotes, and logical appeals, Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement address emphasizes the value of following one’s passion and intuition.”
  • “By incorporating allegory, symbolism, and emotional appeals, Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ examines racial prejudice and moral growth in the American South.”
  • “Through the strategic use of historical references, logical appeals, and emotional anecdotes, Thomas Paine’s ‘Common Sense’ advocates for American independence from British rule.”
  • “Utilizing metaphors, emotional appeals, and vivid descriptions, Edgar Allan Poe’s poetry delves into the dark recesses of the human mind and explores themes of death and despair.”
  • “By blending personal experiences, emotional appeals, and logical reasoning, Helen Keller’s essay ‘Three Days to See’ explores the value of appreciating the world’s beauty.”
  • “Through the use of allegory, emotional appeals, and vivid imagery, Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ critiques the dehumanizing effects of technological advancements and consumerism.”
  • “Utilizing rhetorical questions, emotional anecdotes, and expert opinions, Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ examines themes of gender oppression and societal control.”
  • “By incorporating historical context, emotional appeals, and logical reasoning, Frederick Douglass’ narrative reveals the brutality of slavery and the power of literacy in gaining freedom.”
  • “Through allegory, symbolism, and emotional appeals, Aesop’s fables convey moral lessons and insights into human behavior through the experiences of animals.”
  • “Utilizing irony, satire, and logical appeals, George Bernard Shaw’s play ‘Pygmalion’ critiques class distinctions and the impact of education on social mobility.”
  • “By blending emotional anecdotes, rhetorical appeals, and vivid descriptions, Anne Bradstreet’s poetry expresses themes of faith, love, and the challenges of colonial life.”
  • “Through allegory, religious references, and emotional appeals, John Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ explores the nature of good and evil, freedom, and the fall of humanity.”
  • “Utilizing rhetorical questions, expert opinions, and emotional appeals, Richard Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’ critiques religious beliefs and advocates for atheism and science.”
  • “By incorporating historical context, logical appeals, and emotional anecdotes, Thomas Jefferson’s ‘Declaration of Independence’ justifies colonial separation from Britain.”
  • “Through allegory, symbolism, and emotional appeals, Ray Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’ examines the consequences of censorship and the importance of critical thinking.”
  • “Utilizing rhetoric, emotional appeals, and historical references, Winston Churchill’s ‘We Shall Fight on the Beaches’ speech inspires resilience and determination during World War II.”
  • “Through allegory, symbolism, and emotional appeals, William Blake’s ‘The Tyger’ explores the nature of creation, innocence, and experience.”
  • “Utilizing rhetorical questions, logical appeals, and emotional anecdotes, Gloria Anzaldúa’s ‘How to Tame a Wild Tongue’ reflects on language, identity, and cultural assimilation.”
  • “By incorporating historical context, emotional appeals, and rhetorical devices, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ‘Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation’ rallies the American people after the attack.”
  • “Through allegory, metaphors, and emotional appeals, Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ challenges the conventions of reality and explores the absurdity of life.”
  • “Utilizing rhetorical questions, expert opinions, and emotional appeals, Naomi Klein’s ‘No Logo’ critiques consumer culture, branding, and the power of multinational corporations.”
  • “By incorporating historical references, emotional anecdotes, and logical appeals, Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Quit India’ speech calls for nonviolent resistance against British colonial rule.”
  • “Through allegory, symbolism, and emotional appeals, Ralph Ellison’s ‘Invisible Man’ examines the invisibility and marginalization of African Americans in society.”
  • “Utilizing irony, humor, and emotional appeals, Kurt Vonnegut’s ‘Slaughterhouse-Five’ reflects on the horrors of war and the complexities of time.”
  • “By blending personal reflections, emotional appeals, and logical reasoning, J.K. Rowling’s Harvard commencement address explores the benefits of failure and imagination.”
  • “Through the use of allegory, symbolism, and emotional appeals, Herman Melville’s ‘Moby-Dick’ delves into themes of obsession, fate, and the power of nature.”
  • “Utilizing rhetorical questions, expert opinions, and emotional appeals, bell hooks’ ‘Feminism Is for Everybody’ advocates for a more inclusive and intersectional feminist movement.”
  • “By incorporating historical context, logical appeals, and emotional anecdotes, Nelson Mandela’s ‘I Am Prepared to Die’ speech defends his anti-apartheid activism.”
  • “Through allegory, symbolism, and emotional appeals, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ critiques gender roles and the treatment of mental illness.”
  • “Utilizing irony, satire, and emotional appeals, Joseph Heller’s ‘Catch-22’ exposes the absurdity and disillusionment of war and bureaucracy.”
  • “By blending personal anecdotes, rhetorical questions, and emotional appeals, Audre Lorde’s ‘The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House’ critiques white feminism.”
  • “Through allegory, metaphors, and emotional appeals, George Orwell’s ‘Shooting an Elephant’ explores the complexities of colonialism and the abuse of power.”
  • “Utilizing rhetorical questions, logical appeals, and emotional anecdotes, Harvey Milk’s ‘Hope Speech’ advocates for LGBTQ+ rights and social acceptance.”
  • “By incorporating historical references, emotional appeals, and rhetorical devices, Frederick Douglass’ ‘What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?’ speech challenges American hypocrisy.”
  • “Through allegory, symbolism, and emotional appeals, Franz Kafka’s ‘The Trial’ examines themes of absurdity, alienation, and the elusive nature of justice.”
  • “Utilizing humor, satire, and emotional appeals, Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ critiques patriarchal control and the erosion of women’s rights.”
  • “By weaving personal reflections, emotional appeals, and logical reasoning, Ta-Nehisi Coates’ ‘Between the World and Me’ explores the realities of racism and its impact on black bodies.”
  • “Utilizing rhetorical questions, historical references, and emotional appeals, Patrick Henry’s ‘Speech to the Virginia Convention’ galvanizes colonial resistance against British oppression.”
  • “Through allegory, symbolism, and emotional appeals, Haruki Murakami’s ‘Kafka on the Shore’ delves into themes of identity, destiny, and the blurred lines between reality and fantasy.”
  • “By blending personal experiences, expert opinions, and emotional appeals, Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ reflects on identity, leadership, and the power of storytelling.”
  • “Utilizing irony, satire, and logical appeals, Aldous Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ critiques the dehumanizing effects of a society driven by pleasure and conformity.”
  • “Through allegory, symbolism, and emotional appeals, John Steinbeck’s ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ explores themes of poverty, injustice, and the human struggle for dignity.”
  • “By incorporating historical context, emotional appeals, and rhetorical devices, Sojourner Truth’s ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’ speech challenges gender and racial prejudices.”
  • “Utilizing rhetorical questions, expert opinions, and emotional anecdotes, Ken Robinson’s TED Talk ‘Do Schools Kill Creativity?’ critiques the modern education system.”
  • “Through allegory, metaphors, and emotional appeals, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ examines themes of love, time, and the human condition.”
  • “By blending personal reflections, emotional appeals, and logical reasoning, Malala Yousafzai’s ‘I Am Malala’ recounts her fight for education and women’s rights.”
  • “Utilizing satire, humor, and emotional appeals, George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ allegorically criticizes the abuse of power and the corrupting influence of totalitarianism.”
  • “Through allegory, symbolism, and emotional appeals, E.B. White’s ‘Charlotte’s Web’ explores themes of friendship, mortality, and the circle of life.”
  • “By incorporating historical references, emotional anecdotes, and logical appeals, Susan Sontag’s ‘Notes on ‘Camp” explores the aesthetics of extravagance and artifice.”
  • “Utilizing rhetorical questions, expert opinions, and emotional appeals, Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s ‘Declaration of Sentiments’ advocates for women’s rights and suffrage.”
  • “Through allegory, imagery, and emotional appeals, J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’ delves into themes of heroism, friendship, and the battle between good and evil.”
  • “By blending personal experiences, emotional appeals, and logical reasoning, Neil deGrasse Tyson’s ‘The Perimeter of Ignorance’ lecture explores the frontiers of scientific knowledge.”
  • “Utilizing irony, satire, and emotional appeals, Mark Twain’s ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer’ critiques societal norms and presents a humorous coming-of-age story.”
  • “Through allegory, symbolism, and emotional appeals, Margaret Atwood’s ‘Alias Grace’ examines themes of memory, identity, and the manipulation of truth.”
  • “By incorporating historical context, emotional appeals, and rhetorical devices, Abraham Lincoln’s ‘Second Inaugural Address’ reflects on the complexities of reconciliation after the Civil War.”
  • “Utilizing rhetorical questions, expert opinions, and emotional appeals, Naomi Wolf’s ‘The Beauty Myth’ critiques societal standards of beauty and their impact on women.”

Your thesis statement should reflect the unique aspects of the text you’re analyzing and provide a clear roadmap for your analysis.

Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement Example for Essay

Crafting a powerful rhetorical analysis thesis statement for personal essay sets the stage for dissecting the art of persuasion within a given text. It succinctly outlines the author’s techniques, persuasive strategies, and the intended impact on the audience, offering a roadmap for an in-depth exploration of rhetoric’s nuances.

  • “Through skillful use of metaphors, emotive language, and compelling anecdotes, Jane Doe effectively challenges societal beauty standards in her essay ‘Mirror, Mirror.'”
  • “By dissecting persuasive appeals, rhetorical devices, and tone shifts, John Smith uncovers the manipulation of emotion and logic in his analysis of the political speech ‘A Nation United.'”
  • “In analyzing Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, this essay explores how he employs repetition, powerful imagery, and moral appeals to inspire societal change.”
  • “Examining the persuasive strategies in ‘The Power of Vulnerability’ TED Talk, this analysis demonstrates how Brené Brown combines personal stories, humor, and audience engagement.”
  • “Through a close examination of tone, diction, and narrative structure, this essay explores the emotional impact of J.K. Rowling’s ‘The Casual Vacancy’ on its readers.”
  • “By evaluating rhetorical devices, historical context, and the speaker’s credibility, this analysis dissects Winston Churchill’s ‘Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat’ speech during World War II.”
  • “Analyzing the ‘Blackfish’ documentary, this essay delves into the manipulation of emotional appeals, expert testimonies, and visual storytelling to advocate for animal rights.”
  • “This analysis of Maya Angelou’s poem ‘Phenomenal Woman’ uncovers how she uses rhythm, repetition, and empowering language to celebrate female strength and allure.”
  • “Through the exploration of rhetorical devices, irony, and emotional appeals, this essay dissects Mark Antony’s funeral oration in Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar.'”
  • “Examining Barack Obama’s ‘A More Perfect Union’ speech, this analysis illustrates how he combines personal history, logical reasoning, and rhetorical questions to address race in America.”

Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement Example for College

In college-level rhetorical analysis, the thesis statement for college essay acts as a compass guiding readers through the intricacies of persuasive techniques. This critical element encapsulates the main focus of the essay, from analyzing rhetorical devices to uncovering underlying themes, facilitating a comprehensive understanding of communication strategies.

  • “By scrutinizing the strategic use of anecdotes, historical context, and logical appeals, this college-level analysis dissects Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.”
  • “Analyzing the ‘TED Talk’ genre, this essay explores how speakers employ rhetorical strategies, visual aids, and audience engagement to convey complex ideas effectively.”
  • “This college-level analysis of Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ examines the symbolism, dystopian elements, and social commentary through a rhetorical lens.”
  • “Evaluating the persuasive techniques in President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ‘Day of Infamy’ speech, this analysis highlights his use of rhetorical questions, historical references, and emotional appeals.”
  • “Through an examination of metaphors, emotional appeals, and logical reasoning, this analysis dissects Frederick Douglass’ ‘Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.'”
  • “Analyzing J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit,’ this essay explores how Tolkien employs allegory, symbolism, and vivid descriptions to convey universal themes of heroism and growth.”
  • “This college-level analysis of Maya Angelou’s ‘Still I Rise’ dissects how she uses repetition, metaphor, and uplifting language to empower and inspire marginalized voices.”
  • “Evaluating the persuasive techniques in Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming,’ this analysis illustrates how she combines personal narratives, emotional appeals, and relatable anecdotes to connect with readers.”
  • “Through a rhetorical analysis of George Orwell’s ‘1984,’ this essay explores how he uses dystopian elements, propaganda, and language manipulation to critique totalitarianism.”
  • “Analyzing Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement address, this essay delves into how he employs personal stories, rhetorical questions, and aspirational language to inspire graduates.”

Strong Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement Example

A robust rhetorical analysis strong thesis statement  serves as a cornerstone for rigorous exploration. It not only identifies the core rhetorical strategies but also unveils their profound impact on shaping perceptions, opinions, and societal discourse, emphasizing the author’s skill in effectively manipulating language and emotion.

  • “Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘Letter from Birmingham Jail’ masterfully combines logical appeals, emotional anecdotes, and historical references to advocate for civil rights.”
  • “Through the strategic use of pathos, ethos, and logos, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ compellingly challenges gender stereotypes and inequality.”
  • “In ‘The Great Gatsby,’ F. Scott Fitzgerald employs vivid imagery, symbolism, and dramatic irony to critique the American Dream’s corruption and superficiality.”
  • “By blending allegory, emotional appeals, and vivid language, Yann Martel’s ‘Life of Pi’ artfully explores the human spirit’s resilience and the complexities of faith.”
  • “Harper Lee’s ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ uses allegory, symbolism, and emotional appeals to navigate themes of racial prejudice, moral growth, and societal justice.”
  • “Through the manipulation of tone, diction, and rhetorical questions, George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ satirically critiques the abuse of power and the dangers of totalitarianism.”
  • “In his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, Martin Luther King Jr. strategically employs repetition, allusion, and emotional appeals to inspire racial unity and equality.”
  • “Gloria Anzaldúa’s ‘How to Tame a Wild Tongue’ combines rhetorical questions, historical context, and emotional anecdotes to explore the challenges of linguistic assimilation.”
  • “Through the use of vivid imagery, emotive language, and allegory, William Blake’s ‘The Tyger’ delves into the complexities of creation, innocence, and experience.”
  • “By intertwining allegory, symbolism, and emotional appeals, John Bunyan’s ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’ explores themes of spiritual journey and redemption.”

Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement Example for History

Within historical context, a rhetorical analysis thesis statement provides a lens through which to examine how persuasive methods have influenced significant events. By scrutinizing the techniques used, this statement illuminates how rhetoric has played a role in shaping historical narratives, ideologies, and even shaping collective memory.

  • “Analyzing Winston Churchill’s ‘Their Finest Hour’ speech, this historical analysis dissects his use of rhetoric to inspire resilience and unity during World War II.”
  • “Evaluating Patrick Henry’s ‘Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death’ speech, this historical analysis explores how he strategically employed emotional appeals and historical references to advocate for colonial independence.”
  • “By examining the rhetoric of Frederick Douglass’ ‘What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?’ speech, this historical analysis uncovers how he used personal anecdotes and logical appeals to critique American hypocrisy.”
  • “This historical analysis of Sojourner Truth’s ‘Ain’t I a Woman?’ speech explores her use of rhetorical questions and emotional appeals to challenge gender and racial prejudices of her time.”
  • “Through the exploration of Abraham Lincoln’s ‘Second Inaugural Address,’ this historical analysis delves into how he employed biblical references, emotional appeals, and rhetorical devices to address post-Civil War reconciliation.”
  • “Analyzing Susan B. Anthony’s ‘Declaration of Sentiments,’ this historical analysis dissects how she utilized rhetorical strategies to advocate for women’s rights and suffrage in the 19th century.”
  • “By examining the persuasive techniques in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s ‘Pearl Harbor Address to the Nation,’ this historical analysis highlights how he combined emotional appeals, historical context, and logical reasoning to rally the nation after the attack.”
  • “Evaluating Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech through a historical lens, this analysis illustrates how he employed references to history, biblical allusions, and emotional appeals to advocate for racial equality.”
  • “Through the exploration of Gandhi’s ‘Quit India’ speech, this historical analysis uncovers how he used rhetoric to inspire nonviolent resistance against British colonial rule during India’s struggle for independence.”
  • “Analyzing the persuasive techniques in Ronald Reagan’s ‘Tear Down This Wall’ speech, this historical analysis delves into how he employed rhetorical strategies to advocate for the end of the Berlin Wall and Cold War tensions.”

How do you write a rhetorical analysis thesis statement? – Step by Step Guide

Crafting a compelling rhetorical analysis final thesis statement requires a systematic approach to distill the core elements of the text’s persuasive strategies. Follow these steps to create an effective thesis statement for your rhetorical analysis essay:

  • Understand the Text: Read the text thoroughly to grasp its message, context, and the author’s intent. Identify the rhetorical techniques, such as ethos, pathos, logos, and various stylistic devices used to influence the audience.
  • Identify the Core Strategies: Determine the main persuasive strategies employed by the author, such as the use of metaphors, anecdotes, rhetorical questions, appeals to authority, tone shifts, and more.
  • Analyze the Impact: Assess how these strategies contribute to the overall effectiveness of the message. Consider how they evoke emotions, create credibility, enhance logic, or provoke thought.
  • Narrow Down Your Focus: Choose specific aspects of the text’s rhetoric that you’ll analyze in detail. Your thesis statement should highlight the main techniques you’ll discuss in your essay.
  • Frame Your Assertion: Formulate a concise thesis statement that encapsulates your interpretation of the author’s message and the techniques used. It should provide insight into how the techniques contribute to the text’s persuasiveness.
  • Make it Specific: Ensure your thesis statement is precise and focused, avoiding vague or generic claims. Mention the specific rhetorical techniques and their impact on the audience.
  • Draft and Revise: Write a preliminary thesis statement and refine it through revisions. Ensure it reflects the text’s core themes and the analytical direction you plan to take.
  • Test for Clarity: Share your thesis statement with peers or mentors to gauge its clarity and effectiveness in conveying your intended analysis.
  • Check for Alignment: Confirm that your thesis statement accurately aligns with the analysis you present in your essay’s body paragraphs.
  • Refine as Needed: If your analysis evolves as you write, be open to refining your thesis statement to better capture your insights.

Does a rhetorical analysis need a thesis statement?

Yes, a rhetorical analysis essay should definitely have a clear and concise thesis statement . The thesis statement is the foundation of your essay; it guides your analysis, gives direction to your essay, and informs your readers about the central focus of your analysis. A well-crafted thesis statement articulates the author’s main persuasive strategies, the techniques used, and their intended impact on the audience.

A strong thesis statement serves as a roadmap for both you and your readers, ensuring that your analysis is focused and well-structured. Without a thesis statement, your essay may lack coherence and direction, making it challenging for your readers to follow your analytical journey. Therefore, incorporating a thesis statement in your rhetorical analysis essay is essential for a clear and effective presentation of your insights.

Tips for Writing a Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement

Creating an effective thesis statement for a rhetorical analysis requires precision and insight. Here are some tips to consider:

  • Be Specific: Clearly identify the rhetorical techniques you will analyze, such as imagery, metaphors, tone, or appeals. This specificity sets the tone for your essay.
  • Highlight Impact: Address how the identified techniques contribute to the author’s persuasiveness. Explain how they engage emotions, logic, or credibility.
  • Avoid Simple Summaries: Your thesis should go beyond summarizing the text; instead, focus on the techniques and their persuasive function.
  • Capture Complexity: Reflect the nuanced relationship between techniques and their combined impact on the audience’s interpretation.
  • Tailor to Audience: Consider the context of your essay. Adapt your thesis statement to the intended audience and their familiarity with the text.
  • Draft and Revise: Create a working thesis, then refine it as you analyze the text further and gain deeper insights.
  • Use Strong Language: Employ confident and assertive language to showcase your analytical approach.
  • Stay Objective: Maintain an objective tone in your thesis statement, focusing on the author’s techniques rather than expressing your personal opinions.
  • Parallel Structure: Consider using parallel structure to list the techniques you’ll analyze, ensuring clarity and consistency.
  • Connect to Argument: Ensure your thesis sets up your main argument or interpretation about the author’s overall effectiveness in persuasion.

Remember, a well-crafted thesis statement sets the tone for your entire essay and guides your analysis. Take the time to refine it, and it will serve as a valuable roadmap for both you and your readers.  In addition, you should review our  thesis statement persuasive essay .

thesis for a rhetorical essay

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How to write a rhetorical analysis

Rhetorical analysis illustration

What is a rhetorical analysis?

What are the key concepts of a rhetorical analysis, rhetorical situation, claims, supports, and warrants.

  • Step 1: Plan and prepare
  • Step 2: Write your introduction
  • Step 3: Write the body
  • Step 4: Write your conclusion

Frequently Asked Questions about rhetorical analysis

Related articles.

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion and aims to study writers’ or speakers' techniques to inform, persuade, or motivate their audience. Thus, a rhetorical analysis aims to explore the goals and motivations of an author, the techniques they’ve used to reach their audience, and how successful these techniques were.

This will generally involve analyzing a specific text and considering the following aspects to connect the rhetorical situation to the text:

  • Does the author successfully support the thesis or claims made in the text? Here, you’ll analyze whether the author holds to their argument consistently throughout the text or whether they wander off-topic at some point.
  • Does the author use evidence effectively considering the text’s intended audience? Here, you’ll consider the evidence used by the author to support their claims and whether the evidence resonates with the intended audience.
  • What rhetorical strategies the author uses to achieve their goals. Here, you’ll consider the word choices by the author and whether these word choices align with their agenda for the text.
  • The tone of the piece. Here, you’ll consider the tone used by the author in writing the piece by looking at specific words and aspects that set the tone.
  • Whether the author is objective or trying to convince the audience of a particular viewpoint. When it comes to objectivity, you’ll consider whether the author is objective or holds a particular viewpoint they want to convince the audience of. If they are, you’ll also consider whether their persuasion interferes with how the text is read and understood.
  • Does the author correctly identify the intended audience? It’s important to consider whether the author correctly writes the text for the intended audience and what assumptions the author makes about the audience.
  • Does the text make sense? Here, you’ll consider whether the author effectively reasons, based on the evidence, to arrive at the text’s conclusion.
  • Does the author try to appeal to the audience’s emotions? You’ll need to consider whether the author uses any words, ideas, or techniques to appeal to the audience’s emotions.
  • Can the author be believed? Finally, you’ll consider whether the audience will accept the arguments and ideas of the author and why.

Summing up, unlike summaries that focus on what an author said, a rhetorical analysis focuses on how it’s said, and it doesn’t rely on an analysis of whether the author was right or wrong but rather how they made their case to arrive at their conclusions.

Although rhetorical analysis is most used by academics as part of scholarly work, it can be used to analyze any text including speeches, novels, television shows or films, advertisements, or cartoons.

Now that we’ve seen what rhetorical analysis is, let’s consider some of its key concepts .

Any rhetorical analysis starts with the rhetorical situation which identifies the relationships between the different elements of the text. These elements include the audience, author or writer, the author’s purpose, the delivery method or medium, and the content:

  • Audience: The audience is simply the readers of a specific piece of text or content or printed material. For speeches or other mediums like film and video, the audience would be the listeners or viewers. Depending on the specific piece of text or the author’s perception, the audience might be real, imagined, or invoked. With a real audience, the author writes to the people actually reading or listening to the content while, for an imaginary audience, the author writes to an audience they imagine would read the content. Similarly, for an invoked audience, the author writes explicitly to a specific audience.
  • Author or writer: The author or writer, also commonly referred to as the rhetor in the context of rhetorical analysis, is the person or the group of persons who authored the text or content.
  • The author’s purpose: The author’s purpose is the author’s reason for communicating to the audience. In other words, the author’s purpose encompasses what the author expects or intends to achieve with the text or content.
  • Alphabetic text includes essays, editorials, articles, speeches, and other written pieces.
  • Imaging includes website and magazine advertisements, TV commercials, and the like.
  • Audio includes speeches, website advertisements, radio or tv commercials, or podcasts.
  • Context: The context of the text or content considers the time, place, and circumstances surrounding the delivery of the text to its audience. With respect to context, it might often also be helpful to analyze the text in a different context to determine its impact on a different audience and in different circumstances.

An author will use claims, supports, and warrants to build the case around their argument, irrespective of whether the argument is logical and clearly defined or needs to be inferred by the audience:

  • Claim: The claim is the main idea or opinion of an argument that the author must prove to the intended audience. In other words, the claim is the fact or facts the author wants to convince the audience of. Claims are usually explicitly stated but can, depending on the specific piece of content or text, be implied from the content. Although these claims could be anything and an argument may be based on a single or several claims, the key is that these claims should be debatable.
  • Support: The supports are used by the author to back up the claims they make in their argument. These supports can include anything from fact-based, objective evidence to subjective emotional appeals and personal experiences used by the author to convince the audience of a specific claim. Either way, the stronger and more reliable the supports, the more likely the audience will be to accept the claim.
  • Warrant: The warrants are the logic and assumptions that connect the supports to the claims. In other words, they’re the assumptions that make the initial claim possible. The warrant is often unstated, and the author assumes that the audience will be able to understand the connection between the claims and supports. In turn, this is based on the author’s assumption that they share a set of values and beliefs with the audience that will make them understand the connection mentioned above. Conversely, if the audience doesn’t share these beliefs and values with the author, the argument will not be that effective.

Appeals are used by authors to convince their audience and, as such, are an integral part of the rhetoric and are often referred to as the rhetorical triangle. As a result, an author may combine all three appeals to convince their audience:

  • Ethos: Ethos represents the authority or credibility of the author. To be successful, the author needs to convince the audience of their authority or credibility through the language and delivery techniques they use. This will, for example, be the case where an author writing on a technical subject positions themselves as an expert or authority by referring to their qualifications or experience.
  • Logos: Logos refers to the reasoned argument the author uses to persuade their audience. In other words, it refers to the reasons or evidence the author proffers in substantiation of their claims and can include facts, statistics, and other forms of evidence. For this reason, logos is also the dominant approach in academic writing where authors present and build up arguments using reasoning and evidence.
  • Pathos: Through pathos, also referred to as the pathetic appeal, the author attempts to evoke the audience’s emotions through the use of, for instance, passionate language, vivid imagery, anger, sympathy, or any other emotional response.

To write a rhetorical analysis, you need to follow the steps below:

With a rhetorical analysis, you don’t choose concepts in advance and apply them to a specific text or piece of content. Rather, you’ll have to analyze the text to identify the separate components and plan and prepare your analysis accordingly.

Here, it might be helpful to use the SOAPSTone technique to identify the components of the work. SOAPSTone is a common acronym in analysis and represents the:

  • Speaker . Here, you’ll identify the author or the narrator delivering the content to the audience.
  • Occasion . With the occasion, you’ll identify when and where the story takes place and what the surrounding context is.
  • Audience . Here, you’ll identify who the audience or intended audience is.
  • Purpose . With the purpose, you’ll need to identify the reason behind the text or what the author wants to achieve with their writing.
  • Subject . You’ll also need to identify the subject matter or topic of the text.
  • Tone . The tone identifies the author’s feelings towards the subject matter or topic.

Apart from gathering the information and analyzing the components mentioned above, you’ll also need to examine the appeals the author uses in writing the text and attempting to persuade the audience of their argument. Moreover, you’ll need to identify elements like word choice, word order, repetition, analogies, and imagery the writer uses to get a reaction from the audience.

Once you’ve gathered the information and examined the appeals and strategies used by the author as mentioned above, you’ll need to answer some questions relating to the information you’ve collected from the text. The answers to these questions will help you determine the reasons for the choices the author made and how well these choices support the overall argument.

Here, some of the questions you’ll ask include:

  • What was the author’s intention?
  • Who was the intended audience?
  • What is the author’s argument?
  • What strategies does the author use to build their argument and why do they use those strategies?
  • What appeals the author uses to convince and persuade the audience?
  • What effect the text has on the audience?

Keep in mind that these are just some of the questions you’ll ask, and depending on the specific text, there might be others.

Once you’ve done your preparation, you can start writing the rhetorical analysis. It will start off with an introduction which is a clear and concise paragraph that shows you understand the purpose of the text and gives more information about the author and the relevance of the text.

The introduction also summarizes the text and the main ideas you’ll discuss in your analysis. Most importantly, however, is your thesis statement . This statement should be one sentence at the end of the introduction that summarizes your argument and tempts your audience to read on and find out more about it.

After your introduction, you can proceed with the body of your analysis. Here, you’ll write at least three paragraphs that explain the strategies and techniques used by the author to convince and persuade the audience, the reasons why the writer used this approach, and why it’s either successful or unsuccessful.

You can structure the body of your analysis in several ways. For example, you can deal with every strategy the author uses in a new paragraph, but you can also structure the body around the specific appeals the author used or chronologically.

No matter how you structure the body and your paragraphs, it’s important to remember that you support each one of your arguments with facts, data, examples, or quotes and that, at the end of every paragraph, you tie the topic back to your original thesis.

Finally, you’ll write the conclusion of your rhetorical analysis. Here, you’ll repeat your thesis statement and summarize the points you’ve made in the body of your analysis. Ultimately, the goal of the conclusion is to pull the points of your analysis together so you should be careful to not raise any new issues in your conclusion.

After you’ve finished your conclusion, you’ll end your analysis with a powerful concluding statement of why your argument matters and an invitation to conduct more research if needed.

A rhetorical analysis aims to explore the goals and motivations of an author, the techniques they’ve used to reach their audience, and how successful these techniques were. Although rhetorical analysis is most used by academics as part of scholarly work, it can be used to analyze any text including speeches, novels, television shows or films, advertisements, or cartoons.

The steps to write a rhetorical analysis include:

Your rhetorical analysis introduction is a clear and concise paragraph that shows you understand the purpose of the text and gives more information about the author and the relevance of the text. The introduction also summarizes the text and the main ideas you’ll discuss in your analysis.

Ethos represents the authority or credibility of the author. To be successful, the author needs to convince the audience of their authority or credibility through the language and delivery techniques they use. This will, for example, be the case where an author writing on a technical subject positions themselves as an expert or authority by referring to their qualifications or experience.

Appeals are used by authors to convince their audience and, as such, are an integral part of the rhetoric and are often referred to as the rhetorical triangle. The 3 types of appeals are ethos, logos, and pathos.

thesis for a rhetorical essay

  • 9.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about Rhetoric
  • 1 Unit Introduction


  • 1.1 "Reading" to Understand and Respond
  • 1.2 Social Media Trailblazer: Selena Gomez
  • 1.3 Glance at Critical Response: Rhetoric and Critical Thinking
  • 1.4 Annotated Student Sample: Social Media Post and Responses on Voter Suppression
  • 1.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About a “Text”
  • 1.6 Evaluation: Intention vs. Execution
  • 1.7 Spotlight on … Academia
  • 1.8 Portfolio: Tracing Writing Development
  • Further Reading
  • Works Cited
  • 2.1 Seeds of Self
  • 2.2 Identity Trailblazer: Cathy Park Hong
  • 2.3 Glance at the Issues: Oppression and Reclamation
  • 2.4 Annotated Sample Reading from The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
  • 2.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about How Identity Is Constructed Through Writing
  • 2.6 Evaluation: Antiracism and Inclusivity
  • 2.7 Spotlight on … Variations of English
  • 2.8 Portfolio: Decolonizing Self
  • 3.1 Identity and Expression
  • 3.2 Literacy Narrative Trailblazer: Tara Westover
  • 3.3 Glance at Genre: The Literacy Narrative
  • 3.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
  • 3.5 Writing Process: Tracing the Beginnings of Literacy
  • 3.6 Editing Focus: Sentence Structure
  • 3.7 Evaluation: Self-Evaluating
  • 3.8 Spotlight on … The Digital Archive of Literacy Narratives (DALN)
  • 3.9 Portfolio: A Literacy Artifact
  • Works Consulted
  • 2 Unit Introduction
  • 4.1 Exploring the Past to Understand the Present
  • 4.2 Memoir Trailblazer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • 4.3 Glance at Genre: Conflict, Detail, and Revelation
  • 4.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain
  • 4.5 Writing Process: Making the Personal Public
  • 4.6 Editing Focus: More on Characterization and Point of View
  • 4.7 Evaluation: Structure and Organization
  • 4.8 Spotlight on … Multilingual Writers
  • 4.9 Portfolio: Filtered Memories
  • 5.1 Profiles as Inspiration
  • 5.2 Profile Trailblazer: Veronica Chambers
  • 5.3 Glance at Genre: Subject, Angle, Background, and Description
  • 5.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Remembering John Lewis” by Carla D. Hayden
  • 5.5 Writing Process: Focusing on the Angle of Your Subject
  • 5.6 Editing Focus: Verb Tense Consistency
  • 5.7 Evaluation: Text as Personal Introduction
  • 5.8 Spotlight on … Profiling a Cultural Artifact
  • 5.9 Portfolio: Subject as a Reflection of Self
  • 6.1 Proposing Change: Thinking Critically About Problems and Solutions
  • 6.2 Proposal Trailblazer: Atul Gawande
  • 6.3 Glance at Genre: Features of Proposals
  • 6.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Slowing Climate Change” by Shawn Krukowski
  • 6.5 Writing Process: Creating a Proposal
  • 6.6 Editing Focus: Subject-Verb Agreement
  • 6.7 Evaluation: Conventions, Clarity, and Coherence
  • 6.8 Spotlight on … Technical Writing as a Career
  • 6.9 Portfolio: Reflecting on Problems and Solutions
  • 7.1 Thumbs Up or Down?
  • 7.2 Review Trailblazer: Michiko Kakutani
  • 7.3 Glance at Genre: Criteria, Evidence, Evaluation
  • 7.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Black Representation in Film" by Caelia Marshall
  • 7.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Entertainment
  • 7.6 Editing Focus: Quotations
  • 7.7 Evaluation: Effect on Audience
  • 7.8 Spotlight on … Language and Culture
  • 7.9 Portfolio: What the Arts Say About You
  • 8.1 Information and Critical Thinking
  • 8.2 Analytical Report Trailblazer: Barbara Ehrenreich
  • 8.3 Glance at Genre: Informal and Formal Analytical Reports
  • 8.4 Annotated Student Sample: "U.S. Response to COVID-19" by Trevor Garcia
  • 8.5 Writing Process: Creating an Analytical Report
  • 8.6 Editing Focus: Commas with Nonessential and Essential Information
  • 8.7 Evaluation: Reviewing the Final Draft
  • 8.8 Spotlight on … Discipline-Specific and Technical Language
  • 8.9 Portfolio: Evidence and Objectivity
  • 9.1 Breaking the Whole into Its Parts
  • 9.2 Rhetorical Analysis Trailblazer: Jamil Smith
  • 9.3 Glance at Genre: Rhetorical Strategies
  • 9.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Rhetorical Analysis: Evicted by Matthew Desmond” by Eliana Evans
  • 9.6 Editing Focus: Mixed Sentence Constructions
  • 9.7 Evaluation: Rhetorical Analysis
  • 9.8 Spotlight on … Business and Law
  • 9.9 Portfolio: How Thinking Critically about Rhetoric Affects Intellectual Growth
  • 10.1 Making a Case: Defining a Position Argument
  • 10.2 Position Argument Trailblazer: Charles Blow
  • 10.3 Glance at Genre: Thesis, Reasoning, and Evidence
  • 10.4 Annotated Sample Reading: "Remarks at the University of Michigan" by Lyndon B. Johnson
  • 10.5 Writing Process: Creating a Position Argument
  • 10.6 Editing Focus: Paragraphs and Transitions
  • 10.7 Evaluation: Varied Appeals
  • 10.8 Spotlight on … Citation
  • 10.9 Portfolio: Growth in the Development of Argument
  • 11.1 Developing Your Sense of Logic
  • 11.2 Reasoning Trailblazer: Paul D. N. Hebert
  • 11.3 Glance at Genre: Reasoning Strategies and Signal Words
  • 11.4 Annotated Sample Reading: from Book VII of The Republic by Plato
  • 11.5 Writing Process: Reasoning Supported by Evidence
  • 12.1 Introducing Research and Research Evidence
  • 12.2 Argumentative Research Trailblazer: Samin Nosrat
  • 12.3 Glance at Genre: Introducing Research as Evidence
  • 12.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth" by Lily Tran
  • 12.5 Writing Process: Integrating Research
  • 12.6 Editing Focus: Integrating Sources and Quotations
  • 12.7 Evaluation: Effectiveness of Research Paper
  • 12.8 Spotlight on … Bias in Language and Research
  • 12.9 Portfolio: Why Facts Matter in Research Argumentation
  • 13.1 The Research Process: Where to Look for Existing Sources
  • 13.2 The Research Process: How to Create Sources
  • 13.3 Glance at the Research Process: Key Skills
  • 13.4 Annotated Student Sample: Research Log
  • 13.5 Research Process: Making Notes, Synthesizing Information, and Keeping a Research Log
  • 13.6 Spotlight on … Ethical Research
  • 14.1 Compiling Sources for an Annotated Bibliography
  • 14.2 Glance at Form: Citation Style, Purpose, and Formatting
  • 14.3 Annotated Student Sample: “Healthy Diets from Sustainable Sources Can Save the Earth” by Lily Tran
  • 14.4 Writing Process: Informing and Analyzing
  • 15.1 Tracing a Broad Issue in the Individual
  • 15.2 Case Study Trailblazer: Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
  • 15.3 Glance at Genre: Observation, Description, and Analysis
  • 15.4 Annotated Sample Reading: Case Study on Louis Victor "Tan" Leborgne
  • 15.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About How People and Language Interact
  • 15.6 Editing Focus: Words Often Confused
  • 15.7 Evaluation: Presentation and Analysis of Case Study
  • 15.8 Spotlight on … Applied Linguistics
  • 15.9 Portfolio: Your Own Uses of Language
  • 3 Unit Introduction
  • 16.1 An Author’s Choices: What Text Says and How It Says It
  • 16.2 Textual Analysis Trailblazer: bell hooks
  • 16.3 Glance at Genre: Print or Textual Analysis
  • 16.4 Annotated Student Sample: "Artists at Work" by Gwyn Garrison
  • 16.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically About Text
  • 16.6 Editing Focus: Literary Works Live in the Present
  • 16.7 Evaluation: Self-Directed Assessment
  • 16.8 Spotlight on … Humanities
  • 16.9 Portfolio: The Academic and the Personal
  • 17.1 “Reading” Images
  • 17.2 Image Trailblazer: Sara Ludy
  • 17.3 Glance at Genre: Relationship Between Image and Rhetoric
  • 17.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Hints of the Homoerotic” by Leo Davis
  • 17.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically and Writing Persuasively About Images
  • 17.6 Editing Focus: Descriptive Diction
  • 17.7 Evaluation: Relationship Between Analysis and Image
  • 17.8 Spotlight on … Video and Film
  • 17.9 Portfolio: Interplay Between Text and Image
  • 18.1 Mixing Genres and Modes
  • 18.2 Multimodal Trailblazer: Torika Bolatagici
  • 18.3 Glance at Genre: Genre, Audience, Purpose, Organization
  • 18.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Celebrating a Win-Win” by Alexandra Dapolito Dunn
  • 18.5 Writing Process: Create a Multimodal Advocacy Project
  • 18.6 Evaluation: Transitions
  • 18.7 Spotlight on . . . Technology
  • 18.8 Portfolio: Multimodalism
  • 19.1 Writing, Speaking, and Activism
  • 19.2 Podcast Trailblazer: Alice Wong
  • 19.3 Glance at Genre: Language Performance and Visuals
  • 19.4 Annotated Student Sample: “Are New DOT Regulations Discriminatory?” by Zain A. Kumar
  • 19.5 Writing Process: Writing to Speak
  • 19.6 Evaluation: Bridging Writing and Speaking
  • 19.7 Spotlight on … Delivery/Public Speaking
  • 19.8 Portfolio: Everyday Rhetoric, Rhetoric Every Day
  • 20.1 Thinking Critically about Your Semester
  • 20.2 Reflection Trailblazer: Sandra Cisneros
  • 20.3 Glance at Genre: Purpose and Structure
  • 20.4 Annotated Sample Reading: “Don’t Expect Congrats” by Dale Trumbore
  • 20.5 Writing Process: Looking Back, Looking Forward
  • 20.6 Editing Focus: Pronouns
  • 20.7 Evaluation: Evaluating Self-Reflection
  • 20.8 Spotlight on … Pronouns in Context

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Develop a rhetorical analysis through multiple drafts.
  • Identify and analyze rhetorical strategies in a rhetorical analysis.
  • Demonstrate flexible strategies for generating ideas, drafting, reviewing, collaborating, revising, rewriting, and editing.
  • Give and act on productive feedback for works in progress.

The ability to think critically about rhetoric is a skill you will use in many of your classes, in your work, and in your life to gain insight from the way a text is written and organized. You will often be asked to explain or to express an opinion about what someone else has communicated and how that person has done so, especially if you take an active interest in politics and government. Like Eliana Evans in the previous section, you will develop similar analyses of written works to help others understand how a writer or speaker may be trying to reach them.

Summary of Assignment: Rhetorical Analysis

The assignment is to write a rhetorical analysis of a piece of persuasive writing. It can be an editorial, a movie or book review, an essay, a chapter in a book, or a letter to the editor. For your rhetorical analysis, you will need to consider the rhetorical situation—subject, author, purpose, context, audience, and culture—and the strategies the author uses in creating the argument. Back up all your claims with evidence from the text. In preparing your analysis, consider these questions:

  • What is the subject? Be sure to distinguish what the piece is about.
  • Who is the writer, and what do you know about them? Be sure you know whether the writer is considered objective or has a particular agenda.
  • Who are the readers? What do you know or what can you find out about them as the particular audience to be addressed at this moment?
  • What is the purpose or aim of this work? What does the author hope to achieve?
  • What are the time/space/place considerations and influences of the writer? What can you know about the writer and the full context in which they are writing?
  • What specific techniques has the writer used to make their points? Are these techniques successful, unsuccessful, or questionable?

For this assignment, read the following opinion piece by Octavio Peterson, printed in his local newspaper. You may choose it as the text you will analyze, continuing the analysis on your own, or you may refer to it as a sample as you work on another text of your choosing. Your instructor may suggest presidential or other political speeches, which make good subjects for rhetorical analysis.

When you have read the piece by Peterson advocating for the need to continue teaching foreign languages in schools, reflect carefully on the impact the letter has had on you. You are not expected to agree or disagree with it. Instead, focus on the rhetoric—the way Peterson uses language to make his point and convince you of the validity of his argument.

Another Lens. Consider presenting your rhetorical analysis in a multimodal format. Use a blogging site or platform such as WordPress or Tumblr to explore the blogging genre, which includes video clips, images, hyperlinks, and other media to further your discussion. Because this genre is less formal than written text, your tone can be conversational. However, you still will be required to provide the same kind of analysis that you would in a traditional essay. The same materials will be at your disposal for making appeals to persuade your readers. Rhetorical analysis in a blog may be a new forum for the exchange of ideas that retains the basics of more formal communication. When you have completed your work, share it with a small group or the rest of the class. See Multimodal and Online Writing: Creative Interaction between Text and Image for more about creating a multimodal composition.

Quick Launch: Start with a Thesis Statement

After you have read this opinion piece, or another of your choice, several times and have a clear understanding of it as a piece of rhetoric, consider whether the writer has succeeded in being persuasive. You might find that in some ways they have and in others they have not. Then, with a clear understanding of your purpose—to analyze how the writer seeks to persuade—you can start framing a thesis statement : a declarative sentence that states the topic, the angle you are taking, and the aspects of the topic the rest of the paper will support.

Complete the following sentence frames as you prepare to start:

  • The subject of my rhetorical analysis is ________.
  • My goal is to ________, not necessarily to ________.
  • The writer’s main point is ________.
  • I believe the writer has succeeded (or not) because ________.
  • I believe the writer has succeeded in ________ (name the part or parts) but not in ________ (name the part or parts).
  • The writer’s strongest (or weakest) point is ________, which they present by ________.

Drafting: Text Evidence and Analysis of Effect

As you begin to draft your rhetorical analysis, remember that you are giving your opinion on the author’s use of language. For example, Peterson has made a decision about the teaching of foreign languages, something readers of the newspaper might have different views on. In other words, there is room for debate and persuasion.

The context of the situation in which Peterson finds himself may well be more complex than he discusses. In the same way, the context of the piece you choose to analyze may also be more complex. For example, perhaps Greendale is facing an economic crisis and must pare its budget for educational spending and public works. It’s also possible that elected officials have made budget cuts for education a part of their platform or that school buildings have been found obsolete for safety measures. On the other hand, maybe a foreign company will come to town only if more Spanish speakers can be found locally. These factors would play a part in a real situation, and rhetoric would reflect that. If applicable, consider such possibilities regarding the subject of your analysis. Here, however, these factors are unknown and thus do not enter into the analysis.

One effective way to begin a rhetorical analysis is by using an anecdote, as Eliana Evans has done. For a rhetorical analysis of the opinion piece, a writer might consider an anecdote about a person who was in a situation in which knowing another language was important or not important. If they begin with an anecdote, the next part of the introduction should contain the following information:

  • Author’s name and position, or other qualification to establish ethos
  • Title of work and genre
  • Author’s thesis statement or stance taken (“Peterson argues that . . .”)
  • Brief introductory explanation of how the author develops and supports the thesis or stance
  • If relevant, a brief summary of context and culture

Once the context and situation for the analysis are clear, move directly to your thesis statement. In this case, your thesis statement will be your opinion of how successful the author has been in achieving the established goal through the use of rhetorical strategies. Read the sentences in Table 9.1 , and decide which would make the best thesis statement. Explain your reasoning in the right-hand column of this or a similar chart.

The introductory paragraph or paragraphs should serve to move the reader into the body of the analysis and signal what will follow.

Your next step is to start supporting your thesis statement—that is, how Octavio Peterson, or the writer of your choice, does or does not succeed in persuading readers. To accomplish this purpose, you need to look closely at the rhetorical strategies the writer uses.

First, list the rhetorical strategies you notice while reading the text, and note where they appear. Keep in mind that you do not need to include every strategy the text contains, only those essential ones that emphasize or support the central argument and those that may seem fallacious. You may add other strategies as well. The first example in Table 9.2 has been filled in.

When you have completed your list, consider how to structure your analysis. You will have to decide which of the writer’s statements are most effective. The strongest point would be a good place to begin; conversely, you could begin with the writer’s weakest point if that suits your purposes better. The most obvious organizational structure is one of the following:

  • Go through the composition paragraph by paragraph and analyze its rhetorical content, focusing on the strategies that support the writer’s thesis statement.
  • Address key rhetorical strategies individually, and show how the author has used them.

As you read the next few paragraphs, consult Table 9.3 for a visual plan of your rhetorical analysis. Your first body paragraph is the first of the analytical paragraphs. Here, too, you have options for organizing. You might begin by stating the writer’s strongest point. For example, you could emphasize that Peterson appeals to ethos by speaking personally to readers as fellow citizens and providing his credentials to establish credibility as someone trustworthy with their interests at heart.

Following this point, your next one can focus, for instance, on Peterson’s view that cutting foreign language instruction is a danger to the education of Greendale’s children. The points that follow support this argument, and you can track his rhetoric as he does so.

You may then use the second or third body paragraph, connected by a transition, to discuss Peterson’s appeal to logos. One possible transition might read, “To back up his assertion that omitting foreign languages is detrimental to education, Peterson provides examples and statistics.” Locate examples and quotes from the text as needed. You can discuss how, in citing these statistics, Peterson uses logos as a key rhetorical strategy.

In another paragraph, focus on other rhetorical elements, such as parallelism, repetition, and rhetorical questions. Moreover, be sure to indicate whether the writer acknowledges counterclaims and whether they are accepted or ultimately rejected.

The question of other factors at work in Greendale regarding finances, or similar factors in another setting, may be useful to mention here if they exist. As you continue, however, keep returning to your list of rhetorical strategies and explaining them. Even if some appear less important, they should be noted to show that you recognize how the writer is using language. You will likely have a minimum of four body paragraphs, but you may well have six or seven or even more, depending on the work you are analyzing.

In your final body paragraph, you might discuss the argument that Peterson, for example, has made by appealing to readers’ emotions. His calls for solidarity at the end of the letter provide a possible solution to his concern that the foreign language curriculum “might vanish like a puff of smoke.”

Use Table 9.3 to organize your rhetorical analysis. Be sure that each paragraph has a topic sentence and that you use transitions to flow smoothly from one idea to the next.

As you conclude your essay, your own logic in discussing the writer’s argument will make it clear whether you have found their claims convincing. Your opinion, as framed in your conclusion, may restate your thesis statement in different words, or you may choose to reveal your thesis at this point. The real function of the conclusion is to confirm your evaluation and show that you understand the use of the language and the effectiveness of the argument.

In your analysis, note that objections could be raised because Peterson, for example, speaks only for himself. You may speculate about whether the next edition of the newspaper will feature an opposing opinion piece from someone who disagrees. However, it is not necessary to provide answers to questions you raise here. Your conclusion should summarize briefly how the writer has made, or failed to make, a forceful argument that may require further debate.

For more guidance on writing a rhetorical analysis, visit the Illinois Writers Workshop website or watch this tutorial .

Peer Review: Guidelines toward Revision and the “Golden Rule”

Now that you have a working draft, your next step is to engage in peer review, an important part of the writing process. Often, others can identify things you have missed or can ask you to clarify statements that may be clear to you but not to others. For your peer review, follow these steps and make use of Table 9.4 .

  • Quickly skim through your peer’s rhetorical analysis draft once, and then ask yourself, What is the main point or argument of my peer’s work?
  • Highlight, underline, or otherwise make note of statements or instances in the paper where you think your peer has made their main point.
  • Look at the draft again, this time reading it closely.
  • Ask yourself the following questions, and comment on the peer review sheet as shown.

The Golden Rule

An important part of the peer review process is to keep in mind the familiar wisdom of the “Golden Rule”: treat others as you would have them treat you. This foundational approach to human relations extends to commenting on others’ work. Like your peers, you are in the same situation of needing opinion and guidance. Whatever you have written will seem satisfactory or better to you because you have written it and know what you mean to say.

However, your peers have the advantage of distance from the work you have written and can see it through their own eyes. Likewise, if you approach your peer’s work fairly and free of personal bias, you’re likely to be more constructive in finding parts of their writing that need revision. Most important, though, is to make suggestions tactfully and considerately, in the spirit of helping, not degrading someone’s work. You and your peers may be reluctant to share your work, but if everyone approaches the review process with these ideas in mind, everyone will benefit from the opportunity to provide and act on sincerely offered suggestions.

Revising: Staying Open to Feedback and Working with It

Once the peer review process is complete, your next step is to revise the first draft by incorporating suggestions and making changes on your own. Consider some of these potential issues when incorporating peers’ revisions and rethinking your own work.

  • Too much summarizing rather than analyzing
  • Too much informal language or an unintentional mix of casual and formal language
  • Too few, too many, or inappropriate transitions
  • Illogical or unclear sequence of information
  • Insufficient evidence to support main ideas effectively
  • Too many generalities rather than specific facts, maybe from trying to do too much in too little time

In any case, revising a draft is a necessary step to produce a final work. Rarely will even a professional writer arrive at the best point in a single draft. In other words, it’s seldom a problem if your first draft needs refocusing. However, it may become a problem if you don’t address it. The best way to shape a wandering piece of writing is to return to it, reread it, slow it down, take it apart, and build it back up again. Approach first-draft writing for what it is: a warm-up or rehearsal for a final performance.

Suggestions for Revising

When revising, be sure your thesis statement is clear and fulfills your purpose. Verify that you have abundant supporting evidence and that details are consistently on topic and relevant to your position. Just before arriving at the conclusion, be sure you have prepared a logical ending. The concluding statement should be strong and should not present any new points. Rather, it should grow out of what has already been said and return, in some degree, to the thesis statement. In the example of Octavio Peterson, his purpose was to persuade readers that teaching foreign languages in schools in Greendale should continue; therefore, the conclusion can confirm that Peterson achieved, did not achieve, or partially achieved his aim.

When revising, make sure the larger elements of the piece are as you want them to be before you revise individual sentences and make smaller changes. If you make small changes first, they might not fit well with the big picture later on.

One approach to big-picture revising is to check the organization as you move from paragraph to paragraph. You can list each paragraph and check that its content relates to the purpose and thesis statement. Each paragraph should have one main point and be self-contained in showing how the rhetorical devices used in the text strengthen (or fail to strengthen) the argument and the writer’s ability to persuade. Be sure your paragraphs flow logically from one to the other without distracting gaps or inconsistencies.

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AP ® Lang teachers: looking to help your students improve their rhetorical analysis essays?

Coach Hall Writes

clear, concise rhetorical analysis instruction.

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Thesis

November 20, 2021 by Beth Hall

One of the first steps of writing a rhetorical analysis essay is knowing how to write a rhetorical analysis thesis.

Rhetorical analysis thesis statements can seem intimidating, but they do not have to be.

While the thesis is a small portion of an essay, it carries significant weight and impact, especially on the AP® Lang exam. For example, on AP® Lang rubric, a defensible thesis is one out of six possible points.

So, what is a defensible thesis and how do you write one for a rhetorical analysis essay?

A defensible thesis means that the thesis or position can be justified, proven, or defended.

You can craft a rhetorical analysis thesis statement with the following steps:

Step 1: As you are reading the passage, look for strategies or choices the author utilizes. Ask: What rhetorical choices does the writer/speaker make? (ie. juxtaposition, allusion, etc) This will be the basis of your thesis statement.

Step 2: Mention the author’s purpose in the thesis. Ask: Why did he/she make these choices? Why did he/she write this?

Step 3: Consider the effect on the audience. This step is not mandatory or always appropriate, but it can strengthen the thesis. The effect is looking at the author’s call to action. Ask: How does he/she want the audience to think/act?


Now that you understand the basis of a thesis statement, let’s talk about where this thesis goes in the essay.

The thesis is best placed in the introductory paragraph. By placing it in the introduction, it gives you a direction for your writing (and often where readers go looking for the thesis). The introduction contains the hook, context, and thesis statement. Often, the context and the thesis are combined together (look at the example below). The context identifies the specific passage you are talking about in your essay.

You can write only a thesis statement for an introductory paragraph if you are short on time, but it is better to have a well-developed introduction. If you want to know more about writing an introduction, you can watch the video here.

Let’s put this information together and look at an example of a thesis statement.

In Leonid Fridman’s passionate article “America Needs its Nerds,” ← context

he defines “geek” and contrasts America with other industrialized nations to develop his argument that America values athletes more than intellectuals. ← thesis

By doing so, Fridman urges readers to reprioritize the current social hierarchy. ← Effect

If you are feeling unsure about thesis statements or need a place to start, sentence frames are a great way to begin a thesis statement. Below are several sentence frames and examples to help you navigate thesis statements.

In SPEAKER/WRITER’S (tone) speech/letter/article (to AUDIENCE), he/she uses ___ and ____ to PURPOSE.

Note: The blanks in this sentence frame should be choices or strategies (nouns). For example, “he uses repetition and juxtaposition to…” Saying “uses” and then a device is rather simple. However, this sentence frame can lead to a defensible thesis. Once you understand this style of thesis writing, you can try more advanced styles.

In SPEAKER/WRITER’S (tone) speech/letter/article (to AUDIENCE), he/she ____ and ____ to PURPOSE.

Example: In his patriotic speech to Congress, President Roosevelt repeats “attacked” and “deliberate” as well as appeals to patriotism in order to convince Congress to declare war on Japan.

Example: In his patriotic speech to Congress, President Roosevelt repeatedly emphasizes the deliberate nature of the attack on Pearl Harbor and appeals to patriotism in order to convince Congress to declare war on Japan.

When you are ready to begin writing thesis statements on your own, remember to keep the following items in mind:

  • A thesis identifies the strategies / choices AND purpose. Without both of these, it is not a defensible thesis.
  • A thesis does not restate the prompt. Use the prompt as a guide, not as a thesis.
  • A thesis answers the prompt. This may seem obvious, but it can be easy to get caught up in writing and lose track of your goal

Looking for more tips about how to write a rhetorical analysis essay, check out this post here.

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Writing a rhetorical analysis essay for academics can be really demanding for students. This type of paper requires high-level analyzing abilities and professional writing skills to be drafted effectively.

As this essay persuades the audience, it is essential to know how to take a strong stance and develop a thesis. 

This article will find some examples that will help you with your rhetorical analysis essay writing effortlessly. 

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Good Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

The step-by-step writing process of a rhetorical analysis essay is far more complicated than ordinary academic essays. This essay type critically analyzes the rhetorical means used to persuade the audience and their efficiency. 

The example provided below is the best rhetorical analysis essay example:

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Sample

In this essay type, the author uses rhetorical approaches such as ethos, pathos, and logos .  These approaches are then studied and analyzed deeply by the essay writers to weigh their effectiveness in delivering the message.

Let’s take a look at the following example to get a better idea;

The outline and structure of a rhetorical analysis essay are important. 

According to the essay outline, the essay is divided into three sections: 

  • Introduction
  • Ethos 
  • Logos 

A rhetorical analysis essay outline is the same as the traditional one. The different parts of the rhetorical analysis essay are written in the following way:

Rhetorical Analysis Introduction Example

The introductory paragraph of a rhetorical analysis essay is written for the following purpose:

  • To provide basic background information about the chosen author and the text.
  • Identify the target audience of the essay. 

An introduction for a rhetorical essay is drafted by:

  • Stating an opening sentence known as the hook statement. This catchy sentence is prepared to grab the audience’s attention to the paper. 
  • After the opening sentence, the background information of the author and the original text are provided. 

For example, a rhetorical analysis essay written by Lee Jennings on“The Right Stuff” by David Suzuki. Lee started the essay by providing the introduction in the following way:

Analysis of the Example: 

  • Suzuki stresses the importance of high school education. He prepares his readers for a proposal to make that education as valuable as possible.
  • A rhetorical analysis can show how successful Suzuki was in using logos, pathos, and ethos. He had a strong ethos because of his reputation. 
  • He also used pathos to appeal to parents and educators. However, his use of logos could have been more successful.
  • Here Jennings stated the background information about the text and highlighted the rhetorical techniques used and their effectiveness. 

Thesis Statement Example for Rhetorical Analysis Essay 

A thesis statement of a rhetorical analysis essay is the writer’s stance on the original text. It is the argument that a writer holds and proves it using the evidence from the original text. 

A thesis statement for a rhetorical essay is written by analyzing the following elements of the original text:

  • Diction - It refers to the author’s choice of words and the tone
  • Imagery - The visual descriptive language that the author used in the content. 
  • Simile - The comparison of things and ideas

In Jennings's analysis of “The Right Stuff,” the thesis statement was:

Example For Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement

Rhetorical Analysis Body Paragraph Example 

In the body paragraphs of your rhetorical analysis essay, you dissect the author's work, analyze their use of rhetorical techniques, and provide evidence to support your analysis. 

Let's look at an example that analyzes the use of ethos in David Suzuki's essay:

Rhetorical Analysis Conclusion Example

All the body paragraphs lead the audience towards the conclusion.

For example, the conclusion of “The Right Stuff” is written in the following way by Jennings:

In the conclusion section, Jennings summarized the major points and restated the thesis statement to prove them. 

Rhetorical Essay Example For The Right Stuff by David Suzuki

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example AP Lang 2023

Writing a rhetorical analysis for the AP Language and Composition course can be challenging. So drafting it correctly is important to earn good grades. 

To make your essay effective and winning, follow the tips provided by professionals below:

Step #1: Understand the Prompt

Understanding the prompt is the first thing to produce an influential rhetorical paper. It is mandatory for this academic writing to read and understand the prompt to know what the task demands from you. 

Step #2: Stick to the Format

The content for the rhetorical analysis should be appropriately organized and structured. For this purpose, a proper outline is drafted. 

The rhetorical analysis essay outline divides all the information into different sections, such as the introduction, body, and conclusion.  The introduction should explicitly state the background information and the thesis statement. 

All the body paragraphs should start with a topic sentence to convey a claim to the readers. Provide a thorough analysis of these claims in the paragraph to support your topic sentence. 

Step #3: Use Rhetorical Elements to Form an Argument 

Analyze the following things in the text to form an argument for your essay:

  • Language (tone and words)
  • Organizational structure
  • Rhetorical Appeals ( ethos, pathos, and logos) 

Once you have analyzed the rhetorical appeals and other devices like imagery and diction, you can form a strong thesis statement. The thesis statement will be the foundation on which your essay will be standing. 

AP Language Rhetorical Essay Sample

AP Rhetorical Analysis Essay Template

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example AP Lang

AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Examples for Students 

Here are a few more examples to help the students write a rhetorical analysis essay:

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Ethos, Pathos, Logos

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Outline

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example College

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example APA Format

Compare and Contrast Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Comparative Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

How to Start Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example High School

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example APA Sample

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Of a Song

Florence Kelley Speech Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example MLA

Writing a Visual Rhetorical Analysis Essay with Example 

The visual rhetorical analysis essay determines how pictures and images communicate messages and persuade the audience. 

Usually, visual rhetorical analysis papers are written for advertisements. This is because they use strong images to convince the audience to behave in a certain way. 

To draft a perfect visual rhetorical analysis essay, follow the tips below:

  • Analyze the advertisement deeply and note every minor detail. 
  • Notice objects and colors used in the image to gather every detail.
  • Determine the importance of the colors and objects and analyze why the advertiser chose the particular picture. 
  • See what you feel about the image.
  • Consider the objective of the image. Identify the message that the image is portraying. 
  • Identify the targeted audience and how they respond to the picture. 

An example is provided below to give students a better idea of the concept. 

Simplicity Breeds Clarity Visual Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Writing Tips

Follow the tips provided below to make your rhetorical writing compelling. 

  • Choose an engaging topic for your essay. The rhetorical analysis essay topic should be engaging to grab the reader’s attention.
  • Thoroughly read the original text.
  • Identify the SOAPSTone. From the text, determine the speaker, occasions, audience, purpose, subject, and tone.
  • Develop a thesis statement to state your claim over the text.
  • Draft a rhetorical analysis essay outline.
  • Write an engaging essay introduction by giving a hook statement and background information. At the end of the introductory paragraph, state the thesis statement.
  • The body paragraphs of the rhetorical essay should have a topic sentence. Also, in the paragraph, a thorough analysis should be presented.
  • For writing a satisfactory rhetorical essay conclusion, restate the thesis statement and summarize the main points.
  • Proofread your essay to check for mistakes in the content. Make your edits before submitting the draft.

Following the tips and the essay's correct writing procedure will guarantee success in your academics. 

We have given you plenty of examples of a rhetorical analysis essay. But if you are still struggling to draft a great rhetorical analysis essay, it is suggested to take a professional’s help.

MyPerfectWords.com can assist you with all your academic assignments. The top essay writer service that we provide is reliable. If you are confused about your writing assignments and have difficulty meeting the deadline, get help from the  legal essay writing service .

Hire our  analytical essay writing service  today at the most reasonable prices. 

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  • How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

How to Write a Thesis Statement | 4 Steps & Examples

Published on January 11, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on August 15, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.

A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . It usually comes near the end of your introduction .

Your thesis will look a bit different depending on the type of essay you’re writing. But the thesis statement should always clearly state the main idea you want to get across. Everything else in your essay should relate back to this idea.

You can write your thesis statement by following four simple steps:

  • Start with a question
  • Write your initial answer
  • Develop your answer
  • Refine your thesis statement

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Table of contents

What is a thesis statement, placement of the thesis statement, step 1: start with a question, step 2: write your initial answer, step 3: develop your answer, step 4: refine your thesis statement, types of thesis statements, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about thesis statements.

A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay. It is a signpost telling the reader what the essay will argue and why.

The best thesis statements are:

  • Concise: A good thesis statement is short and sweet—don’t use more words than necessary. State your point clearly and directly in one or two sentences.
  • Contentious: Your thesis shouldn’t be a simple statement of fact that everyone already knows. A good thesis statement is a claim that requires further evidence or analysis to back it up.
  • Coherent: Everything mentioned in your thesis statement must be supported and explained in the rest of your paper.

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The thesis statement generally appears at the end of your essay introduction or research paper introduction .

The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts and among young people more generally is hotly debated. For many who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education: the internet facilitates easier access to information, exposure to different perspectives, and a flexible learning environment for both students and teachers.

You should come up with an initial thesis, sometimes called a working thesis , early in the writing process . As soon as you’ve decided on your essay topic , you need to work out what you want to say about it—a clear thesis will give your essay direction and structure.

You might already have a question in your assignment, but if not, try to come up with your own. What would you like to find out or decide about your topic?

For example, you might ask:

After some initial research, you can formulate a tentative answer to this question. At this stage it can be simple, and it should guide the research process and writing process .

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Now you need to consider why this is your answer and how you will convince your reader to agree with you. As you read more about your topic and begin writing, your answer should get more detailed.

In your essay about the internet and education, the thesis states your position and sketches out the key arguments you’ll use to support it.

The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its many benefits for education because it facilitates easier access to information.

In your essay about braille, the thesis statement summarizes the key historical development that you’ll explain.

The invention of braille in the 19th century transformed the lives of blind people, allowing them to participate more actively in public life.

A strong thesis statement should tell the reader:

  • Why you hold this position
  • What they’ll learn from your essay
  • The key points of your argument or narrative

The final thesis statement doesn’t just state your position, but summarizes your overall argument or the entire topic you’re going to explain. To strengthen a weak thesis statement, it can help to consider the broader context of your topic.

These examples are more specific and show that you’ll explore your topic in depth.

Your thesis statement should match the goals of your essay, which vary depending on the type of essay you’re writing:

  • In an argumentative essay , your thesis statement should take a strong position. Your aim in the essay is to convince your reader of this thesis based on evidence and logical reasoning.
  • In an expository essay , you’ll aim to explain the facts of a topic or process. Your thesis statement doesn’t have to include a strong opinion in this case, but it should clearly state the central point you want to make, and mention the key elements you’ll explain.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.

The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:

  • It gives your writing direction and focus.
  • It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.

Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.

Follow these four steps to come up with a thesis statement :

  • Ask a question about your topic .
  • Write your initial answer.
  • Develop your answer by including reasons.
  • Refine your answer, adding more detail and nuance.

The thesis statement should be placed at the end of your essay introduction .

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thesis for a rhetorical essay

How to Write the AP Lang Rhetorical Essay

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What is the ap lang rhetorical essay, tips for writing the ap lang rhetorical essay.

  • AP Lang Rhetorical Essay Example

How Will AP Scores Affect College Chances?

The AP English Language Exam is one of the most common AP exams you can take. However, the average score on the exam in 2020 was a 2.96 out of 5. While this may seem a bit low, it is important to note that over 550,000 students take the exam annually. With some preparation and knowing how to study, it is totally possible to do well on this AP exam.

The AP Lang Rhetorical Essay is one section of the AP English Language Exam. The exam itself is 3 hours and 15 minutes long, and is broken into two sections. The first part of the exam is a 60 minute, 45-question multiple-choice section. The questions on this part of the exam will test your ability to read a passage and then interpret its meaning, style, and overall themes. After the multiple-choice section, there is a section lasting 2 hours and 15 minutes with three “free response” essays. This includes the synthesis essay, the rhetorical analysis essay, and the argument essay. 

  • In the synthesis essay , you will have to develop an argument using pieces of evidence provided to you. 
  • The argumentative essay will have you pick a side in a debate and argue for or against it.
  • The rhetorical essay requires that you discuss how an author’s written passage contributes to a greater meaning or theme. 

The rhetorical essay is perhaps the most unique of all AP Lang exam essays because it requires the test taker to analyze and interpret the deeper meanings of the passage and connect them to the author’s writing style and writing syntax in only 40 minutes. This essay can be the trickiest because it requires you to have knowledge of rhetorical strategies and then apply them to a passage you’ve never seen before.

1. Outline Your Essay Before Writing

One of the most important parts of the AP Lang essays is structuring your essay so that it makes sense to the reader. This is just as important as having good content. For this essay in particular, you’ll want to read the passage first and write a brief outline of your points before you begin the essay. This is because you will want to write the essay using the passage chronologically, which will be discussed in detail below.

2. Understand Rhetorical Strategies 

If you feel like you don’t know where to start as you prepare to study for the rhetorical essay portion of the exam, you aren’t alone. It is imperative that you have a grasp on what rhetorical strategies are and how you can use them in your essay. One definition of rhetoric is “language carefully chosen and arranged for maximum effect.” This can include types of figurative language (metaphor, simile, personification, pun, irony, etc.) elements of syntax (parallelism, juxtaposition, anthesis, anaphora, etc), logical fallacies, or persuasive appeals. Overall, there are many elements that you can analyze in an essay and having a good grasp on them through practice and memorization is important.

3. Keep the Essay Well Structured 

Even if you understand the various rhetorical strategies you can use, where do you begin? First of all, you’ll want to write a strong introduction that outlines the purpose of the piece. At the end of this introduction, you will write a thesis statement that encapsulates all the rhetorical strategies you discuss. Perhaps these are style elements, tone, or syntax. Be sure to be specific as you list these.

Next, you will create your body paragraphs. As you discuss the rhetorical elements in the piece and tie them back to the work’s meanings, be sure to discuss the points in chronological order. You don’t have to discuss every single strategy, but just pick the ones that are most important. Be sure to cite the line where you found the example. At the end of the essay, write a short conclusion that summarizes the major points above.

4. Be Sure to Explain Your Examples

As you write the essay, don’t just list out your examples and say something like “this is an example of ethos, logos, pathos.” Instead, analyze how the example shows that rhetoric device and how it helps the author further their argument. As you write the rhetorical essay, you’ll want to be as specific and detail-focused as possible. 

thesis for a rhetorical essay

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AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Below is a prompt and example for a rhetorical essay, along with its score and what the writer did well and could have improved:

The passage below is an excerpt from “On the Want of Money,” an essay written by nineteenth-century author William Hazlitt. Read the passage carefully. Then write an essay in which you analyze the rhetorical strategies Hazlitt uses to develop his position about money.

thesis for a rhetorical essay

Student essay example:

In his essay, Hazlitt develops his position on money through careful use of adjectives and verbs, hypothetical situations, and images. His examples serve to impress upon the reader the highly negative consequences of being in “want of money.”

Hazlitt’s word choice in his opening phrase provides an example of his technique in the rest of the essay. It is not necessary to follow “literally” with “truly” yet his repetition of the same ideas emphasizes his point. In his next sentence, one that lasts forty-six lines, Hazlitt condignly repeats similar ideas, beating into his audience the necessity of having money in this world. The parallelism throughout that one long sentence, “it is not to be sent for to court, or asked out to dinner…it is not to have your own opinion consulted or sees rejected with contempt..” ties the many different situations Haziltt gives together. What could have become a tedious spiel instead becomes a melodious recitation, each example reminding you of one before it, either because of the similarities in structure or content. Hazlitt addresses many different negative effects of not having money but manages to tie them together with his rhetorical strategies. 

The diction of the passage fully relays Hazlitt’s position about money. In every example he gives a negative situation but in most emphasizes the terrible circumstance with strong negative adjectives or verbs. “Rejected,” “contempt,” “disparaged,” “scrutinized,” “irksome,” “deprived,” “assailed” “chagrin;” the endless repetition of such discouragement shows how empathetically Hazlitt believes money is a requisite for a happy life. Even the irony of the last sentences is negative, conveying the utter hopelessness of one without money. Through one may have none in life, pitiless men will proceed to mock one’s circumstances, “at a considerable expense” after death! 

In having as the body of his essay one long sentence, Hazlitt creates a flow that speeds the passage along, hardly giving the reader time to absorb one idea before another is thrown at him. The unceasing flow is synonymous with Hazlitt’s view of the life of a person without money: he will be “jostled” through life, unable to stop and appreciate the beauty around him or to take time for his own leisure. 

The score on this essay was a 6 out of 6. This essay started out very strong as the student had a concrete thesis statement explaining the strategies that Hazlitt used to develop his position on money as well as Hazlitt’s belief on the topic. In the thesis statement, the student points out that adjectives, verbs, hypothetical situations, and images help prove Hazlitt’s point that wanting money can be problematic. 

Next, the student broke down their points into three main subsections related to their thesis. More specifically, the student first discusses word choice of repetition and parallelism. When the student discusses these strategies, they list evidence in the paragraph that can be found chronologically in Hazlitt’s essay. The next paragraph is about diction, and the student used specific adjectives and verbs that support this idea. In the last paragraph, the student emphasized how the speed and flow of the essay helped describe Hazlitt’s viewpoint on life. This last concluding sentence is particularly thoughtful, as it goes beyond the explicit points made in the essay and discusses the style and tone of the writing. 

It is important to remember that in some ways, the rhetorical essay is also an argumentative essay, as the student must prove how certain rhetorical strategies are used and their significance in the essay. The student even discussed the irony of the paragraph, which is not explicit in the passage.

Overall, this student did an excellent job organizing and structuring the essay and did a nice job using evidence to prove their points. 

Now that you’ve learned about the AP Lang rhetorical essay, you may be wondering how your AP scores impact your chances of admission. In fact, your AP scores have relatively little impact on your admissions decision , and your course rigor has much more weight in the application process.

If you’d like to know your chances of admission, be sure to check out our chancing calculator! This tool takes into account your classes, extracurriculars, demographic information, and test scores to understand your chances at admission at over 600 schools. Best of all, it is completely free!

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III. Rhetorical Situation

3.7 Rhetorical Modes of Writing

Kathryn Crowther; Lauren Curtright; Nancy Gilbert; Barbara Hall; Tracienne Ravita; Kirk Swenson; Ann Inoshita; Karyl Garland; Kate Sims; Jeanne K. Tsutsui Keuma; Tasha Williams; Susan Wood; and Terri Pantuso

Rhetorical modes simply mean the ways we can effectively communicate through language. Each day people interact with others to tell a story about a new pet, describe a transportation problem, explain a solution to a science experiment, evaluate the quality of an information source, persuade a customer that a brand is the best, or even reveal what has caused a particular medical issue. We speak in a manner that is purposeful to each situation, and writing is no different. While rhetorical modes can refer to both speaking and writing, in this section we discuss the ways in which we shape our writing according to our purpose or intent. Your purpose for writing determines the mode you choose.

Typically speaking, the four major categories of rhetorical modes are narration, description, exposition, and persuasion.

  • The narrative essay tells a relevant story or relates an event.
  • The descriptive essay uses vivid, sensory details to draw a picture in words.
  • The writer’s purpose in expository writing is to explain or inform. Oftentimes, exposition is subdivided into other modes: classification, evaluation, process, definition, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect.
  • In the persuasive essay, the writer’s purpose is to persuade or convince the reader by presenting one idea against another and clearly taking a stand on one side of the issue. We often use several of these modes in everyday and professional writing situations, so we will also consider special examples of these modes such as personal statements and other common academic writing assignments.

Whether you are asked to write a cause/effect essay in a history class, a comparison/contrast report in biology, or a narrative email recounting the events in a situation on the job, you will be equipped to express yourself precisely and communicate your message clearly. Learning these rhetorical modes will also help you to become a more effective writer.

Narration means the art of storytelling, and the purpose of narrative writing is to tell stories. Any time you tell a story to a friend or family member about an event or incident in your day, you engage in a form of narration. A narrative can be factual or fictional. A factual story is one that is based on, and tries to be faithful to, actual events as they unfolded in real life. A fictional story is a made-up, or imagined, story. When writing a fictional story, we can create characters and events to best fit our story.

The big distinction between factual and fictional narratives is determined by a writer’s purpose. The writers of factual stories try to recount events as they actually happened, but writers of fictional stories can depart from real people and events because their intentions are not to retell a real-life event. Biographies and memoirs are examples of factual stories, whereas novels and short stories are examples of fictional stories.

Because the line between fact and fiction can often blur, it is helpful to understand what your purpose is from the beginning. Is it important that you recount history, either your own or someone else’s? Or does your interest lie in reshaping the world in your own image—either how you would like to see it or how you imagine it could be? Your answers will go a long way in shaping the stories you tell.

Ultimately, whether the story is fact or fiction, narrative writing tries to relay a series of events in an emotionally engaging way. You want your audience to be moved by your story, which could mean through laughter, sympathy, fear, anger, and so on. The more clearly you tell your story, the more emotionally engaged your audience is likely to be.

The Structure of a Narrative Essay

Major narrative events are most often conveyed in chronological order, the order in which events unfold from first to last. Stories typically have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and these events are typically organized by time. However, sometimes it can be effective to begin with an exciting moment from the climax of the story (“flash-forward”) or a pivotal event from the past (“flash-back”) before returning to a chronological narration. Certain transitional words and phrases aid in keeping the reader oriented in the sequencing of a story.

The following are the other basic components of a narrative:

  • Plot: The events as they unfold in sequence.
  • Characters:  The people who inhabit the story and move it forward. Typically, there are minor characters and main characters. The minor characters generally play supporting roles to the main character, or the protagonist.
  • Conflict:  The primary problem or obstacle that unfolds in the plot that the protagonist must solve or overcome by the end of the narrative. The way in which the protagonist resolves the conflict of the plot results in the theme of the narrative.
  • Theme:  The ultimate message the narrative is trying to express; it can be either explicit or implicit.
  • Write the narrative of a typical Saturday in your life.
  • Write a narrative of your favorite movie.


Writers use description in writing to make sure that their audience is fully immersed in the words on the page. This requires a concerted effort by the writer to describe the world through the use of sensory details.

As mentioned earlier, sensory details are descriptions that appeal to our sense of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. The use of sensory details provides you the greatest possibility of relating to your audience and thus engaging them in your writing, making descriptive writing important not only during your education but also during everyday situations. To make your writing vivid and appealing, avoid empty descriptors if possible. Empty descriptors are adjectives that can mean different things to different people. Good, beautiful, terrific, and nice are examples. The use of such words in descriptions can lead to misreads and confusion. A good day, for instance, can mean far different things depending on one’s age, personality, or tastes.

The Structure of a Description Essay

Description essays typically describe a person, a place, or an object using sensory details. The structure of a descriptive essay is more flexible than in some of the other rhetorical modes. The introduction of a description essay should set up the tone and focus of the essay. The thesis should convey the writer’s overall impression of the person, place, or object described in the body paragraphs.

The organization of the essay may best follow spatial order, which means an arrangement of ideas according to physical characteristics or appearance. Depending on what the writer describes, the organization could move from top to bottom, left to right, near to far, warm to cold, frightening to inviting, and so on. For example, if the subject were a client’s kitchen in the midst of renovation, you might start at one side of the room and move slowly across to the other end, describing appliances, cabinetry, and so on. Or you might choose to start with older remnants of the kitchen and progress to the new installations. Or maybe start with the floor and move up toward the ceiling.

  • Describe various objects found in your room.
  • Describe an analog clock.


The purpose of classification is to break down broad subjects into smaller, more manageable, more specific parts. We classify things in our daily lives all the time, often without even thinking about it. For example, cars can be classified by type (convertible, sedan, station-wagon, or SUV) or by the fuel they use (diesel, petrol, electric, or hybrid). Smaller categories, and the way in which these categories are created, help us make sense of the world. Keep both of these elements in mind when writing a classification essay. It’s best to choose topics that you know well when writing classification essays. The more you know about a topic, the more you can break it into smaller, more interesting parts. Adding interest and insight will enhance your classification essays.

The Structure of a Classification Essay

The classification essay opens with a paragraph that introduces the broader topic. The thesis should then explain how that topic is divided into subgroups and why. Take the following introductory paragraph, for example:

When people think of New York, they often think of only New York City. But New York is actually a diverse state with a full range of activities to do, sights to see, and cultures to explore. In order to better understand the diversity of New York State, it is helpful to break it into these five separate regions: Long Island, New York City, Western New York, Central New York, and Northern New York.

The underlined thesis explains not only the category and subcategory, but also the rationale for breaking the topic into those categories. Through this classification essay, the writer hopes to show the readers a different way of considering the state of New York.

Each body paragraph of a classification essay is dedicated to fully illustrating each of the subcategories. In the previous example, then, each region of New York would have its own paragraph. To avoid settling for an overly simplistic classification, make sure you break down any given topic at least three different ways. This will help you think outside the box and perhaps even learn something entirely new about a subject.

The conclusion should bring all of the categories and subcategories back together again to show the reader the big picture. In the previous example, the conclusion might explain how the various sights and activities of each region of New York add to its diversity and complexity.

  • Classify your college by majors (i.e. biology, chemistry, physics, etc.).
  • Classify the variety of fast food places available to you by types of foods sold in each location.

Writers evaluate arguments in order to present an informed and well-reasoned judgment about a subject. While the evaluation will be based on their opinion, it should not seem opinionated. Instead, it should aim to be reasonable and unbiased. This is achieved through developing a solid judgment, selecting appropriate criteria to evaluate the subject, and providing clear evidence to support the criteria.

Evaluation is a type of writing that has many real-world applications. Anything can be evaluated. For example, evaluations of movies, restaurants, books, and technology ourselves are all real-world evaluations.

The Structure of an Evaluation Essay

Evaluation essays are typically structured as follows.

Subject : First, the essay will present the subject. What is being evaluated? Why? The essay begins with the writer giving any details needed about the subject.

Judgement : Next, the essay needs to provide a judgment about a subject. This is the thesis of the essay, and it states whether the subject is good or bad based on how it meets the stated criteria.

Criteria : The body of the essay will contain the criteria used to evaluate the subject. In an evaluation essay, the criteria must be appropriate for evaluating the subject under consideration. Appropriate criteria will help to keep the essay from seeming biased or unreasonable. If authors evaluated the quality of a movie based on the snacks sold at the snack bar, that would make them seem unreasonable, and their evaluation may be disregarded because of it.

Evidence : The evidence of an evaluation essay consists of the supporting details authors provide based on their judgment of the criteria. For example, if the subject of an evaluation is a restaurant, a judgment could be “Kay’s Bistro provides an unrivaled experience in fine dining.” Some authors evaluate fine dining restaurants by identifying appropriate criteria in order to rate the establishment’s food quality, service, and atmosphere. The examples are the evidence.

Another example of evaluation is literary analysis; judgments may be made about a character in the story based on the character’s actions, characteristics, and past history within the story. The scenes in the story are evidence for why readers have a certain opinion of the character.

Job applications and interviews are more examples of evaluations. Based on certain criteria, management and hiring committees determine which applicants will be considered for an interview and which applicant will be hired.

  • Evaluate a restaurant. What do you expect in a good restaurant? What criteria determines whether a restaurant is good?
  • List three criteria that you will use to evaluate a restaurant. Then dine there. Afterwards, explain whether or not the restaurant meets each criteria, and include evidence (qualities from the restaurant) that backs your evaluation.
  • Give the restaurant a star rating. (5 Stars: Excellent, 4 Stars: Very Good, 3 Stars: Good, 2 Stars: Fair, 1 Star: Poor). Explain why the restaurant earned this star rating.

The purpose of a process essay is to explain how to do something (directional) or how something works (informative). In either case, the formula for a process essay remains the same. The process is articulated into clear, definitive steps.

Almost everything we do involves following a step-by-step process. From learning to ride a bike as a child to starting a new job as an adult, we initially needed instructions to effectively execute the task. Likewise, we have likely had to instruct others, so we know how important good directions are—and how frustrating it is when they are poorly put together.

The Structure of a Process Essay

The process essay opens with a discussion of the process and a thesis statement that states the goal of the process. The organization of a process essay typically follows chronological order. The steps of the process are conveyed in the order in which they usually occur, and so your body paragraphs will be constructed based on these steps. If a particular step is complicated and needs a lot of explaining, then it will likely take up a paragraph on its own. But if a series of simple steps is easy to understand, then the steps can be grouped into a single paragraph. Words such as first, second, third, next, and finally are cues to orient readers and organize the content of the essay.

Finally, it’s a good idea to always have someone else read your process analysis to make sure it makes sense. Once we get too close to a subject, it is difficult to determine how clearly an idea is coming across. Having a peer read over your analysis will serve as a good way to troubleshoot any confusing spots.

  • Describe the process for applying to college.
  • Describe the process of your favorite game (board, card, video, etc.).

The purpose of a definition essay may seem self-explanatory: to write an extended definition of a word or term. But defining terms in writing is often more complicated than just consulting a dictionary. In fact, the way we define terms can have far-reaching consequences for individuals as well as collective groups. Take, for example, a word like alcoholism. The way in which one defines alcoholism depends on its legal, moral, and medical contexts. Lawyers may define alcoholism in terms of its legality; parents may define alcoholism in terms of its morality; and doctors will define alcoholism in terms of symptoms and diagnostic criteria. Think also of terms that people tend to debate in our broader culture. How we define words, such as marriage and climate change, has an enormous impact on policy decisions and even on daily decisions. Debating the definition of a word or term might have an impact on your relationship or your job, or it might simply be a way to understand an unfamiliar phrase in popular culture or a technical term in a new profession.

Defining terms within a relationship, or any other context, can be difficult at first, but once a definition is established between two people or a group of people, it is easier to have productive dialogues. Definitions, then, establish the way in which people communicate ideas. They set parameters for a given discourse, which is why they are so important.

When writing definition essays, avoid terms that are too simple, that lack complexity. Think in terms of concepts, such as hero, immigration, or loyalty, rather than physical objects. Definitions of concepts, rather than objects, are often fluid and contentious, making for a more effective definition essay. For definition essays, try to think of concepts in which you have a personal stake. You are more likely to write a more engaging definition essay if you are writing about an idea that has value and importance to you.

The Structure of a Definition Essay

The definition essay opens with a general discussion of the term to be defined. You then state your definition of the term as your thesis. The rest of the essay should explain the rationale for your definition. Remember that a dictionary’s definition is limiting, so you should not rely strictly on the dictionary entry. Indeed, unless you are specifically addressing an element of the dictionary definition (perhaps to dispute or expand it), it is best to avoid quoting the dictionary in your paper. Instead, consider the context in which you are using the word. Context identifies the circumstances, conditions, or setting in which something exists or occurs. Often words take on different meanings depending on the context in which they are used. For example, the ideal leader in a battlefield setting could likely be very different from a leader in an elementary school setting. If a context is missing from the essay, the essay may be too short or the main points could be vague and confusing.

The remainder of the essay should explain different aspects of the term’s definition. For example, if you were defining a good leader in an elementary classroom setting, you might define such a leader according to personality traits: patience, consistency, and flexibility. Each attribute would be explained in its own paragraph. Be specific and detailed: flesh out each paragraph with examples and connections to the larger context.

  • Define what is meant by the word local.
  • Define what is meant by the word community.

Comparison and Contrast

Comparison in writing discusses elements that are similar, while contrast in writing discusses elements that are different. A compare-and-contrast essay, then, analyzes two subjects by examining them closely and comparing them, contrasting them, or both. The key to a good compare-and-contrast essay is to choose two or more subjects that connect in a meaningful way. The purpose of conducting the comparison or contrast is not to state the obvious but rather to illuminate subtle differences or unexpected similarities. For example, if you wanted to focus on contrasting two subjects you would not pick apples and oranges; rather, you might choose to compare and contrast two types of oranges or two types of apples to highlight subtle differences. For example, Red Delicious apples are sweet, while Granny Smiths are tart and acidic. Drawing distinctions between elements in a similar category will increase the audience’s understanding of that category, which is the purpose of the compare-and-contrast essay.

Similarly, to focus on comparison, choose two subjects that seem at first to be unrelated. For a comparison essay, you likely would not choose two apples or two oranges because they share so many of the same properties already. Rather, you might try to compare how apples and oranges are quite similar. The more divergent the two subjects initially seem, the more interesting a comparison essay will be.

The Structure of a Comparison-and-Contrast Essay

The compare-and-contrast essay starts with a thesis that clearly states the two subjects that are to be compared, contrasted, or both, and the reason for doing so. The thesis could lean more toward comparing, contrasting, or both. Remember, the point of comparing and contrasting is to provide useful knowledge to the reader. Take the following thesis as an example that leans more toward contrasting.

Thesis statement: Organic vegetables may cost more than those that are conventionally grown, but when put to the test, they are definitely worth every extra penny.

Here the thesis sets up the two subjects to be compared and contrasted (organic versus conventional vegetables), and it makes a claim about the results that might prove useful to the reader. You may organize compare-and-contrast essays in one of the following two ways:

  • According to the subjects themselves, discussing one and then the other.
  • According to individual points, discussing each subject in relation to each point.

The organizational structure you choose depends on the nature of the topic, your purpose, and your audience.

  • Compare two types of fruit, then
  • Contrast how they are different from each other

Cause and Effect

It is often considered human nature to ask, “why?” and “how?” We want to know how our child got sick so we can better prevent it from happening in the future, or why our colleague received a pay raise because we want one as well. We want to know how much money we will save over the long term if we buy a hybrid car. These examples identify only a few of the relationships we think about in our lives, but each shows the importance of understanding cause and effect.

A cause is something that produces an event or condition; an effect is what results from an event or condition. The purpose of the cause-and-effect essay is to determine how various phenomena relate in terms of origins and results. Sometimes the connection between cause and effect is clear, but often determining the exact relationship between the two is very difficult. For example, the following effects of a cold may be easily identifiable: a sore throat, runny nose, and a cough. But determining the cause of the sickness can be far more difficult. A number of causes are possible, and to complicate matters, these possible causes could have combined to lead to the sickness. That is, more than one cause may be responsible for any given effect. Therefore, cause-and effect discussions are often complicated and frequently lead to debates and arguments.

Indeed, you can use the complex nature of cause and effect to your advantage. Often it is not necessary, or even possible, to find the exact cause of an event or to name the exact effect. So, when formulating a thesis, you can claim one of a number of causes or effects to be the primary, or main, cause or effect. As soon as you claim that one cause or one effect is more crucial than the others, you have developed a thesis.

The Structure of a Cause-and-Effect Essay

The cause-and-effect essay opens with a general introduction to the topic, which then leads to a thesis that states the main cause, main effect, or various causes and effects of a condition or event. The cause-and-effect essay can be organized in one of the following two primary ways:

  • Start with the cause and then talk about the effects.
  • Start with the effect and then talk about the causes.

For example, if your essay were on childhood obesity, you could start by talking about the effect of childhood obesity and then discuss the cause, or you could start the same essay by talking about the cause of childhood obesity and then move to the effect.

Regardless of which structure you choose, be sure to explain each element of the essay fully and completely. Explaining complex relationships requires the full use of evidence, such as scientific studies, expert testimony, statistics, and anecdotes . Be careful of resorting to empty speculation. In writing, speculation amounts to unsubstantiated guessing. Writers are particularly prone to such trappings in cause-and-effect arguments due to the complex nature of finding links between phenomena. Be sure to have clear evidence to support the claims that you make. Because cause-and-effect essays determine how phenomena are linked, they make frequent use of certain words and phrases that denote such linkage.

  • Discuss the cause/effect relationship between studying and good grades
  • Discuss the cause/effect impact of sleep deprivation

The purpose of persuasion in writing is to convince, motivate, or move readers toward a certain point of view, or opinion. The act of trying to persuade automatically implies that more than one opinion on the subject can be argued. The idea of an argument often conjures up images of two people yelling and screaming in anger. In writing, however, an argument is very different. An argument is a reasoned opinion supported and explained by evidence. To argue in writing is to advance knowledge and ideas in a positive way. Written arguments often fail when they employ ranting rather than reasoning.

Most of us feel inclined to try to win the arguments we enter. On some level, we all want to be right, and we want others to see the error of their ways. More times than not, however, arguments in which both sides try to win end up producing losers all around. The more productive approach is to persuade your audience to consider your opinion as a valid one, not simply the right one.

The Structure of a Persuasive Essay

The following five features make up the structure of a persuasive essay:

  • Introduction and thesis
  • Opposing and qualifying ideas
  • Strong evidence in support of claim
  • Style and tone of language
  • A compelling conclusion

Creating an Introduction and Thesis

The persuasive essay begins with an engaging introduction that presents the general topic. The thesis typically appears somewhere in the introduction and clearly states the writer’s point of view.

Acknowledging Opposing Ideas and Limits to Your Argument

Because an argument implies differing points of view on the subject, you must be sure to acknowledge those opposing ideas. Avoiding ideas that conflict with your own gives the reader the impression that you may be uncertain, fearful, or unaware of opposing ideas. Thus it is essential that you not only address counterarguments but also do so respectfully.

Try to address opposing arguments earlier rather than later in your essay. Rhetorically speaking, ordering your positive arguments last allows you to better address ideas that conflict with your own because it allows you to focus on countering those arguments. This way, you leave your reader thinking about your argument rather than someone else’s. You have the last word.

Acknowledging points of view different from your own also has the effect of fostering more credibility between you and the audience. Readers will know from the outset that you are aware of opposing ideas and that you are not afraid to give them space. It is also helpful to establish the limits of your argument and what you are trying to accomplish. In effect, you are conceding early on that your argument is not the ultimate authority on a given topic. Such humility can go a long way toward earning credibility and trust with an audience (“ethos”). Audience members will know from the beginning that you are a reasonable writer, and they will trust your argument as a result. For example, in the following concessionary statement, the writer advocates for stricter gun control laws, but she admits it will not solve all of our problems with crime:

Although tougher gun control laws are a powerful first step in decreasing violence in our streets, such legislation alone cannot end these problems since guns are not the only problem we face.

Such a concession will be welcome by those who might disagree with this writer’s argument in the first place. To effectively persuade their readers, writers need to be realistic in their goals and humble in their approach to get readers to listen to their ideas.

  • Write a paragraph where you persuade readers to drink water rather than soda
  • Write a paragraph persuading your professors to adopt Open Educational Resources (free textbooks) for all classes

This section contains material from:

Crowther, Kathryn, Lauren Curtright, Nancy Gilbert, Barbara Hall, Tracienne Ravita, and Kirk Swenson. Successful College Composition . 2nd edition. Book 8. Georgia: English Open Textbooks, 2016. http://oer.galileo.usg.edu/english-textbooks/8 . Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License .

Inoshita, Ann, Karyl Garland, Kate Sims, Jeanne K. Tsutsui Keuma, Tasha Williams, and Susan Wood. “Evaluation.” In English Composition: Connect, Collaborate, Communicate , by Ann Inoshita, Karyl Garland, Kate Sims, Jeanne K. Tsutsui Keuma, and Tasha Williams. Honolulu, 2019. http://pressbooks.oer.hawaii.edu/englishcomposition/chapter/evaluation/ . Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License .

The highest or most intense point in a sequence of events that lead to some resolution, settlement, judgement, or ending; the peak or culmination. In fiction, the climax of a story usually occurs when the characters make the decisions, fight the battle, or enter into the romantic relationship that will impact the ending of that story.

The feeling or attitude of the writer which can be inferred by the reader, usually conveyed through vocabulary, word choice, and phrasing; associated with emotion.

A statement, usually one sentence, that summarizes an argument that will later be explained, expanded upon, and developed in a longer essay or research paper. In undergraduate writing, a thesis statement is often found in the introductory paragraph of an essay. The plural of thesis is theses .

The standards or rules of judgement, grading, or other types of scrutiny.

The sequence of events that occur linearly or consecutively in time.

The explanation, justification, or motivation for something; the reasons why something was done.

Delicate, faint, or mild; requiring discernment, perception, or awareness to detect.

To be different, diverse, or dissimilar; to deviate from a plan or practice.

A remarkable or notable occurrence or event, especially one that is rare or exceptional in nature. The plural of phenomenon is phenomena .

A short account or telling of an incident or story, either personal or historical; anecdotal evidence is frequently found in the form of a personal experience rather than objective data or widespread occurrence.

To produce, seemingly out of thin air, an object, idea, or being.

3.7 Rhetorical Modes of Writing Copyright © 2022 by Kathryn Crowther; Lauren Curtright; Nancy Gilbert; Barbara Hall; Tracienne Ravita; Kirk Swenson; Ann Inoshita; Karyl Garland; Kate Sims; Jeanne K. Tsutsui Keuma; Tasha Williams; Susan Wood; and Terri Pantuso is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Rhetorical Analysis Sample Essay

Harriet Clark

Ms. Rebecca Winter

13 Feb. 2015

Not Quite a Clean Sweep: Rhetorical Strategies in

Grose's "Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier”

A woman’s work is never done: many American women grow up with this saying and feel it to be true. 1 One such woman, author Jessica Grose, wrote “Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier,” published in 2013 in the New Republic, 2 and she argues that while the men recently started taking on more of the childcare and cooking, cleaning still falls unfairly on women. 3 Grose begins building her credibility with personal facts and reputable sources, citing convincing facts and statistics, and successfully employing emotional appeals; however, toward the end of the article, her attempts to appeal to readers’ emotions weaken her credibility and ultimately, her argument. 4

In her article, Grose first sets the stage by describing a specific scenario of house-cleaning with her husband after being shut in during Hurricane Sandy, and then she outlines the uneven distribution of cleaning work in her marriage and draws a comparison to the larger feminist issue of who does the cleaning in a relationship. Grose continues by discussing some of the reasons that men do not contribute to cleaning: the praise for a clean house goes to the woman; advertising and media praise men’s cooking and childcare, but not cleaning; and lastly, it is just not fun. Possible solutions to the problem, Grose suggests, include making a chart of who does which chores, dividing up tasks based on skill and ability, accepting a dirtier home, and making cleaning more fun with gadgets. 5

Throughout her piece, Grose uses many strong sources that strengthen her credibility and appeal to ethos, as well as build her argument. 6 These sources include, “sociologists Judith Treas and Tsui-o Tai,” “a 2008 study from the University of New Hampshire,” and “P&G North America Fabric Care Brand Manager, Matthew Krehbiel” (qtd. in Grose). 7 Citing these sources boosts Grose’s credibility by showing that she has done her homework and has provided facts and statistics, as well as expert opinions to support her claim. She also uses personal examples from her own home life to introduce and support the issue, which shows that she has a personal stake in and first-hand experience with the problem. 8

Adding to her ethos appeals, Grose uses strong appeals to logos, with many facts and statistics and logical progressions of ideas. 9 She points out facts about her marriage and the distribution of household chores: “My husband and I both work. We split midnight baby feedings ...but ... he will admit that he’s never cleaned the bathroom, that I do the dishes nine times out of ten, and that he barely knows how the washer and dryer work in the apartment we’ve lived in for over eight months.” 10 These facts introduce and support the idea that Grose does more household chores than her husband. Grose continues with many statistics:

[A]bout 55 percent of American mothers employed full time do some housework on an average day, while only 18 percent of employed fathers do. ... [W]orking women with children are still doing a week and a half more of “second shift” work each year than their male partners. ... Even in the famously gender-neutral Sweden, women do 45 minutes more housework a day than their male partners. 11

These statistics are a few of many that logically support her claim that it is a substantial and real problem that men do not do their fair share of the chores. The details and numbers build an appeal to logos and impress upon the reader that this is a problem worth discussing. 12

Along with strong logos appeals, Grose effectively makes appeals to pathos in the beginning and middle sections. 13 Her introduction is full of emotionally-charged words and phrases that create a sympathetic image; Grose notes that she “was eight months pregnant” and her husband found it difficult to “fight with a massively pregnant person.” 14 The image she evokes of the challenges and vulnerabilities of being so pregnant, as well as the high emotions a woman feels at that time effectively introduce the argument and its seriousness. Her goal is to make the reader feel sympathy for her. Adding to this idea are words and phrases such as, “insisted,” “argued,” “not fun,” “sucks” “headachey,” “be judged,” “be shunned” (Grose). All of these words evoke negative emotions about cleaning, which makes the reader sympathize with women who feel “judged” and shunned”—very negative feelings. Another feeling Grose reinforces with her word choice is the concept of fairness: “fair share,” “a week and a half more of ‘second shift’ work,” “more housework,” “more gendered and less frequent.” These words help establish the unfairness that exists when women do all of the cleaning, and they are an appeal to pathos, or the readers’ feelings of frustration and anger with injustice. 15

However, the end of the article lacks the same level of effectiveness in the appeals to ethos. 16 For example, Grose notes that when men do housework, they are considered to be “’enacting “small instances of gender heroism,” or ‘SIGH’s’—which, barf.” 17 The usage of the word “barf” is jarring to the reader; unprofessional and immature, it is a shift from the researched, intelligent voice she has established and the reader is less likely to take the author seriously. This damages the strength of her credibility and her argument. 18

Additionally, her last statement in the article refers to her husband in a way that weakens the argument. 19 While returning to the introduction’s hook in the conclusion is a frequently-used strategy, Grose chooses to return to her discussion of her husband in a humorous way: Grose discusses solutions, and says there is “a huge, untapped market ... for toilet-scrubbing iPods. I bet my husband would buy one.” 20 Returning to her own marriage and husband is an appeal to ethos or personal credibility, and while that works well in the introduction, in the conclusion, it lacks the strength and seriousness that the topic deserves and was given earlier in the article. 21

Though Grose begins the essay by effectively persuading her readers of the unfair distribution of home-maintenance cleaning labor, she loses her power in the end, where she most needs to drive home her argument. Readers can see the problem exists in both her marriage and throughout the world; however, her shift to humor and sarcasm makes the reader not take the problem as seriously in the end. 22 Grose could have more seriously driven home the point that a woman’s work could be done: by a man. 23

Works Cited

Grose, Jessica. “Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier.” New Republic. The New Republic, 19 Mar. 2013. Web. 28 Mar. 2014.

  • Article author's claim or purpose
  • Summary of the article's main point in the second paragraph (could also be in the introduction)
  • Third paragraph begins with a transition and topic sentence that reflects the first topic in the thesis
  • Quotes illustrate how the author uses appeals to ethos
  • Analysis explains how the quotes show the effective use of ethos as noted in the thesis
  • Transition and topic sentence about the second point from the thesis
  • Quote that illustrates appeals to logos
  • Analysis explains how the quotes show the effective use of logos, as noted in the thesis
  • Transition and topic sentence about the third point from the thesis
  • Quotes that illustrate appeals to pathos
  • Analysis explains how the quotes show the effective use of pathos, as noted in the thesis
  • Transition and topic sentence about fourth point from the thesis
  • Quote illustrates how the author uses appeal to ethos
  • Analysis explains how quote supports thesis
  • Transition and topic sentence about fourth point from thesis
  • Conclusion returns to the ideas in the thesis and further develops them
  • Last sentence returns to the hook in the introduction

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How To Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

David Costello

A rhetorical analysis essay is a type of academic writing where the author looks at a topic in great detail and articulates their perspective on the matter using effective and persuasive methods. The essence of this type of essay is to evaluate a text, often a speech or a written article, based on the strategies used by the original author to persuade their audience.

Understanding and writing a rhetorical analysis essay is an important skill, particularly for students in humanities and social science fields. It not only sharpens one's analytical skills but also enhances the ability to dissect intricate arguments and expose the underlying intent.

In this post, we will walk you through the step-by-step process of crafting an effective rhetorical analysis essay. We'll start with the basics of rhetoric, followed by the pre-writing stages and the development of a thesis statement. Next, we'll dive into how to structure your essay and guide you on how to write compelling introductions, body paragraphs, and conclusions. Lastly, we will touch upon the critical stages of revising and editing your essay.

Overview of ethos, pathos, and logos

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos are integral elements of persuasive communication, first outlined by the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle .

  • Ethos: This refers to the credibility or ethical appeal of the speaker or writer. When utilizing ethos, the author establishes their authority and credibility on the topic, which in turn, instills trust in the audience.
  • Pathos: This is the emotional appeal that targets the audience's feelings and values. By using pathos, the author can provoke an emotional response in the audience, thereby making the argument more relatable and impactful.
  • Logos: This involves the logical appeal, where arguments are constructed using solid evidence and sound reasoning. Through logos, the author can present a clear and rational argument that speaks to the audience's intellect.

In a nutshell, Ethos, Pathos, and Logos are vital tools in the rhetoric toolbox. An understanding of these elements not only aids in crafting a persuasive argument but also equips one with the skills to critically analyze and interpret the work of others.

Explanation of the rhetorical situation

The rhetorical situation is a fundamental concept in rhetoric, which encompasses the context in which communication occurs. It's made up of four key components: author, audience, purpose, and context.

  • Author: The author is the person who creates the message. In a rhetorical analysis, understanding the author involves recognizing their background, their perspective, and their credibility, as these can influence the arguments they make and the strategies they employ.
  • Audience: The audience refers to the receivers of the message. They could be readers of a text, listeners of a speech, or viewers of a media piece. The audience's characteristics, such as their beliefs, values, and experiences, can affect how they interpret the message. Therefore, authors often tailor their rhetorical strategies to appeal to their specific audience.
  • Purpose: The purpose is the goal or intent behind the message. It could be to inform, persuade, entertain, or inspire. Identifying the purpose can help you understand why certain rhetorical strategies were chosen over others.
  • Context: The context includes the circumstances, time, and place in which the communication occurs. It could be a historical event, a social issue, or a cultural trend. The context can influence both the author's creation of the message and the audience's interpretation of it.

Understanding the rhetorical situation is essential in a rhetorical analysis essay because it provides the framework within which the communication takes place. By analyzing the author, audience, purpose, and context, you can gain deeper insights into the rhetorical strategies used in the text and their effectiveness.

Significance of these elements in a rhetorical analysis essay

Understanding Ethos, Pathos, Logos, and the rhetorical situation is foundational to writing an effective rhetorical analysis essay. Each of these elements plays a significant role in not only shaping the author's message but also in how that message is received by the audience.

  • Ethos, Pathos, Logos: Identifying the use of these persuasive strategies gives you a clear insight into the author's approach to persuading their audience. Whether they're appealing to the audience's sense of trust (ethos), emotion (pathos), or logic (logos), understanding these tactics equips you with the ability to dissect the author's argument and evaluate its effectiveness.
  • Rhetorical Situation: Recognizing the author, audience, purpose, and context is key to understanding the broader framework within which the argument is made. Knowing the author's background and viewpoint can reveal biases or strengths in the argument. Understanding the audience can highlight why certain appeals were used and how they might be received. Identifying the purpose can clarify the author's main goal and message. Finally, acknowledging the context can illuminate external factors that might influence both the creation and reception of the argument.

In a rhetorical analysis essay, these elements serve as the bedrock of your evaluation. They help you discern not just what the author's argument is, but also how and why it is presented in a certain way, and how effectively it reaches its intended audience. Consequently, this understanding enhances your capacity to critique and analyze persuasive communication in various forms.

Pre-writing steps

Before you start writing your rhetorical analysis essay, it's important to thoroughly understand the text you are analyzing. This stage, often known as the pre-writing stage, involves careful reading, understanding the rhetorical situation, and identifying the use of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in the text.

Carefully reading and understanding the text

The first step is to read the text carefully, making sure you understand the overall argument that the author is making. It may be helpful to read the text multiple times to ensure that you grasp the nuances and subtleties. Take note of the author's main points, their supporting arguments, and the evidence they use. Pay attention to the language, tone, and style of writing as well.

Identifying the rhetorical situation in the text

Next, identify the rhetorical situation of the text - the author, audience, purpose, and context. Understanding who the author is and their perspective can shed light on the stance they take. Consider who the intended audience is and how this might influence the author's argument. Identify the purpose or goal of the text, and consider the context within which the text was created. Each of these factors could influence the rhetorical strategies used by the author.

Taking notes of effective use of ethos, pathos, and logos

Lastly, identify the use of Ethos, Pathos, and Logos in the text. Take note of instances where the author establishes their credibility (ethos), appeals to the audience's emotions (pathos), or uses logical arguments and evidence (logos). These notes will serve as the basis for your analysis of how the author constructs their argument and persuades their audience.

These pre-writing steps lay the groundwork for a well-structured, thorough, and effective rhetorical analysis essay. Remember, the key to a successful rhetorical analysis is not just in writing well, but in understanding the text deeply and completely.

Constructing your thesis statement

One of the crucial elements of a rhetorical analysis essay, or any academic essay for that matter, is the thesis statement . It guides your analysis and gives your reader a clear understanding of your perspective.

Importance of a strong, clear thesis statement

A well-crafted thesis statement is pivotal to a successful essay. It sets the tone for your entire analysis and provides your reader with insight into what they can expect from your essay. A clear and strong thesis statement illustrates your main argument and the points that support it. It enables the reader to understand your stance and how you intend to support it using your analysis of the text.

Tips for crafting a robust thesis statement for a rhetorical analysis essay

Creating a sound thesis statement requires precision and clarity. Here are some tips to guide you:

  • Make it clear and concise: Your thesis statement should be straightforward and to the point. It should effectively summarize your main argument in one to two sentences.
  • Mention the author, text, and rhetorical strategies: Your thesis statement should mention the text you're analyzing, the author, and the key rhetorical strategies that you will be discussing.
  • State your claim: Your thesis should clearly state your claim or main argument about the effectiveness of the rhetorical strategies used by the author.
  • Avoid stating facts: Your thesis statement should be an argument, not a simple statement of fact. It should be something that could be debated and argued for or against.

Here's an example: "In her persuasive essay, Jane Doe effectively uses ethos, pathos, and logos to argue against climate change denial, although her appeal to emotion occasionally borders on fear-mongering."

Remember, a robust thesis statement paves the way for a compelling rhetorical analysis essay. It's your roadmap, guiding your analysis and helping your reader understand your argument.

Organizing your essay

After you have a clear understanding of the text and a robust thesis statement, the next step is to organize your essay. A well-structured essay can enhance your argument and make it easier for your reader to follow your analysis.

Overview of rhetorical analysis essay structure

A typical rhetorical analysis essay consists of three main sections: an introduction, the body, and a conclusion.

  • Introduction: The introduction is where you'll present the text you're analyzing, its author, and your thesis statement. It should engage your reader and provide them with a clear understanding of your main argument.
  • Body: The body of your essay is where you'll present your detailed analysis of the text. Each paragraph should focus on a particular aspect or rhetorical strategy used by the author. Remember to provide evidence from the text to support your analysis.
  • Conclusion: In the conclusion , you'll summarize your main points and restate your thesis in a new light, considering the arguments and evidence presented in your essay's body. It should leave your reader with a clear understanding of your analysis and its implications.

Tips for creating a detailed essay outline

Creating an outline before you start writing can help you structure your thoughts and make your writing process smoother. Here are some tips for creating an effective outline:

  • Start with your thesis statement: Write your thesis statement at the top of your outline. It will guide your analysis and help you stay focused on your argument.
  • Organize your points: List the main points or arguments that you will make in your analysis. These could be the different rhetorical strategies used by the author.
  • Provide supporting details: For each main point, list the specific details, examples, or quotes from the text that you will use to support your argument.
  • Follow a logical order: Organize your main points in a logical order, whether it's the order in which the strategies appear in the text or in order of their effectiveness or importance.

Remember, an outline is a tool to help you structure your essay. It's not set in stone and can be adjusted as you delve deeper into your analysis. However, having a solid outline to start with can make your writing process much easier and more efficient.

Writing the introduction

The introduction is the first section of your essay that the reader will encounter, so it's crucial to make it engaging and informative. It sets the stage for your analysis and introduces your thesis statement.

Briefly introducing the text, author, and rhetorical situation

Start your introduction by briefly introducing the text you're analyzing and its author. Provide some context about the author, such as their background, reputation, or other relevant information that might influence their perspective or credibility (ethos).

Next, describe the rhetorical situation of the text. This includes the purpose of the text (what the author is trying to achieve), the audience (who the author is addressing), and the context (the circumstances surrounding the text's creation and reception).

Here's an example: "In his acclaimed speech 'I Have a Dream,' delivered at the height of the civil rights movement, Martin Luther King Jr. addresses a nation divided by racial injustice, aiming to persuade his audience of the need for equality and freedom for all."

Presenting the thesis statement

After introducing the text, author, and rhetorical situation, you should present your thesis statement. Your thesis statement should clearly and concisely state your main argument or claim about the effectiveness of the rhetorical strategies used by the author.

For example: "Through his powerful use of pathos, combined with an appeal to ethos and logos, King paints a compelling picture of a future where racial harmony is possible, making 'I Have a Dream' a timeless rallying call for justice and equality."

Remember, your introduction should hook your reader's attention and provide them with a clear sense of what they can expect from your essay. Ensure it is engaging, informative, and leads smoothly into your body paragraphs.

Writing the body paragraphs

The body of your essay is where you'll present your detailed analysis of the text. Each paragraph should focus on a specific point or rhetorical strategy, providing examples and explaining the impact on the audience.

Analyzing the use of rhetorical strategies in the text

Start each paragraph by identifying a specific rhetorical strategy that the author uses, such as ethos, pathos, or logos. Describe how the author uses this strategy in the text. This might involve analyzing the author's language, style, tone, use of evidence, emotional appeals, logical structure, and more.

Providing examples from the text

Next, provide specific examples from the text to illustrate your points. This might involve quoting a passage from the text, summarizing a particular section, or referring to specific details. These examples serve as evidence to support your analysis and give your reader a clear understanding of the text and its rhetorical strategies.

Explaining the impact of the rhetorical strategies on the audience

Lastly, explain the impact of these strategies on the audience. Consider how the author's use of ethos, pathos, and logos might influence the audience's perceptions, emotions, or beliefs. Assess the effectiveness of these strategies: Did they help the author achieve their purpose? Why or why not?

For instance, if analyzing a speech, you might write: "The speaker's personal anecdotes and passionate delivery (pathos) resonate with the audience's shared experiences and emotions, making his argument for environmental conservation more compelling."

Remember, each body paragraph should be focused and coherent, with a clear main idea that supports your thesis statement. Use transitions between paragraphs to help your essay flow smoothly from one point to the next.

Writing the conclusion

The conclusion of your essay is your last chance to leave a lasting impression on your reader. It should summarize your main points, restate your thesis, and offer a final thought or reflection on your analysis.

Summarizing the main points

Start your conclusion by summarizing the main points of your analysis. This doesn't mean simply listing your points again, but rather synthesizing them to show how they come together to support your thesis.

For instance, you might write: "Through careful use of ethos, pathos, and logos, the author crafts a compelling argument that resonates deeply with the audience."

Restating the thesis statement

Next, restate your thesis statement in a new light, given the evidence and arguments you've presented in your essay. Don't simply repeat your thesis verbatim; instead, rephrase it in a way that reflects the insights gained from your analysis.

For example: "As evidenced, the author's effective use of rhetorical strategies not only strengthens their argument but also deeply engages and moves the audience."

Offering a final thought or reflection on the analysis

Finally, offer a final thought or reflection on your analysis. This could be a comment on the significance of your findings, a question for further thought, or a connection to a broader context or current issue.

For instance: "The author's skillful rhetoric not only serves their argument but also highlights the power of well-crafted persuasion in sparking change – a reminder of the significant role language plays in our daily lives and societal dialogues."

Your conclusion should bring closure to your essay while still leaving your reader with something to think about. It's your final opportunity to make a strong impression, so make sure it's clear, concise, and compelling.

Revising and editing your essay

Once you've completed the initial draft of your essay, it's time to revise and edit. This process is critical for enhancing the clarity and coherence of your essay, strengthening your argument, and ensuring your work is free from errors and plagiarism.

Importance of revising for clarity, coherence, and argument strength

Revising involves reviewing your essay as a whole and making changes to improve its clarity, coherence, and the strength of your argument. This might involve rephrasing sentences, reorganizing paragraphs, or even rewriting sections of your essay.

As you revise, ask yourself: Does my essay clearly and effectively answer the essay prompt? Does my argument flow logically from one point to the next? Is my thesis statement well-supported by my analysis and evidence?

Tips for effective self-editing

After revising, it's time to edit, which involves checking your essay for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and formatting errors.

Here are some tips for effective editing:

  • Take a break: Allow some time to pass after writing your essay before you start editing. This can help you view your work with fresh eyes and spot errors more easily.
  • Read aloud: Reading your essay out loud can help you catch awkward phrasing and punctuation errors.
  • Use a spellchecker: While not foolproof , spellcheckers can help catch some spelling and grammar errors.

Reminder to check for plagiarism and properly cite sources

Ensure your work is original and properly cited. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense , so always give credit to the authors and sources that informed your analysis. Use the citation style recommended by your instructor (e.g., MLA , APA , Chicago ), and consider using citation management software to make this process easier.

Considering professional editing services

Finally, if you're aiming for the best possible outcome or if you're unsure about your revising and editing skills, consider hiring a professional editor . An editor can provide a fresh perspective and expert feedback to improve your essay's clarity, coherence, and overall quality. They can also help you catch any remaining errors and ensure your work adheres to the required formatting and citation style.

Remember, a great essay isn't written in a single draft. Revising and editing are essential parts of the writing process that will help you create a polished, compelling rhetorical analysis essay.

Writing a rhetorical analysis essay is a rewarding and insightful process that involves careful reading, detailed analysis, and thoughtful writing. This guide has walked you through each step of the process, from understanding the basics of rhetoric to crafting your thesis statement, organizing your essay, and revising and editing your work.

Remember, the goal of your essay is to dissect the author's use of rhetorical strategies and evaluate their effectiveness. With a solid understanding of ethos, pathos, and logos, a clear and concise thesis statement, a detailed essay outline, and a commitment to revision and editing, you're well on your way to crafting a standout rhetorical analysis essay.

Header image by Zamuruev .

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline: Examples & Strategies

Rhetorical analysis is never a simple task. This essay type requires you to analyze rhetorical devices in a text and review them from different perspectives. Such an assignment can be a part of an AP Lang exam or a college home task. Either way, you will need a solid outline to succeed with your writing. And we can help you nail it.

Our specialists will write a custom essay specially for you!

In this article by our custom-writing team, you will find:

  • the structure of a rhetorical analysis essay;
  • a detailed guide and tips for writing a rhetorical essay outline;
  • an example and a template for you to download.
  • 📚 Rhetorical Analysis Structure


  • Body Paragraphs
  • 📑 Example Outline & Template

🔍 References

📚 structure of a rhetorical analysis essay: pre-writing.

The first thing you need to know before you start working on your essay is that the analysis in your paper is strictly rhetorical. In other words, you don’t need to discuss what the author is saying. Instead, it’s a take on how the author says it.

And to understand “how,” you need to find rhetorical appeals. An appeal is a technique that the author uses to convince the reader. The main ones are logos, ethos, and pathos.

The picture shows the rhetorical triangle: ethos, pathos, logos.

The whole analysis is structured around them and divided into 3 parts: appeals in the text’s introduction, in the body paragraphs, and in its conclusion.

Remember that it’s essential to structure your essay in chronological order. To put it simply, it’s better not to describe the appeals from the conclusion before the ones in the introduction. Follow the structure of the text you’re analyzing, and you’ll nail it.

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Rhetorical Analysis Triangle

We’ve already mentioned ethos, pathos, and logos. The rhetorical triangle is another name for these 3 main appeals. Let’s examine them in more detail:

In your essay, it’s best to mention all 3 appeals. It’s also necessary to measure their effectiveness and give examples. A good strategy is to find the appeals in the text, underline them, and analyze them before writing the outline.

Each appeal can be characterized by the following:

  • Diction. Diction is the words that the author uses to describe the idea. When analyzing diction, you want to find words that stand out in the text.
  • Syntax. Simply put, syntax is the order of words used by the author. You can also look at the sentence length as a part of the syntax.
  • Punctuation. This characteristic is all about the usage of punctuation marks. Aside from commas, it’s good to pay attention to colons and dashes. Authors can use them to focus the audience’s attention on something or create a dramatic disjunction.
  • Tone. It’s the author’s attitude towards the discussed idea. The tone is a combination of diction, syntax, and punctuation. For example, you can tell if the author is interested or not by evaluating the length of sentences.

Remember that all 3 appeals are artistic proofs, and you shouldn’t confuse them with factual evidence. The difference between them lies in the amount of effort:

  • Citing factual evidence requires no skill. You create proof just by mentioning the fact.
  • In the case of artistic proof , you must use your knowledge of rhetoric to create it.

SOAPS: Rhetorical Analysis

SOAPS is a helpful technique for conducting a rhetorical analysis. It’s fairly popular and is recommended for AP tests. SOAPS stands for:

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Answering the questions above will make it easy for you to find the necessary appeals.

✍️ How to Write an Outline for a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Now that you’ve found the appeals and analyzed them, it’s time to write the outline. We will explain it part by part, starting with the introduction.

How to Write an Introduction for a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

In a rhetorical analysis, the introduction is different from that of a regular essay. It covers all the necessary information about the author of the text:

  • Name (or names, if there are several authors.)
  • Genre and title of the reviewed work.

The author claims that cats are better pets than dogs.

  • The target audience that the writer is aiming at.
  • The context in which the text was produced, e.g. a specific event.

The picture shows the components of an introduction for a rhetorical analysis essay.

Aside from that, a rhetorical essay introduction should include a hook and a thesis statement. Want to know how to write them? Keep reading!

How to Write a Hook for a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

A hook is a sentence that grabs the reader’s attention. You can do it by presenting an interesting fact about the author. You may also use an inspiring or amusing quote. Make sure your hook is connected with the text you are writing about.

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For example, if you’re analyzing MLK’s I Have a Dream speech, you can hook the reader with the following sentence:

Martin Luther King is widely considered the most famous speaker in history.

Our article on hooks in writing can provide you with e great ideas.

Thesis Statement for Rhetorical Analysis Essay

In a rhetorical analysis essay, you don’t need to create a thesis statement in the usual sense. Instead, you describe the main point made by the author using a rhetorically accurate verb (such as “claims” or “asserts”) followed by a “that” clause.

For example, your thesis can focus on the techniques that the author uses to convince the audience. If we look at the I Have a Dream speech, we will notice several stylistic elements:

It’s not a complete list, but that’s enough to form a decent thesis.

We also need to mention the ideas behind the speech. The main idea is, obviously, equality. So, we’ll put it in our thesis as well. As a result, we have something like this:

Through the skillful usage of metaphor, repetition, and symbolism Martin Luther King effectively fills his audience’s hearts with the idea of unity and equality.

Rhetorical Analysis Body Paragraphs

If you are writing a generic 5-paragraph essay, you can divide your essay’s body into 3 parts:

  • A paragraph about appeals in the text introduction.
  • A section about rhetorical devices in the text’s body.
  • A paragraph about rhetorical devices in the text’s conclusion.

Sometimes there is no distinct structure in a text. If that’s the case, just analyze the appeals in chronological order. You can also split the analysis based on the type of appeals. For example:

  • A paragraph about emotional appeals.
  • A section about logical appeals.
  • A paragraph about ethical appeals.

Each of your essay’s body paragraphs should have 3 key elements:

  • Topic sentence that shows what appeal you will discuss in the section.
  • Examples that illustrate the rhetorical device you want to showcase.
  • Your take on the effectiveness of the given device.

It’s good to remember that every appeal you talk about needs an example. If you can illustrate your claim about a strategy with more examples, then go for it. The more examples, the better.

Good Transition Words for Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Transition words allow you to follow up one idea with another. They also help build connections between paragraphs. Choosing correct transition words depends on the strategy you use. If you want to build a sequence of a cause and its effect, you will need words like “thus” or “hence.” If you’re going to clarify something, you should use a different set of words.

Here’s a list of helpful transition words suitable in different contexts:

Rhetorical Analysis Verbs to Use

A rhetorical analysis essay is a serious work that often touches on complex topics. Regular verbs like “tells us” or “shows” don’t always fit it. To make your paper more inclusive and precise, consider using strong verbs .

Strong verbs (or power verbs) are typically used when talking about the author. That includes their strategies, attitude, personality, or ideas.

For example, instead of “the author says,” you can use “suggests” or “clarifies,” depending on the context.

Some other rhetorically accurate verbs include:

  • Sheds light

You don’t have to use strong verbs only. If you feel like “says” suits your point better than any strong verb, feel free to use it.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Conclusion

The conclusion is the ending of your paper. It sums your essay up and underlines the points you’ve made in the body paragraphs. A good conclusion should accomplish several things:

  • Paraphrasing the thesis . You shouldn’t just rewrite the thesis from the introduction. The restatement is usually used to demonstrate a deeper understanding of your point.
  • A summary of the body paragraphs . Again, simple repetition is not enough. We need to link the points to our thesis and underline the importance of our statements.
  • Final thoughts . A powerful epilogue will leave a good impression about your work.

Make sure to avoid including any new ideas or statements. The conclusion is exclusively for summarizing. If you found yourself putting a new assertion in the ending, it’s probably a good idea to restructure your body paragraphs.

📑 Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Outline & Template

To make the writing process even easier for you, we will show you what an outline for your essay can look like. As an example, we will outline a rhetorical analysis of MLK’s I Have a Dream speech. We are going to structure it according to the appeals.

Have a look:

  • Hook . An interesting fact about the MLK or his quote. An emotional start about the importance and the lasting legacy of the speech will also work.
  • The speaker’s name, occupation, and years of life.
  • The context in which the subject of our essay was produced.
  • The speech’s target audience.
  • Thesis statement . Point out the appeals you are going to write about. Describe their impact on the author’s general argumentation.

Body paragraphs

  • Underline the often use of metaphor. Set “lonely island of poverty” and “ocean of material prosperity” as examples.
  • Talk about the usage of repetition. Use the constant repetition of “I have a dream…” as an illustration.
  • Demonstrate the use of logos. Mention King citing President Lincoln as an authority for his argumentation.
  • Showcase the ethos of the speech. Notice that MLK’s Civil Rights Movement logic correlates with social ethics at the time.
  • Comparing segregation to a “bad check.”
  • Referring to the Civil Rights Movement as “my people.”
  • Comparing the acquisition of equality to “cashing a check.”
  • Restate the thesis. Demonstrate a deeper understanding of the point made in the introduction.
  • Summary of the body paragraphs. Connect them to the thesis statement. Give a final take on King’s rhetorical strategies and evaluate their effectiveness.
  • Closing thought. Finish by stating the primary goal of your analysis.

Alternatively, you can structure your essay in chronological order. Below you’ll find a template you can use for this type of rhetorical analysis. Simply download the PDF file below and fill in the blanks.

Rhetorical Analysis Outline Template

(your essay’s title)


The speaker/author is (state the author’s name.) The purpose of the text is to (state the text’s purpose.) The text is intended for (describe the text’s intended audience.)

Check out the rhetorical analysis samples below to get some ideas for your paper.

  • Greta Thunberg’s Speech: Rhetorical Analysis
  • Rhetorical Analysis: “In Defense of the ‘Impractical’ English Major” by C. Gregoire and “Top 10 Reasons You’re Not Wasting Your Time as an English Major” by S. Reeves
  • Siren et al.’s Study on Red Wines: Rhetorical Analysis
  • Steve Jobs’ Commencement Speech Rhetorical Analysis
  • Brooks’ “Reading Too Much Political News…” Rhetorical Analysis
  • The Speech “Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence” by Martin Luther King, Jr: Rhetorical Analysis
  • Rhetorical Analysis Through Lyrics: “The Times They Are A-Changing” and “The Wind of Change”
  • Roiphe’s Confessions of a Female Chauvinist Sow: Rhetorical Analysis
  • “Snack Attack”: Rhetorical Analysis
  • Rhetorical Analysis of “Hidden Intellectualism” by Gerald Graff

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Topics

  • Analyze rhetorical appeals of a Hallmark’s commercial  
  • Rhetorical devices and the atmosphere of Hamlet’s To Be or Not to Be monologue   
  • The author’s argument in Us film  
  • Compare pathos, ethos, and logos in two advertisements   
  • Google Analytics : rhetorical analysis 
  • The background and the audience of the Gillette commercial short film  
  • Rhetorical analysis of capitalism and socialism  
  • What makes John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address iconic? 
  • The significance of the historical parallel in Susan B. Anthony’s speech  
  • Sarcasm and skepticism in Shikha Dalmia’s article  
  • Rhetorical analysis of political debates between Biden, Harris, and Booker 
  • What makes Letter From Birmingham Jail powerful? 
  • Problems of the modern education in Moore’s Idiot Nation and Gatto’s Against School  
  • Rhetorical techniques in Learning to Read and Write by Frederick Douglass  
  • Compare and contrast Antigone and Creon  
  • The word framing of Michelle Obama’s TED speech  
  • James Q. Wilson’s arguments on gun ownership laws 
  • Analyze ethos, pathos, and logos in a video advertisement  
  • What makes the 2005 speech by Steve Jobs remarkable? 
  • How does Jenna Berko convince readers in her essay? 
  • Successful persuasion in the film Henry V  
  • Margaret Fuller and Frederick Douglass : a rhetorical comparison 
  • Characters, setting, and emotions in Of Mice and Men  
  • Web blogs rhetorical analysis 
  • Rhetorical devices in Barbara Holland’s collection of thoughts  
  • Conduct a rhetorical analysis of Louis C. K.’s Shameless  
  • What makes Claire Giordano’s essay convincing? 
  • Biblical allusions in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas  
  • Ali Siddiq’s ‘Prison Riot’ standup : a rhetorical analysis 
  • Presentation of interracial romance in Get Out movie 
  • Rhetoric Instruments in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Latinos and Latinas in the United States  
  • How does Barack Obama try to change reality with his speech? 
  • Target and purpose of L’Oreal EverCrème advertisement  
  • Perform a rhetorical analysis of Pop Can: Popular Culture in Canada  
  • The Myth of the Charioteer by Plato : rhetorical devices 
  • Rhetorical goals of the authors of African-American history articles  
  • The effectiveness of the Michelin advertising campaign  
  • Rhetorical analysis of the Double Cola Company’s image 
  • Compare the use of argument in Lincoln’s and Dickinson’s works  
  • Rhetoric analysis of anti-communist and anti-Islam promotion 

We hope this article helped you with your assignment. Make sure to tell us what part helped you the most in the comments. And good luck with your studies!

Further reading:

  • How to Write a Reflection Paper: Example & Tips
  • How to Write a Narrative Essay Outline: Template & Examples
  • What Is a Discourse Analysis Essay: Example & Guide
  • How to Write a Critical Thinking Essay: Examples & Outline
  • How to Write a Precis: Definition, Guide, & Examples
  • How to Write a Process Analysis Essay: Examples & Outline

🤔 Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline FAQs

According to SOAPS, the main 5 elements of a rhetorical analysis are:

1. Subject, or the author’s ideas. 2. Occasion, or the text’s background. 3. Audience, or the people who would find the text interesting. 4. Purpose, or the reasoning behind the writing. 5. Speaker’s characteristics, or the author’s personal beliefs.

1. Logos— the appeal to logic. It includes argumentation, statistics, and facts. 2. Ethos— the ethical appeal. Ethos appeal to the morality and ethical norms of the target audience. 3. Pathos —the appeal to the reader’s emotions. 4. Kairos— the time of the argument.

Every rhetorical analysis ends with a conclusion. A good conclusion should:

1. Restate the thesis. 2. Summarize the points and strategies described in the body paragraphs. 3. End with concluding thoughts on the analysis.

A thesis for a rhetorical analysis is a bit different from the usual one. It needs to include the author’s appeals and the main point the author is trying to make. Like any other thesis, it must structure the further analysis and be connected to every paragraph.

Kairos is the timeliness of the argument. It is the appeal of the right time. The usage of kairos usually means that the author’s text is relevant for a certain period of time only.

  • Rhetorical Analysis: Miami University
  • Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Formatting: California State University, East Bay
  • The Rhetorical Triangle: Understanding and Using Logos, Ethos, and Pathos: Louisiana State University
  • The Rhetorical Triangle: The University of North Carolina at Charlotte
  • General Notes on Rhetorical Analysis: Deer Valley Unified School District
  • SOAPS: Rhetorical Analysis of a Reading Source: Kent Campus
  • How To Write a Rhetorical Analysis in 8 Simple Steps: Indeed
  • Rhetorical Analysis: Texas A&M University
  • Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statements: Virginia Wesleyan University
  • What Are Logos, Ethos, Pathos, and Kairos?: University of Louisville
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Extremely helpful. Gave me wonderful definitions of Pathos,Lagos and Ethos.Broke down how to use these points to write my analysis. Thank you

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  1. PDF Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statements

    strong thesis statement for a rhetorical analysis essay... Avoids using the first person or phrases like "I believe" or "I think" Serves as a guide to your essay for your reader Asserts your conclusion and takes a stand on the author's rhetorical strategies

  2. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

    A rhetorical analysis is structured similarly to other essays: an introduction presenting the thesis, a body analyzing the text directly, and a conclusion to wrap up. This article defines some key rhetorical concepts and provides tips on how to write a rhetorical analysis. Instantly correct all language mistakes in your text

  3. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay-Examples & Template

    Its structure is similar to that of most essays: An Introduction presents your thesis, a Body analyzes the text you have chosen, breaks it down into sections and explains how arguments have been constructed and how each part persuades, informs, or entertains the reader, and a Conclusion section sums up your evaluation.

  4. PDF Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Thesis Statements

    Examples of strong thesis statements for a rhetorical analysis: Jones effectively convinces his audience that a college education improves career opportunities through the use of statistics and surveys paired with emotional stories.

  5. Rhetorical Analysis

    Thesis. A thesis for a rhetorical analysis does not address the content of the writer's argument. ... Your essay should follow a logical organization plan that your reader can easily follow. Conclusion. Go beyond restating your thesis; comment on the effect or significance of the entire essay. ...

  6. Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement

    A thesis statement written within a rhetorical analysis paper could look like this: Author (name) effectively convinces readers (viewers) of the product quality by pointing to the (health or other) benefits of using it. Order now Alternatively, you could also argue:

  7. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis: 6 Steps and an Outline for Your

    In writing your rhetorical analysis, you'll examine the author or creator's goals, techniques, and appeals to their audience (which you'll summarize in your essay's thesis). How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Follow these 6 steps to write a rhetorical analysis that's clear and insightful. 1. Identify the 4 elements of rhetoric.

  8. How to Write a Great Rhetorical Analysis Essay: With Examples

    You'll have an introduction to present your thesis, a main body where you analyze the text, which then leads to a conclusion. Think about how the writer (also known as a rhetor) considers the situation that frames their communication: Topic: the overall purpose of the rhetoric Audience: this includes primary, secondary, and tertiary audiences

  9. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis: 15 Steps (with Pictures)

    Part 1 Gathering Information Download Article 1 Identify the SOAPSTone. The SOAPSTone of a text include its Speaker, Occasion, Audience, Purpose, Subject and Tone. The speaker refers to the first and last name of the writer.

  10. PDF How to Write a RHETORICAL ANALYSIS ESSAY Step 1: Full Comprehension of

    Like all other essays, your rhetorical analysis essay will have an introduction with a thesis, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. WRITE - write your essay. Asher AP ELAC Name: _____ Step 3: Organizing and Writing Your Essay: Some of this is redundant, but this breaks down some of the steps from MAD TO WRITE even further. ...

  11. How to write a Thesis for a Rhetorical Analysis

    In a rhetorical analysis, the thesis statement should articulate the main points that will be discussed and should also provide the reader with an understanding of the goal of the analysis. The thesis statement should be concise and clear, providing the reader with a clear direction and purpose for the essay. Additionally, the thesis statement ...

  12. Thesis Statement Examples for Rhetorical Analysis, How to Write, Tips

    Crafting a well-defined thesis statements is the cornerstone of a successful rhetorical analysis essay. This essay will explore effective thesis statement examples, provide guidance on how to formulate them, and offer valuable tips to enhance the overall quality of your rhetorical analysis.

  13. How to write a rhetorical analysis [4 steps]

    Step 1: Plan and prepare. With a rhetorical analysis, you don't choose concepts in advance and apply them to a specific text or piece of content. Rather, you'll have to analyze the text to identify the separate components and plan and prepare your analysis accordingly. Here, it might be helpful to use the SOAPSTone technique to identify the ...

  14. 9.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about Rhetoric

    The assignment is to write a rhetorical analysis of a piece of persuasive writing. It can be an editorial, a movie or book review, an essay, a chapter in a book, or a letter to the editor. For your rhetorical analysis, you will need to consider the rhetorical situation—subject, author, purpose, context, audience, and culture—and the ...

  15. Rhetorical Analysis

    A rhetorical analysis is an essay that breaks a work of non-fiction into parts and then explains how the parts work together to create a certain effect—whether to persuade, entertain or inform. You can also conduct a rhetorical analysis of a primarily visual argument such as a cartoon or advertisement, or an oral performance such as a speech.

  16. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Thesis

    You can craft a rhetorical analysis thesis statement with the following steps: Step 1: As you are reading the passage, look for strategies or choices the author utilizes. Ask: What rhetorical choices does the writer/speaker make? (ie. juxtaposition, allusion, etc) This will be the basis of your thesis statement.

  17. 20+ Best Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example & Sample Papers

    1. Good Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example 2. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example AP Lang 2023 3. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Examples for Students 4. Writing a Visual Rhetorical Analysis Essay with Example 5. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Writing Tips Good Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

  18. How to Write a Thesis Statement

    Step 1: Start with a question Step 2: Write your initial answer Step 3: Develop your answer Step 4: Refine your thesis statement Types of thesis statements Other interesting articles Frequently asked questions about thesis statements What is a thesis statement? A thesis statement summarizes the central points of your essay.

  19. How to Write the AP Lang Rhetorical Essay

    4. Be Sure to Explain Your Examples. As you write the essay, don't just list out your examples and say something like "this is an example of ethos, logos, pathos.". Instead, analyze how the example shows that rhetoric device and how it helps the author further their argument. As you write the rhetorical essay, you'll want to be as ...

  20. 3.7 Rhetorical Modes of Writing

    Typically speaking, the four major categories of rhetorical modes are narration, description, exposition, and persuasion. The narrative essay tells a relevant story or relates an event. The descriptive essay uses vivid, sensory details to draw a picture in words. The writer's purpose in expository writing is to explain or inform.

  21. Rhetorical Analysis Sample Essay

    Rhetorical Analysis Sample Essay. Harriet Clark. Ms. Rebecca Winter. CWC 101. 13 Feb. 2015. Not Quite a Clean Sweep: Rhetorical Strategies in. Grose's "Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier". A woman's work is never done: many American women grow up with this saying and feel it to be true. 1 One such woman, author Jessica Grose, wrote ...

  22. How To Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

    Tips for crafting a robust thesis statement for a rhetorical analysis essay. Creating a sound thesis statement requires precision and clarity. Here are some tips to guide you: Make it clear and concise: Your thesis statement should be straightforward and to the point. It should effectively summarize your main argument in one to two sentences.

  23. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline: Examples & Strategies

    Example: The author claims that cats are better pets than dogs. The target audience that the writer is aiming at. The context in which the text was produced, e.g. a specific event. Aside from that, a rhetorical essay introduction should include a hook and a thesis statement.

  24. How to Write an AP Lang Synthesis Essay: Tips & Steps

    This includes identifying rhetorical strategies, evaluating the credibility of sources, and considering the implications of the argumentative points presented. Coherent ... Completing an AP Lang synthesis essay thesis is an achievable goal with the right guidance and resources. By utilizing the strategies considered in this article, you can ...

  25. Analysis of Sojourner Truth's Speech 'Ain't I a Woman'

    In the speech, "Ain't I a Woman" by Sojourner Truth, talks about the inequalities women and colored women faced during the 1800s. It is a famous speech because of the impact it had for women at the time trying to get equal rights as men. By analyzing the way she uses rhetorical strategies, I will determine if her speech was successful or not.

  26. Rhetorical Analysis Essay.docx (2) (pdf)

    2 Deconstructing Deceit: A Rhetorical Analysis of Falsification in Greek Propaganda This article unveils the truth behind the events in Western Anatolia following World War I while dismantling popular and infamous misconceptions about this time period. In the article "Greek Propaganda, falsification of history," Haluk Selvi perfectly uses the persuasive elements of ethos, logos, and pathos to ...