How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

November 15, 2016 How To Write
How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

What is a rhetorical analysis essay? When writing a rhetorical analysis essay, the writer should break down the ideas and work into smaller parts that can be further explained to show how each of the parts work together to produce an effect. This may include the analysis of any form of visual arguments such as an advertisement, speech or any other oral or written examples. Therefore, the ultimate effect of such an essay can be to persuade, inform or entertain the intended audience.

Related: How to Write an Analytical Essay

A rhetoric analysis is an essay that takes a non-fiction work breaks it into parts and explains how those individual parts work together to either inform, persuade or entertain an audience. Rhetoric analysis can be done on speech or visual arguments such as cartoons. The rhetoric analysis does not seek to either agree or disagree with a stance it instead seeks to analyze if the stance taken by the rhetorician is the most successful.

Commonly used Topics

There are a number of commonly used rhetorical essay topic samples that could potentially help you think of your own, and here are a few of them:

  • President Obama’s inaugural Speech
  • Martin Luther King’s speech “I Have a Dream”
  • Tattoos and piercing are symbols of freedom
  • Shakespeare’s play “Hamlet”

Related: How to Choose Essay Topics

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis: Core Points

A rhetorical analysis essay has to have an introduction that lays out the essential information that the reader will find. It means that the writer has to show that he/she is writing an analysis by stating the documents under consideration and giving any background information on the issue to be discussed. This is also the stage where the writer has to put down the rhetorical aspect of the document in use by stating the audience, speaker, context and also the purpose.

Apart from that, the writer also has to state the thesis for the essay while staying in focus to show what exactly it will cover. Moreover, the body of the paper has to be arranged in a proper order to ensure the flow of ideas. By following a chronological order, the writer will be able to present his/her insights on the issue being discussed and also integrate the points into the essay. Finally, the conclusion has to be prepared such that it summarizes the entire essay by restating the thesis and the main points to emphasize on them.

The Outline

Below you can find a sample outline for a rhetorical analysis essay:

a) Introduction: The intro to your essay should be brief and should preferably include the following major parts:

  1. Speaker
  2. Occasion
  3. Context
  4. Purpose
  5. Audience

b) Body: Each paragraph has to have its topic sentence together with supporting ideas to complete them. Also, includes detailed explanations of the various strategies used to build up the essay.

c) How to conclude?
The conclusion should remind readers what has been explained in the essay by summarizing the most important parts. It creates the necessary emphasis on the strong points.

Three most common forms

  • Ethos. in these types of essays the audience either perceive the article or text as credible or not credible.
  • Pathos. this are persuasive essays where the author tries to make the audience feel certain emotions
  • Logos. In this types of essays, the author tries to persuade the audience by use of arguments that the audience considers as logic.

Rhetorical analysis essay writing has to address five elements of design principles.

  • Balance: this is the element distribution in the article as a whole
  • Alignment: this is the element patterns about borders and background
  • Grouping: this the arrangement of complementary items within an article
  • Consistency: extent or repetition and establishment of patterns in a document
  • Contrast: this the visual distinguish of different items by juxtaposing

In addition to the elements of design, visual elements such as text color and size, images, placement, and audience are also considered and analyzed.

  • Rhetorical analysis format summary include
  • Author: when doing a rhetoric analysis the author has to be known
  • Purpose: this will detail the authors aim in writing an article and what they are trying to accomplish.
  • Audience: to effectively analyze a rhetoric essay it is important to determine whom the audience of the text is.
  • Context: this looks into the influencing factors that resulted in the article or text being written and when / where was the text written.
  • Voice: this is the overall tone of the whole text or article. It serves to know what the emotion of the author is.
  • Genre: serves to know what type the text is. Strategies: this serves to know how the author wrote the text and if they followed the required methodology and if the author deviated from the norm.
  • Effectiveness: It is the examination of whether the text or article gets the reader thinking differently about the subject matter and if the author is rhetorically effective.


A rhetorical analysis essay can be written to persuade, inform or entertain an audience by breaking down information into smaller parts to show how they are interconnected. It enables writers to dive deep into why certain elements were used in a particular situation to show the effects they had.

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