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Rhetorical Analysis Essay: An A-Z Guide

UserHarrison Walker time04 June,2018

Have you seen the critically acclaimed movie “Inception”, where the protagonists explore a dream within a dream? Well, that’s another great piece of work by the maestro – Christopher Nolan. But why are we talking about Inception right now? Does that have anything to do with a rhetorical analysis essay?

Well, technically there is no connection between the movie Inception and a rhetorical analysis essay. However, a rhetorical analysis is practically writing about a piece of writing, which is pretty similar to the concept of dream-within-a-dream. Also, both of them require expert understandingare really complicated.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay


What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

A Rhetorical Analysis essay is a form of essay that breaks a non-fiction work into various parts and then describes how each content segment or part interacts with each other to create a particular effect.

The effect created may be to

  • persuade the author’s viewpoints or opinions
  • inform about a particular aspect
  • simply entertain the readers.
  • Increase relevance of some happenings or occurrences
  • Increase relevance of some ideas or propositions and many more…

If you ask an expert rhetorical analysis writer regarding the types of effects authors create through their work, he would simply say ‘unlimited’. Yes, truly the kind of effect emanating from a well-written work is huge. So rhetorical analysis essay carries high significance.

Let us consider this piece of rhetorical analysis essay

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. One such woman, author Jessica Grose, wrote “Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier,” published in 2013 in the New Republic, and she argues that while the men in our lives recently started taking on more of the childcare and cooking, cleaning still falls unfairly on women. 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,

From this small excerpt, we can understand that the author for whom the essay was written wanted to

emphasise on

  • women’s right
  • human dignity
  • importance of work-life balance in driving satisfaction
  • family conditions existent in the society.
  • An upsurge in feminism and so on

The great question as to why some works become masterpieces and some do not,  can be answered easily by a rhetorical essay writer?

For him, a group of words may be imagery of a beautiful landscape, can remind of the taste of exotic wines, can denote the best meanings of irony, satire, love, can express a philosophy or simply create reader’s yearning to read more. The essay writer analyses how the different texts and visual components blend with each other to create a special effect on the reader’s mind or deliver a message.

If you visualise a cake as the work of a writer, then the work of a rhetorical essay writer is to analyse the components like flour, baking powder,cream, sugar etc.. They further need to determine the amount and quality of these materials, required to produce the cake, having specific sweetness, flavour and effects on taste.


Rhetorical analysis is slightly different from all the critical analysis essays that you have done earlier. So searching “what is an analytical essay” or “how to write an analytical essay” on Google may not provide you with proper results.

A rhetorical analysis is a form of essay that breaks down a particular piece of content into parts to unveil the rhetorical analysis strategies and persuasive styles used by the writer.

If the cake owner mentioned previously intended to remind people of old German bakery cakes, the essayists need to find out whether the components in the cake truly created an OLD GERMAN BAKERY TASTE OR WAS IT GIVING A MODERN UPTOWN BAKERY TASTE.

Writers can persuade in various ways, some of which can be

Repeating the points with greater emphasis Using emotive tone Making claims Associating with facts and images

Essayists need to find out the persuasiveness of any idea or message or fact, by the author, attained through any of these techniques.


  • A RHETORICAL ANALYSIS  essay is neither a narrative nor a reflective piece of writing.
  • Your opinion about the work matters but it has to be formed in sync with the main analysis.
  • Generally, non-fictional works are chosen for such essays.
  • In these essays, your objective is to explain to users how various aspects of a particular text created something unique and integral.


While working on a rhetorical analysis of a text or a speech, you need to ask yourself the following questions:

1. Who are the readers or target audience? 1. What is the story or situation being described by author? 1. How is the content or text framed? 1. Is the content catering to the contemporary period in which the situation or story arose? 1. Why the author chose the specific style or diction?
2. Who are the main characters in the story or situation? 2. What kind of impression or result the author wants through his work? 2. How the text and language complements the author’s idea or the effect he wants to create?   2. Why was the setting chose for the story or situation?
  3. What is the core purpose of the text? 3. How much of the core content or text is used to create the effect?  
4. What kind of persuasive technique is being used by the author? 4. How much of content has been used for displaying the facts and figures?
5. What imagery or picture author intended to create through a particular text? 5. How much the text has been able to show the interplay between the characters?
  6. How was the transition in the story or situation handled


How to Proceed ?; Knowing the Route is Knowing Your Destination.

  1. USE SOAPSTone: Strategy for analysing text

Using this analysis method, you can dissect the work into various well defined groups, for analysis.

Just by analysing the three elements of the SOAPS , you can understand the message author intends to  give to the readers.



The major components of persuasion, created by Aristotle, have been mentioned below. If a writer succeeded in employing all the three appeals , he was considered to be persuasive good writer.

(b) Use Style , diction, verbose, imagery, dialects etc..


To have an understanding of how the various parts of the text work together, you need to examine the appeals piece by piece.


After you consider the elements of SOAPSTone and the modes of persuasion used by the writer, you have a better understanding of the rhetorical strategies taken by the author to achieve his/her purpose. It is okay to disagree with the argument, given to you as the topic. Your focus should be to analyse how well the author has used the elements to present his /her argument.


After analysis, you need to think

  1. HOW the rhetorical strategies helped the author achieve her/his purpose?
  2. WHY the author chose those strategies for the particular audience and for the specific occasion?


After you’re done with the analysis, you should proceed to the writing part.

How to frame the structure of your rhetorical analysis essay

  • General structure of 5-6 paragraphs should be present
  • Entire essay needs to be divided into three sections


(b) Body

(c) Conclusion

  • Argument is generally present in the body part

Proven tips for writing a great rhetorical essay

  1. State your intentions in the introduction:
  • Your major focus should be to establish your argument in the body part, so keep the introduction short, yet impactful.
  • Describe the purpose of the essay briefly, and while mentioning the text, you are analyzing. The thesis statement is usually stated in the introduction. So, translate your opinion into a well-crafted thesis statement.

The introductory line can be made appealing with induction of the following:

  • A quote from exemplary writer
  • An anecdote
  • A surprising statistic
  • A question?
  • A metaphor or simile
  • Prose lines and many more.

The objective is to make the readers be curious or feel pleasant in going through your essay.

  1. Organize the paragraphs by rhetorical appeals:
  • The body paragraphs of a rhetorical analysis are usually segmented to explain each of the rhetorical appeals.
  • The order of these appeals (logos, ethos and pathos) is not fixed. So if you want to focus more on a particular mode of persuasion, you can do that . Then, briefly cover the other two modes following the major one.
  1. Present the analysis in chronological order:
  • When you are stating your analysis of the text part-by-part, mention the parts in the order, they appear in the text.
  • An author usually chooses to present the details in order for a purpose. So, breaking the order may not be the best way to address the document.
  1. Support your arguments with evidence:
  • The examiner will not consider your analysis as legit if you fail to support your arguments with enough evidence.
  • In case of an analysis essay, the text or the content itself serves as a source of valuable pieces of evidence. In fact, the direct quotations from the author are often used by the essay writers to prove their arguments.
  1. Wrap things neatly with the conclusion:
  • Drafting a rhetorical analysis conclusion is not very different than drafting any other essay conclusion.
  • To ensure your readers understand your analysis of the text, you should restate the thesis and explain briefly how the analysis fulfil the purpose of the essay.
  • Discuss your main ideas for the essay to show your readers how those ideas have helped you analyse the work. If you see the scope for further research on the issue, you should hint the possible areas for research as well.

A good Rhetorical Analysis essay contains all the components that is there in the judge’s checklist of an opera play.

Consider the image of an opera play given below

A judge’s check list for such a play has been given below:


A good analysis rhetorical essay should be

  • grammatically sound
  • concise
  • clear

It should have

  • logical flow of paragraphs and events
  • a strong argument supported with references from main text
  • a clear analysis of appeals etc.

A rhetorical essay is surely different than most of the essay types you have dealt with previously. So it can be difficult to get the drift in the beginning. However, you can excel in this type of exercise as well if you follow the aforementioned tips and practice religiously.

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