How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay AP Lang Step By Step Outline Example

At first, writing a rhetorical essay may seem like a daunting task. However, once you master the steps to write a rhetorical analysis essay, putting together your paper will be an exciting task.

The process involved requires a keen eye for identifying strategies used by authors/speakers in the text of their message, aimed at influencing the audience.

Identification and analysis of these stylistic choices will require you to understand the viewpoint of the communicator.

What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

Rhetoric refers to the art of using language through speech or writing to persuade the audience or reader.

A rhetorical analysis essay is the evaluation of techniques used to persuade a listener or a reader. These strategies vary contingent on the medium of the message.

To perform a thorough analysis of the persuasive appeal of a message, you first have to understand how the information is appealing to the audience.

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Before writing a rhetorical analysis essay, it is imperative that you perform an in-depth investigation of your topic.

Analyzing information and taking notes will be of much benefit. Doing so will enable you to see where common rhetorical styles are used in the text.

Also, you will be able to understand the steps of how an argument can be developed using rhetorical devices.

This way, you can narrow down to a thesis as you sort through information. Plan your rhetorical essay outline using the examples you identify from the message.

Secondly, after you analyze the text, identify the stylistic choices used. For these techniques to prove persuasive, you will have to understand how they appeal to the audience.

You will have to discuss how these rhetorical analysis strategies work and how capable these devices are in persuading the recipient. In so doing, you will unravel the author’s or speaker’s objective.

Rhetorical Devices of Persuasion.

There are three main branches of persuasion. Whenever analyzing a persuasive text, it is vital to have these three strategies at hand. They are; ethos, pathos, and logos.

  1. Ethos (Ethical Appeal)

In this strategy, the author uses their credibility to appeal to the audience. This model argues that the audience will respond better to a message if they believe that the author is an authentic source of information on the given subject.

The audience is more likely to respect a source that has the appropriate credentials to speak on the matter being presented. For instance, it may be easy to give ear to a lawyer advising you on a legal issue.

However, a lawyer’s expertise may not be appreciated if he were to speak to a football team about their playing strategy.

Ethos is context-driven in rhetorical analysis. For it to work effectively as a strategy, the speaker must be a legitimate expert in the topic that they are speaking about in their message.

If the author does not have a reputation with their audience, they can build respect using the quality of writing.

If the message is brought in a concise, succinct, and transparent way, the audience is likely to respond positively to it.

  • Logos (Logical Appeal)

Logos is the root word for the term ‘logic.’ This strategy holds that the audience is more receptive to a logically sound message. If the audience is provided a reason, they are more likely to respond expectedly.

A keyword in this type of argument is ‘because.’ With no compelling reason as to why the listener/hearer should respond to the message, they are less likely to act. But, if you provide a basis, they will be likely to be convinced.

To use this device, the author will make their argument and cite proof to support it.

  • Pathos (Emotional appeal)

This strategy aims to influence the emotional state of the audience. In a message, this scheme uses a high level of word-craft to incite an emotional response in the receiver.

Selecting the right emotion to target, by the author, requires understanding the audience.

A message of this sort will use specific words to evoke a particular emotion. Skilled authors will use these words subtly so that the audience does not feel that they are being manipulated.

For instance, words like ‘help,’ ‘save,’ ‘action’ and phrases such as ‘make a difference’ and ‘take action now’ can be used to persuade an audience that their actions can cause change.

Different words will provoke different emotional states. Authors use this strategy to appeal to the reader’s emotions without their knowledge.

Persuasive communicators will use at least one or a fusion of these three strategies to persuade their audience. For a realistic look at these strategies in use, see our example of a rhetorical analysis essay using ethos, pathos, and logos.

Outline for a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Like most essays, a rhetorical analysis essay should comprise of an introduction, body, and conclusion.

  1. The Introduction.

The first line of your essay should be a catchy sentence that will hook your reader’s attention.

It should make them want to read the rest of your paper. It is vital to introduce the subject and context of your analysis at this point.

After this, outline the purpose or claim of the speaker/author. Then finish the introduction with your thesis statement. This is the main argument you are presenting in your paper.

  • The Body

Each paragraph in this section should tackle a single idea or topic of analysis. You may organize the paragraphs according to the three rhetorical devices we have covered.

When addressing a particular technique, exhaust all the ways it has been used in related paragraphs.

Once you identify the scheme you wish to discuss, order your ideas accordingly. Cite in parenthesis an instance where the strategy has been used.

Finally, analyze and evaluate the effectiveness of the style.

  • The Conclusion

 Here, formulate an epilogue in connection with your thesis statement. Provide a recapitulation of the salient facts of your argument. You could also state why your take and analysis on the matter is essential.

Avoid including any new information in this section.

Conclusion

As a result of the terminology and depth of knowledge involved, rhetorical analysis essays can be a discouraging task to undertake.

But, with the information we have provided, writing your paper should be a mentally stimulating job.

If writing your paper still seems challenging at this point, take a look at our rhetorical analysis essay example.

Identifying the persuasive strategies used by authors/speakers will boost your overall awareness of the power of words. It will also help your understanding of how to organize an argument convincingly and skillfully.

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