How to write a rhetorical analysis essay

When it comes to learning how to write rhetorical analysis, it may be a difficult task for beginners, but once you know the tricks and tips, you’ll be writing like a pro in no time. In this article, we’ll cover the definition of rhetorical analysis and show you a step-by-step guide with an outline, tips, and examples. Nonetheless, if you simply prefer to skip all of this and have one of our professionals help you with it, please feel free to contact us by clicking the button below.

What is a rhetorical analysis essay?

As you know, different literary works are written with the sole aim of persuading the reader in the validity of the author’s ideas and point of view. There are various literary and rhetorical strategies and devices that help writers achieve this goal; And this is what you will have to deal with when working on your rhetorical analysis essay. So, what is the definition of rhetorical analysis? In short, rhetorical analysis is the process of measuring how successful writers are at persuading, informing, or entertaining their audiences. There are thousands of writing strategies used to analyze modern, as well as historical texts, but note that in a rhetorical analysis essay you must identify the author’s writing style and their point of view. This requires analyzing the author’s methods of persuasion (the words and phrases the author creates) and how effective they are with the reader.


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Rhetorical Analysis Strategy

There are three universal methods of persuasion – also called rhetorical strategies. In order to tackle the task, you need to have a good understanding of these strategies and their usage. So, what are the 3 rhetorical strategies? Let’s define each and take a closer look at their key attributes:

  1. Ethos

The rhetorical device of ethos is what establishes the author’s credibility in a piece of literature. Simply put, the skillful use of this strategy is what helps readers determine whether or not a particular writer can be trusted on a particular issue. Credibility is defined by the author’s expertise, knowledge, and moral competence for a particular subject. According to Aristotle, there are three categories of ethos: arete (virtue, goodwill), phronesis (useful skills & wisdom), and Eunoia (goodwill towards the audience). For example, when the author of a book is a well-known expert on a particular subject, or when a product is advertised by a famous person – this is the use of ethos for persuasion.

  1. Pathos

According to the literary definition of Pathos, this Greek word translates to “experience,” “suffering,” or “emotion” and is one of three methods writers of persuasion could use to appeal to the emotions of their readers. In short, the main goal of this strategy is to elicit certain feelings (e.g. happiness, sympathy, pity, anger, compassion, etc.) in their audience with the sole aim of persuading them something. Its main purpose is to help readers relate to the identity and ideas of the author. Some common ways to use Pathos in rhetoric are through:

  • Storytelling;
  • Metaphor;
  • Personal anecdotes, etc.

Just to give you an example, when you see an ad showing a sad, loveless animal and asking you to donate money to an animal shelter or adopt an animal – that clearly uses emotional appeal in persuasion.

  1. LOGOS.

According to the definition of literary logos, this word is translated from Greek as “land,” “supplication,” “reason,” “opinion,” etc. This rhetorical strategy is purely logical; Thus, unlike ethos or pathos which rely on credibility or emotion, the rhetorical device of logos is used to persuade readers through the use of critical thinking, facts, figures and statistics, and other indisputable data. For example, when the author of a literary work makes a statement and backs it up with valid facts – that’s a logo. These three strategies: logo, ethos, and pathos play an important role in writing rhetorical analysis essays. The better you understand them, the more easily you will be able to determine how successful the author of the assigned text was using them. Now, let’s see how to get started.

Topic of rhetorical analysis

To write an excellent rhetorical analysis essay, students first need to choose an interesting topic. Below are some of the best tips to consider for choosing topics that engage your audience:

Focus on your interests. The main trick to writing top notch paper is to focus on a topic that you are really interested in. Many students make the grave mistake of picking on promising topics and engaging them. Such an approach can make rhetorical writing more of a challenge. However, if you decide to pay your interest and write about something that really engages you, the writing process will be much more fun and simple.

Choose a topic that you are familiar with. Another useful trick is to choose a subject that reflects your knowledge. Picking something that is completely foreign to you can get you stuck before you even start writing. Keep in mind that this academic paper requires you to make a thorough analysis of the author’s writing and proof-building style, and the more experienced you are in a particular topic, the easier it will be to tackle the analysis.

Do background research. When choosing a topic, it is very important to ensure that it will be broad enough in scope, and enough information, for you to research and write about. Therefore, it is very important that you do some background research before choosing a particular topic. To do this, you can make a list of topics that seem attractive to you. Then, take your time to research the available information on the chosen topic and choose one that is not only interesting, but offers good research and analysis opportunities. Also, be sure to make notes on the most important points when doing background research. These notes will come in handy later.

Ask your instructor for advice. If you’ve outlined your most interesting topics and done your background research but still can’t make up your mind, it would be a good idea to get advice from your instructor. Ask your instructor to look at your list to advise you on the most suitable subjects.

Rhetoric Essay Outline

In order to write the best paper, a student needs to have a deep understanding of rhetorical devices and strategies. Furthermore, it is very important that you can identify and analyze its usage in a particular literary work. An additional important factor when analyzing a text is proper structure – a good rhetorical analysis essay should be well-crafted and organized. Keep in mind that the organization of your rhetorical analysis essay is not the most important thing to consider; The most important thing is to make sure you address the specific demands of your particular writing assignment. Therefore, it is not mandatory to follow a standard essay structure; There are many ways to start your rhetorical analysis right. Otherwise it is better for you to follow the structure provided by your professor. If they don’t provide the necessary structure for your essay, you can always use one 5-6 paragraph styles.

Write tips to follow


  • Author’s method of persuasion (examples of ethos, logos, and pathos)
  • Writing style used (formal or informal English; specific terms, logical flow, spelling/punctuation)
  • Original target audience (business people, professors, etc.)
  • Tone, selected by the author (may vary from depressing/casual to humorous/sarcastic)

Distinguish the purpose of this section:

  • Find out why the author chose the persuasion method, writing style, and tone with the target audience.
  • How does the rhetorical method help the author achieve the main goal of this passage?
  • Why did the author choose this method to persuade the target audience for that particular event?
  • Focus your summary on the literary techniques and persuasive strategies used by the author.