Rhetorical Essay Introduction

Rhetorical analysis assignments are becoming popular in college. Oftentimes, instructors are asking students to analyze the rhetoric of a specific text, book, article, film, TV show, artwork, or other original work.

Rhetorical analysis is a written example of criticism that incorporates the fundamentals of rhetoric study to find the interrelations between the author, the piece of work, and the readers. Rhetoric is the art of reasoning, the study that teaches how to convince, inform, and motivate particular opponents in some situations.

If you don’t the slightest idea how to start a rhetorical analysis, then you need to determine how the author of the work makes his/her own argument and whether or not you consider his/her argument successful. Then you should determine the particular approaches that the contributor is using to convince the reader in his/her point of view.

As a rule, there are three main components of rhetorical analysis: the author, the target audience, and the message. In your rhetorical analysis paper, you have to determine these three main elements and define how they are related to each other.

As a starting place, use the conventional 5-paragraph format essay to structure your rhetorical analysis. For instance, the structure of a 4-8 paper rhetorical analysis of a literatury work may look like this:

  • Introduction: discuss the work in bulk and lead the reader to the thesis statement.
  • Logos: define one important statement in the literary work and expound on three reasons for why it is important.
  • Logos: here you evaluate the evidence from the work that supports the main reasons.
  • Ethos: analyze how the author of the work proves his/her credibility.
  • Pathos: review how the author’s usage of emotions in the text provides an emotional appeal.
  • Pathos: investigate how visual aspects appeal to the work’s aesthetics.
  • Conclusion: analyze effects of the main arguments on the reader. Estimate whether or not the target reader can accept the argumentation and the consequences of his/her acceptance.

There are a few ways how you can approach rhetorical analysis:

  • Sum up the main argument.
  • Divide an argument in smaller parts.
  • Define each point that contributes to the main thesis.

Or

  • Determine the main thesis.
  • Define the subject of the main argument.
  • Find the parts that correspond to the main argument.

In both approaches you have to analyze how the author builds the main argument and its supporting details.

The style of your rhetorical analysis has to be brief and concise. If you want a strong rhetorical analysis, you should use a formal tone. The analysis and discussion of the text should be logically organized, as it is important to formulate your work in a formal format.

If it is difficult for you to write a logical rhetorical analysis, you don’t have to torture yourself. EssayShark.com knows how to make your life much easier. All you need to do is to order a model paper of your analysis at EssayShark.com and use it as an example and a source of information. Our expert writers will write you a top-notch paper according to all your requirements.

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Organizing Your Analysis

Summary:

This resource covers how to write a rhetorical analysis essay of primarily visual texts with a focus on demonstrating the author’s understanding of the rhetorical situation and design principles.

Contributors:Mark Pepper, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli
Last Edited: 2015-08-30 05:01:04

There is no one perfect way to organize a rhetorical analysis essay. In fact, writers should always be a bit leery of plug-in formulas that offer a perfect essay format. Remember, organization itself is not the enemy, only organization without considering the specific demands of your particular writing task. That said, here are some general tips for plotting out the overall form of your essay.

Introduction

Like any rhetorical analysis essay, an essay analyzing a visual document should quickly set the stage for what you’re doing. Try to cover the following concerns in the initial paragraphs:

  1. Make sure to let the reader know you’re performing a rhetorical analysis. Otherwise, they may expect you to take positions or make an evaluative argument that may not be coming.
  2. Clearly state what the document under consideration is and possibly give some pertinent background information about its history or development. The intro can be a good place for a quick, narrative summary of the document. The key word here is “quick, for you may be dealing with something large (for example, an entire episode of a cartoon like the Simpsons). Save more in-depth descriptions for your body paragraph analysis.
  3. If you’re dealing with a smaller document (like a photograph or an advertisement), and copyright allows, the introduction or first page is a good place to integrate it into your page.
  4. Give a basic run down of the rhetorical situation surrounding the document: the author, the audience, the purpose, the context, etc.

Thesis Statements and Focus

Many authors struggle with thesis statements or controlling ideas in regards to rhetorical analysis essays. There may be a temptation to think that merely announcing the text as a rhetorical analysis is purpose enough. However, especially depending on your essay’s length, your reader may need a more direct and clear statement of your intentions. Below are a few examples.

1. Clearly narrow the focus of what your essay will cover. Ask yourself if one or two design aspects of the document is interesting and complex enough to warrant a full analytical treatment.

The website for Amazon.com provides an excellent example of alignment and proximity to assist its visitors in navigating a potentially large and confusing amount of information.

2. Since visual documents often seek to move people towards a certain action (buying a product, attending an event, expressing a sentiment), an essay may analyze the rhetorical techniques used to accomplish this purpose. The thesis statement should reflect this goal.

The call-out flyer for the Purdue Rowing Team uses a mixture of dynamic imagery and tantalizing promises to create interest in potential, new members.

3. Rhetorical analysis can also easily lead to making original arguments. Performing the analysis may lead you to an argument; or vice versa, you may start with an argument and search for proof that supports it.

A close analysis of the female body images in the July 2007 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine reveals contradictions between the articles’ calls for self-esteem and the advertisements’ unrealistic, beauty demands.

These are merely suggestions. The best measure for what your focus and thesis statement should be the document itself and the demands of your writing situation. Remember that the main thrust of your thesis statement should be on how the document creates meaning and accomplishes its purposes. The OWl has additional information on writing thesis statements.

Analysis Order (Body Paragraphs)

Depending on the genre and size of the document under analysis, there are a number of logical ways to organize your body paragraphs. Below are a few possible options. Which ever you choose, the goal of your body paragraphs is to present parts of the document, give an extended analysis of how that part functions, and suggest how the part ties into a larger point (your thesis statement or goal).

Chronological

This is the most straight-forward approach, but it can also be effective if done for a reason (as opposed to not being able to think of another way). For example, if you are analyzing a photo essay on the web or in a booklet, a chronological treatment allows you to present your insights in the same order that a viewer of the document experiences those images. It is likely that the images have been put in that order and juxtaposed for a reason, so this line of analysis can be easily integrated into the essay.

Be careful using chronological ordering when dealing with a document that contains a narrative (i.e. a television show or music video). Focusing on the chronological could easily lead you to plot summary which is not the point of a rhetorical analysis.

Spatial

A spatial ordering covers the parts of a document in the order the eye is likely to scan them. This is different than chronological order, for that is dictated by pages or screens where spatial order concerns order amongst a single page or plane. There are no unwavering guidelines for this, but you can use the following general guidelines.

  • Left to right and top to down is still the normal reading and scanning pattern for English-speaking countries.
  • The eye will naturally look for centers. This may be the technical center of the page or the center of the largest item on the page.
  • Lines are often used to provide directions and paths for the eye to follow.
  • Research has shown that on web pages, the eye tends to linger in the top left quadrant before moving left to right. Only after spending a considerable amount of time on the top, visible portion of the page will they then scroll down.

Persuasive Appeals

The classic, rhetorical appeals are logos, pathos, and ethos. These concepts roughly correspond to the logic, emotion, and character of the document’s attempt to persuade. You can find more information on these concepts elsewhere on the OWL. Once you understand these devices, you could potentially order your essay by analyzing the document’s use of logos, ethos, and pathos in different sections.

Conclusion

The conclusion of a rhetorical analysis essay may not operate too differently from the conclusion of any other kind of essay. Still, many writers struggle with what a conclusion should or should not do. You can find tips elsewhere on the OWL on writing conclusions. In short, however, you should restate your main ideas and explain why they are important; restate your thesis; and outline further research or work you believe should be completed to further your efforts.

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