How to write a rhetorical analysis essay

A rhetorical essay is a type of essay that is focused on how an author expresses himself.

With this type, you need to focus on the author’s style rather than what he/she is saying. The techniques of the authors are way more critical.

essay outline structure

In terms of the structure, it is quite similar to other types of essays. Typically, it starts with an introduction and ends with a conclusion.

Now, let’s continue with the steps of writing a great rhetorical analysis essay.

Step 1. What is rhetoric?

Rhetoric refers to the skill of effective writing and speaking. In rhetoric, we look at the motives of the author rather than the content.

How did the author design the text to persuade the reader? This is the right approach to rhetorical analysis.

Logos, ethos, and pathos (a.k.a. Appeals Concept)

When it comes to understanding “rhetoric”, you need to learn what logos, ethos. and pathos mean. The famous Aristotle introduced the appeals concept. They are used to convince the reader when writing or speaking in rhetoric.

logos ethos pathos

So logos simply refers to using logical reasoning. It is quite common in academic essays

Logos example

Recent research by the American Medical Association found that using our medication reduced the risk of heart disease by 35%. This data, together with positive comments from delighted clients, provides significant proof of the success of our solution.

Ethos, on the other hand, is all about ethics. In this appeal, an author should be the authority.

Ethos example

We believe in honesty, integrity, and treating our customers with the highest respect at our organization. These principles are at the heart of all we do, and we seek to act constantly in ways that represent them.

Pathos is used to trigger the emotions of the audience. This appeal refers to emotional speaking, sympathy, anger, empathy, or all kinds of feelings. The aim is to evoke an emotional response in the audience.

Pathos example

As a mother of two small children, I understand how difficult it is to juggle work and family obligations. That is why I am delighted to work for a firm that emphasizes work-life balance and offers extensive parental leave policies to its workers.

While some authors tend to use some of these appeals, three can also be used in a speech or text.

The context of the text

For rhetorical analyses, the subject is not necessarily a text. It can be a visual, speech, novel, or anything that is linked to rhetoric. Therefore:

Step 2. Analyze your text deeply

Rhetorical analysis is different from other types of essays. That is, it doesn’t rely on applying prior academic concepts or tactics. Instead, your work starts with analyzing the source text or media. So, your best concept is generally the source text.

Below, there is a list of critical points on analyzing your text before writing a rhetorical essay:

When you’re reading the text, asking these questions will help analyze the whole context and tone.

Rather than focusing on each rhetoric element, choosing the key ones is essential. Don’t lose yourself in details; focus on the general.

Step 3. Rhetorical essay introduction

Like other types of essays, start with an introduction that includes a context, background, and a strong thesis statement.

A good rhetorical analysis introduction would include:

Below, you’ll find a brief example of a rhetorical analysis introduction.

A woman’s work is never done: many American women grow up with this saying and feel it to be true. Hook: You try to get your reader’s attention with a memorable opening sentence. 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. Context: You provide some background regarding your author and source text. Grose begins building her credibility with personal facts and reputable sources, citing convincing facts and statistics, and successfully employing emotional appeals. Author’s purpose: You highlight the purpose of the author to inform your reader. However, toward the end of the article, her attempts to appeal to readers’ emotions weaken her credibility and, ultimately, her argument. Thesis statement: You state your central argument based on your rhetorical analysis of the source text.

Step 4. Body paragraphs

A typical rhetorical analysis essay is 5 paragraphs long. So, you have 3 paragraphs to discuss your findings in detail. However, it can still be longer in some cases. Don’t forget to focus on different aspects in each body paragraph. Also, all three-paragraphs should contribute to your overall topic and thesis statement. A good rhetorical analysis body paragraph would include:
Below, you’ll see an example of a rhetorical analysis body paragraph:

Along with strong logos appeals, Grose effectively makes appeals to pathos in the beginning and middle sections. Topic sentence: What will the paragraph be about? Her introduction is full of emotionally-charged words and phrases that create a sympathetic image; Grose notes that she “was eight months pregnant” and her husband found it difficult to “fight with a massively pregnant person.” The image she evokes of the challenges and vulnerabilities of being so pregnant, as well as the high emotions a woman feels at that time effectively introduce the argument and its seriousness. Her goal is to make the reader feel sympathy for her. Adding to this idea are words and phrases such as, “insisted,” “argued,” “not fun,” “sucks” “headachey,” “be judged,” “be shunned” (Grose). All of these words evoke negative emotions about cleaning, which makes the reader sympathize with women who feel “judged” and shunned”—very negative feelings. Another feeling Grose reinforces with her word choice is the concept of fairness: “fair share,” “a week and a half more of ‘second shift’ work,” “more housework,” “more gendered and less frequent.” Evidence and analysis: You evaluate the rhetoric of the author with evidence. However, toward the end of the article, her attempts to appeal to readers’ emotions weaken her credibility and, ultimately, her argument. Conclusion sentence: This part summarizes the analysis.

Step 5. Rhetorical analysis conclusion

Typically, a conclusion is where you wrap up your arguments and summarize your essay. It shouldn’t be more than 10% of your total word count. Most importantly, don’t present any new information or argument when writing a conclusion.

A good rhetorical analysis conclusion would include:

Below, you’ll see an example of a rhetorical analysis conclusion:

Though Grose begins the essay by effectively persuading her readers of the unfair distribution of home-maintenance cleaning labor, she loses her power in the end, where she most needs to drive home her argument. Summary: You briefly summarize the main arguments in yur essay. Readers can see the problem exists in both her marriage and throughout the world; however, her shift to humor and sarcasm makes the reader not take the problem as seriously in the end. Importance: You broaden the perspectives of your analysis. Grose could have more seriously driven home the point that a woman’s work could be done: by a man. Conclusion sentence: You present a strong and memorable closing statement that links to your hook and thesis.

Step 6. Proofreading and editing

When you finish writing your rhetorical analysis essay, don’t forget to proofread your paper for common mistakes, as well as grammar (active and passive voice, verb tenses, etc.) and punctuation mistakes.

There are many tools available online. Also, please make use of our tips below before submitting your paper.

5-Paragraph Rhetorical Analysis Example

The Negative Effects of Social Media: A Rhetorical Analysis


The use of social media has become ubiquitous in our daily lives, with billions of people worldwide using it to communicate, share information, and express their opinions. Hook sentence: Grab the reader's attention However, social media has also been criticized for its potential negative effects on mental health. Background In this rhetorical analysis, I will analyze a persuasive article titled "The Dark Side of Social Media" by Sherry Turkle. The article argues that social media has a harmful impact on our psychological well-being by encouraging superficial relationships and eroding our ability to have meaningful conversations. Brief summary of the text to be analyzed Through an examination of Turkle's use of rhetoric, I will evaluate the effectiveness of her argument and its implications for our society. Signposting & thesis statement

Body paragraphs

Turkle's argument is built on logos, or logical reasoning.Topic sentence:Introducing use of logos She cites several studies that have linked social media use to increased levels of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. For example, she refers to a study that found that people who spend more time on social media report feeling more socially isolated than those who spend less time on it. Turkle also draws on her own research, which has shown that people often use social media to avoid face-to-face conversations and that this can lead to a lack of empathy and understanding. More on use of logos By presenting these studies and personal observations, Turkle establishes the credibility of her argument and persuades the reader to consider the negative effects of social media on mental health.Discussion of how Turkle establishes credibility

In addition to using logos, Turkle also appeals to pathos, or emotions. Topic sentence: Use of pathos She uses vivid and relatable examples to evoke feelings of empathy and concern in the reader. For instance, she describes a scenario in which a woman receives news of her mother's death through a text message while she is at work. The woman is unable to process her grief because she cannot express her emotions in person or receive comfort from others. Examples on emotional appeal(pathos) This example highlights the emotional toll of relying on social media for communication and illustrates the need for genuine human connections. By using emotional appeals, Turkle makes her argument more compelling and relatable to the reader. Discussion

Finally, Turkle uses ethos, or her own credibility as a scholar, to support her argument. Topic sentence: Use of ethos She is a professor of Social Studies of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has conducted extensive research on the impact of technology on society. By drawing on her expertise and research, she establishes herself as a credible and trustworthy source of information. This enhances the persuasiveness of her argument and lends weight to her conclusions. Analysis/background on writer's credibility


Consequently, Sherry Turkle's article "The Dark Side of Social Media" uses logos, pathos, and ethos to make a persuasive argument about the negative effects of social media on mental health. Reiterate the thesis statement Through her use of studies, personal observations, emotional appeals, and credibility as a scholar, she effectively convinces the reader that social media can lead to superficial relationships and a lack of meaningful communication. Turkle's argument has important implications for our society, as we continue to grapple with the role of technology in our lives.Summary & discussion of main points Ultimately, Turkle reminds us of the importance of genuine human connections and the need to be mindful of our use of social media. Closing sentence

Key takeaways

Deniz Akcaoglu
Deniz Akcaoglu
Content editor and writer. Probably out there trying to get into an obscure band she actually hates the sound of.