I guess it is not the first time you are coming across the term “rhetorical essay.” If it’s the first time then you must be wondering “What is a rhetorical essay?” Don’t worry, that question is the reason why I am seated behind this laptop.
A rhetorical essay is a type of essay that assesses text in terms of rhetoric. In other words, the essay is less concerned with the author’s words than how they are articulated; the techniques, goals, and appeals to the audience/readers.
The structure of a rhetorical essay is similar to other essays that you have done in the University—it has an intro that presents the thesis, a body that presents the analysis, and a conclusion to sum up the paper. This paper or rather an article defines key concepts on rhetorical essays. What’s more, it is laden with tips on how to write a rhetorical essay like a pro.
Rhetoric looks at arguments, speeches, and texts in terms of how the author attempts to persuade the audience. This section offers an overview of the key concepts in rhetoric.
Appeals: Logos, ethos, pathos
Appeal means to make a heartfelt request. In this case, rhetorical appeal refers to how the author convinces the audience. The rhetorical triangle, as established by Aristotle forms the central appeals in rhetoric. These are logos, ethos, and pathos.
Logos refers to the use of logic or reason to persuade the audience. This is most common in academic writing; here, arguments are developed using evidence and reasoning. This is also referred to as logical appeal.
Ethos involves the author using their authority to gain credibility on the subject. This is also referred to as ethical appeal.
Pathos is the use of emotions to convince the audience. It is also known as a pathetic appeal. This might involve speaking passionately or trying to evoke anger, sympathy, or any other strong emotional response.
These three appeals are critical parts of rhetoric.
Text and Context
In rhetoric, a text is anything that you (as the audience) is analyzing. This can be an advert, a speech, or a song. This requires your analysis to focus on more than just the language use. You might consider the sonic or visual elements too.
Context is the surrounding of a text. You may ask yourself the following questions:
Who is the audience, author, the purpose, and where the text was produced?
Claims, Support, and Warrants
The essence of rhetorical essays is to pass some argument as in the cases of philosophical and satirical essays. These arguments are backed with claims, warrants, and supports.
A claim is an idea or fact that the author tries to convince the author on. This might center on a single or multiple claims. Claims are always stated explicitly or implied in some texts.
Supports back each claim the author makes. These might range from hard evidence to emotional appeals (pathos).
The warrant connects support with a claim. In most cases, warrants are unstated. However, this does not imply that you cannot decipher the implicit warrant.
The rhetorical analysis starts with analyzing the text and asking questions about it:
These questions will help you determine the rhetorical devices in the text. Remember, the goal is not to cram rhetorical terms or devices, you only need to analyze the text and determine the most important rhetoric. The next sections should be enough to help you write the various parts of a rhetorical essay.
Do you remember the assertion we made in the introduction?
Like all essays, a rhetorical essay must have an intro. This informs the reader what the essay is about, background information, and presents the thesis statement.
This is where the actual analysis is done. You should divide it into three paragraphs; though it may be longer depending on the length of the essay. Each paragraph should focus on a specific element of the text. All should build on your thesis statement.
The conclusion sums up the essay the recapping the main arguments and showing how it has been developed in the rhetorical essay.
What is the goal of a rhetorical essay?
A rhetorical essay explains the effect of a text on its audience, the devices and appeals used, and their effectiveness.
What is a text in the rhetorical analysis?
A text is any object that you are analyzing. It can be a speech, writing, or any other literary form.
What are pathos, logos, and ethos?
Logos is the appeal to the audience’s reason, forming logical arguments.
Ethos appeals to the author or speaker’s authority or status. It aims at making the audience trust them.
Lastly, pathos appeals to emotions. These three are called the rhetorical triangle. They are integral in rhetorical analysis. However, you might not have to use them all.
I hope that you are now in a position to write a rhetorical essay. If not, please reach out for further assistance. We have experts in literature. Order your essay from as low as $8/page
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