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Principles and Techniques for Composing Rhetorical Analysis Essays

July 2, 2020

Advanced Placement English Language and Composition is a composition course, which lots of students worldwide take. After this course, they have an Advanced Placement exam (AP exam) which includes writing a rhetorical essay. 

Powerful Rhetorical Analysis Essay - Tips & Recommendations

This part may seem the most challenging for students, as they will have to show in actual practice everything they’ve learned during the course. And although the construction of this essay is kind of similar to other types of academic papers, for most students, this task is even trickier than a research paper. 

Besides the research, students also have to demonstrate real expertise in rhetorical strategy and modes of persuasion and have excellent analytical skills to be able to analyze a written piece or an oral speech effectively. 

It doesn’t matter which type of communicative mediums you have to analyze, be it a book or a TV program, a film or a political speech, you have to define in what way the speaker or author makes the argument and whether it is valid or not. 

Anyway, there’s not a time to be stressed, but to prepare properly for the upcoming experience. Moreover, with our recommendations and instructions, you will master the rhetorical analysis essay in a short time. So, let’s proceed!

Preparatory Phase: Useful Tips

  1. Before you start writing, do the work on gathering the information. It is a good idea to take notes and highlight the main ideas as you read the text, which you are going to analyze. Thus, you will not waste your time on searches, when it is actually time to write – everything will be at hand.
  2. Decide on who the target audience of the analyzed piece is, what the aim of the writing is, and how it affects its readers. These or other questions will help you to formulate the initial ideas for your analysis.
  3. Remember that your task is not to retell the text or to write a reflection from your own perspective, the goal is to analyze it and provide a commentary, where you review authors or narrator’s techniques of reaching the audience.
  4. Use present tenses – it is not a narrative you are writing, it is the analysis, so you treat the work that is described from the scientific point of view – it is a common practice for academic assignments. 
  5. Practice writing rhetorical analysis essays prior to your AP exam, and it will allow you to get the hang of it and hone technique for the future assignment.

SOAPS: Where and Why it is Applied

SOAPS is the abbreviation which stands for:

  • Speaker is about the name and surname of a writer or a narrator. Sometimes it’s a single person, sometimes they may be different, so that you may have to mention them both. Also, in case your speaker has any records of his/her qualification, don’t forget to include it.
  • Occasion refers to the things, which initiated the written work or oral speech you analyze, as situations which prompted it may be various. 
  • The audience means the readers. It really matters who your readers are to compose the text efficiently and include or exclude some information. Thus, you may have noticed that the audience and occasion have lots in common, as basically, your audience represents the occasion for which you write. 
  • Purpose means why the writer has composed the text, what was the goal for it. Is the aim to just describe and inform your readers of something, or maybe you want to provide some evidence for expressed points, or even sell the information or product described?
  • The subject is basically the topic of the text, which is analyzed. 

When you analyze a written work, mind the points mentioned above. They are mostly suitable for mentioning at the beginning of your rhetorical analysis essay, where you introduce the work, its author, and main details. 

Rhetorical Strategies of the First Type

Authors use three main persuasive methods in their works to communicate with the audience. They are: 

  • Ethos (addresses ethics and moral aspects) – it means the level of expertise the author has, which makes him/her trustworthy for the audience. It is the way we perceive the narrator as a credible source of information due to his experience and knowledge of the issue.

For instance, “The chief doctor with 20 years of medical practice offered an alternative way of treatment.”

  • Pathos (calls for emotions and sensual aspects of the human mind) – it is aimed to evoke feelings of the audience towards the situation or event described. It is aimed to guide the readers’ reaction to what is said in the text by means of anger, sympathy, affection, etc.

For instance, She was a good wife, patient and quiet, but loving and understanding, and how severe he was to abandon her after 30 years of marriage for a fling. 

  • Logos (usually refers to logic and rational thinking) – an author uses writing methods, which communicate to the readers by means of a logical thought, which directs them. Among the common characteristics of logos, we can find numbers, statistics, terms, examples, etc.

For instance, “The consequences of Hiroshima and Nagasaki proved the absurdness of using nuclear weapons in national conflicts.”

Rhetorical Strategies of the Second Type

The other type of rhetorical strategies includes the following writing styles: 

  • Repetition – is used to make a point or thought more recognizable throughout the text; 
  • Imagery correlates with the pathos appeal – it helps to trigger emotions by a vivid description of a situation. For instance, if you describe a drunk driver who runs over a she-wolf, which runs to her pup across the road, you are likely to evoke rage and sorrow. 
  • Diction deals with the intentional choice of words – if they are emotionally charged, you will achieve a greater effect on the audience than with neutral words.
  • Analogies and such elements of figurative language as similes and metaphors serve to compare things for better illustration of an idea. 
  • The tone shows the mood of the writing or author’s attitude to what is described. Different situations and purposes require a special tone – a sarcastic tone can’t be acceptable for an academic or scientific article, etc.

This is not a complete list of style details which authors use; however, we’ve tried to give you a sight of some of them along with our explanations to make it clearer and more comprehensive for you. 

In case you need our advice or more help with your writing process, we are available 24/7, so get in touch out of hand.

Writing Phase: Structure of a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

As usual, your essay should consist of 3 main parts: introduction, body, and conclusion. Introduction and conclusion are often of a similar length; they shouldn’t be more than 750 and less than 500 words unless otherwise indicated by the teacher. The essay body may include 2 or 3 paragraphs of similar size.

The introduction is effective if it has a hook sentence which helps to attract the audience and make them read further. A thesis statement is an essential part of the introduction as well because it serves as a guide for everything you are going to describe in the essay. 

However, namely for the rhetorical essay, a crucial point is to clearly specify the text, which is analyzed and indicate the SOAPS, so that your readers understand who the speaker and audience are, what the occasion is, text purpose, and subject. 

Body paragraphs are the main part of your work. Each of them has to refer to one argument, or better to say, to one strategy, which the author uses in the text you analyze. Here you can also use examples and citations from the work to illustrate your research discoveries together with your own arguments. 

The conclusion is the closing part of your essay, but it carries not a less significant role than introduction and body – here you have to leave the impression of your writing, make it eye-catching. It is also recommended to mention the main points you touched in the body, but shortly and in different words. And a core task here is to indicate the influence on readers the analyzed work has. 

10 Rhetorical Analysis Essay Topics

In case you need some ideas for AP exam preparation, browse our examples of topics, and find your inspiration: 

  1. What is the role of 3 ghosts in “Christmas carol” by Dickens;
  2. Provide an analysis of “The second coming” by Yeats;
  3. Analyze the campaign speech of a presidential candidate;
  4. Was Oscar Wilde sympathetic to his “Dorian Gray”?
  5. Rhetorical analysis of W. Whitman’s poetry.
  6. The theme of jealousy in “Little Women” by L. M. Alcott
  7. Similarities and differences in “The Odyssey” and “Beowulf”’
  8. Character analysis of Harry Potter;
  9. Main ideas covered in “The Great Gatsby”;
  10. Literary tools of Virginia Woolf. 

Revision Phase: Finishing your Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Writing work is half the battle; it is also extremely important to check your text for mistakes of different kinds, like grammar, stylistic, etc.  

  1. As soon as your draft text if finished, read if several times to make sure you agree with everything and see no mistakes. 
  2. Use special tools for grammar checking, which are available on the Internet or ask your parents or friends to read your essay, as sometimes other people can see the things which you fail to notice. 
  3. Don’t forget to double-check the final variant of your fair copy – very often, some errors can be traced even after the text is proofread. 
  4. If you are unsure if your text is properly written, you can get in touch with our writing team and request the editing service from our certified writers.

Professional Assistance

In case you still need qualified help due to the lack of time or a busy period, or you just have doubts whether you can write an essay to an A+, you are always welcome at our writing service. Just contact us with your issue, and we will make sure your assignment is worth of the highest grade.