How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

This post covers everything you need to know about writing a rhetorical analysis essay, including how to craft an argument and what makes for good evidence.

Any writing, be it speeches, poems, or research papers, might be the subject of a rhetorical study. The study of rhetoric focuses on how authors and presenters use language to persuade a crowd. Rather than focusing on the words the writer uses, consider the strategies they cite and their objectives.

In your analysis essay, you dissect a text (such as advertisements, statements, e.t.c.) into segments and analyze how each serves to enlighten, entertain, or convince the reader. You will provide instances from the text and examine the effectiveness of the strategies employed. 

An essay on rhetorical analysis evaluates the work of another thinker, author, or creative individual. Rhetorical analysis studies the writing style rather than describing a text. 

Novices may find it challenging to understand how to compose a rhetorical analysis, but with these strategies, you will write like a pro in no time. You will grapple with this while writing your rhetorical analysis essay because writers use many tactics and literary and rhetorical devices to accomplish this. 

This essay invites you to delve deeply into the writer's narrative style rather than only expressing your agreement or disagreement with the writer's views. It involves analyzing the writing style employed to convey the core concept or message of the text.

Following some steps in this guide will not only broaden your knowledge of a rhetorical essay but will also guide you through the process of how to write a rhetorical analysis essay convincingly.

What Is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay? 

A rhetorical analysis essay is a paper or piece of writing in which you choose one or more texts and analyze them from the rhetorical standpoint—what their arguments and supporting evidence are, how they try to persuade, and how successful you think they might be. It is persuasive writing or analysis.

If you are unfamiliar with rhetorical analysis, it is preferable to choose one text and conduct a "close reading." 

Instead of concentrating on the work's substance, a rhetorical analysis essay aims to examine and evaluate the original author's intentions, motives, and rhetorical methods.

The phrases "rhetoric" and "analysis" combine to form the phrase "rhetorical analysis," which denotes a thorough examination of a work of rhetorical literature.

You must comprehend rhetoric to write an analysis essay. Rhetoric is, therefore, the skill of writing persuasive arguments. It is the strategy and vocabulary used to engage audiences and persuade them to accept a particular point of view or message.

"What is a rhetorical analysis essay?" A rhetorical analysis essay is an essay that intricately dissects a nonfiction piece into its component elements. It then analyses how the pieces come together to produce a specific impact, such as to convince, amuse, or inform.

The information in rhetorical analysis writing is presented differently than in other essays. Like other essays, a rhetorical analysis comprises an introduction that explains the thesis, a body that analyses the text in-depth, and a conclusion to bring everything together.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Structure

Think of a solid rhetorical analysis structure to know how to start a rhetorical analysis essay. You should gather enough information about the topic you would like to write about and not base your work on assumptions or inaccurate information.

A typical rhetorical analysis structure has a rhetorical analysis introduction,  at least three topic paragraphs with arguments, and a conclusion.

  • Introduction

Nothing destabilizes the flow of an essay like a weak introduction or opening statement. Therefore, you must focus on this component and ensure it flows seamlessly with the rest of your work. Your introduction determines if your reader will read through to the end or lose interest. 

The introduction should not give away the entire essay; instead, it should highlight the essential points. You capture the attention of your audience through your opening.  

  • Create a thesis.

Your thesis should be a simple statement summarizing your position on the author's decisions and strategies after the introduction. One of the most crucial components of your essay is the thesis.

  • Body (Topic paragraphs)

This is the section where you analyze and address the text. Your ideas must flow and link, which is one of the few crucial points to remember while learning to write a rhetorical essay. More paragraphs can be required depending on the book's overview and outline. Your paragraphs must strongly assess, argue, and analyze your points. 

  • Conclusion 

Your conclusion should be just as strong as your introduction. Because of the habit of writers debating concepts rather than concluding them all, they need help putting an end to their writing. The primary purpose of a conclusion should be to bring all the arguments to a close and not leave room for confusion or loose ends. Your conclusion should briefly explain and conclude your listed points.

Rhetorical analysis Essay Format

Writing a rhetorical analysis essay requires using the following format:

1. List the four components of rhetoric.

The following rhetorical components should be noted when you begin your analysis:

  • Audience
  • Purpose
  • Medium
  • Context

 2. Explain the rhetorical Appeals.

Describe the speaker's use of tone and other devices, as well as the rhetorical appeals they made.

Appeal: describes how a writer persuades a reader. In rhetoric, logos, ethos, and pathos are the three primary appeals defined by the philosopher Aristotle.

  • Logos is using reasoning to convince, sometimes known as the logical appeal. Arguments are developed using logic and evidence in this predominant academic writing style.
  • Ethos is used when the author establishes themselves as an authority on their subject, often known as the ethical appeal.
  • Pathos appeal to the emotion of the reader 

3. Examine.

The speaker's ability to engage their audience through these devices will be examined next.

As mentioned, a speaker can employ these devices and appeals in various ways. Examine the selected devices, their uses, and why you believe they were selected.

4. Assess.

Assess the author's success in utilizing these strategies to accomplish their objectives. Do you believe they were successful? If not, why not?

5. State your thesis.

Summarize your points into a single, well-written thesis statement that will serve as the basis for your essay.

Your thesis should include three main points: the speaker's argument or aim, the methods the speaker employs, and the effectiveness of those methods.

6. Arrange your arguments and supporting data.

Utilize your thesis statement as a guide and arrange your thoughts and supporting details into a logical framework.

You may, for instance, divide your body paragraphs into three groups, one for each of the three rhetorical appeals (ethos, pathos, and logos), and include concrete instances of how the speaker uses each one in each paragraph.

Rhetorical analysis Essay Writing Tips

You need to be a proficient writer to create a rhetorical analysis essay. Most students find this form of writing difficult because it is pretty technical. The following tips will walk you through writing a rhetorical analysis essay.

  1. Before writing a rhetorical analysis essay, try writing some rhetorical analysis of your favorite books as practice. Pick a subject that interests you, so your passion for it is in your essay.
  2. Have enough reliable information about your topic to avoid writing based on assumptions or inaccurate information. Pick a topic of interest and ensure that your essay is something your targeted audience can relate to.
  3. Also, use the proper grammatical format.
  4. Instead of writing in the first person, a rhetorical analysis essay should be written in the third person (it, he, she), and it should be expressed in the present tense and not the past. Remember to include your commentary in at least half of your essay.
  5. Creating an outline is crucial to the whole essay. It is the structure of the entire essay and will guide the reader through it. 
  6. You should first have a draft of the actual writing to proofread and prevent errors in the original writing.
  7. The thesis should explain the whole idea of the essay briefly, detailed, and concisely. Last, ensure to have and cite good references, proofread the entire essay again, and edit.

Rhetorical analysis Essay examples 

This is an example of a rhetorical analysis essay of “I have a dream” by Martin Luther King Jr. 

Start the analysis essay by providing the introduction in the following way:


One of the most significant speeches in American history is primarily considered to be "I Have a Dream," delivered by Martin Luther King Jr. In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. gave a speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., that represents the civil rights movement's ethos and plays a crucial role in the American national myth. This rhetorical study contends that King's use of the prophetic voice, heightened by the size of his historical audience, provides a strong feeling of ethos that has held its capacity for inspiration.

Note: The first sentence should contain the “hook” of the essay, and the last sentence should be the “Thesis statement”


The King uses a lot of prophetic language in his talks. King repeatedly conveys a prophetic tone in his speech, even before the famous "dream" section. Speaking of emerging "from the dark and desolate valley of segregation," he calls the Lincoln Memorial a "hallowed location." He vows to "make justice a reality for all of God's children." The text's strongest ethical argument is its assumption of this prophetic voice; after associating himself with historical political figures like Abraham Lincoln and the Founding Fathers, King's ethos takes on a distinctly religious voice, evoking Biblical prophets and preachers of change throughout history.

Note: The body section contains all the evidence that supports the thesis statement. A paragraph is devoted to each argument that bolsters and analyzes the premise. This Body paragraph example can be used as a guide for the rest of your paragraphs (points)


This analysis clarifies that King's rhetoric is more powerful when used to support his meticulously constructed ethos than the sad appeal of his utopian "dream." King assures that his words will have an impact not only in the here and now but will continue to have an impact in the future by portraying current upheavals as a part of a prophecy whose fulfillment would lead to the better future he envisions. King's remarks undoubtedly played a part in putting us on the route to realizing our dream, even if we have yet to make it there entirely.

Note: Outline the principal arguments and restate the thesis statement to support them in the conclusion section.

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