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How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis | Key Concepts & Examples

Published on August 28, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on July 23, 2023.

A rhetorical analysis is a type of essay  that looks at a text in terms of rhetoric. This means it is less concerned with what the author is saying than with how they say it: their goals, techniques, and appeals to the audience.

Table of contents

Key concepts in rhetoric, analyzing the text, introducing your rhetorical analysis, the body: doing the analysis, concluding a rhetorical analysis, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about rhetorical analysis.

Rhetoric, the art of effective speaking and writing, is a subject that trains you to look at texts, arguments and speeches in terms of how they are designed to persuade the audience. This section introduces a few of the key concepts of this field.

Appeals: Logos, ethos, pathos

Appeals are how the author convinces their audience. Three central appeals are discussed in rhetoric, established by the philosopher Aristotle and sometimes called the rhetorical triangle: logos, ethos, and pathos.

Logos , or the logical appeal, refers to the use of reasoned argument to persuade. This is the dominant approach in academic writing , where arguments are built up using reasoning and evidence.

Ethos , or the ethical appeal, involves the author presenting themselves as an authority on their subject. For example, someone making a moral argument might highlight their own morally admirable behavior; someone speaking about a technical subject might present themselves as an expert by mentioning their qualifications.

Pathos , or the pathetic appeal, evokes the audience’s emotions. This might involve speaking in a passionate way, employing vivid imagery, or trying to provoke anger, sympathy, or any other emotional response in the audience.

These three appeals are all treated as integral parts of rhetoric, and a given author may combine all three of them to convince their audience.

Text and context

In rhetoric, a text is not necessarily a piece of writing (though it may be this). A text is whatever piece of communication you are analyzing. This could be, for example, a speech, an advertisement, or a satirical image.

In these cases, your analysis would focus on more than just language—you might look at visual or sonic elements of the text too.

The context is everything surrounding the text: Who is the author (or speaker, designer, etc.)? Who is their (intended or actual) audience? When and where was the text produced, and for what purpose?

Looking at the context can help to inform your rhetorical analysis. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech has universal power, but the context of the civil rights movement is an important part of understanding why.

Claims, supports, and warrants

A piece of rhetoric is always making some sort of argument, whether it’s a very clearly defined and logical one (e.g. in a philosophy essay) or one that the reader has to infer (e.g. in a satirical article). These arguments are built up with claims, supports, and warrants.

A claim is the fact or idea the author wants to convince the reader of. An argument might center on a single claim, or be built up out of many. Claims are usually explicitly stated, but they may also just be implied in some kinds of text.

The author uses supports to back up each claim they make. These might range from hard evidence to emotional appeals—anything that is used to convince the reader to accept a claim.

The warrant is the logic or assumption that connects a support with a claim. Outside of quite formal argumentation, the warrant is often unstated—the author assumes their audience will understand the connection without it. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still explore the implicit warrant in these cases.

For example, look at the following statement:

We can see a claim and a support here, but the warrant is implicit. Here, the warrant is the assumption that more likeable candidates would have inspired greater turnout. We might be more or less convinced by the argument depending on whether we think this is a fair assumption.

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thesis statement for rhetorical analysis essay

Rhetorical analysis isn’t a matter of choosing concepts in advance and applying them to a text. Instead, it starts with looking at the text in detail and asking the appropriate questions about how it works:

  • What is the author’s purpose?
  • Do they focus closely on their key claims, or do they discuss various topics?
  • What tone do they take—angry or sympathetic? Personal or authoritative? Formal or informal?
  • Who seems to be the intended audience? Is this audience likely to be successfully reached and convinced?
  • What kinds of evidence are presented?

By asking these questions, you’ll discover the various rhetorical devices the text uses. Don’t feel that you have to cram in every rhetorical term you know—focus on those that are most important to the text.

The following sections show how to write the different parts of a rhetorical analysis.

Like all essays, a rhetorical analysis begins with an introduction . The introduction tells readers what text you’ll be discussing, provides relevant background information, and presents your thesis statement .

Hover over different parts of the example below to see how an introduction works.

Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is widely regarded as one of the most important pieces of oratory in American history. Delivered in 1963 to thousands of civil rights activists outside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the speech has come to symbolize the spirit of the civil rights movement and even to function as a major part of the American national myth. This rhetorical analysis argues that King’s assumption of the prophetic voice, amplified by the historic size of his audience, creates a powerful sense of ethos that has retained its inspirational power over the years.

The body of your rhetorical analysis is where you’ll tackle the text directly. It’s often divided into three paragraphs, although it may be more in a longer essay.

Each paragraph should focus on a different element of the text, and they should all contribute to your overall argument for your thesis statement.

Hover over the example to explore how a typical body paragraph is constructed.

King’s speech is infused with prophetic language throughout. Even before the famous “dream” part of the speech, King’s language consistently strikes a prophetic tone. He refers to the Lincoln Memorial as a “hallowed spot” and speaks of rising “from the dark and desolate valley of segregation” to “make justice a reality for all of God’s children.” The assumption of this prophetic voice constitutes the text’s strongest ethical appeal; after linking himself with political figures like Lincoln and the Founding Fathers, King’s ethos adopts a distinctly religious tone, recalling Biblical prophets and preachers of change from across history. This adds significant force to his words; standing before an audience of hundreds of thousands, he states not just what the future should be, but what it will be: “The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.” This warning is almost apocalyptic in tone, though it concludes with the positive image of the “bright day of justice.” The power of King’s rhetoric thus stems not only from the pathos of his vision of a brighter future, but from the ethos of the prophetic voice he adopts in expressing this vision.

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The conclusion of a rhetorical analysis wraps up the essay by restating the main argument and showing how it has been developed by your analysis. It may also try to link the text, and your analysis of it, with broader concerns.

Explore the example below to get a sense of the conclusion.

It is clear from this analysis that the effectiveness of King’s rhetoric stems less from the pathetic appeal of his utopian “dream” than it does from the ethos he carefully constructs to give force to his statements. By framing contemporary upheavals as part of a prophecy whose fulfillment will result in the better future he imagines, King ensures not only the effectiveness of his words in the moment but their continuing resonance today. Even if we have not yet achieved King’s dream, we cannot deny the role his words played in setting us on the path toward it.

If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

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The goal of a rhetorical analysis is to explain the effect a piece of writing or oratory has on its audience, how successful it is, and the devices and appeals it uses to achieve its goals.

Unlike a standard argumentative essay , it’s less about taking a position on the arguments presented, and more about exploring how they are constructed.

The term “text” in a rhetorical analysis essay refers to whatever object you’re analyzing. It’s frequently a piece of writing or a speech, but it doesn’t have to be. For example, you could also treat an advertisement or political cartoon as a text.

Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, building up logical arguments . Ethos appeals to the speaker’s status or authority, making the audience more likely to trust them. Pathos appeals to the emotions, trying to make the audience feel angry or sympathetic, for example.

Collectively, these three appeals are sometimes called the rhetorical triangle . They are central to rhetorical analysis , though a piece of rhetoric might not necessarily use all of them.

In rhetorical analysis , a claim is something the author wants the audience to believe. A support is the evidence or appeal they use to convince the reader to believe the claim. A warrant is the (often implicit) assumption that links the support with the claim.

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How to Write a Thesis Statement For a Rhetorical Analysis

14 Feb 2023

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📓 Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement

💁 Tips To Compose Thesis Statement For Rhetorical Analysis

✔❌ Dos and Don'ts in Writing Thesis Statement

📝 Thesis Statement Formula

Because of its convoluted name, rhetorical analysis thesis statements might sound like a daunting thing to write. However, it is not that difficult to create as long as you can acknowledge all of its different components and form a proper thesis sentence. In this article, we will cover everything you need to construct a compelling rhetorical analysis statement for your essay. So let’s begin!

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Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement

Rhetorical analysis thesis statements present a main argument about how a particular text (usually non-fiction) uses rhetorical devices to achieve a desired purpose. They can generally be found in rhetorical analysis essays or academic research papers used in college classes such as English, Political Science, or History. It is best to place it at the end of your introduction paragraph.

A thesis statement for rhetorical analysis has three main objectives:

  • Give the name of the text being analyzed, as well as the author and genre
  • Take note of the different rhetoric being used by said author
  • Determine the overall effect these strategies have on the reader

Rhetorical analysis thesis statements are necessary for keeping you focused while you are writing your essay. It also benefits the reader because they can read it in the introduction and know exactly what the paper will be about.

Now we will cover the best practices for creating a proper argument needed for your thesis.

Tips to Compose a Thesis Statement for Rhetorical Analysis

thesis statement for rhetorical analysis essay

Doing Proper Analysis

Before you begin writing, it is important to remember that it must be defensible. This means that it must be proven with evidence and you should not simply use your own opinion. It might be a good idea to write a rhetorical analysis essay outline to jot down ideas and sources that you will use in your paper. A thorough analysis should be done for your thesis. While you are reading the passage, take note of the rhetorical devices and strategies that the author uses. What specific choice did the author decide on in terms of rhetoric? You can include the names of the devices such as juxtaposition, alliteration, etc.

Find Concrete Examples

Once you have determined the different techniques utilized by the author, your next step is to find solid cases of those techniques within the text. This will serve as evidence for your thesis. The more evidence you can find to back up your claim, the better. While doing research, take note of how the example illustrates the rhetorical technique you are trying to prove.

Determine the Author’s Purpose

After you have found sufficient evidence, start thinking about WHY the author decided to use them in the first place. Why did the author make these particular choices? What point was she trying to make?

The Effect on the Audience

One of the goals of the rhetorical thesis is to take apart an essay or literary work and break it down into its smaller components. You then determine how the parts come together to create a particular effect for the reader. What is going through your mind? Was the author trying to persuade you of something? Or was the purpose only to entertain?

Take a Position

Before you start a rhetorical analysis essay, you must take a firm position if you want your thesis statement to be effective. Of course, the reason why we even read literary works in the first place is because they can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. There might be several rhetorical methods the author uses in their work, but your job is to focus on ONE of them. You cannot convince the reader of your position if your ideas are all over the place. Choose what you think is the strongest point and stick with it.

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Do’s and Don’ts when Writing a Thesis Statement

Use this list as a guide when you begin to write. This way, you can remain on task and create a thesis sentence that is coherent and clear to the reader.

  • Make it very clear which techniques you will be analyzing and their effectiveness within the text.
  • Take a firm position on the issue you will be discussing. Resist the urge to bloat your thesis statement with different rhetorical devices. Choosing one will keep you organized while you are presenting your argument.
  • Keep in mind that this will serve as a guide to the reader on what you will be covering in your essay. Always keep the reader in mind while you are writing so that they do not get lost. This is why having a specific focus is so important.
  • Try to use your credentials, reputation, or personal stories to establish yourself as an expert on the topic.


  • This is not an opinion piece. Avoid using phrases like “I believe” or “I think”. How you personally feel about the topic being discussed is irrelevant. By the time you write your thesis statement, you should have ample proof to validate your position.
  • Do not write a simple, flat statement about the topic. This type of thesis statement has a certain structure that you can find below.
  • Don’t make your piece either too vague or too convoluted. Keep the reader in mind when you are stating your argument. Your words should be something they can clearly follow and understand.

Know how to structure your paper

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Examples of Strong and Weak Rhetorical Analysis Thesis

Now that we have determined what goes into creating a thesis statement for a rhetorical essay, we can now discuss what is needed to write the argument itself.

Elements of a STRONG Thesis

A strong rhetorical essay thesis utilizes appeals. Appeals are tools that the author uses to earn the approval of the reader by playing to common experiences that we all have. The three types of appeals are pathos, ethos, and logos.

The pathos appeal uses language to conjure strong emotions in the reader like sympathy, anger, compassion, or sadness.

The ethos appeal uses the writer’s character and credibility to convince the reader that they are an expert on the topic being discussed.

Finally, the logos appeal calls to the reader’s logic and reasoning. You can employ evidence, statistics, and testimonies from other experts in the field to convince the reader of your position.

Utilizing all three types of appeals will guarantee that you create a rock-solid argument for your essay.

Elements of a WEAK Thesis

This should go without saying, but avoid plagiarism when writing a thesis for rhetorical analysis and be sure to properly cite your source.

You should also avoid bias when writing your rhetorical analysis essay thesis. The purpose of this type of essay writing is to be objective and to present evidence to convey the most logical argument possible. Lastly, you should try your best not to merely summarize a thesis for a rhetorical analysis essay . If you want to establish yourself as an expert on the topic, use facts and reasoning to your advantage to arrive at a believable conclusion.

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Formula for Thesis Statement

Use the template below to help you get started and to give you ideas on how to proceed. Remember to place it after your introduction.

In his/her (ADJECTIVE) speech/article/letter, (WRITER’S NAME) uses (RHET. TECHNIQUE) and (RHET. TECHNIQUE) to persuade (AUDIENCE or READER) to (DESCRIBE THE AUTHOR’S PURPOSE)

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thesis statement for rhetorical analysis essay

Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Nova A.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example - Free Samples

Published on: Apr 4, 2018

Last updated on: May 26, 2023

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

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Writing a  rhetorical analysis essay  for academics can be really demanding for students. This type of paper requires high-level analyzing abilities and professional writing skills to be drafted effectively.

As this essay persuades the audience, it is essential to know how to take a strong stance and develop a thesis. This article will find some examples that will help you with your rhetorical analysis essay thesis statement effortlessly.

Good Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

The step-by-step writing process of a rhetorical analysis is far more complicated than ordinary academic essays. This essay type critically analyzes the rhetorical means used to persuade the audience and their efficiency.

The example provided below is the best rhetorical analysis essay example:

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Sample (PDF)

In this essay type, the author uses rhetorical approaches such as  ethos, pathos, and logos . These approaches are then studied and analyzed deeply by the essay writers to weigh their effectiveness in delivering the message.

If you are drafting a rhetorical analysis essay, it is essential to first go through a couple of examples. This is to be clear of the outline and structure that a rhetorical analysis essay must have.

According to the essay outline, the essay is divided into three sections:

  • Introduction

A  rhetorical analysis essay outline  is the same as the traditional one. The different parts of the rhetorical analysis essay are written in the following way:

Rhetorical Analysis Introduction Example

The introductory paragraph of a rhetorical analysis essay is written for the following purpose:

  • In order to provide basic background information about the chosen author and the text.
  • Identify the target audience of the essay

An introduction for a rhetorical essay is drafted by stating an opening sentence known as the hook statement. This catchy sentence is prepared to grab the audience’s attention to the paper.

After the opening sentence, the background information of the author and the original text are provided.

For example, a rhetorical analysis essay written by Lee Jennings on“The Right Stuff” by David Suzuki. Lee started the essay by providing the introduction in the following way:

“ David Suzuki’s “The Right Stuff” features a gracious, entertaining, and informative style. We have come to associate with this well-known host of The Nature of Things. He begins with the interesting speculation from the book Is There Life After High School? that “impressions formed in high school are more vivid and indelible than those formed at any other time in life.”

Suzuki stresses the importance of high school education. He prepares his readers for a proposal related to making that education as valuable as possible.

A rhetorical analysis can show how successful Suzuki was using logos, pathos, and ethos. He had a strong ethos because of his reputation. He also used pathos to appeal to parents and educators. However, his use of logos was not as successful.

Here Jennings stated the background information about the text and highlighted the rhetorical techniques used and their effectiveness.

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Thesis Statement Example for Rhetorical Analysis Essay

A  thesis statement  of a rhetorical analysis essay is the writer’s stance on the original text. It is the argument that a writer holds and proves it using the evidence from the original text.

A thesis statement for a rhetorical essay is written by analyzing the following elements of the original text:

  • Diction - The author’s choice of words and the tone
  • Imagery - The visual descriptive language that the author used in the content.
  • Simile - The comparison of things and ideas

In Jennings analysis of “The Right Stuff” the thesis statement was:

"Suzuki has strong beliefs, but his argument is not convincing because it is not supported by evidence."

Example For Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement (PDF)

Rhetorical Analysis Conclusion Example

All the supporting information about the thesis statement is presented in the body section. Each point that supports the thesis is presented in a paragraph where it is analyzed.

All the body paragraphs lead the audience towards the conclusion. Here the final verdict about the text is provided.

For example, the conclusion of “The Right Stuff” is written in the following way by Jennings:

“The major question overlooked by Suzuki’s essay—one of logistics-- is how can the schools, understaffed and overstressed, add the difficult subject of sex education to their curriculum. Admittedly, David Suzuki wrote his essay at a time when education budgets were in better shape than they are today. And he certainly makes an excellent point that educators should respect their students and appeal to their interests.

Nevertheless, his argument for sex education in schools clearly needs further thinking. Suzuki has a strong ethos and uses persuasive pathos well in this argument.

However, he needs to use more logos to make his point clear. He can only hope to get people's attention. It is up to them whether or not they want to use his ideas in the schools.”

In the conclusion section, Jennings summarized the major points and restated the thesis statement to prove them.

Rhetorical Essay Example For The Right Stuff by David Suzuki (PDF)

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example AP Lang 2022

Writing a rhetorical analysis for AP Language and Composition course can be challenging. So drafting it correctly is important to earn good grades. To make your essay effective and winning, follow the tips provided by professionals below:

Understand the Prompt

Understanding the prompt is the first thing to produce an influential rhetorical paper. It is mandatory for this academic writing to read and understand the prompt to know what the task demands from you.

Stick To The Format

The content for the rhetorical analysis should be appropriately organized and structured. For this purpose, a proper outline is drafted. The rhetorical analysis essay outline divides all the information into different sections, such as introduction, body, and conclusion. The introduction should explicitly state the background information and the thesis statement.

All the body paragraphs should start with a  topic sentence  to clearly convey a claim for the readers. Provide a thorough analysis of these claims in the paragraph to support your topic sentence.

Use Rhetorical Elements to Form Argument

Analyze the following things in the text to form an argument for your essay:

  • Language (tone and words)
  • Organizational structure
  • Rhetorical Appeals ( ethos, pathos, and logos)

Once you have analyzed the rhetorical appeals and other devices like imagery and diction, you can form a strong thesis statement. The thesis statement will be the foundation on which your essay will be standing.

AP Language Rhetorical Essay Sample (PDF)

AP Rhetorical Analysis Essay Template (PDF)

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Ethos, Pathos, Logos

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Outline

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example College

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example APA Format

Compare and Contrast Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

How to Start Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Visual Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

The visual rhetorical analysis essay determines how pictures and images communicate messages and persuade the audience. Usually, the visual rhetorical analysis papers are written for advertisements. Because they use strong images to convince the audience to behave in a certain way.

In order to draft a perfect visual rhetorical analysis essay, follow the tips below:

  • Analyze the advertisement deeply and note every minor detail.
  • Notice objects and colors used in the image to gather every detail.
  • Determine the importance of the colors and objects and analyze why the advertiser chose the particular picture.
  • See what you feel about the image
  • Consider the objective of the image. Identify the message that the image is portraying.
  • Identify the targeted audience and how they respond to the picture.

An example is provided below to give students a better idea of the concept.

Simplicity Breeds Clarity Visual Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example (PDF)

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Writing Tips

Expert writers at MyPerfectWords.com have gathered some easy tips and tricks to draft an effective rhetorical analysis essay. Follow the tips provided below to make your rhetorical writing compelling.

  • Choose an engaging topic for your essay. The  rhetorical analysis essay topic  should be engaging to grab the reader’s attention.
  • Thoroughly read the original text.
  • Identify the SOAPSTone. From the text, determine the speaker, occasions, audience, purpose, subject, and tone.
  • Develop a thesis statement to state your claim over the text.
  • Draft a rhetorical analysis essay outline.
  • Write an engaging essay introduction by giving a hook statement and background information. At the end of the introductory paragraph, state the thesis statement.
  • The body paragraphs of the rhetorical essay should have a topic sentence. Also, in the paragraph, a thorough analysis should be presented.
  • For writing a satisfactory rhetorical essay conclusion, restate the thesis statement and summarize the main points.
  • Proofread your essay to check for mistakes in the content. Make your edits before submitting the draft.

Following the tips and the essay's correct writing procedure will guarantee success in your academics. If you are still struggling to draft a great rhetorical analysis essay, it is suggested to take help from a professional  analytical essay writing service .

MyPerfectWords.com  can assist you in all your academic assignments. The  top essay writer service  that we provide is reliable. If you are confused about your writing assignments and have difficulty meeting the deadline, get help from the  legal essay writing service  at  MyPerfectWords.com . 

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Nova Allison is a Digital Content Strategist with over eight years of experience. Nova has also worked as a technical and scientific writer. She is majorly involved in developing and reviewing online content plans that engage and resonate with audiences. Nova has a passion for writing that engages and informs her readers.

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  1. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

    A rhetorical analysis is structured similarly to other essays: an introduction presenting the thesis, a body analyzing the text directly, and a conclusion to wrap up. This article defines some key rhetorical concepts and provides tips on how to write a rhetorical analysis. Table of contents Key concepts in rhetoric Analyzing the text

  2. Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statements

    strong thesis statement for a rhetorical analysis is NOT... A simple statement of your topic. A broad statement. A statement of facts or statistics. A summary of the author’s essay you are analyzing. A statement of what you’re going to do in the essay.

  3. Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Thesis Statements

    strong thesis statement for a rhetorical analysis essay... States what techniques you will be analyzing, and the impact of these techniques on the effectiveness of the text. Asserts your conclusion and takes a stand on the author’s rhetorical strategies. Serves as a guide to your essay for your reader.

  4. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement

    Rhetorical analysis thesis statements present a main argument about how a particular text (usually non-fiction) uses rhetorical devices to achieve a desired purpose. They can generally be found in rhetorical analysis essays or academic research papers used in college classes such as English, Political Science, or History.

  5. 13 Best Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example & Sample Papers

    Thesis Statement Example for Rhetorical Analysis Essay. A thesis statement of a rhetorical analysis essay is the writer’s stance on the original text. It is the argument that a writer holds and proves it using the evidence from the original text.