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The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Rhetorical Analysis Essay


how to write a rhetorical essay
A rhetorical analysis is a special type of college paper that’s a more common task in the later years of education. It can be written about books, film, music, and anything that contains an argument that can be analyzed through critical thinking. In this type of paper, you’ll need to examine the argument that’s being made in the object of your analysis and determine whether it has merit and whether the argument is successful. You will be dissecting and disseminating the object of your analysis into parts, and determining how those parts work together to create an effect. Here is a guide on how to write a rhetorical essay.

Start your essay by writing an introduction

This is a crucial part of your essay, and the success or failure of this entire venture will hinge on how good (or bad) your introduction is. A good intro to any essay will always contain some sort of hook. You should let your reader know right off the bat why what you’re writing about is important. If you don’t do this, anyone picking up your essay will be so bored that they’ll put it down immediately, and there’s no point in writing anything if you fail to be engaging.

After writing the hook, where you explain the implications of the issue at hand, go a bit more in depth about what the issue is. If you’re examining a movie’s central idea, you’ll have to explain its origins – where the idea stems from, what other works discuss it, whether it’s an eternal question or just the problem du jour.

Finish the introduction by writing about your stance on the issue. This is going to be the thesis, so pay close attention to how you phrase it – the entirety of what follows it will be there to support this statement. A good idea might be to write about your relationship to this issue. If it’s a movie you’re discussing, you might talk about how something similar to the plot happened to you or someone you know, and that you can relate to the issue. Pick one argument in favor of your position (but not your strongest – leave the best for last) and back your thoughts up with it. It should look something like this: “The central idea presented by [film/book/song etc] is something that I’ve been affected by [in this way], and my opinion of it is that it’s [good/bad/whatever] because [argument to back it up].

In general, the rule of thumb for every essay introduction paragraph, is that it should provide relevant background for what you’re discussing. It should be catchy, too, so be careful not to use it to just dump information on the reader.

Next comes writing the body of your essay

The body of your essay should contain all the relevant analysis in the paper, all serving one point – proving the thesis. Each paragraph in the body should have its own mini-thesis – a topic sentence. A topic sentence is a good way to anchor your paragraph, to make sure you’re not veering off point too much.

Since this is a rhetorical analysis, the topic sentence for each paragraph will be a side of the argument that your object of analysis is making. Group them by type, and then devote a paragraph to dissecting each. Be ready to provide analysis, saying why it’s a certain category of argument, and to give examples of each type of argumentation. You should go in order of least persuasive to most persuasive, so that your essay builds properly.

Hopefully, you’re going to write your rhetorical analysis essay outline and have each paragraph planned out before you write it. At that stage, make sure your paper has, as they say, ‘flow’. Don’t jump haphazardly from one thing onto the next, and always make sure that each of your paragraphs has a central point. That goes for both the rhetorical point you’re making and the structural significance of each part of your text.

Finishing your essay

Every essay needs a strong finisher. If you’ve done everything right, you will have already convinced the reader, and they’re on your side. Too many students make the mistake that this is their final chance to hammer in their point, but, in fact, the closing paragraph is the one that comes after the last ‘hammering’.

A closing paragraph should, in some ways, mirror the one you opened with. But don’t be temped to reword something you’ve already said and finish by writing ‘that’s it bye’. Instead, reaffirm why the issue that’s being discussed is important, and, separately from that, say why taking your side on this issue is crucial. Hopefully, nothing you’ve said in your essay is pandering or appealing to emotion, but feel free to drop it here – in the last paragraph, after you’ve concluded your argumentation it wouldn’t be considered bad form.