How To Write Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Step by Step Guide

How To Write Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Step by Step Guide

You are always a student, never a master. Therefore, you have to keep moving forward. These words were spoken by Conrad Hall many years ago but are still relevant. The fact is that the educational process is closely related to the writing of papers. As a student, you will have to carefully study all aspects of your assignments and go through many stages. Some papers are quite difficult despite first impressions. For instance, how to write a rhetorical analysis? Where to start for a beginner, and are there any basic steps? Don’t panic! Let's start with the basics. This is the correct solution to help you learn more about this paper.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Definition

So let's start with some terminology. This essay aims to analyze lyrics, songs, or videos based on rhetoric. This means that the main message should be secondary to you. The main goal is to check the way the message is created and its delivery. Here's what you should pay attention to first:

  1. Basic goals.
  2. Methods for creating a message.
  3. The format of interaction with the target readers.

As you probably already noticed, your main task is to analyze what methods the creator of a certain text was guided by and what calls to the readers were used to achieve the result. Thus, in general, you have to become someone who evaluates others and impartially analyzes each proposal.

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Paper Step by Step

One of the most serious problems for all newbies is the lack of prior experience. Where to start the process of preparing for such an assignment? Do you need to analyze every sentence? What techniques or methods should you use? All these questions are extremely relevant. However, you shouldn't panic. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you learn all the necessary aspects.

Identify the 4 Elements of Rhetoric

Let's imagine that you need to get started today, but you feel the fear of the unknown. How to start off a rhetorical analysis essay? Do not worry, because not everything is as bad as it seems at first glance. Any student should start by identifying four key aspects:

  1. Audience. Who are the target readers? What criteria were important to the author? For example, you can identify gender, nationality, age group, adherents of a certain political movement, and so on.
  2. Purpose. This aspect is also crucial. For what purpose did the author create a text, song, book, or video? What result do they want to achieve? What moral patterns are used to communicate or motivate people?
  3. Medium. What is the delivery format of the message? The author can use text, photos, videos, or music to achieve maximum efficiency.
  4. Context. This aspect is very important. What references were used for the message? What time, place, or event was chosen to improve the effectiveness of the message?

As you can see, all four of these elements are extremely crucial and help put all the puzzle pieces together. Even if it takes you half a day to identify all aspects, you will not regret it. The point is that your paper will be incomplete without understanding all the key steps.

Describe the Rhetorical Appeals

Numerous people use many techniques to achieve positive results and create an effective message for their readers. For example, you can often hear calls, play with images, motivation, and patriotic patterns in advertising, literature, and cinema. There are three key rhetorical appeals in total: ethos, pathos, and logos. Depending on the goals and circumstances, ethics, emotional overtones, and logic come to the fore. In particular, visual contexts, social motives, life examples, and even humor can be a great way to broadcast all three appeals.


So, how to write a rhetorical analysis? How about taking a look at the tricks the speaker uses? What appeals, emotional traps, or moral points were chosen to achieve the desired result? Your task is to analyze why a particular interaction style with an audience of viewers, listeners, or readers was used.


Now, you should evaluate how successful the reader has been. What tricks or behavior patterns have been most effective? Why were some phrases or calls not solid enough? What is the potential impact on the audience? This paper also assumes your personal assessment of all aspects. What did you like, and what aspects could be improved? Think about these questions.

State Your Thesis

Most likely, now you will don’t have questions like, "What is a rhetorical analysis essay?" However, even if you still have info gaps, you will soon receive answers. First, take a look at the source for your paper and create your thesis. Next, you should concentrate on the speaker's reasoning, the chosen delivery method, and overall effectiveness. Pay attention to each aspect and try to be very brief about your point of view.

Check Your Ideas

Now you can start writing your paper. But, first, combine all your ideas and make a solid rhetorical essay outline. Specifically, you can integrate three key categories of communication in each paragraph and focus on specific aspects. Then you will be able to identify all the goals, methods, and calls of the speaker.

Useful Tips for Beginners

The main problem for many first-year students is that it is difficult for them to understand the basic structure of the paper, and even a detailed guide will not greatly affect the overall result. Don't worry, though; there are three key tips to help every newbie.

Find a Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

This is the first and most obvious tip. Most likely, your topic is not unique, and many people have faced similar tasks before you. This is why you shouldn't worry. Instead, find a good sample online and take a look at all stages and sections. Most likely, you will probably understand where you should start. In particular, you can even use multiple samples to be sure of the sequence of actions.

Start With a Raw Draft

This is the correct way to write your assignment. Let's say you made your outline and were even satisfied with all the points of your assignment. Now you have to write several sentences for each part of your paper. This is to ensure that you do not lose key ideas while you are focusing on a paragraph. Try to organize all your thoughts and make all the necessary bookmarks to avoid missing something important.

Polish Your Paper

You've probably heard this advice hundreds of times already. However, repetition is the mother of learning. As soon as you finish writing the final paragraph, you should take a break for at least 30-40 minutes. Relax and have a coffee. Once you're ready to continue, take a look at each paragraph. What do you see? How good are your wording, arguments, and description of the speaker's specific motives? 

Check out grammar and spelling. You will most likely find at least a few typos. However, there is no shame in rewriting a couple of weak sentences or even a whole paragraph. The point is that your goal is to identify all the interaction methods. That is why you should be extremely precise in your wording. However, there is nothing wrong with taking another hour to improve your paper.