Rhetorical analysis is the process of evaluating a text according to its rhetorical purpose and strategies. When analyzing an argument rhetorically, the writer must go beyond what is being said and consider how the argument is being made. Often rhetorical analyses will argue whether or not the writer is successful in communicating the point.
Ethos—appeals that reference the author’s credibility and authority to speak on the subject at hand
Logos—appeals based on factual data that persuade an audience with respect for logic and knowledge
Pathos—appeals using emotionally loaded diction, phrases, or images that play on the audience’s feelings about a particular subject. Though pathos appeals can be powerful, writers should avoid using them exclusively.
When analyzing an argument rhetorically, ask yourself the following questions:
- Who is the target audience of the argument?
- What does the way an argument is presented suggest about the author’s feelings about the intended audience?
- How does the author tailor his or her argument to reflect the values of the intended audience?
- When was the argument presented?
- What exigent circumstances (context) may have provoked the argument?
- How might the background and beliefs of the author influence the way the argument is presented?
MOST RHETORICAL ANALYSIS ASSIGNMENTS WILL INCLUDE SOME COMBINATION OF THE FOLLOWING PARTS:
- Give background and context for the topic, problem, or issue being discussed.
- Craft a thesis statement—A claim you make about the efficacy, or lack thereof, of the author’s persuasive tactics.
Summary of Argument:
- Summarize the basis of the author’s claim.
- State context of author’s claim.
- Identify stakeholders.
- Summarize key points
- Reflect on the role rhetoric plays in making arguments
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