How to Do a Rhetorical Analysis
Learning how to do a rhetorical analysis is very important because you might be assigned this task at some point during your academic life. According to Purdue University OWL, rhetorical analysis refers to a form of writing that demonstrates the author’s comprehension of the way a piece of work communicates meanings and messages- owl.english.purdue.edu. This form of writing does this by breaking a piece that is being investigated into parts. When you understand various parts of the work, giving insights about the persuasive strategies in that piece becomes easy. Basically, the aim is not to give a value judgment of the piece. If the piece has implied or implicit argument the author does not take sides.
How to do a rhetorical analysis of any piece of work
Rhetorical analysis may be written about television shows, other texts, artwork collections, films and other media that are used in communicating or trying to make statements to the target audience. To do a rhetorical analysis of any piece of work, you should determine the way an argument is made in the work. You may also include information on the success or failure of the work.
While doing any rhetorical analysis, you must apply critical skills in reading so that you can easily break the work down into parts. Essentially, the work should be broken down from the entire piece or whole before being analyzed. This enables you to articulate the way the work is written by the author instead of what the author has actually written. For this to be done, the strategies that the author has used to realize the purpose or goal of writing must be analyzed. Always remember that, writers in different disciplines employ different strategies so that they can realize their goals- tutorial.ncsu.edu- Rhetorical Analysis.pdf. Therefore, the analysis of scientific work should be done differently from the analysis of a humanity piece of writing.
A guide on how to do a rhetorical analysis
- Gather information
You need to collect sufficient information about the work that you are going to analyze. This includes collecting information about the speaker, the audience, occasion, purpose, tone and subject. The speaker is the writer, the audiences are the person(s) that the work is intended for, and the occasion is the context while the purpose is the goal of the author.
While gathering information, ask yourself these questions:
- What is the main or the overall argument that the author is making?
- Is there a thesis statement for the work?
- What did the author study and why before writing the piece?
- What is the main aim or purpose of the author? To persuade, to inform or to criticize?
- Who is the target audience?
- What terms has the author repeated in the work?
- How are ideas arranged? Chronologically?
- Are there quotations or dialogues in the work? If so, why?
- How has diction been used in the work (consider word choice, accuracy, arrangement, informal or informal as well as the use of slang versus technical language)?
The title of a rhetorical analysis work is the initial point at which you can make the first impression or get into contact with the reader. Therefore, choose a title that distinguishes your rhetorical analysis work from other analyses. However, the title should be related to the work that you intend to analyze.
The introduction of the analysis should perform three major tasks. You should master them when learning how to do a rhetorical analysis. These tasks are to capture the attention of the reader, to provide background information and to present a thesis statement of the work. Note that a thesis statement should communicate the main point or idea of the analysis clearly- kennesaw.edu. It should inform readers about the content of the other parts of the paper. It should also be informative, analytical and persuasive. Come up with a thesis statement that summarizes your work in a single or few sentences.
- Discuss the text content
In this section, you should indicate specific examples of the original work in supporting the observations that you present. Although you might not quote the examples directly, you should point the portions of assertions or text of the work to your readers. Apart from supporting your ideas, this will make the analysis strong.
While discussing the text content, ask these questions:
- How has the author developed his discourse?
- Why has the author chosen a particular method to develop the discourse?
- How is the discourse arranged and why in that particular pattern?
- What are the persuasive appeals of the work such as the ethos, pathos and logos?
- How has the author used these appeals to strengthen the argument?
- Are there weaknesses such as fallacies in the work? Do they affect the response of readers? What assumptions has the author made and are they fair? What strength can you point out in the argument? How has a common ground been established in the work?
- Has refutation, concession or counter-argument been used effectively?
Perhaps, discussing the text content is the most important part to master when learning how to do a rhetorical analysis.
- Discuss the text style
At this point, you quote from the original work directly in order to support the style analysis. While selecting the quotes to use in your rhetorical analysis, ensure that your selection is based on their ability to illustrate various points that you want to make better. Do not base your selection on whether the quotes have content that you like or their length.
Among the style features that you can illustrate in this section include:
- Language features that include voice tone and diction
- Figurative language, irony, symbolism and allusion (from history, the bible, etc.)
- Sentence style and length
- Paragraphs length and number
- Repetition and rhythm
Illustrate how these stylistic features are used by the writer and how they enable him/her to achieve the set goal or purpose of creating the piece.
In the conclusion, comment on how effective the work is or the effects that it has on the audience. Explain how the author has achieved the set goal or purpose. Also demonstrate how the style has affected the content and appeals that the work has on the audience. Additionally, restate the thesis statement of your analysis. Show the audience that you have effectively proven your argument or supported your main point in the analysis by restating the main argument in a brief manner.
Important tips on how to do a rhetorical analysis
You may have learnt how to do a rhetorical analysis but it is important to have tips to guide you in performing this task.
- Start by creating a thesis statement for the rhetorical analysis. Your thesis statement should indicate the point that you want to make concerning the rhetorical choices of the author.
- Use an objective tone. Although you can make your argument in rhetorical analysis, it is important to be reasonable and scholarly. Therefore, do not use words like “we” and “I”. Instead, use third-person words because they are more objective.
- Identify rhetorical strategies and arrange them logically. For instance, start your analysis by identifying the goal of the author, language use and then the stylistic devices used. Ensure logical transition in your analysis.
- Support each point with a strong sentence that declares the purpose of rhetorical strategies that you are discussing. This will ensure that your argument is clearly understood by the reader while maintaining smooth transition of ideas.
- Evaluate and make points about different strategies that the author has used instead of summarizing them. For instance, instead of saying that the writer has used formal language, explain its effect on the audience. This way, you will not just identify that rhetorical strategy, but analyze its purpose as well.
- Finally, check your work for transitional ease, logical argument and grammar. Therefore, proofread the work keenly.
Basically, rhetorical analysis ought to explore the goal of the rhetorician, the tools or techniques that they have used with examples, as well as how effective the techniques are. While learning how to do a rhetoric analysis, note that you do not say whether you agree or disagree with the author’s argument. Instead, you simply discuss how the argument is made by the rhetorician and whether the rhetorician has succeeded in doing this through the use of the chosen approach- writingcenter.tamu.edu.
We hope from the above guidelines you now know how to do a rhetorical analysis with ease.
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