Rhetorical Analysis (AP Exam)

Description of Rhetorical Analysis

Rhetorical analysis is used to demonstrate an understanding of a piece and its ideas and meanings. The goal is to see if/how the author achieved their purpose and what devices and evidence they used to support their claim. Rhetorical Analysis is analyzing persuasive acts. Your goal is is to deconstruct and evaluate a speakers rhetoric - not their claim.

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

Before writing the analysis, it is important to know the author's claim. Typically the claim can be found in the thesis, but sometimes the thesis is implied and not specifically stated. You need to think about the author's purpose for writing the piece and what they hope to achieve. Break the piece down into parts and make sure you understand the different parts. Having an understanding of the different sections will help you get a clearer understanding of the piece as a whole. To get familiar with the text as a whole, identify as much as you can about the rhetorical situation. After developing an understanding of the piece, develop a thesis. Your thesis should include how you think the author achieves or does not achieve their purpose, and typically it identifies the rhetorical devices the author used. The narration is commonly used as an opening to the essay, and it is a way to lead up to the thesis. An easy way to organize your essay is to break it down into parts based on your thesis. Stay on topic and make sure what you are writing about relates to what you have in your thesis statement. When your body paragraphs are finished, make a conclusion that not only restates what you have written, but also reminds the audience why what you just wrote is important.

1). Get familiar with the text
-Find the claim
-Identify as much as you can about the rhetorical situation
-Infer the author's purpose from the claim

2). Identify rhetorical strategies: start the appeals - characterize broadly
a.)Logos: figure out premises of each claim, then test for validity and truth.
b.) Pathos: determine the rhetorical purpose of the emotion as well as the cause, target, and frame of mind.
c.) Ethos: characterize sense, character, and will. Justify your reaction to the speaker.

—> Characterize arrangement and style
* Find things that stand out (word choice/ sentence structure)
* Classify strategies (what type)
* Describe how it appears in the text
* Explain effect on the audience
* Evaluate Effectiveness

3). Make a claim of value
-Evaluate the extent to which the author's rhetorical decisions help to acheive his/her purpose
-Think only about the INTENDED AUDIENCE.

Writing a Thesis for Rhetorical Analysis

Your thesis should form a claim about what you believe the author's purpose was and if you believe they reached this purpose. Rhetorical devices, such as juxtaposition, parallelism, repetition, and metaphor should be considered, and descriptive devices, like imagery, should also be taken into account. It is a good idea to mention the author and the piece in your opening paragraph.

Writing the Body of the Essay

It is important to write about devices and reflect in an in-depth manner in your essay. Avoid merely summarizing the piece, and think about what strategies the author uses to convince their audience. When breaking the essay into different parts, be sure that it corresponds with your thesis and stays on topic with the piece and the prompt, if there is one.

The Conclusion

The conclusion of the essay is not just a summary of what you just finished writing. The conclusion should confirm that what you have written is important and restate essential points in the essay to emphasize your purpose.

Rhetorical Strategies

Rhetorical strategies are strategies writers use to persuade their audience.

Identifying Rhetorical Strategies

  • Broadly characterize appeals.
  • Recognize what the speaker wants you to believe, feel, or do at different points throughout the text.
  • Figure out how the idea itself led you to these ideas.

Analyzing Rhetorical Strategies

  • Classify/characterize the strategy (ex: "loaded diction).
  • Describe how the strategy appears in the text (provide SPECIFIC references).
  • Explain the effect that the strategy has on the audience, describe how the audience would react to the strategy.
  • Evaluate the strategy's effectiveness, does it help achieve the speaker's purpose? How do you know?

Focus on what the strategy did to contribute to the author's writing.

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