How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay Step By Step

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay Step By Step

What is a rhetorical analysis? It refers to an explanation of HOW an author, speaker or any other rhetorician tries to change the mind of the audience. Rhetorical analysis is different from critical writing and is not a summary of the text. When writing a rhetorical analysis essay, it is important demonstrate a mastery of how elements of the rhetorical triangle relate. In this assignment, you do not state whether you agree with the author’s argument or not. Your task is to evaluate the rhetorician’s success or failure in convincing the audience. This guide simplifies for you everything. Keep reading to master how to write a rhetorical analysis essay step by step.

What this document is about:

  • Steps to follow when writing a rhetorical analysis
  • Elements of a good rhetorical analysis
  • Examples of good rhetorical analysis essays

This handout offers you well-researched tips, which you will find applicable when handling all your rhetorical analysis assignments. Whether you are working on a commercial, speech, movie, painting, or text, this toolkit will simplify your work.

Tricks of how to write a rhetorical analysis essay step by step

Writing a rhetorical analysis may turn out to be a draining task if you do not understand what your tutor is looking for. To overcome these challenge, focus of studying the work under consideration, with emphasis on the author’s approaches. Discuss the persuasive strategies the rhetorician employs in a bid to woo the reader or viewer of his or her work.

The following are principles of how to write a rhetorical analysis essay step by step. Follow them keenly and see your assignments become a walkover.

Step 1: Choose your position – The first step when writing a rhetorical analysis essay is taking a clear stance on the text. Do this by developing a good thesis statement that captures your main argument. A thesis gives you direction and acts as a compass pointer. Avoid being subjective in your argument.

Step 2: Do an analysis of the work – Once you have a thesis statement in place, you are ready to start analyzing the subject. Ensure that your analysis supports your main idea in all aspects. A good strategy to apply when doing your analysis is taking notes on the subject. As you read, watch or listen to the piece of work, take notes, which will help you in supporting your thesis.

Step 3: Evaluate the author’s rhetorical strategies. This is an important step since rhetorical appeals form the basis of rhetorical analysis. Bring out the ethos, pathos and logos, which the rhetorician employs to convince the audience. We shall discuss these appeals in details at a later stage in this guide.

Step 4: Put everything together – After looking at the rhetorical appeals in the text, you now digest everything in relation to your thesis statement. Here, you authoritatively say why the rhetorician succeeds or fails in passing across the message to the audience.

With this introduction and simple method of how to write a rhetorical analysis essay step by step, let us look at an example to drive the point home:

Example # 1: Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Rhetorical Analysis of Cory Doctrow’s “Why I Won’t Buy an iPad (and Think You Shouldn’t, Either)

In his article, published on BoingBoing in 2010, Cory Doctorow reviews the iPad, one of Apple’s latest brands at the time of its publication. Doctorow has vast knowledge and experience in technology.

Doctorow successfully uses his experience and facts about Apple to appeal to potential consumers of the product. He holds that Apple limits the digital rights of the users, by regulating the content that one can use or create on their devices…

By advancing this opinion, Doctorow is convincing customers not to buy the gadget because of the content rights limitation and the likelihood of becoming obsolete in future.


From this excerpt, the reader begins by giving basic information about the text being analyzed. In particular, the introduction captures the name of the author, the title of the text, the publisher and year of publication. The analysis further states the purpose and target audience of the article. The rhetorician wants to convince potential Apple consumers that the company offers them a raw deal with its latest device, iPad.

This is a good example of how to write a rhetorical analysis essay step by step. You can read the rest of the article here.

The basics of how to write a rhetorical analysis essay step by step

The main purpose of any rhetorical analysis is to find out how various techniques work together to achieve the author’s objective. Below is another approach that will give you an excellent essay.

Idea 1: Start with the rhetorical triangle – A rhetorical triangle encompasses the author’s purpose, target audience and strategic appeals.

  1. Purpose – This refers to the speaker’s goal. Asks yourself what the author intends to achieve with the rhetorical piece.
  2. Target Audience – These are the people likely to read the text or watch the movie. To write as a good analysis of the text, you must figure out the people that the author wants to influence with his work.
  • Strategy – Bring out the techniques, which the author employs.

Idea 2: Identify the speaker’s style – Focus on the writer’s choice of words. Remember that every word in the text has a purpose. In using the words, establish their impact on the target audience.

Idea 3: Quote sparingly – Use direct quotes only when it is necessary. After all, mastering how to write a rhetorical analysis essay step by step is about understanding the text and making an evaluation. Do not summarize or reproduce the original work.

Idea 4: Follow the argument – From the introduction to the conclusion move with the writer as he or she develops the argument in the text. The flow of your analysis depends on how you track the author’s argument.

Idea 5: Conclude with your analysis – Your last paragraph should capture the author’s final statements. For instance, end by saying how the choice of his final words is likely to influence the audience.

Example #2: Sample Rhetorical Analysis Essay

In this example, you will see how to piece your introduction and conclusion. Take a look…

Rhetorical Strategies in Grose’s “Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier


In “Cleaning: The Final Feminist Frontier,” published in 2013 in the New Republic, Grose holds that while the modern man gives hand in cooking and childcare at home, washing unfairly remains a woman’s task. Grose starts by using facts and personal experience to win the audience but her argument weakens in the end as she attempts to appeal to readers emotionally.


Grose starts her argument effectively by convincing the reader that women unfairly do a lot of domestic work. She however loses the grip on her argument toward the end, a time when she needed that power most. Readers see that the problem is a global issue cutting across marriages. They do not take her seriously when she turns to humor and sarcasm.

Brief synthesis

From this example, the writer links the conclusion to the introduction. While the introduction lays the foundation, stating why the speaker created the text, the conclusion gives an overall analysis. The writer ends by pinpointing areas that weakened the argument.

You too can be such a good writer. Simply apply these rules of how to write a rhetorical analysis essay step by step every time you are working on your assignment.

More tips on how to write a rhetorical analysis essay step by step

To excel in rhetorical analysis, you must have a mastery of rhetorical strategies that most authors and speakers use to change the mind of the audience. This section will give you a better understanding of these techniques.

Understanding strategies in rhetorical writing

Look for figurative language – Authors use similes and metaphors to create a mental picture in the reader’s mind.

Identify analogies- These are general comparisons

Emotional appeals –Show how the rhetorician attempts to appeal to the readers’ emotions

Logical appeals – How the author challenges the readers’ intelligence

Ethos – This is how the reader establishes himself or herself as a credible speaker on the topic

Repetition – Repetition aids the reader to believe something

Example #3: Sample Rhetorical Analysis essay

This handout has discussed fundamentals of how to write a rhetorical analysis essay step by step. What remains is practice and hard work. You’ll do great!

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