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Rhetoric is the art of effective communication; if you communicate with others at all, rhetorical devices are your friends!

Rhetorical devices help you make points more effectively, and help people understand you better. In this article, I'll be covering some important rhetorical devices so you can improve your own writing! 

What Are Rhetorical Devices?

A lot of things that you would think of as just regular everyday modes of communicating are actually rhetorical devices That’s because ‘rhetorical devices’ is more or less a fancy way of saying ‘communication tools.’

Most people don’t plan out their use of rhetorical devices in communication, both because nobody thinks, “now would be a good time to use synecdoche in this conversation with my grocery clerk,” and because we use them so frequently that they don’t really register as “rhetorical devices.”

How often have you said something like, “when pigs fly!” Of those times, how often have you thought, “I’m using a rhetorical device!” That’s how ubiquitous they are!

However, being aware of what they are and how to use them can strengthen your communication , whether you do a lot of big speeches, write persuasive papers, or just argue with your friends about a TV show you all like.

Rhetorical devices can function at all levels: words, sentences, paragraphs, and beyond. Some rhetorical devices are just a single word, such as onomatopoeia. Others are phrases, such as metaphor, while still others can be sentence-length (such as a thesis), paragraph-length (hypophora), or go throughout the entire piece, such as a standard five-paragraph essay.

Many of these (such as the thesis or five-paragraph essay) are so standard and familiar to us that we may not think of them as devices. But because they help us shape and deliver our arguments effectively, they're important to know and understand.

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The Most Useful Rhetorical Devices List

It would be impossible to list every single rhetorical device in one blog post. Instead, I've collected a mixture of extremely common devices you may have heard before and some more obscure ones that might be valuable to learn.

Amplification

Amplification is a little similar to parallelism: by using repetition, a writer expands on an original statement and increases its intensity .

Take this example from Roald Dahl’s The Twits :

“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it. A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”

In theory, we could have gotten the point with the first sentence. We don’t need to know that the more you think ugly thoughts, the uglier you become, nor that if you think good thoughts you won’t be ugly—all that can be contained within the first sentence. But Dahl’s expansion makes the point clearer, driving home the idea that ugly thoughts have consequences.

Amplification takes a single idea and blows it up bigger, giving the reader additional context and information to better understand your point. You don’t just have to restate the point— use amplification to expand and dive deeper into your argument to show readers and listeners how important it is!

Anacoluthon

Anacoluthon is a fancy word for a disruption in the expected grammar or syntax of a sentence. That doesn’t mean that you misspoke—using anacoluthon means that you’ve deliberately subverted your reader’s expectations to make a point.

For example, take this passage from King Lear :

“I will have such revenges on you both, That all the world shall—I will do such things, What they are, yet I know not…”

In this passage, King Lear interrupts himself in his description of his revenge. This has multiple effects on the reader: they wonder what all the world shall do once he has his revenge (cry? scream? fear him?), and they understand that King Lear has interrupted himself to regain his composure. This tells us something about him—that he’s seized by passion in this moment, but also that he regains control. We might have gathered one of those things without anacoluthon, but the use of this rhetorical device shows us both very efficiently.

Anadiplosis

Anadiplosis refers to purposeful repetition at the end of one sentence or clause and at the beginning of the next sentence or clause. In practice, that looks something like a familiar phrase from Yoda:

“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

Note the way that the ending word of each sentence is repeated in the following sentence. That’s anadiplosis!

This rhetorical device draws a clear line of thinking for your reader or listener—repetition makes them pay closer attention and follow the way the idea evolves. In this case, we trace the way that fear leads to suffering through Yoda’s purposeful repetition.

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Antanagoge is the balancing of a negative with a positive. For example, the common phrase, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” is antanagoge—it suggests a negative (lots of lemons) and follows that up with a positive (make lemonade).

When writing persuasively, this can be a great way to respond to potential detractors of your argument. Suppose you want to convince your neighborhood to add a community garden, but you think that people might focus on the amount of work required. When framing your argument, you could say something like, “Yes, it will be a lot of work to maintain, but working together will encourage us all to get to know one another as well as providing us with fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers.”

This is a little like procatalepsis, in that you anticipate a problem and respond to it. However, antanagoge is specifically balancing a negative with a positive, just as I did in the example of a garden needing a lot of work, but that work is what ultimately makes the project worth it.

Apophasis is a form of irony relating to denying something while still saying it. You’ll often see this paired with phrases like, “I’m not saying…” or “It goes without saying…”, both of which are followed up with saying exactly what the speaker said they weren’t going to say.

Take this speech from Iron Man 2 :

"I'm not saying I'm responsible for this country's longest run of uninterrupted peace in 35 years! I'm not saying that from the ashes of captivity, never has a phoenix metaphor been more personified! I'm not saying Uncle Sam can kick back on a lawn chair, sipping on an iced tea, because I haven't come across anyone man enough to go toe to toe with me on my best day! It's not about me."

Tony Stark isn’t saying that he’s responsible for all those things… except that’s exactly what he is saying in all of his examples. Though he says it’s not about him, it clearly is—all of his examples relate to how great he is, even as he proclaims that they aren’t.

A scene like this can easily be played for humor, but apophasis can also be a useful (albeit deceptive) rhetorical tool. For example, this argument:

Our neighborhood needs a community garden to foster our relationships with one another. Not only is it great for getting to know each other, but a community garden will also provide us with all kinds of fresh fruit and vegetables. It would be wrong to say that people who disagree aren’t invested in others’ health and wellness, but those who have the neighborhood’s best interests in mind will support a community garden.

That last sentence is all apophasis. Not only did I imply that people who don’t support the community garden are anti-social and uncaring (by outright stating that I wouldn’t say that, but I also implied that they’re also not invested in the neighborhood at all. Stating things like this, by pretending you’re not saying them or saying the opposite, can be very effective.

Assonance and Alliteration

Assonance adds an abundance of attractive accents to all your assertions. That’s assonance—the practice repeating the same vowel sound in multiple words in a phrase or sentence, often at the beginning of a word, to add emphasis or musicality to your work. Alliteration is similar, but uses consonant sounds instead of vowel sounds.

Let’s use Romeo and Juliet as an example again:

“From forth the fatal loins of these two foes; A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life.”

Here, we have repetition of the sounds ‘f’ and ‘l’ in ‘from forth...fatal...foes,’ and ‘loins...lovers...life.’

Even if you don’t notice the repetition as you’re reading, you can hear the effects in how musical the language sounds. Shakespeare could easily have just written something like, “Two kids from families who hate one another fell in love and died by suicide,” but that’s hardly as evocative as the phrasing he chose.

Both assonance and alliteration give your writing a lyrical sound, but they can do more than that, too. These tools can mimic associated sounds, like using many ‘p’ sounds to sound like rain or something sizzling, or ‘s’ sounds to mimic the sounds of a snake. When you’re writing, think about what alternative meanings you can add by emphasizing certain sounds.

Listen, asterismos is great. Don’t believe me? How did you feel after I began the first sentence with the word ‘listen?’ Even if you didn’t feel more inspired to actually listen, you probably paid a bit more attention because I broke the expected form. That’s what asterismos is—using a word or phrase to draw attention to the thought that comes afterward.

‘Listen’ isn’t the only example of asterismos, either. You can use words like, ‘hey,’ ‘look,’ ‘behold,’ ‘so,’ and so on. They all have the same effect: they tell the reader or listener, “Hey, pay attention—what I’m about to say is important.”

Dysphemism and Euphemism

Euphemism is the substitution of a more pleasant phrase in place of a familiar phrase, and dysphemism is the opposite —an un pleasant phrase substituted in place of something more familiar. These tools are two sides of the same coin. Euphemism takes an unpleasant thing and makes it sound nicer—such as using 'passed away' instead of 'died'—while dysphemism does the opposite, taking something that isn't necessarily bad and making it sound like it is.

We won’t get into the less savory uses of dysphemism, but there are plenty that can leave an impression without being outright offensive. Take ‘snail mail.’ A lot of us call postal mail that without any real malice behind it, but ‘snail’ implies slowness, drawing a comparison between postal mail and faster email. If you’re making a point about how going electronic is faster, better for the environment, and overall more efficient, comparing email to postal mail with the phrase ‘snail mail’ gets the point across quickly and efficiently.

Likewise, if you're writing an obituary, you probably don't want to isolate the audience by being too stark in your details. Using gentler language, like 'passed away' or 'dearly departed' allows you to talk about things that might be painful without being too direct. People will know what you mean, but you won't have to risk hurting anyone by being too direct and final with your language.

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You’ve no doubt run into epilogues before, because they’re a common and particularly useful rhetorical device! Epilogues are a conclusion to a story or work that reveals what happens to the characters in the story. This is different from an afterword, which is more likely to describe the process of a book’s creation than to continue and provide closure to a story.

Many books use epilogues to wrap up loose ends, usually taking place in the future to show how characters have changed as a result of their adventures. Both Harry Potter and The Hunger Games series use their epilogues to show the characters as adults and provide some closure to their stories—in Harry Potter , the main characters have gotten married and had children, and are now sending those children to the school where they all met. This tells the reader that the story of the characters we know is over—they’re adults and are settled into their lives—but also demonstrates that the world goes on existing, though it’s been changed forever by the actions of the familiar characters.

Eutrepismus

Eutrepismus is another rhetorical device you’ve probably used before without realizing it. This device separates speech into numbered parts, giving your reader or listener a clear line of thinking to follow.

Eutrepismus is a great rhetorical device—let me tell you why. First, it’s efficient and clear. Second, it gives your writing a great sense of rhythm. Third, it’s easy to follow and each section can be expanded throughout your work.

See how simple it is? You got all my points in an easy, digestible format. Eutrepismus helps you structure your arguments and make them more effective, just as any good rhetorical device should do.

You’ve probably used hypophora before without ever thinking about it. Hypophora refers to a writer or speaker proposing a question and following it up with a clear answer. This is different from a rhetorical question—another rhetorical device—because there is an expected answer, one that the writer or speaker will immediately give to you.

Hypophora serves to ask a question the audience may have (even if they’re not entirely aware of it yet) and provide them with an answer. This answer can be obvious, but it can also be a means of leading the audience toward a particular point.

Take this sample from John F. Kennedy’s speech on going to the moon:

But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas? We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

In this speech, Kennedy outright states that he’s asking questions others have asked, and then goes on to answer them. This is Kennedy’s speech, so naturally it’s going to reflect his point of view, but he’s answering the questions and concerns others might have about going to the moon. In doing so, he’s reclaiming an ongoing conversation to make his own point. This is how hypophora can be incredibly effective: you control the answer, leaving less room for argument!

Litotes is a deliberate understatement, often using double negatives, that serves to actually draw attention to the thing being remarked upon. For example, saying something like, “It’s not pretty,” is a less harsh way to say “It’s ugly,” or “It’s bad,” that nonetheless draws attention to it being ugly or bad.

In Frederick Douglass’ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass: an American Slave , he writes:

“Indeed, it is not uncommon for slaves even to fall out and quarrel among themselves about the relative goodness of their masters, each contending for the superior goodness of his own over that of the others.”

Notice the use of “not uncommon.” Douglass, by using a double negative to make readers pay closer attention, points out that some slaves still sought superiority over others by speaking out in favor of their owners.

Litotes draws attention to something by understating it. It’s sort of like telling somebody not to think about elephants—soon, elephants becomes all they can think about. The double negative draws our attention and makes us focus on the topic because it’s an unusual method of phrasing.

Onomatopoeia

Onomatopoeia refers to a sound represented within text as a mimicry of what that sound actually sounds like. Think “bang” or “whizz” or “oomph,” all of which can mean that something made that kind of a sound—”the door banged shut”—but also mimic the sound itself—”the door went bang .”

This rhetorical device can add emphasis or a little bit of spice to your writing. Compare, “The gunshot made a loud sound,” to “The gun went bang .” Which is more evocative?

Parallelism

Parallelism is the practice of using similar grammar structure, sounds, meter, and so on to emphasize a point and add rhythm or balance to a sentence or paragraph.

One of the most famous examples of parallelism in literature is the opening of Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities :

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way— in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

In the beginning, every phrase begins with “It was,” which is itself a parallelism. But there are also pairs of parallelism within the sentence, too; “It was the ___ of times, it was the ___ of times,” and “it was the age of ___, it was the age of ___.”

Parallelism draws your reader deeper into what you’re saying and provides a nice sense of flow, even if you’re talking about complicated ideas. The ‘epoch of incredulity’ is a pretty meaty phrase, but Dickens’ parallelism sets up a series of dichotomies for us; even if we don’t know quite what it means, we can figure it out by comparing it to ‘belief.’

Personification

Personification is a rhetorical device you probably run into a lot without realizing it. It’s a form of metaphor, which means two things are being compared without the words like or as—in this case, a thing that is not human is given human characteristics.

Personification is common in poetry and literature, as it’s a great way to generate fresh and exciting language, even when talking about familiar subjects. Take this passage from Romeo and Juliet , for example:

“When well-appareled April on the heel Of limping winter treads.”

April can’t wear clothes or step on winter, and winter can’t limp. However, the language Shakespeare uses here is quite evocative. He’s able to quickly state that April is beautiful (“well-appareled”) and that winter is coming to an end (“limping winter”). Through personification, we get a strong image for things that could otherwise be extremely boring, such as if Shakespeare had written, “When beautiful April comes right after winter.”

Procatalepsis

Procatalepsis is a rhetorical device that anticipates and notes a potential objection, heading it off with a follow-up argument to strengthen the point. I know what you’re thinking—that sounds really complicated! But bear with me, because it’s actually quite simple.

See how that works? I imagined that a reader might be confused by the terminology in the first sentence, so I noted that potential confusion, anticipating their argument. Then, I addressed that argument to strengthen my point—procatalepsis is easy, which you can see because I just demonstrated it!

Anticipating a rebuttal is a great way to strengthen your own argument. Not only does it show that you’ve really put thought into what you’re saying, but it also leaves less room for disagreement!

Synecdoche is a rhetorical device that uses a part of something to stand in for the whole. That can mean that we use a small piece of something to represent a whole thing (saying ‘let’s grab a slice’ when we in fact mean getting a whole pizza), or using something large to refer to something small. We often do this with sports teams–for example, saying that New England won the Super Bowl when we in fact mean the New England Patriots, not the entirety of New England.

This style of rhetorical device adds an additional dimension to your language, making it more memorable to your reader. Which sounds more interesting? “Let’s get pizza,” or “let’s grab a slice?”

Likewise, consider this quote from Percy Bysshe Shelly’s “Ozymandias”:

“Tell that its sculptor well those passions read Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things, The hand that mocked them.”

Here, Shelly uses ‘the hand’ to refer to the sculptor. The hand did not sculpt the lifeless things on its own; it was a tool of the sculptor. But by using just the hand, Shelly avoids repeating ‘the sculptor,’ preserves the poem’s rhythm, and narrows our focus. If he had referred to the sculptor again, he’d still be a big important figure; by narrowing to the hand, Shelly is diminishing the idea of the creator, mirroring the poem’s assertion that the creation will outlast it.

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Tautology refers to using words or similar phrases to effectively repeat the same idea with different wording. It’s a form of repetition that can make a point stronger, but it can also be the basis of a flawed argument—be careful that your uses of tautology is the former, not the latter!

For example, take this section of “The Bells” by Edgar Allen Poe:

“Keeping time, time, time, In a sort of Runic rhyme… From the bells, bells, bells, bells.”

Poe’s poetry has a great deal of rhythm already, but the use of ‘time, time, time’ sets us up for the way that ‘bells, bells, bells, bells’ also holds that same rhythm. Keeping time refers to maintaining rhythm, and this poem emphasizes that with repetition, much like the repetitive sound of ringing bells.

An example of an unsuccessful tautology would be something like, “Either we should buy a house, or we shouldn’t.” It’s not a successful argument because it doesn’t say anything at all—there’s no attempt to suggest anything, just an acknowledgment that two things, which cannot both happen, could happen.

If you want to use tautology in your writing, be sure that it’s strengthening your point. Why are you using it? What purpose does it serve? Don’t let a desire for rhythm end up robbing you of your point!

That thing your English teachers are always telling you to have in your essays is an important literary device. A thesis, from the Greek word for ‘a proposition,’ is a clear statement of the theory or argument you’re making in an essay. All your evidence should feed back into your thesis; think of your thesis as a signpost for your reader. With that signpost, they can’t miss your point!

Especially in longer academic writing, there can be so many pieces to an argument that it can be hard for readers to keep track of your overarching point. A thesis hammers the point home so that no matter how long or complicated your argument is, the reader will always know what you’re saying.

Tmesis is a rhetorical device that breaks up a word, phrase, or sentence with a second word, usually for emphasis and rhythm . We often do this with expletives, but tmesis doesn’t have to be vulgar to be effective!

Take this example from Romeo and Juliet :

“This is not Romeo, he’s some other where.”

The normal way we’d hear this phrase is “This is not Romeo, he’s somewhere else.” But by inserting the word ‘other’ between ‘some’ and ‘where,’ it not only forces us to pay attention, but also changes the sentence’s rhythm. It gets the meaning across perfectly, and does so in a way that’s far more memorable than if Shakespeare had just said that Romeo was somewhere else.

For a more common usage, we can turn to George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion , which often has Eliza Doolittle using phrases like “fan-bloody-tastic” and “abso-blooming-lutely.” The expletives—though mild by modern standards—emphasize Eliza’s social standing and make each word stand out more than if she had simply said them normally.

What’s Next?

Rhetorical devices and literary devices can both be used to enhance your writing and communication. Check out this list of literary devices to learn more !

Ethos, pathos, logos, and kairos are all modes of persuasion—types of rhetorical devices— that can help you be a more convincing writer !

No matter what type of writing you're doing, rhetorical devices can enhance it! To learn more about different writing styles, check out this list !

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Melissa Brinks graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a Bachelor's in English with a creative writing emphasis. She has spent several years tutoring K-12 students in many subjects, including in SAT prep, to help them prepare for their college education.

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31 Useful Rhetorical Devices

What is a rhetorical device and why are they used.

As with all fields of serious and complicated human endeavor (that can be considered variously as an art, a science, a profession, or a hobby), there is a technical vocabulary associated with writing. Rhetoric is the name for the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion, and though a writer doesn’t need to know the specific labels for certain writing techniques in order to use them effectively, it is sometimes helpful to have a handy taxonomy for the ways in which words and ideas are arranged. This can help to discuss and isolate ideas that might otherwise become abstract and confusing. As with the word rhetoric itself, many of these rhetorical devices come from Greek.

quill-in-ink

Ready, set, rhetoric.

The repetition of usually initial consonant sounds in two or more neighboring words or syllables

wild and woolly, threatening throngs

Syntactical inconsistency or incoherence within a sentence especially : a shift in an unfinished sentence from one syntactic construction to another

you really should have—well, what do you expect?

Repetition of a prominent and usually the last word in one phrase or clause at the beginning of the next

rely on his honor—honor such as his?

A literary technique that involves interruption of the chronological sequence of events by interjection of events or scenes of earlier occurrence : flashback

Repetition of a word or expression at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses, sentences, or verses especially for rhetorical or poetic effect

we cannot dedicate—we cannot consecrate—we cannot hallow—this ground

The repetition of a word within a phrase or sentence in which the second occurrence utilizes a different and sometimes contrary meaning from the first

we must all hang together or most assuredly we shall all hang separately

The usually ironic or humorous use of words in senses opposite to the generally accepted meanings

this giant of 3 feet 4 inches

The use of a proper name to designate a member of a class (such as a Solomon for a wise ruler) OR the use of an epithet or title in place of a proper name (such as the Bard for Shakespeare)

The raising of an issue by claiming not to mention it

we won't discuss his past crimes

An expression of real or pretended doubt or uncertainty especially for rhetorical effect

to be, or not to be: that is the question

Harshness in the sound of words or phrases

An inverted relationship between the syntactic elements of parallel phrases

working hard, or hardly working?

A disjunctive conclusion inferred from a single premise

gravitation may act without contact; therefore, either some force may act without contact or gravitation is not a force

The substitution of a disagreeable, offensive, or disparaging expression for an agreeable or inoffensive one

greasy spoon is a dysphemism for the word diner

Repetition of a word or expression at the end of successive phrases, clauses, sentences, or verses especially for rhetorical or poetic effect

of the people, by the people, for the people

Emphatic repetition [ this definition is taken from the 1934 edition of Webster's Unabridged dictionary ]

An interchange of two elements in a phrase or sentence from a more logical to a less logical relationship

you are lost to joy for joy is lost to you

A transposition or inversion of idiomatic word order

judge me by my size, do you?

Extravagant exaggeration

mile-high ice-cream cones

The putting or answering of an objection or argument against the speaker's contention [ this definition is taken from the 1934 edition of Webster's Unabridged dictionary ]

Understatement in which an affirmative is expressed by the negative of the contrary

not a bad singer

The presentation of a thing with underemphasis especially in order to achieve a greater effect : UNDERSTATEMENT

A figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them ( Metaphor vs. Simile )

drowning in money

A figure of speech consisting of the use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute or with which it is associated

crown as used in lands belonging to the crown

The naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it

A combination of contradictory or incongruous words

cruel kindness

The use of more words than those necessary to denote mere sense : REDUNDANCY

I saw it with my own eyes

A figure of speech comparing two unlike things that is often introduced by "like" or "as"

cheeks like roses

The use of a word in the same grammatical relation to two adjacent words in the context with one literal and the other metaphorical in sense

she blew my nose and then she blew my mind

A figure of speech by which a part is put for the whole (such as fifty sail for fifty ships ), the whole for a part (such as society for high society ), the species for the genus (such as cutthroat for assassin ), the genus for the species (such as a creature for a man ), or the name of the material for the thing made (such as boards for stage )

The use of a word to modify or govern two or more words usually in such a manner that it applies to each in a different sense or makes sense with only one

opened the door and her heart to the homeless boy

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essay using rhetorical devices

How to Use Rhetorical Devices in Your College Essay

←Essential Grammar Rules for Your College Applications

Developing a Personalized Metaphor for Your College Applications→

essay using rhetorical devices

Writing the personal statement is one of the most important, yet difficult aspects of the college application process. The elusive perfect personal statement is deeply moving, expertly written, rich with details of accomplishments or inspiring life stories, and fits neatly into the word limit. These constraints can leave many struggling to fit what they want to say in so few words. But what many fail to realize when writing personal statements is that admissions officers are evaluating more than just the story you have to tell. They’re also examining your writing style and ability to convey the abstract qualities in an eloquent way.

Long story short: you should be focused on not only what you’re saying, but also how you’re saying it.

Presenting Your Case: The Seed of a Personal Statement

It’s crucial to acknowledge that a personal statement should contain, at its core, an argument. We don’t mean an argument in the same way you might write a debate or an SAT essay – there’s no need for a rigid evidence and analysis structure here. However, you are setting forth a case to the office of undergraduate admissions at your school of choice that you’ll contribute substantially to their community; by telling your story, highlighting your personal strengths, and displaying how you’ve grown into the person you are today, you are essentially arguing that you’re a great candidate for admission. Like any great argument, your personal statement should contain the same rhetorical strategies you would employ when trying to write a persuasive essay or speech. The difference is that the subject matter isn’t some topic your teacher assigned – it’s you!

An exceptionally written personal statement that successfully employs rhetorical strategies can elevate your application enormously; it’s an opportunity to display creativity, strong writing skills, and personal depth that can’t be conveyed through a stellar GPA or strong test scores. Additionally, a personal statement is not a piece of academic writing. It’s meant to be personal – it should give the reader as clear an idea of who you are in the word count given. So don’t agonize over grammar conventions, formal speech, and populating your essay with as many vocabulary words as possible. Rather, take the opportunity to showcase your creativity and make the most of it!

Rhetorical Devices to Use in Your College Essay

While any rhetorical devices used in your essay will elevate the quality of your writing and strengthen your argument, there are some that work particularly well for the purpose of the personal statement. Below are a few of our favorite rhetorical devices and how you can use them to set your essay apart.

A conceit is a metaphor that extends throughout the length of a piece of writing. A well-developed conceit will leave a strong impression on readers and immediately make your essay distinctive and memorable. If you can assign a metaphor to the narrative of your personal essay that you can extend throughout, it will make your essay not only more interesting to read, but also more unique; standing out is, of course, of utmost importance in the college admissions process. For example, if you’re struggling to explain a powerful emotional experience like depression, consider using a conceit to develop the idea:

“In television and magazine advertisements, depression is often depicted as a small, feeble raincloud, showering its sufferer with negative thoughts and tiny anxieties. In reality, however, depression is more like a vast ocean; expansive, terrifying, impossibly powerful and seemingly invincible. Depression thrashes one mercilessly against the rocks one moment, only to suffocate one with silent, infinite waves the next. I spent two years of my life lost at sea, but through the turbulent journey, I have come to…”

Comparisons to natural entities like water, fire, storms, etc., work well (if you manage to avoid clichés), but be as creative and authentic as you can be; what’s most important is that whatever comparison you draw is logical and does not seem contrived, nonsensical, or immature. Consider opening and closing your essay with 2-4 sentences relating to your conceit, and make sure the tone throughout your essay is consistent too.

Another engaging, memorable way to open an essay is with a personal anecdote, or story. Specific sensory details setting a scene immediately capture the reader’s interest and immerse them in your story. For instance, if you plan to write about how being captain of the varsity soccer team has shaped you, try opening your essay with a vivid description of your state of mind when you’re playing a game:

“As I sprint across the field, savoring the sensation of my cleats cutting through the earth beneath me, I notice a gap in the opposing team’s defense that’s practically begging me to take the shot. The raucous soundtrack of the game – parents screaming, players shouting to one another, children crying – fades into white noise as I focus solely on the black and white ball stained with bright green grass, the glaring red of the goalkeeper’s gloves. The moment I kick, time seems to slow and then stop entirely; the ball hangs suspended in the air for a brief moment, hanging high above the players’ heads like the sun, before grazing just past the tips of the goalkeeper’s fingers…”

Beginning essays with anecdotes heavy with sensory language like the one above provide you with an opportunity to display both your writing skills and your passion about a specific topic. Anecdotes can be intense, humorous, tragic, joyful – no matter what they describe, they are a guaranteed way to catch a reader’s attention and offer an alternative to beginning with a sentence like, “all my life, I’ve loved playing soccer.”

Using anecdotes becomes crucial in light of one of the paradoxical truths about writing: people are always more able to relate their own experiences to detailed and personal writing rather than universal and bland writing, despite the fact that universal writing will apply to an audience in a more literal sense.

Anaphora is the repeated use of a certain word or phrase at the beginning of separate sentences or clauses. Consider the example below:

“Today, I am immensely proud of my family’s culture. Today, I can speak publicly with my parents in our native language without fear of judgment from others.”

Anaphora is extremely effective in emphasizing a specific emotion or idea. The deliberate repetition is dramatic and emotionally moving, an obvious superior alternative to the awkwardness and dullness of rewording the same idea in different ways repeatedly in order to avoid reusing the same words. Anaphora is also useful when highlighting a transition into a new mindset or environment, as in the sample above.

Still, using anaphora can be surprisingly tricky, and picking the right moment to use it is crucial. If there hasn’t been adequate build-up to create a dense and moving point in the essay, anaphora might come off as more redundant than anything. Anaphora, as with many rhetorical devices, can be watered down through overuse. Make sure that you’re balancing original and variegated writing with this rhetorical device if you want to maximize your impact.

Allusion is a reference to something that is well known, whether that be a person, place, thing, or event. Using allusion can help you to communicate large ideas quickly:

With an uncanny genius for hope, she was the Gatsby of our school; she could look to the past, present, and future, and see only possibility. 

Allusion can help you to draw on your reader’s knowledge of popular culture, history, and more, in order to avoid long and cumbersome descriptions that would ruin your word count. In the example above, the author alludes to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s widely known novel, The Great Gatsby, in order to emphasize the point they were making. Allusion can be especially useful when you want to give the reader extra insight into your meaning without leveraging an entire anecdote. In this way, anecdote and allusion can work together to help you give meaning to primary and secondary events, characters, and insights while still maintaining certain section’s primacy within the essay.

Be careful not to use too many allusions in one essay, though, as they are designed to stretch your essay outwards towards general social and historical knowledge. While this is immensely useful, and allows you to leverage details and feelings without actually explaining them, overuse runs the risk of pulling your essay apart entirely. Allusions are strongest when they are used in tandem with anecdotes that keep your essay in intensely personal territory.

Parallelism:

Parallelism is used to bring rhythm to a sentence or highlight a certain point, accomplished by repeating similar sentence structure, sounds, meter, or meaning.

I was sweaty, I was breathless, and I was hot. The humid air weighed down on my skin and my heavy thoughts weighed down on my mind. Maybe I just didn’t have it in me to be a runner.

In this excerpt, the writer emphasizes their physical state through parallelism. Repeating “I was” highlights their exhaustion. It feels like a more dramatic sentence than “I was sweaty, breathless, and hot.” Similarly, the parallelism of the humid air and their thoughts weighing down evoke an especially uncomfortable, almost suffocating feeling for the writer’s thoughts. 

Since parallelism can make a sentence more dramatic, it can be a powerful addition to the beginning or end of your essay. You can also use it at any other point in your essay, if you want to draw attention to a particular section. 

Personification:

Personification is when you give human-like qualities to inanimate objects. This can make your writing feel more descriptive, poetic, and emotive:

The brilliant fall leaves whispered a goodbye as we left our beloved forest and treehouse for the last time. 

Leaves can’t whisper, but by giving them this human action, the writer evokes a sense of longing. The personification highlights that the forest was so meaningful to the writer that it seemed like even the trees were saying goodbye.

That being said, personification should be used judiciously and viewed with a critical eye, as the wrong comparison can easily sound cheesy. Be sure to get a second or third opinion if you’re not sure whether your personification works.

Wrapping Up

These are only a select few of the vast array of rhetorical devices that can be used to enhance an essay. Try browsing a list of devices and attempting to incorporate several into the latest draft of your personal statement. The greatest advantage of rhetorical devices is that they are incredibly effective in lending an essay a strong emotional appeal, also known as pathos. The ability to skillfully appeal to emotion in an essay while also clearly communicating your accomplishments and personality will be invaluable as you complete your applications.

Want help with your college essays to improve your admissions chances? Sign up for your free CollegeVine account and get access to our essay guides and courses. You can also get your essay peer-reviewed and improve your own writing skills by reviewing other students’ essays.

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essay using rhetorical devices

  • Literary Terms
  • Rhetorical Device
  • Definition & Examples
  • When & How to Write a Rhetorical Device

I. What is a Rhetorical Device?

A rhetorical device is any language that helps an author or speaker achieve a particular purpose (usually  persuasion , since rhetoric is typically defined as the art of persuasion). But “rhetorical device” is an extremely broad term, and can include techniques for generating emotion, beauty, and spiritual significance as well as persuasion.

II. Examples of Rhetorical Devices

Hyperbole is a word- or sentence-level rhetorical device in which the author exaggerates a particular point for dramatic effect. For example:

Berlin was flattened during the bombing.

Because the city was not literally left flat, this is an exaggeration, and therefore hyperbole. But it still helps express the author’s main point, which is that the city of Berlin was very severely damaged.

Analogy is an important device in which the explains one thing by comparing it to another. At the sentence level, this might be as simple as saying “my cat’s fur is as white as a cloud .” But analogies can also function at much higher levels, including paragraphs and whole essays . For example, you might argue against war by drawing an extended analogy between the war on terrorism and World War 2. The success of the whole argument would depend entirely on how well you could persuade readers to accept the analogy!

The counterargument is the most important rhetorical device for college-level essays. A counterargument is a response to your own view – for example, if you’re arguing in favor of an idea, the counterargument is one that goes against that idea. In order to make your own argument perspective, you have to acknowledge, analyze, and answer these counterarguments.

III. Types of Rhetorical Devices

Because the term is so broad, there are countless ways to categorize rhetorical devices. For example, we might group them by function: e.g. persuasive devices, aesthetic devices (for creating beauty), or emotional devices. We could also group them according to the types of writing they belong to: e.g. poetry vs. essays.

The clearest way to categorize, though, is probably by scale: that is, what level of the writing does each device affect?

A. Word Level

Before we even get to full sentences, there are many rhetorical devices that operate at the level of individual words or groups of words. For example, the “metonym” is a rhetorical device in which a part stands in for the whole. For example, you might say that a ship is staffed with “twenty hands,” where each hand stands in for a full human being.

B. Sentence Level

Most rhetorical devices operate at the sentence level. They affect the meaning of a sentence, or a chunk of a sentence. For example, parallelism is an important rhetorical device in which different parts of a sentence have the same grammatical structure: “I am disgusted by your methods , but impressed with your results .” Notice how each underlined portion has the same pattern of adjective, preposition, pronoun, and plural noun.

C. Paragraph Level

Paragraph-level rhetorical techniques are especially important in essays, where they help to signal the structure of the argument. One example would be the topic sentence. Topic sentences open the paragraph and introduce its main idea, which is then supported and explained in the body of the paragraph. This is one of the most important techniques for structuring paragraphs effectively.

D. Structural Level

Some rhetorical devices cover the whole structure of a piece of writing. For example, the 5-paragraph essay is a rhetorical device that many people learn in high school for structuring their essays. The five paragraphs involve an introduction, 3 body paragraphs, and a conclusion. This structure is rejected by many college-level writing instructors (and thus may be thought of as a bad rhetorical device), but it’s a rhetorical device nonetheless.

IV. The Importance of Rhetorical Devices

Rhetorical devices are just like artistic techniques – they become popular because they work. For as long as human beings have been using language, we’ve been trying to persuade one another and evoke emotions. Over time, we’ve developed a huge variety of different techniques for achieving these effects, and the sum total of all such techniques is encapsulated in our modern lists of rhetorical techniques. Each rhetorical device has a different purpose, a different history, and a different effect!

V. Examples of Rhetorical Devices in Literature

“If we shadows have offended , think but this and all is mended : that you have but slumbered here while these visions did appear .” (Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream )

This famous quote, like many of Shakespeare’s lines, employs rhyme and meter, the two most basic rhetorical devices in verse. Although not all poetry has rhyme or meter, most classical poems do, and these rhetorical devices were probably important in helping poets memorize their works and sing them in front of audiences.

The dialogue form is an important structural device used in philosophy and religious scriptures for thousands of years. By putting different arguments in the mouths of different characters , philosophers can present their readers with a broader range of possible views, thus bringing more nuance into the conversation. This device also allows philosophers to make their own arguments more persuasive by responding to the various counterarguments presented by characters in the dialogue.

VI. Examples of Rhetorical Devices in Popular Culture

(adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); “Ah, yes – Zorro! And where is he now, padre? Your masked friend? He hasn’t shown himself in 20 years!” (Don Rafael, The Mask of Zorro )

A rhetorical question is a question that the audience is not supposed to answer – either because the answer is obvious, or because the speaker is about to answer it for them. It’s one of the most common techniques in oratory (speeches) and essays. In this case, Don Rafael is using a rhetorical question to undermine the crowd’s confidence in Zorro, their legendary defender.

“The microphone explodes, || shattering the mold.” (Rage Against the Machine, Bulls on Parade )

The two vertical lines (||) represent a caesura , or pause. This is a common rhetorical device in poetry, but is also found in music. In the recording of the song, there’s a beat’s pause in between “explodes” and “shattering.”

VII. Related Terms

Rhetoric is the art of persuasion, either through speaking or writing. In ancient Greece, the concept of rhetoric was given huge cultural importance, and philosophers like Aristotle wrote whole books on rhetoric and the techniques of convincing others.

Today, people sometimes view rhetoric in a negative light (as when someone says of a politician’s speech that it was “all rhetoric and no substance”). But this is a shame, since we are very much in need of leaders who have mastered the art of persuasive reasoning and respectful argumentation. Rhetoric has fallen from its former place of honor, and perhaps this explains the lack of productive dialogue in our political arena, driven as it is by sound bites and personal attacks.

Figure of Speech

When a rhetorical device departs from literal truth, this is called a “figure of speech.” The most common figure of speech is a metaphor, in which one thing stands for another (e.g. “he unleashed a hurricane of criticism”). However, many rhetorical devices employ literal truth and therefore should not be thought of as figures of speech.

List of Terms

  • Alliteration
  • Amplification
  • Anachronism
  • Anthropomorphism
  • Antonomasia
  • APA Citation
  • Aposiopesis
  • Autobiography
  • Bildungsroman
  • Characterization
  • Circumlocution
  • Cliffhanger
  • Comic Relief
  • Connotation
  • Deus ex machina
  • Deuteragonist
  • Doppelganger
  • Double Entendre
  • Dramatic irony
  • Equivocation
  • Extended Metaphor
  • Figures of Speech
  • Flash-forward
  • Foreshadowing
  • Intertextuality
  • Juxtaposition
  • Literary Device
  • Malapropism
  • Onomatopoeia
  • Parallelism
  • Pathetic Fallacy
  • Personification
  • Point of View
  • Polysyndeton
  • Protagonist
  • Red Herring
  • Rhetorical Question
  • Science Fiction
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
  • Synesthesia
  • Turning Point
  • Understatement
  • Urban Legend
  • Verisimilitude
  • Essay Guide
  • Cite This Website

essay using rhetorical devices

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis: Full Guide

essay using rhetorical devices

Have you ever been completely fascinated by a speech or ad, wondering how it managed to convince you so effectively? From powerful political speeches to catchy commercials, persuasion is all around us, shaping our thoughts and choices every day.

In this guide, we'll explain all about a rhetorical analysis essay. We'll break down the clever tricks writers and speakers use to win over their audience, like how they choose their words carefully and play with our emotions. This article will give you the tools you need to understand and analyze texts more deeply. So, let’s jump right in and start by understanding the nature of this assignment first.

What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

A rhetorical analysis essay is a type of essay where you examine how authors or speakers use words, phrases, and other techniques to influence or persuade their audience. This type of essay focuses on analyzing the strategies used by the writer or speaker to achieve their purpose, whether it's to inform, persuade, entertain, or provoke.

You'll dissect the text or speech into its components, looking at how each part contributes to the overall message. This might involve examining the introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs, evidence, and conclusion.

Once you've identified the strategies used, you'll assess their effectiveness in achieving the author's or speaker's purpose. This involves considering the intended audience, context, and the impact of the communication.

As per our essay writing service , some common topics for rhetorical analysis include analyzing speeches by influential leaders, dissecting political advertisements, or examining the rhetoric used in literary works.

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Rhetorical Analysis Topic Ideas

Now that we've grasped the essence of a rhetorical analysis essay let's explore some potential topics you might consider for your own analysis. Here are 15 specific ideas to get you started:

  • The Use of Metaphors in Barack Obama's 'Yes We Can' Speech
  • Visual Rhetoric in Dove's 'Real Beauty' Advertising Campaign
  • The Role of Irony in Jonathan Swift's 'A Modest Proposal'
  • The Manipulation of Emotions in Coca-Cola's 'Share a Coke' Campaign
  • The Repetition Technique in Winston Churchill's 'We Shall Fight on the Beaches' Speech
  • The Argument Structure in Michelle Obama's Speech on Education
  • The Use of Imagery in Edgar Allan Poe's 'The Raven'
  • Gender Stereotypes in Old Spice's 'The Man Your Man Could Smell Like' Ad
  • Satirical Elements in George Orwell's 'Animal Farm'
  • The Influence of Tone in Greta Thunberg's Climate Change Speeches
  • Political Symbolism in Banksy's Street Art
  • Humor as Persuasion in Ellen DeGeneres' Stand-Up Comedy
  • The Power of Silence in Emma Watson's UN Speech on Gender Equality
  • Ethical Appeals in ASPCA's Animal Rights Advertisements
  • The Cultural References in Super Bowl Commercials: A Case Study

How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

Understanding how to start a rhetorical analysis essay involves dissecting a piece of communication to learn how it works and what effect it aims to achieve. This analytical process typically includes five paragraphs and three main parts: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Below, our analytical essay writing service will explain each in more detail

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

Major Rhetorical Elements

Before heading towards the analysis process, it's essential to grasp some key rhetorical concepts that will help guide your examination of the text or speech. These concepts provide a framework for understanding how authors and speakers use language to persuade and influence their audience.

Ethos, pathos logos in rhetorical analysis form the foundation of persuasive communication and are often intertwined in rhetorical strategies. Ethos refers to the credibility or authority of the speaker or author. Pathos involves appealing to the audience's emotions, while logos appeals to reason and logic.

There are also other rhetorical devices that are specific techniques or patterns of language used to convey meaning or evoke particular responses. Examples include metaphor, simile, imagery, irony, repetition, and hyperbole. Recognizing and analyzing these devices can provide insight into the author's intended message and its impact on the audience.

Tone and mood also play crucial roles in shaping the audience's perception and response to the communication. Tone refers to the author's attitude toward the subject matter, while mood describes the emotional atmosphere created by the text.

Whether you ask us - write my essay , or tackle the task yourself, familiarizing yourself with these concepts will help you analyze the text and persuade the audience more effectively.

Understanding Rhetorical Appeals

Understanding Rhetorical Appeals

First off, what is ethos in rhetorical analysis? Well, it revolves around establishing the credibility and authority of the speaker or author. This appeal seeks to convince the audience that the communicator is trustworthy, knowledgeable, and reliable. Ethos in rhetorical analysis can be built through various means, including:

  • Professional Credentials : Demonstrating expertise in the subject matter through relevant qualifications or experience.
  • Personal Character : Highlighting traits such as honesty, integrity, and sincerity to engender trust and respect.
  • Association : Aligning oneself with respected individuals, institutions, or causes to enhance credibility by association.

For instance, in a health-related speech, a doctor might leverage their medical expertise and professional experience (credentials) to establish ethos. Similarly, a celebrity endorsing a product is using their fame and reputation (association) to persuade consumers.

Now, let's understand what is pathos in rhetorical analysis. Pathos involves appealing to the audience's emotions, aiming to evoke feelings such as empathy, sympathy, joy, anger, or fear. This emotional connection can be a powerful tool for persuasion, as it resonates with the audience on a personal level. Strategies for employing pathos in rhetorical analysis include:

  • Vivid Imagery : Painting a vivid picture or narrative that elicits strong emotional responses from the audience.
  • Anecdotes : Sharing personal stories or anecdotes that evoke empathy or sympathy and make the message more relatable.
  • Language Choice : Using emotive language, sensory details, and rhetorical devices to evoke specific emotional reactions.

For example, in a charity advertisement for children in need, images of impoverished and suffering children coupled with heart-wrenching stories (anecdotes) are used to evoke feelings of compassion and a desire to help.

Lastly, what is logos in rhetorical analysis, you may ask. It appeals to reason and logic, aiming to persuade the audience through rational argumentation and evidence. This appeal relies on facts, statistics, logical reasoning, and sound arguments to convince the audience of the validity of the message. Strategies for employing logos in rhetorical analysis include:

  • Factual Evidence : Providing empirical data, research findings, or expert opinions to support the argument.
  • Logical Reasoning : Presenting a well-structured argument with clear premises and conclusions that logically follow one another.
  • Counterarguments : Addressing potential counterarguments and refuting them with logical reasoning and evidence.

For instance, in a persuasive essay advocating for environmental conservation, the author might present scientific data on climate change (factual evidence) and use logical reasoning to explain the consequences of inaction.

Text and Context

Text analysis involves closely examining the language, structure, and rhetorical devices employed within the communication. This includes identifying key themes, rhetorical appeals, persuasive strategies, and stylistic elements used by the author or speaker to convey their message.

For example, in a political speech advocating for healthcare reform, text analysis might involve identifying the use of rhetorical appeals such as ethos (e.g., highlighting the speaker's experience in healthcare policy), pathos (e.g., sharing anecdotes of individuals struggling with medical costs), and logos (e.g., presenting statistics on healthcare affordability).

Contextual analysis involves considering the broader social, cultural, and historical factors that shape communication and influence its reception. This includes examining the audience demographics, the political and cultural climate, the historical events surrounding the communication, and any relevant societal norms or values.

For instance, when analyzing a historical speech advocating for civil rights, contextual research paper writers might involve considering the social and political context of the time, including prevailing attitudes towards race, ongoing civil rights movements, and recent legislative developments.

Claims, Supports, and Warrants

A claim is a statement or assertion that the author or speaker is advocating for or seeking to prove. Claims can take various forms, including factual claims (assertions of fact), value claims (judgments about what is good or bad), and policy claims (proposals for action). For example, in an argumentative essay about the importance of exercise, the claim might be that regular physical activity is essential for maintaining good health.

Supports are the evidence, reasoning, or examples provided to substantiate and strengthen the claims being made. Supports can take many forms, including empirical data, expert testimony, personal anecdotes, logical reasoning, and analogies. The quality and relevance of the supports provided play a critical role in the persuasiveness of the argument.

Continuing with the example of the argumentative essay about exercise, supports might include scientific studies demonstrating the health benefits of physical activity, testimonials from fitness experts, and personal stories of individuals who have experienced positive changes from incorporating exercise into their routine.

Warrants are the underlying assumptions or principles that connect the supports to the claims. They provide the reasoning or justification for why the supports are relevant and valid evidence for supporting the claims. Warrants are often implicit rather than explicit and require careful analysis to uncover. In the context of the essay on exercise, the warrant connecting the supports to the claim might be the assumption that actions that promote good health are inherently valuable and worthy of pursuit.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

Whether you opt for the option to buy essay or start writing it yourself, it's important to use a clear plan to organize your thoughts well. This plan usually includes four main steps, each looking at different parts of your analysis.

Analyzing the Text

Before writing a rhetorical analysis, take the time to thoroughly analyze the text you'll be examining. This means more than just skimming through it; it requires a thorough understanding of its subtleties and complexities. Here are some questions to guide your analysis:

  • How does the text try to sway its audience? What methods does it use to convince or influence them?
  • Which rhetorical appeals—ethos (credibility), pathos (emotion), logos (logic)—does the author use, and how do they contribute to the overall argument?
  • What specific rhetorical devices and strategies does the author employ to effectively convey their message? Are there any patterns or recurring motifs?
  • How does the structure of the text contribute to its persuasive power or overall impact?
  • Are there any cultural, historical, or contextual factors that influence how the text is perceived or understood?

By scrutinizing the text in this manner, you'll gain a deeper understanding of how it functions and the techniques employed by the author to achieve their desired effect.

Rhetorical Analysis Introduction

The introduction sets the stage for your analysis by providing essential context and framing the discussion. Start by introducing the text you're analyzing, including the author's name and the title of the work. Provide some background information to give context to your analysis. For example, if you're analyzing a speech, mention the occasion or event where it was delivered.

Next, summarize the main arguments or claims made by the author. Highlight the rhetorical techniques they use to persuade their audience. Are they appealing to logic, emotion, credibility, or a combination of these? Use specific examples from the text to illustrate these techniques discussed by our dissertation service .

For instance, if you're analyzing a speech on climate change, mention the speaker's expertise in environmental science to establish credibility. Summarize the key points they make about the consequences of inaction and the urgent need for change.

Finally, conclude your introduction with a clear thesis statement. This statement should encapsulate the main argument or purpose of your analysis.

Rhetorical Analysis Body Paragraph

The body paragraphs form the crux of your analysis, where you delve into the details of the text and dissect its rhetorical strategies. Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of the text, such as the use of ethos, pathos, logos, or specific rhetorical devices.

Utilize Aristotle's rhetorical triangle and other key concepts introduced earlier to guide your analysis. Provide quotations or examples from the text to illustrate your points and explain why the author chose certain approaches. Evaluate the effectiveness of these strategies in achieving the author's goals and persuading the audience.

For instance, if you're discussing the use of pathos in a marketing campaign, analyze the emotional appeal of the imagery or language used and consider how it resonates with the target audience.

Rhetorical Analysis Conclusion

In the conclusion, it's crucial to reinforce your main arguments and evaluate the author's effectiveness in achieving their goals, whether you're writing an MLA or APA essay format . Reflect on the overall impact of the text on both its immediate audience and society at large, underscoring the importance of your analysis.

Resist the temptation to introduce new ideas in the conclusion. Instead, draw upon the points you've already explored in the body of your essay to strengthen your analysis. Conclude with a poignant statement that resonates with your readers, encapsulating the essence of your interpretation and leaving a lasting impression. This final remark should tie together the threads of your analysis, leaving the reader with a deeper understanding of the text's rhetorical strategies and significance.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

In this section, you'll discover two essay samples that skillfully demonstrate the application of rhetorical analysis. These examples offer insightful insights into the effective use of rhetorical techniques in writing.

5 Rhetorical Analysis Essay Tips

Here are five focused tips that will help you lay a solid foundation for your examination.

  • Dissect Rhetorical Strategies : Break down the text to identify specific rhetorical devices such as metaphor, simile, or parallelism.
  • Evaluate Tone and Diction : Pay attention to the author's tone and word choice. Analyze how these elements contribute to the overall mood of the text.
  • Probe Ethos, Pathos, Logos : Explore how the author establishes credibility (ethos), evokes emotions (pathos), and employs logic (logos) to sway the audience.
  • Contextualize Historical Significance : Consider the historical, cultural, and social backdrop against which the text was written.
  • Craft a Structured Analysis : Organize your essay with a clear introduction, body paragraphs focusing on specific rhetorical elements, and a conclusion that synthesizes your findings.

Final Words

As we near the end, it's important to analyze carefully whether you're examining a speech, an advertisement, or a story. Pay attention to the smart tactics that influence our thinking. It's all about revealing how we communicate and relate to one another. Ultimately, understanding rhetoric offers a fresh perspective on the world beyond just academic success.

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What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

How to structure a rhetorical analysis essay, how to write a rhetorical analysis essay.

Daniel Parker

Daniel Parker

is a seasoned educational writer focusing on scholarship guidance, research papers, and various forms of academic essays including reflective and narrative essays. His expertise also extends to detailed case studies. A scholar with a background in English Literature and Education, Daniel’s work on EssayPro blog aims to support students in achieving academic excellence and securing scholarships. His hobbies include reading classic literature and participating in academic forums.

essay using rhetorical devices

is an expert in nursing and healthcare, with a strong background in history, law, and literature. Holding advanced degrees in nursing and public health, his analytical approach and comprehensive knowledge help students navigate complex topics. On EssayPro blog, Adam provides insightful articles on everything from historical analysis to the intricacies of healthcare policies. In his downtime, he enjoys historical documentaries and volunteering at local clinics.

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How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay–Examples & Template

essay using rhetorical devices

What is a Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

A rhetorical analysis essay is, as the name suggests, an analysis of someone else’s writing (or speech, or advert, or even cartoon) and how they use not only words but also rhetorical techniques to influence their audience in a certain way. A rhetorical analysis is less interested in what the author is saying and more in how they present it, what effect this has on their readers, whether they achieve their goals, and what approach they use to get there. 

Its structure is similar to that of most essays: An Introduction presents your thesis, a Body analyzes the text you have chosen, breaks it down into sections and explains how arguments have been constructed and how each part persuades, informs, or entertains the reader, and a Conclusion section sums up your evaluation. 

Note that your personal opinion on the matter is not relevant for your analysis and that you don’t state anywhere in your essay whether you agree or disagree with the stance the author takes.

In the following, we will define the key rhetorical concepts you need to write a good rhetorical analysis and give you some practical tips on where to start.

Key Rhetorical Concepts

Your goal when writing a rhetorical analysis is to think about and then carefully describe how the author has designed their text so that it has the intended effect on their audience. To do that, you need to consider a number of key rhetorical strategies: Rhetorical appeals (“Ethos”, “Logos”, and “Pathos”), context, as well as claims, supports, and warrants.

Ethos, Logos, and Pathos were introduced by Aristotle, way back in the 4th century BC, as the main ways in which language can be used to persuade an audience. They still represent the basis of any rhetorical analysis and are often referred to as the “rhetorical triangle”. 

These and other rhetorical techniques can all be combined to create the intended effect, and your job as the one analyzing a text is to break the writer’s arguments down and identify the concepts they are based on.

Rhetorical Appeals

Rhetorical appeal #1: ethos.

Ethos refers to the reputation or authority of the writer regarding the topic of their essay or speech and to how they use this to appeal to their audience. Just like we are more likely to buy a product from a brand or vendor we have confidence in than one we don’t know or have reason to distrust, Ethos-driven texts or speeches rely on the reputation of the author to persuade the reader or listener. When you analyze an essay, you should therefore look at how the writer establishes Ethos through rhetorical devices.

Does the author present themselves as an authority on their subject? If so, how? 

Do they highlight how impeccable their own behavior is to make a moral argument? 

Do they present themselves as an expert by listing their qualifications or experience to convince the reader of their opinion on something?

Rhetorical appeal #2: Pathos

The purpose of Pathos-driven rhetoric is to appeal to the reader’s emotions. A common example of pathos as a rhetorical means is adverts by charities that try to make you donate money to a “good cause”. To evoke the intended emotions in the reader, an author may use passionate language, tell personal stories, and employ vivid imagery so that the reader can imagine themselves in a certain situation and feel empathy with or anger towards others.

Rhetorical appeal #3: Logos

Logos, the “logical” appeal, uses reason to persuade. Reason and logic, supported by data, evidence, clearly defined methodology, and well-constructed arguments, are what most academic writing is based on. Emotions, those of the researcher/writer as well as those of the reader, should stay out of such academic texts, as should anyone’s reputation, beliefs, or personal opinions. 

Text and Context

To analyze a piece of writing, a speech, an advertisement, or even a satirical drawing, you need to look beyond the piece of communication and take the context in which it was created and/or published into account. 

Who is the person who wrote the text/drew the cartoon/designed the ad..? What audience are they trying to reach? Where was the piece published and what was happening there around that time? 

A political speech, for example, can be powerful even when read decades later, but the historical context surrounding it is an important aspect of the effect it was intended to have. 

Claims, Supports, and Warrants

To make any kind of argument, a writer needs to put forward specific claims, support them with data or evidence or even a moral or emotional appeal, and connect the dots logically so that the reader can follow along and agree with the points made.

The connections between statements, so-called “warrants”, follow logical reasoning but are not always clearly stated—the author simply assumes the reader understands the underlying logic, whether they present it “explicitly” or “implicitly”. Implicit warrants are commonly used in advertisements where seemingly happy people use certain products, wear certain clothes, accessories, or perfumes, or live certain lifestyles – with the connotation that, first, the product/perfume/lifestyle is what makes that person happy and, second, the reader wants to be as happy as the person in the ad. Some warrants are never clearly stated, and your job when writing a rhetorical analysis essay is therefore to identify them and bring them to light, to evaluate their validity, their effect on the reader, and the use of such means by the writer/creator. 

bust of plato the philosopher, rhetorical analysis essay

What are the Five Rhetorical Situations?

A “rhetorical situation” refers to the circumstance behind a text or other piece of communication that arises from a given context. It explains why a rhetorical piece was created, what its purpose is, and how it was constructed to achieve its aims.

Rhetorical situations can be classified into the following five categories:

Asking such questions when you analyze a text will help you identify all the aspects that play a role in the effect it has on its audience, and will allow you to evaluate whether it achieved its aims or where it may have failed to do so.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline

Analyzing someone else’s work can seem like a big task, but as with every assignment or writing endeavor, you can break it down into smaller, well-defined steps that give you a practical structure to follow. 

To give you an example of how the different parts of your text may look when it’s finished, we will provide you with some excerpts from this rhetorical analysis essay example (which even includes helpful comments) published on the Online Writing Lab website of Excelsior University in Albany, NY. The text that this essay analyzes is this article on why one should or shouldn’t buy an Ipad. If you want more examples so that you can build your own rhetorical analysis template, have a look at this essay on Nabokov’s Lolita and the one provided here about the “Shitty First Drafts” chapter of Anne Lamott’s writing instruction book “Bird by Bird”.

Analyzing the Text

When writing a rhetorical analysis, you don’t choose the concepts or key points you think are relevant or want to address. Rather, you carefully read the text several times asking yourself questions like those listed in the last section on rhetorical situations to identify how the text “works” and how it was written to achieve that effect.

Start with focusing on the author : What do you think was their purpose for writing the text? Do they make one principal claim and then elaborate on that? Or do they discuss different topics? 

Then look at what audience they are talking to: Do they want to make a group of people take some action? Vote for someone? Donate money to a good cause? Who are these people? Is the text reaching this specific audience? Why or why not?

What tone is the author using to address their audience? Are they trying to evoke sympathy? Stir up anger? Are they writing from a personal perspective? Are they painting themselves as an authority on the topic? Are they using academic or informal language?

How does the author support their claims ? What kind of evidence are they presenting? Are they providing explicit or implicit warrants? Are these warrants valid or problematic? Is the provided evidence convincing?  

Asking yourself such questions will help you identify what rhetorical devices a text uses and how well they are put together to achieve a certain aim. Remember, your own opinion and whether you agree with the author are not the point of a rhetorical analysis essay – your task is simply to take the text apart and evaluate it.

If you are still confused about how to write a rhetorical analysis essay, just follow the steps outlined below to write the different parts of your rhetorical analysis: As every other essay, it consists of an Introduction , a Body (the actual analysis), and a Conclusion .

Rhetorical Analysis Introduction

The Introduction section briefly presents the topic of the essay you are analyzing, the author, their main claims, a short summary of the work by you, and your thesis statement . 

Tell the reader what the text you are going to analyze represents (e.g., historically) or why it is relevant (e.g., because it has become some kind of reference for how something is done). Describe what the author claims, asserts, or implies and what techniques they use to make their argument and persuade their audience. Finish off with your thesis statement that prepares the reader for what you are going to present in the next section – do you think that the author’s assumptions/claims/arguments were presented in a logical/appealing/powerful way and reached their audience as intended?

Have a look at an excerpt from the sample essay linked above to see what a rhetorical analysis introduction can look like. See how it introduces the author and article , the context in which it originally appeared , the main claims the author makes , and how this first paragraph ends in a clear thesis statement that the essay will then elaborate on in the following Body section:

Cory Doctorow ’s article on BoingBoing is an older review of the iPad , one of Apple’s most famous products. At the time of this article, however, the iPad was simply the latest Apple product to hit the market and was not yet so popular. Doctorow’s entire career has been entrenched in and around technology. He got his start as a CD-ROM programmer and is now a successful blogger and author. He is currently the co-editor of the BoingBoing blog on which this article was posted. One of his main points in this article comes from Doctorow’s passionate advocacy of free digital media sharing. He argues that the iPad is just another way for established technology companies to control our technological freedom and creativity . In “ Why I Won’t Buy an iPad (and Think You Shouldn’t, Either) ” published on Boing Boing in April of 2010, Cory Doctorow successfully uses his experience with technology, facts about the company Apple, and appeals to consumer needs to convince potential iPad buyers that Apple and its products, specifically the iPad, limit the digital rights of those who use them by controlling and mainstreaming the content that can be used and created on the device . 

Doing the Rhetorical Analysis

The main part of your analysis is the Body , where you dissect the text in detail. Explain what methods the author uses to inform, entertain, and/or persuade the audience. Use Aristotle’s rhetorical triangle and the other key concepts we introduced above. Use quotations from the essay to demonstrate what you mean. Work out why the writer used a certain approach and evaluate (and again, demonstrate using the text itself) how successful they were. Evaluate the effect of each rhetorical technique you identify on the audience and judge whether the effect is in line with the author’s intentions.

To make it easy for the reader to follow your thought process, divide this part of your essay into paragraphs that each focus on one strategy or one concept , and make sure they are all necessary and contribute to the development of your argument(s).

One paragraph of this section of your essay could, for example, look like this:

One example of Doctorow’s position is his comparison of Apple’s iStore to Wal-Mart. This is an appeal to the consumer’s logic—or an appeal to logos. Doctorow wants the reader to take his comparison and consider how an all-powerful corporation like the iStore will affect them. An iPad will only allow for apps and programs purchased through the iStore to be run on it; therefore, a customer must not only purchase an iPad but also any programs he or she wishes to use. Customers cannot create their own programs or modify the hardware in any way. 

As you can see, the author of this sample essay identifies and then explains to the reader how Doctorow uses the concept of Logos to appeal to his readers – not just by pointing out that he does it but by dissecting how it is done.

Rhetorical Analysis Conclusion

The conclusion section of your analysis should restate your main arguments and emphasize once more whether you think the author achieved their goal. Note that this is not the place to introduce new information—only rely on the points you have discussed in the body of your essay. End with a statement that sums up the impact the text has on its audience and maybe society as a whole:

Overall, Doctorow makes a good argument about why there are potentially many better things to drop a great deal of money on instead of the iPad. He gives some valuable information and facts that consumers should take into consideration before going out to purchase the new device. He clearly uses rhetorical tools to help make his case, and, overall, he is effective as a writer, even if, ultimately, he was ineffective in convincing the world not to buy an iPad . 

Frequently Asked Questions about Rhetorical Analysis Essays 

What is a rhetorical analysis essay.

A rhetorical analysis dissects a text or another piece of communication to work out and explain how it impacts its audience, how successfully it achieves its aims, and what rhetorical devices it uses to do that. 

While argumentative essays usually take a stance on a certain topic and argue for it, a rhetorical analysis identifies how someone else constructs their arguments and supports their claims.

What is the correct rhetorical analysis essay format?

Like most other essays, a rhetorical analysis contains an Introduction that presents the thesis statement, a Body that analyzes the piece of communication, explains how arguments have been constructed, and illustrates how each part persuades, informs, or entertains the reader, and a Conclusion section that summarizes the results of the analysis. 

What is the “rhetorical triangle”?

The rhetorical triangle was introduced by Aristotle as the main ways in which language can be used to persuade an audience: Logos appeals to the audience’s reason, Ethos to the writer’s status or authority, and Pathos to the reader’s emotions. Logos, Ethos, and Pathos can all be combined to create the intended effect, and your job as the one analyzing a text is to break the writer’s arguments down and identify what specific concepts each is based on.

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What Is a Rhetorical Device? Definition, List, Examples

  • An Introduction to Punctuation

essay using rhetorical devices

  • B.A., English, Rutgers University

A rhetorical device is a linguistic tool that employs a particular type of sentence structure, sound, or pattern of meaning in order to evoke a particular reaction from an audience. Each rhetorical device is a distinct tool that can be used to construct an argument or make an existing argument more compelling.  

Any time you try to inform, persuade , or argue with someone, you’re engaging in rhetoric. If you’ve ever had an emotional reaction to a speech or changed your mind about an issue after hearing a skilled debater's rebuttal, you've experienced the power of rhetoric. By developing a basic knowledge of rhetorical devices, you can improve your ability to process and convey information while also strengthening your persuasive skills. 

Types of Rhetorical Devices

Rhetorical devices are loosely organized into the following four categories:

  • Logos. Devices in this category seek to convince and persuade via logic and reason, and will usually make use of statistics, cited facts, and statements by authorities to make their point and persuade the listener.
  • Pathos. These rhetorical devices base their appeal in emotion. This could mean invoking sympathy or pity in the listener, or making the audience angry in the service of inspiring action or changing their mind about something.
  • Ethos. Ethical appeals try to convince the audience that the speaker is a credible source, that their words have weight and must be taken seriously because they are serious and have the experience and judgment necessary to decide what’s right.
  • Kairos. This is one of the most difficult concepts in rhetoric; devices in this category are dependent on the idea that the time has come for a particular idea or action. The very timeliness of the idea is part of the argument.

Top Rhetorical Devices

Since rhetoric dates back to ancient times, much of the terminology used to discuss it comes from the original Greek. Despite its ancient origins, however, rhetoric is as vital as ever. The following list contains some of the most important rhetorical devices to understand:

  • Alliteration , a sonic device, is the repetition of the initial sound of each word (e.g. Alan the antelope ate asparagus).
  • Cacophony , a sonic device, is the combination of consonant sounds to create a displeasing effect. 
  • Onomatopoeia , a sonic device, refers to a word that emulates the real-life sound it signifies (e.g. using the word "bang" to signify an explosion).
  • Humor  creates connection and identification with audience members, thus increasing the likelihood that they will agree with the speaker. Humor can also be used to deflate counter-arguments and make opposing points of view appear ridiculous.
  • Anaphora  is the repetition of certain words or phrases at the beginning of sentences to increase the power of a sentiment. Perhaps the best-known example of anaphora is Martin Luther King Jr.'s repetition of the phrase "I have a dream."
  • Meiosis is a type of euphemism that intentionally understates the size or importance of its subject. It can be used to dismiss or diminish a debate opponent's argument. 
  • Hyperbole  is an exaggerated statement that conveys emotion and raises the bar for other speakers. Once you make a hyperbolic statement like “My idea is going to change the world," other speakers will have to respond in kind or their more measured words may seem dull and uninspiring in comparison.
  • Apophasis  is the verbal strategy of bringing up a subject by denying that that very subject should be brought up at all.
  • Anacoluthon  is a sudden swerve into a seemingly unrelated idea in the middle of a sentence. It can seem like a grammatical mistake if handled poorly, but it can also put powerful stress onto the idea being expressed.
  • Chiasmus  is a technique wherein the speaker inverts the order of a phrase in order to create a pretty and powerful sentence. The best example comes from President John F. Kennedy's inaugural address: "Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country ."
  • Anadiplosis  is the use of the same word at the end of one sentence and at the beginning of the subsequent sentence, forming a chain of thought that carries your audience to the point you’ve chosen.
  • Dialogismus  refers to moments when the speaker imagines what someone else is thinking, or speaks in the voice of someone else, in order to explain and then subvert or undermine counterpoints to the original argument.
  • Eutrepismus , one of the most common rhetorical devices, is simply the act of stating points in the form of a numbered list. Why is it useful? First off, this devices makes information seem official and authoritative. Second, it gives speech a sense of order and clarity. And third, it helps the listener keep track of the speaker's points.
  • Hypophora  is the trick of posing a question and then immediately supplying the answer. Do you know why hypophora is useful? It's useful because it stimulates listener interest and creates a clear transition point in the speech.
  • Expeditio  is the trick of listing a series of possibilities and then explaining why all but one of those possibilities are non-starters. This device makes it seem as though all choices have been considered, when in fact you've been steering your audience towards the one choice you desired all along.
  • Antiphrasis  is another word for irony. Antiphrasis refers to a statement whose actual meaning is the opposite of the literal meaning of the words within it.
  • Asterismos. Look, this is the technique of inserting a useless but attention-grabbing word in front of your sentence in order to grab the audience’s attention. It's useful if you think your listeners are getting a bit bored and restless.

Examples of Rhetorical Devices

Rhetoric isn’t just for debates and arguments. These devices are used in everyday speech, fiction and screenwriting, legal arguments, and more. Consider these famous examples and their impact on their audience.

  • “ Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” – Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back . Rhetorical Device : Anadiplosis. The pairs of words at the beginning and ending of each sentence give the impression that the logic invoked is unassailable and perfectly assembled.
  • “ Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” —President John F. Kennedy. Rhetorical Device : Chiasmus. The inversion of the phrase can do and the word country creates a sense of balance in the sentence that reinforces the sense of correctness.
  • "I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent’s youth and inexperience." –President Ronald Reagan Rhetorical Device : Apophasis. In this quip from a presidential debate, Reagan expresses mock reluctance to comment on his opponent's age, which ultimately does the job of raising the point of his opponent's age.  
  • “ But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.” —Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address . Rhetorical Device : Anaphora. Lincoln’s use of repetition gives his words a sense of rhythm that emphasizes his message. This is also an example of kairos : Lincoln senses that the public has a need to justify the slaughter of the Civil War, and thus decides to make this statement appealing to the higher purpose of abolishing slavery. 
  • “ Ladies and gentlemen, I've been to Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and I can say without hyperbole that this is a million times worse than all of them put together.” – The Simpsons . Rhetorical Device : Hyperbole. Here, hyperbole is used to humorous effect in order to undermine the superficial point of the sentence.
  • Rhetoric. The discipline of discourse and persuasion via verbal argument.
  • Rhetorical Device. A tool used in the course of rhetoric, employing specific sentence structure, sounds, and imagery to attain a desired response.
  • Logos. The category of rhetorical devices that appeal to logic and reason. 
  • Pathos. The category of rhetorical devices that appeal to emotions.
  • Ethos.  The category of rhetorical devices that appeals to a sense of credibility. 
  • Kairos.  The concept of “right place, right time” in rhetoric, wherein a specific rhetorical device becomes effective because of circumstances surrounding its use.
  • “16 Rhetorical Devices That Will Improve Your Public Speaking.” Duarte , 19 Mar. 2018, www.duarte.com/presentation-skills-resources/rhetoric-isnt-a-bad-thing-16-rhetorical-devices-regularly-used-by-steve-jobs/.
  • Home - Ethos, Pathos, and Logos, the Modes of Persuasion ‒ Explanation and Examples , pathosethoslogos.com/ .
  • McKean, Erin. “Rhetorical Devices.” Boston.com , The Boston Globe, 23 Jan. 2011, archive.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2011/01/23/rhetorical_devices/ .
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Using Rhetorical Strategies for Persuasion

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There are three types of rhetorical appeals, or persuasive strategies, used in arguments to support claims and respond to opposing arguments. A good argument will generally use a combination of all three appeals to make its case.

Logos or the appeal to reason relies on logic or reason. Logos often depends on the use of inductive or deductive reasoning.

Inductive reasoning takes a specific representative case or facts and then draws generalizations or conclusions from them. Inductive reasoning must be based on a sufficient amount of reliable evidence. In other words, the facts you draw on must fairly represent the larger situation or population. Example:

In this example the specific case of fair trade agreements with coffee producers is being used as the starting point for the claim. Because these agreements have worked the author concludes that it could work for other farmers as well.

Deductive reasoning begins with a generalization and then applies it to a specific case. The generalization you start with must have been based on a sufficient amount of reliable evidence.Example:

In this example the author starts with a large claim, that genetically modified seeds have been problematic everywhere, and from this draws the more localized or specific conclusion that Mexico will be affected in the same way.

Avoid Logical Fallacies

These are some common errors in reasoning that will undermine the logic of your argument. Also, watch out for these slips in other people's arguments.

Slippery slope: This is a conclusion based on the premise that if A happens, then eventually through a series of small steps, through B, C,..., X, Y, Z will happen, too, basically equating A and Z. So, if we don't want Z to occur A must not be allowed to occur either. Example:

In this example the author is equating banning Hummers with banning all cars, which is not the same thing.

Hasty Generalization: This is a conclusion based on insufficient or biased evidence. In other words, you are rushing to a conclusion before you have all the relevant facts. Example:

In this example the author is basing their evaluation of the entire course on only one class, and on the first day which is notoriously boring and full of housekeeping tasks for most courses. To make a fair and reasonable evaluation the author must attend several classes, and possibly even examine the textbook, talk to the professor, or talk to others who have previously finished the course in order to have sufficient evidence to base a conclusion on.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc: This is a conclusion that assumes that if 'A' occurred after 'B' then 'B' must have caused 'A.' Example:

In this example the author assumes that if one event chronologically follows another the first event must have caused the second. But the illness could have been caused by the burrito the night before, a flu bug that had been working on the body for days, or a chemical spill across campus. There is no reason, without more evidence, to assume the water caused the person to be sick.

Genetic Fallacy: A conclusion is based on an argument that the origins of a person, idea, institute, or theory determine its character, nature, or worth. Example:

In this example the author is equating the character of a car with the character of the people who built the car.

Begging the Claim: The conclusion that the writer should prove is validated within the claim. Example:

Arguing that coal pollutes the earth and thus should be banned would be logical. But the very conclusion that should be proved, that coal causes enough pollution to warrant banning its use, is already assumed in the claim by referring to it as "filthy and polluting."

Circular Argument: This restates the argument rather than actually proving it. Example:

In this example the conclusion that Bush is a "good communicator" and the evidence used to prove it "he speaks effectively" are basically the same idea. Specific evidence such as using everyday language, breaking down complex problems, or illustrating his points with humorous stories would be needed to prove either half of the sentence.

Either/or: This is a conclusion that oversimplifies the argument by reducing it to only two sides or choices. Example:

In this example where two choices are presented as the only options, yet the author ignores a range of choices in between such as developing cleaner technology, car sharing systems for necessities and emergencies, or better community planning to discourage daily driving.

Ad hominem: This is an attack on the character of a person rather than their opinions or arguments. Example:

In this example the author doesn't even name particular strategies Green Peace has suggested, much less evaluate those strategies on their merits. Instead, the author attacks the characters of the individuals in the group.

Ad populum: This is an emotional appeal that speaks to positive (such as patriotism, religion, democracy) or negative (such as terrorism or fascism) concepts rather than the real issue at hand. Example:

In this example the author equates being a "true American," a concept that people want to be associated with, particularly in a time of war, with allowing people to buy any vehicle they want even though there is no inherent connection between the two.

Red Herring: This is a diversionary tactic that avoids the key issues, often by avoiding opposing arguments rather than addressing them. Example:

In this example the author switches the discussion away from the safety of the food and talks instead about an economic issue, the livelihood of those catching fish. While one issue may affect the other, it does not mean we should ignore possible safety issues because of possible economic consequences to a few individuals.

Ethos or the ethical appeal is based on the character, credibility, or reliability of the writer. There are many ways to establish good character and credibility as an author:

  • Use only credible, reliable sources to build your argument and cite those sources properly.
  • Respect the reader by stating the opposing position accurately.
  • Establish common ground with your audience. Most of the time, this can be done by acknowledging values and beliefs shared by those on both sides of the argument.
  • If appropriate for the assignment, disclose why you are interested in this topic or what personal experiences you have had with the topic.
  • Organize your argument in a logical, easy to follow manner. You can use the Toulmin method of logic or a simple pattern such as chronological order, most general to most detailed example, earliest to most recent example, etc.
  • Proofread the argument. Too many careless grammar mistakes cast doubt on your character as a writer.

Pathos , or emotional appeal, appeals to an audience's needs, values, and emotional sensibilities.  Pathos can also be understood as an appeal to audience's disposition to a topic, evidence, or argument (especially appropriate to academic discourse). 

Argument emphasizes reason, but used properly there is often a place for emotion as well. Emotional appeals can use sources such as interviews and individual stories to paint a more legitimate and moving picture of reality or illuminate the truth. For example, telling the story of a single child who has been abused may make for a more persuasive argument than simply the number of children abused each year because it would give a human face to the numbers.  Academic arguments in particular ​benefit from understanding pathos as appealing to an audience's academic disposition.

Only use an emotional appeal if it truly supports the claim you are making, not as a way to distract from the real issues of debate. An argument should never use emotion to misrepresent the topic or frighten people.

9.3 Glance at Genre: Rhetorical Strategies

Learning outcomes.

By the end of this section, you will be able to:

  • Identify key rhetorical strategies that authors use to persuade readers.
  • Analyze texts to demonstrate understanding of key rhetorical concepts.
  • Identify genre conventions and explain how they are shaped by purpose, culture, and expectation.

Rhetorical analysis is the genre , or type of writing, that examines the way writers and speakers use language to influence readers. Rather than describing or summarizing content—the what of characters or themes—rhetorical analysis focuses on the individual parts of a text to show how language works to create the effects the writer wants. In other words, in addition to content, writers use rhetorical strategies to deliver and strengthen their ideas and thus influence their readers. A rhetorical analysis should, therefore, address the rhetorical situation , or conditions of communication that surround the rhetoric. These consist of the author (who), message (what), readers (to whom), purpose (why), means (how), context (where and when), and culture (community).

Culture refers to the way of life that a defined group of people establish. Their beliefs, laws, customs, and habits represent them as a group and may provide a signature to identify who they are and what they have accomplished. Rhetorical analysis must take these factors into full consideration, especially because cultural patterns are constantly changing and evolving with new knowledge and behaviors. Moreover, culture will vary greatly from group to group. Subgroups within a larger culture—for example, minorities within a majority population—may have distinct expressions of culture. When rhetorical analysis approaches language of a particular culture, questions may arise about who is best equipped to do the analysis and on what criteria, based on time and place.

Writers of rhetorical analyses consider these elements carefully and ask questions based on them. What are the goals of the author of the text? What factors are at play in the author’s choice of strategies used to make a rhetorical impact? What may occur in the interaction between the writer and reader? Will readers approach the piece neutrally, with no previous opinions? Are they likely to agree because they are of the same opinion, or are they hostile and ready to reject the arguments? Have they heard or read the ideas before? Will the ideas be too radical or too familiar? Are readers likely to see the author as sharing the field with them or as a stranger who must win their confidence?

The Workings of Rhetorical Analysis

The aim of rhetorical analysis is not to find agreement with or praise for the writer, although either may be implied or stated. The essential task of analyzing requires a detachment that will convince the readers of the validity and effectiveness (or lack thereof) of the writing by identifying the writer’s tools and what they accomplish.

As you formulate your rhetorical analysis, be aware of the following approaches and strategies that writers use to persuade an audience. Your goal will be to identify them in your analysis, explain their use, and evaluate their effectiveness.

  • Establishing credibility. Writers include their credentials or experience with the subject to ensure that readers will take them seriously as someone who knows what they’re talking about. To reinforce their authority, they cite reliable sources as support for their points.
  • Sharing personal experience. Sharing a personal experience related to the subject enhances credibility and may also appeal to readers’ emotions.
  • Targeting emotional concerns. By specifically addressing those incidents or outcomes that readers may fear or desire, the author can rally them to take a particular position. Emotional concerns also include appeals to the five senses and to broader sentiments such as love, loyalty, anger, justice, or patriotism.
  • Using devices that draw attention to claims. These include literary devices such as parallelism, repetition, and rhetorical questions that writers and speakers use to emphasize points and unify a text.
  • Supporting claims with convincing evidence. Ways of supporting claims include quoting, summarizing, or paraphrasing expert opinions; relating anecdotes and examples; and citing appropriate statistics and facts.
  • Acknowledging the opposition. If a writer makes a point of explaining other groups’ positions carefully and respectfully, readers from those groups, as well as the target audience, are more likely to be responsive to the writer. By acknowledging the opposition, writers show they have considered opposing views and can then demonstrate that their position is preferable.
  • Questioning the motivation of the opposition. By exposing others’ possibly conflicting interests, the writer can undermine the credibility of an opponent’s character or argument.

In addition to these, writers may use more questionable rhetorical devices to persuade readers. While the techniques of each strategy differ, all lead away from the actual argument and seek to persuade through means other than reasonable, logical thought. Such strategies include bandwagon, ad hominem (name-calling), bait and switch, and more. Recall the roommates’ use of some of these in their efforts at persuasion in Breaking the Whole into Its Parts .

Rhetorical Strategies in Advertising and Public Policy

The strategies and other devices of rhetorical writing that are open to analysis are present in many types of communication, including multimodal examples such as advertisements that combine visuals with carefully crafted texts, dialogue, and voice-over.

Look at the M&Ms commercial, for example, in this collection of Super Bowl ads. Starting at minute 4:57, the prize-winning ad for M&Ms initially shows the widely recognizable candy in its multiple colors as both speaking cartoon figures and symbols of human behavior. The simple pitch: when people have offended others in one of a range of interpersonal blunders, the candy is offered as a peace offering. For example, the first image shows a man on a plane bumping into another passenger’s seat, causing him to spill his drink. The offender then offers the passenger a package of M&Ms. What is the rhetorical strategy behind the situation and the gesture? The ad appeals to pathos in the sense that people feel the need to be liked. Despite the humorous twist in the comment that he kicked the seat on purpose, the offending man nonetheless doesn’t want to be disliked. Nor do the others who commit other blunders. The sense of taste—sweetness—also comes into play, appealing to the senses, as does the sense of sight in the images of the colorful candy.

Furthermore, placing the ad during the Super Bowl targets an audience of game watchers whose ages, interests, and habits have been studied. They may be in a snacking frame of mind, so the appeal of candy is timely (kairos). The ad combines sophistication, appropriate adult behavior, and childishly amusing animation and personification. Seeing the product makes it more memorable. On the other hand, note the subtle use of the bandwagon fallacy: different people in different situations are doing the same thing—offering M&Ms. The bandwagon implication is that if you do something you’re sorry for or should be sorry for (or even if you don’t), giving out M&Ms is the way to apologize and be likable. Because travelers, businesspeople, the religiously observant, and others from different walks of life are doing it, so should you.

Figure 9.4 is an image from the U.S. Forest Service that also reflects the use of rhetorical strategies. Smokey Bear is a symbol created in 1944 to raise awareness of the danger of forest fires. Images of this gentle, personified bear are often accompanied by the slogan “Remember . . . only you can prevent forest fires” or a variation of it. The image shows Smokey dressed in rolled-up jeans, a name belt, and a ranger’s hat. He is reading letters delivered by a mail truck and sent to his own ZIP code, 20252, from children and adults promising to cooperate with his environmental efforts. The entire image is among the most recognizable of American cultural symbols.

The continuing identification of the bear and his appeal over decades is an example of the powerful use of rhetorical devices that speak without seeming to become dated and lose impact. First, a wild and dangerous animal is personified and made credible so that the credibility (ethos) of Smokey as a domesticated father figure with a fuzzy, playful cub climbing on the family mailbox removes any sense of danger and instead makes him into a believable voice for safety. No humans are emphasized in the illustration; the mail truck is seen only in the distance after having delivered another stack of fan mail. Other small animals are present in the background, as are familiar household items such as a shovel, a mailbox, an American flag, a boat on crystal clear water, and the playful images of the ranger’s hat and rolled-up jeans on crossed legs. The drawing features bright primary colors and the dark forest green of bountiful nature. The print medium in the center of the illustration, the sign reading “Prevent forest fires,” unifies the visual.

Because the images are emotionally accessible to children as well as adults, they appeal to widely shared pathos. The unspoken implication is that preventing forest fires will allow these young animals and forest plants to live rather than die in a carelessly started—and deadly—fire. In addition, it will allow human life to continue safely and pleasurably, as viewers can see, far in the background, people sailing and enjoying the water. If children’s wisdom and receptivity to images are present, this idealized picture has great appeal. Rather than a harsh rebuke for adult negligence, the lesson of Smokey relies on the power of rhetoric to modify behavior with specific, carefully crafted appeals. Yet the most frequently used slogan, “Only you can prevent forest fires,” is an example of hyperbole. Certainly “you” are not the sole person responsible for starting or preventing fires. Other people and other factors are at work aside from yourself.

More explicit, however, is this earlier image:

The rhetorical strategy again is pathos, appealing to a sense of guilt. If these children can help prevent fires, then surely adults can do the same, as they are likely more knowledgeable and care for the safety and health of their children.

Rhetorical Analysis: Key Terms

Rhetorical appeals.

When doing a rhetorical analysis, notice these appeals writers use to persuade their audiences.

  • Ethos : believable, authoritative voice that elicits credibility and audience trust.
  • Kairos : sense of appropriate timing when attempting to persuade.
  • Logos : credible information—facts, reasons, or examples—presented as evidence that moves toward a sensible and acceptable conclusion.
  • Pathos : the use of appeals to feelings and emotions shared by an audience. Some of the general categories are fear, guilt, anger, love, loyalty, patriotism, and duty.

Rhetorical Devices and Language Use

When doing a rhetorical analysis, notice these devices writers use to organize and emphasize their writing.

  • Figurative language : similes and metaphors. Comparing one aspect of things that in other ways are completely different is an essential part of rhetorical language. Simile example: “The treasure chest of nature’s wonders shone like a pirate’s gold tooth.” Metaphor example: “The pizza was a disk of saucy sunlight.”
  • Numerical data : statistics and figures. When accurate, numerical data can strengthen an argument.
  • Parallel structure : repetition of the same pattern of words to show that ideas are equally significant. Parallel structure, or parallelism, calls attention to these ideas, achieves balance, and makes the statements more memorable. Example: “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.”
  • Personification : giving an inanimate or nonhuman object human characteristics to make it seem alive and relatable. Examples: “The virus packed its bags and spread across the ocean”; “Twitter erupted in outrage.”
  • Repetition : repeating a single word or group of words to build emphasis. Example: “The first underline cause end underline is poverty; the second underline cause end underline is poor health; the third underline cause end underline is discrimination. These underline causes end underline have been studied, but to what effect?”
  • Rhetorical question : a question that is not expected to be answered, one for which there is no answer, or one that creates a dramatic effect. Examples: “Has it occurred to you to ask why the economy is so unstable? A first point to consider is . . .”; “Do you think poverty will go away by itself?”
  • Understatement : presenting something as less important than it is as a way of distancing from the truth. Understatement is often used sarcastically or ironically. Example: “It may not have occurred to politicians that poverty leads to a host of health-related issues.”

Rhetorical Fallacies

When doing a rhetorical analysis, notice these fallacies writers may use to unethically persuade their audiences.

  • Ad hominem : logical fallacy that attempts to discredit a person, not an argument. Ad hominem , meaning “against the man,” is often termed name-calling . Examples: “She’s just a leftover from another era who can’t accept change”; “He’s a stupid bully and an outright thief.”
  • Bait and switch : logical fallacy that introduces a point about one thing that is likely to be accepted and then changes the terms once initial agreement occurs. Example: “Buy these phones at this price before they’re all gone!” When you go to buy one, moments later, the phones are gone—and they’re far more expensive.
  • Bandwagon : logical fallacy often used in advertising and propaganda. It tries to make people do something or think a certain way because everyone is doing it, and if they don’t go along, they will be excluded. Example: “Everyone is buying these sneakers; get yours now before you’re left out.” Negative example: “This style is so dated; no one wears things like this now.”
  • Causal fallacy : the faulty logic of claiming or believing that an event that follows another event is the result of it. For example, losing your keys after going to a concert does not mean the events are connected causally; going to the concert did not cause you to lose your keys.
  • Hyperbole : exaggeration. Hyperbole is one of the staples of advertising language. Examples: “Season’s Best Peppermint Glazed Delights”; “I have a ton of homework.”

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Chapter 6: Thinking and Analyzing Rhetorically

6.4 Rhetorical Appeals: Logos, Pathos, and Ethos Defined

Melanie Gagich & Emilie Zickel

Rhetoric, as the previous chapters have discussed, is the way that authors use and manipulate language in order to persuade an audience. Once we understand the rhetorical situation out of which a text is created (why it was written, for whom it was written, by whom it was written, how the medium in which it was written creates certain constraints, or perhaps freedoms of expression), we can look at how all of those contextual elements shape the author’s creation of the text.

We can look first at the classical rhetorical appeals, which are the three ways to classify authors’ intellectual, moral, and emotional approaches to getting the audience to have the reaction that the author hopes for.

Rhetorical Appeals

Rhetorical appeals refer to ethos, pathos, and logos. These are classical Greek terms, dating back to Aristotle, who is traditionally seen as the father of rhetoric. To be rhetorically effective (and thus persuasive), an author must engage the audience in a variety of compelling ways, which involves carefully choosing how to craft his or her argument so that the outcome, audience agreement with the argument or point, is achieved. Aristotle defined these modes of engagement and gave them the terms that we still use today: logos, pathos, and ethos.

Logos: Appeal to Logic

Logic. Reason. Rationality. Logos is brainy and intellectual, cool, calm, collected, objective.

When an author relies on logos, it means that he or she is using logic, careful structure, and objective evidence to appeal to the audience. An author can appeal to an audience’s intellect by using information that can be fact checked (using multiple sources) and thorough explanations to support key points. Additionally, providing a solid and non-biased explanation of one’s argument is a great way for an author to invoke logos.

For example, if I were trying to convince my students to complete their homework, I might explain that I understand everyone is busy and they have other classes (non-biased), but the homework will help them get a better grade on their test (explanation). I could add to this explanation by providing statistics showing the number of students who failed and didn’t complete their homework versus the number of students who passed and did complete their homework (factual evidence).

Logical appeals rest on rational modes of thinking , such as

  • Comparison –  a comparison between one thing (with regard to your topic) and another, similar thing to help support your claim. It is important that the comparison is fair and valid – the things being compared must share significant traits of similarity.
  • Cause/effect thinking –  you argue that X has caused Y, or that X is likely to cause Y to help support your claim. Be careful with the latter – it can be difficult to predict that something “will” happen in the future.
  • Deductive reasoning –  starting with a broad, general claim/example and using it to support a more specific point or claim
  • Inductive reasoning –  using several specific examples or cases to make a broad generalization
  • Exemplification –  use of many examples or a variety of evidence to support a single point
  • Elaboration – moving beyond just including a fact, but explaining the significance or relevance of that fact
  • Coherent thought – maintaining a well organized line of reasoning; not repeating ideas or jumping around

Pathos: Appeal to Emotions

When an author relies on pathos, it means that he or she is trying to tap into the audience’s emotions to get them to agree with the author’s claim. An author using pathetic appeals wants the audience to feel something: anger, pride, joy, rage, or happiness.  For example, many of us have seen the ASPCA commercials that use photographs of injured puppies, or sad-looking kittens, and slow, depressing music to emotionally persuade their audience to donate money.

Pathos-based rhetorical strategies are any strategies that get the audience to “open up” to the topic, the argument, or to the author. Emotions can make us vulnerable, and an author can use this vulnerability to get the audience to believe that his or her argument is a compelling one.

Pathetic appeals might include

  • Expressive descriptions of people, places, or events that help the reader to feel or experience those events
  • Vivid imagery  of people, places or events that help the reader to feel like he or she is seeing  those events
  • Sharing  personal stories that make the reader feel a connection to, or empathy for, the person being described
  • Using emotion-laden   vocabulary  as a way to put the reader into that specific emotional mindset (what is the author trying to make the audience feel? and how is he or she doing that?)
  • Using any information that will evoke an emotional response from the audience . This could involve making the audience feel empathy or disgust for the person/group/event being discussed, or perhaps connection to or rejection of the person/group/event being discussed.

When reading a text, try to locate when the author is trying to convince the reader using emotions because, if used to excess, pathetic appeals can indicate a lack of substance or emotional manipulation of the audience. See the links below about fallacious pathos for more information.

Ethos: Appeal to Values/Trust

Ethical appeals have two facets: audience values and authorial credibility/character.

On the one hand, when an author makes an ethical appeal, he or she is attempting to  tap into the  values or ideologies that the audience holds , for example, patriotism, tradition, justice, equality, dignity for all humankind, self preservation, or other specific social, religious or philosophical values (Christian values, socialism, capitalism, feminism, etc.). These values can sometimes feel very close to emotions, but they are felt on a social level rather than only on a personal level. When an author evokes the values that the audience cares about as a way to justify or support his or her argument, we classify that as ethos. The audience will feel that the author is making an argument that is “right” (in the sense of moral “right”-ness, i.e., “My argument rests upon that values that matter to you. Therefore, you should accept my argument”). This first part of the definition of ethos, then, is focused on the audience’s values.

On the other hand, this sense of referencing what is “right” in an ethical appeal connects to the other sense of ethos: the  author. Ethos that is centered on the author revolves around two concepts: the credibility of the author and his or her character.

Credibility of the speaker/author is determined by his or her knowledge and expertise in the subject at hand. For example, if you are learning about Einstein’s Theory of Relativity, would you rather learn from a professor of physics or a cousin who took two science classes in high school thirty years ago? It is fair to say that, in general, the professor of physics would have more credibility to discuss the topic of physics. To establish his or her credibility, a n author may draw attention to who he or she is or what kinds of experience he or she has with the topic being discussed as an ethical appeal (i.e., “Because I have experience with this topic –  and I know my stuff! – you should trust what I am saying about this topic”). Some authors do not have to establish their credibility because the audience already knows who they are and that they are credible.

Character  is another aspect of ethos, and it   is different from credibility because it involves personal history and even personality traits. A person can be credible but lack character or vice versa. For example, in politics, sometimes the most experienced candidates – those who might be the most credible candidates – fail to win elections because voters do not accept their character. Politicians take pains to shape their character as leaders who have the interests of the voters at heart. The candidate who successfully proves to the voters (the audience) that he or she has the type of character that they can trust is more likely to win.

Thus, ethos comes down to trust. How can the author get the audience to trust him or her so that they will accept his or her argument? How can the the author make him or herself appear as a credible speaker who embodies the character traits that the audience values?

In building ethical appeals, we see authors

  • Referring either directly or indirectly to the values that matter to the intended audience (so that the audience will trust the speaker)
  • Using language, phrasing, imagery, or other writing styles common to people who hold those values, thereby “talking the talk” of people with those values (again, so that the audience is inclined to trust the speaker)
  • Referring to their experience and/or authority with the topic (and therefore demonstrating their credibility)
  • Referring to their own character, or making an effort to build their character in the text

When reading, you should always think about the author’s credibility regarding the subject as well as his or her character. Here is an example of a rhetorical move that connects with ethos: when reading an article about abortion, the author mentions that she has had an abortion. That is an example of an ethical move because the author is creating credibility via anecdotal evidence and first person narrative. In a rhetorical analysis project, it would be up to you, the analyzer, to point out this move and associate it with a rhetorical strategy.

 When writers misuse Logos, Pathos, or Ethos, arguments can be weakened

Above, we defined and described what logos, pathos, and ethos are and why authors may use those strategies. Sometimes, using a combination of logical, pathetic, and ethical appeals leads to a sound, balanced, and persuasive argument. It is important to understand, though, that using rhetorical appeals does not always lead to a sound, balanced argument.

In fact, any of the appeals could be misused or overused. When that happens, arguments can be weakened.

To see what a misuse of logical appeals might consist of, see the next chapter,   Logical Fallacies.

To see how authors can overuse emotional appeals and turn-off their target audience, visit the following link from WritingCommons.org :   Fallacious Pathos . 

To see how ethos can be misused or used in a manner that may be misleading, visit the following link to WritingCommons.org :  Fallacious Ethos

A Guide to Rhetoric, Genre, and Success in First-Year Writing by Melanie Gagich & Emilie Zickel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Hey everyone! I need to write a rhetorical analysis essay for my English class. What are some common rhetorical devices that I should look for and analyze in the text? Also, do you have any tips on how to structure the essay and present my arguments clearly? Thanks!

Hi there! Rhetorical analysis essays focus on examining how an author uses different rhetorical devices to achieve their purpose. Here's a list of common rhetorical devices that you might want to analyze:

1. Pathos: Emotional appeal to the audience

2. Ethos: Establishing credibility and trustworthiness of the writer or speaker

3. Logos: Use of logical reasoning and evidence

4. Allusion: A reference to another work, event, or person

5. Anaphora: Repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of successive sentences or clauses

6. Antithesis: The juxtaposition of contrasting ideas, usually in parallel structure

7. Hyperbole: Deliberate exaggeration for emphasis

8. Irony: When words are used to convey a meaning opposite to their usual meaning

9. Metaphor: A comparison between two unlike things without using "like" or "as"

10. Simile: A comparison between two unlike things using "like" or "as"

11. Personification: Giving human characteristics to inanimate objects, animals, or ideas

For structuring your essay and presenting your arguments clearly, consider the following tips:

1. Introduction: Start with an engaging opening sentence (hook), followed by a brief background of the text and its author. Introduce your thesis statement, which should make a claim about the effectiveness of the rhetorical devices used in the text.

2. Body paragraphs: Organize your body paragraphs around specific rhetorical devices or strategies. Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that states the main idea or rhetorical device you'll be discussing. Then, provide textual evidence (quotes) and analyze how the chosen device contributes to the author's purpose. Remember to explain the significance of each device and its impact on the audience.

3. Conclusion: Restate your thesis statement in different words. Sum up your main points and briefly discuss the broader implications of your analysis.

Remember to maintain a formal and objective tone throughout the essay. Avoid using the first person ("I") and keep your focus on the author's use of rhetorical devices rather than your own opinions or emotions. Proofread your work for clarity and conciseness, and make sure to cite your sources properly.

Good luck with your rhetorical analysis essay!

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Rhetorical Devices List w/ Examples

37 min read • may 10, 2022

Sumi Vora

List of Rhetorical Devices & Terms

Taking AP English Language? This is a list of main rhetorical device terms that you should know for the exam as well as definitions & examples for each. These terms will mostly show up on the multiple-choice section, so it’s important to be able to identify them in a work of writing, but you won’t actually have to use the device in your own writing. Each term includes a definition, an example of the rhetorical device being used in a text, and an example of analysis that might be used in an essay.

In your essays, you will need to identify which devices are used and their effect on the work as a whole. Sometimes, a writer will use a device (for example: alliteration), but it doesn’t have a huge effect on the work or the writer’s argument. In that case, don't spend an entire paragraph talking about alliteration. You need to focus on what matters most, and you need to specifically show how  these choices make the work effective, and why they are so important. Yes, the rhetorical analysis essay is an argument essay just like the other two.

You aren't required to use rhetorical vocabulary in your essays at all — in fact, it’s probably better if you don’t. If you force the vocabulary into your essay, you risk sounding clunky, and the vocabulary almost always leads you to switch to passive voice. Instead, just describe what is happening! (ex: The author uses imagery → The author’s vivid images). This method also ensures that you are showing how the device is contributing to the work, rather than simply identifying it.

And, without further ado… Here are some rhetorical devices you should know for the AP Lang exam:

1. aesthetic

Definition: This rhetorical device references to artistic elements or expressions within a textual work

Example of aesthetic: 

“The Flapper” by Dorothy Parker (1922)

The Playful flapper here we see,

The fairest of the fair.

She's not what Grandma used to be, —

You might say, au contraire.Her girlish ways may make a stir,

Her manners cause a scene,

But there is no more harm in her

Than in a submarine.

She nightly knocks for many a goal

The usual dancing men.

Her speed is great, but her control

Is something else again.

All spotlights focus on her pranks.

All tongues her prowess herald.

For which she well may render thanks

To God and Scott Fitzgerald.

Her golden rule is plain enough —

Just get them young and treat them

Analysis:  Parker describes the aesthetic  of flapper culture in her poem in order to support women who defied social norms and who adopted more liberal attitudes towards makeup, drinking, smoking, and sex.

Note: aesthetic is not necessarily a specific device; it is the bigger picture. An author would use a rhetorical device (e.g. imagery, allusions, etc.) to achieve a certain aesthetic.

2. allegory

Definition: This rhetorical device references the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence

Allegory Example:  

Animal Farm  by George Orwell (1945)

All that year the animals worked like slaves. But they were happy in their work; they grudged no effort or sacrifice, well aware that everything they did was for the benefit of themselves and those of their kind who would come after them, and not for a pack of idle, thieving human beings.

Analysis:  In George Orwell’s allegorical  novel Animal Farm , overworked farm animals rise up against their owner and subscribe to the concepts of Animalism, which proclaims that “all men are enemies” and “all animals are comrades.” The animals, who now work “like slaves” for the “benefit of themselves and those of that their kind,” run a society that mirrors that of the Russian Revolution. Orwell’s use of animals to describe contemporary political events creates distance between his novel and his potentially incendiary critique of the rise of Communism, which makes the topic more approachable.

3. alliteration  

Definition: This rhetorical device references the repetition of the same sound at the beginning of successive words

Alliteration Example:  

Ronald Reagan’s Address at the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial (1988)

Our liberties, our values — all for which America stands — is safe today because brave men and women have been ready to face the fire at freedom's front. And we thank God for them.

Analysis:  Reagan acknowledges that the veterans of the Vietnam War were prepared to “face the fire at freedom’s front.” Through his use of alliteration , Reagan emphasizes the soldiers’ willingness to sacrifice themselves for freedom, focusing the audience’s attention on the value of the veterans’ deeds.

4. allusion

Definition: This rhetorical device is a reference, explicit or implicit, to something in previous literature or history

Allusion Example:  

“I Have a Dream” by Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963)

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

Analysis:  King begins his speech with both an indirect and direct allusion  to Abraham Lincoln’s “Emancipation Proclamation.” The first phrase of King’s speech, “Five score years ago,” directly mirrors Lincoln’s historic speech, which opens with “four score and seven years ago.” By associating himself with a prominent figure in the fight against injustice, King implies that he shares Lincoln’s values and establishes a sympathetic relationship with his audience.

5. ambiguity

Definition: This rhetorical device references a word, phrase, or sentence whose meaning can be interpreted in more than one way

Ambiguity Example:  

The Awakening  by Kate Chopin (1899)

Exhaustion was pressing upon and overpowering her.

"Good-by— because I love you." He did not know; he did not understand. He would never understand. Perhaps Doctor Mandelet would have understood if she had seen him — but it was too late; the shore was far behind her. And her strength was gone.

Analysis:  At the end of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening , Edna lends herself to the tide with the vague last words, “good-by— because I love you,” leaving Victor to question whether her death was intentional. Chopin’s use of ambiguity  to depict Enda’s death illustrates Victor’s lack of closure and his feeling of utter helplessness and confusion as he watches his loved one, both physically and metaphorically, swept away by the current.

Definition: This rhetorical device references an extended comparison between two things/instances/people etc. that share some similarity to make a point

Analogy Example:  

“What True Education Should Do” by Sydney J. Harris (1994)

Pupils are more like oysters than sausages. The job of teaching is not to stuff them and then seal them up, but to help them open and reveal the riches within. There are pearls in each of us, if only we knew how to cultivate them with ardor and persistence.

Analysis:  Harris compares students to oysters whom we should help “open and reveal the riches within.” Through her analogy , Harris establishes a basis on which readers can shift their perspective. Rather than simply listing specific traits of students, Harris helps her readers change their perception of how students should be treated, and gives readers a concrete and memorable lense through which readers should view the classroom.

7. anaphora

Definition: This rhetorical device references repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of successive clauses, sentences, or lines

Anaphora Example:  

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

Analysis:  King repeats the phrase, “I have a dream” to emphasize his vision for racial equality in the United States. By employing anaphora  to underscore his beliefs, King connects his ideas with a common motif, helping his audience follow his speech and make it more memorable. King thus invites his audience to share in his “dream,” as he reminds them that it is their dreams for a more equal future that unite their movement.

8. anecdote

Definition: This rhetorical device references a usually short narrative of an interesting, amusing, or biographical incident

Anecdote Example:  

“Gender Equality is Your Issue Too” by Emma Watson (2014)

I started questioning gender-based assumptions when at eight I was confused at being called “bossy,” because I wanted to direct the plays we would put on for our parents—but the boys were not. When at 14 I started being sexualized by certain elements of the press. When at 15 my girlfriends started dropping out of their sports teams because they didn’t want to appear “muscly.” When at 18 my male friends were unable to express their feelings. I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me.

Analysis:  By sharing a short anecdote  about being “sexualized” and called “bossy,” while acknowledging her male friends being “unable to express their feelings,” Watson establishes her authority to speak on gender-related issues, and she appeals to her audience’s sense of emotion and empathy as she aims to establish a common experience between both men and women in the United Nations.

9. antithesis

Definition: This rhetorical device references the rhetorical contrast of ideas by means of parallel arrangements of words, clauses, or sentences

Antithesis Example:  

Neil Armstrong’s moon landing (1969)

“That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind”

Analysis:  Armstrong’s antithesis  serves to highlight the monumental impact that the moon landing will have on the human race. By contrasting his “small step” with the “giant” effect that this step will have, he emphasizes its significance.

10. assonance

Definition: the repetition of vowel sounds but not consonant sounds

Assonance Example:  

The Color Purple  by Alice Walker (1982)

She got sicker an sicker.

Finally, she ast Where it is?

I say God took it.

He took it. He took it while I was sleeping. Kilt it out there in the woods. Kill this one too, if he can.

Analysis:  In her second letter to God, Celie describes her mother getting “sicker an sicker” and the way God “kilt” her first child in the woods. The repetition of the “i” sound creates a staccato and rhythmic quality to the letter while still creating a thin, ill-sounding intonation.

Note: assonance is often associated with euphony : soothing and pleasant sounds.

11. asyndeton

Definition: conjunctions are omitted, producing a fast-paced and rapid prose

Asyndeton Example:  

“Duty, Honor, Country” by General Douglas MacArthur (1962)

Duty, Honor, Country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.

Analysis:  In his speech, MacArthur rallies the United States army with three simple words: “duty, honor, country.” MacArthur’s asyndeton  creates a powerful and concise phrase that galvanizes his men through its simplicity. Because the conjunctions have been omitted, MacArthur’s phrase reads like a chant in which each word is emphasized equally. This rhythmic phrase is thus very easy to remember and to repeat, which allows MacArthur to invigorate and prepare his army.

12. chiasmus

Definition: repetition of ideas in inverted order

Example:  John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address (1971)

The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world. And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.

Analysis:  In his 1971 Inaugural Address, Kennedy encourages his audience to have faith in their generation and in their country in the midst of a trying Cold War. Kennedy attempts to unite the audience under a national identity and purpose, inviting them to consider not what their “country can do for” them, but what they “can do for” their country. By employing chiasmus , Kennedy highlights the difference between an archaic mentality and the attitude that he wants the country to adopt moving forward. Because Kennedy repeats the same simple ideas, he also creates a memorable phrase that allows his message to spread easily among the American people.

13. colloquial

Definition: characteristic of spoken or written communication that seeks to imitate informal speech

Example:  Barack Obama’s message about political ‘wokeness’ (2019)

This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically woke and all that stuff; you should get over that quickly. The world is messy. There are ambiguities.

Analysis:  In his commentary regarding the call-out culture on the current socio-political stage, Obama uses the term “woke” to describe those who believe they are more aware of social injustices. By adopting a colloquial  expression, Obama molds his message to resonate with young Americans. Obama is thus able to connect with his audience by mimicking their language.

14. connotation

Definition: the set of associations implied by a word in addition to its literal meaning

Example:  “Black Men in Public Space” by Brent Staples (1986)

My first victim was a white woman, well dressed, probably in her early twenties. I came upon her late one evening on a deserted street in Hyde Park, a relatively affluent neighborhood in an otherwise mean, impoverished section of Chicago. As I swung onto the avenue behind her, there seemed to be a discreet, noninflammatory distance between us. Not so. She cast back a worried glance. To her, the youngish black man – a broad six feet two inches with a beard and billowing hair, both hands shoved into the pockets of a bulky military jacket – seemed menacingly close.

Analysis:  In his essay “Black Men in Public Space,” Brent Staples refers to the woman who runs away from him as his “victim” to whom he is “menacingly close,” which connotes violence and criminal activity. However, the actions that ensue do not match such connotations ; rather than attacking the woman, Staples simply walks down the avenue. By breaking the audience’s expectations, Staples highlights the misleading dialogue surrounding African-American men and forces his readers to confront their own racial biases.

Note: connotation and tone are very closely related. Often, an author will use words that carry certain connotations to establish a tone. You can use this idea in your essays to demonstrate tone by citing the connotative words the author uses to establish such a tone.

15. consonance

Definition: the repetition of consonant sounds, but not vowels, as in assonance

Example: “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Caroll (1871)

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

The frumious Bandersnatch!”

Analysis:  In Lewis Carol’s poem “Jabberwocky,” he warns against the Jabberwock’s “jaws” and the “Jubjub bird,” repeating the “j” sound. Carol uses consonance  to create dissonant and almost disorienting sounds through harsh, hard tones, which emphasize the obnoxious nature of the Jabberwocky. Because of the abundance of consonants, the poem reads similar to a tongue-twister, which further serves to disorient the reader and make them feel as if they are in a completely different world.

Note: consonance can be associated with cacophony, or harsh, discordant sounds, if it uses “explosive consonants” such as B, C, CH, D, G, J, K, P, Q, T, X.

16. deductive reasoning

Definition: reasoning that works from the more general to the more specific, beginning with a theory that becomes a hypothesis, and using observations to confirm the original theory (top-down approach)

Example:  Mahatma Gandhi’s letter to British Viceroy Lord Irwin (1930)

If I have equal love for your people with mine, it will not long remain hidden. It will be acknowledged by them, even as the members of my family acknowledged after they had tried me for several years. If the people join me, as I expect they will, the sufferings they will undergo, unless the British nation sooner retraces its steps, will be enough to melt the stoniest hearts. The plan through civil disobedience will be to combat such evils as I have sampled out. If we want to sever the British connection it is because of such evils. When they are removed, the path becomes easy. Then the way to friendly negotiation will be open. If the British commerce with India is purified of greed, you will have no difficulty in recognizing our independence.

Analysis:  In his letter to Lord Irwin, Gandhi uses a series of if-then statements to defend India’s call for independence through civil disobedience. Gandhi begins by establishing his “equal love” for the British people and mentioning that if they join him in his protests, it will “melt the stoniest of hearts” in the British government, forcing the British to “retrace their steps” and remove the “evils” in the current British regime. If the evils are removed, Gandhi promises, the “way to friendly negotiation will be open.” By articulating his position with deductive reasoning , Gandhi appeals to Lord Irwin’s logic and maintains that the Indian people are not acting irrationally. Gandhi provides Lord Irwin with only one logical option: purify the British commerce system of greed and open the table to negotiate with India.

17. denotation

Definition: the literal meaning of a word, the dictionary definition

Example:  “Gender Equality is Your Issue Too” by Emma Watson (2014)

I was appointed six months ago and the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.

For the record, feminism by definition is: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.

Analysis:  By explicitly defining feminism as “the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities,” Watson juxtaposes the denotation  of feminism with the connotations with which it is associated. Watson directly confronts the misconceptions regarding feminism to quell any opposition regarding such misconceptions, and she appeals to a credible source — the dictionary — to support her claims and establish her own authority over the matter.

Note: denotation is almost always used in contrast with connotation. Authors will often define a word to clarify its meaning, which suggests that the connotations of the term do not match how the author wants the audience to view that term.

18. diction

Definition: a writer's choice of words, phrases, sentence structures, and figurative language, which combine to help create meaning

Example:  “On Dumpster Diving” by Lars Eighner (1992)

Canned goods are among the safest foods to be found in Dumpsters but are not utterly foolproof. Although very rare with modern canning methods, botulism is a possibility. Most other forms of food poisoning seldom do lasting harm to a healthy person, but botulism is almost certainly fatal and often the first symptom is death. Except for carbonated beverages, all canned goods should contain a slight vacuum and suck air when first punctured. Bulging, rusty, and dented cans and cans that spew when punctured should be avoided, especially when the contents are not very

acidic or syrupy.

Analysis:  Eighner employs empirical diction  to describe the process of dumpster diving, which is generally considered a dishonorable and crude practice. Eighner details the “fatal” effects of “botulism,” and provides a practical assessment of “modern canning methods,” instructing readers to avoid “bulging, rusty, and dented cans” and to look for a “slight vacuum” in canned goods. By analyzing the process of dumpster diving through a scientific lens, Eighner emphasizes that those who dumpster dive are not inferior to their store going counterparts, and he suggests that dumpster diving can be a practical hobby for anyone, even if it is not done out of necessity.

19. didactic

Definition: tone; instructional, designed to teach an ethical, moral, or religious lesson

Example:  “Advice to Youth” by Mark Twain (1882)

First, then. I will say to you my young friends — and I say it beseechingly, urgently — Always obey your parents, when they are present. This is the best policy in the long run because if you don’t, they will make you. Most parents think they know better than you do, and you can generally make more by humoring that superstition than you can by acting on your own better judgment.

Analysis:  In his satire “Advice to Youth,” Twain adopts a didactic  tone that mimics that of many parents chastising their children. He instructs youth to “always obey [their] parents” because “most parents think they know better than” their children. By using a familiar instructional tone while mocking parental attitude, Twain appeals to his credibility by establishing that he too has faced criticism from his parents. By recognizing a common experience, Twain builds a rapport with his young audience, making them more receptive to his message.

Note: Generally, essays with a very didactic tone are ineffective, so they don’t have much rhetorical merit. Twain’s speech is instead a satire of the didactic tone many parents adopt, which allows him to connect with his audience in their mutual scorn for some parents’ sanctimonious attitude.

20. elegiac

Definition: a tone involving mourning or expressing sorrow for that which is irrecoverably past

Example:  Ronald Reagan’s address following the explosion of the Challenger Space Shuttle (1986)

Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss. For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we're thinking about you so very much.

Analysis:  At the beginning of his address, Reagan adopts an elegiac  tone, declaring that “today is a day for mourning and remembering.” He describes the deaths of the astronauts as a “national loss” that pains “all of the people” in the United States. By taking the time to recognize the tragic loss of the astronauts and by empathizing with the American people’s shock at the explosion, Reagan appeals to his audience’s grief and establishes an emotional connection with them before he begins speaking about the future of the United States space exploration program.

21. epistrophe

Definition: ending a series of lines, phrases, clauses, or sentences with the same word or words

Example:  Madelynn Albright’s commencement speech for Mount Holyoke College (1997)

As you go along your own road in life, you will, if you aim high enough, also meet resistance, for as Robert Kennedy once said, “if there’s nobody in your way, it’s because you’re not going anywhere.” But no matter how tough the opposition may seem, have courage still—and persevere.

There is no doubt, if you aim high enough, that you will be confronted by those who say that your efforts to change the world or improve the lot of those around you do not mean much in the grand scheme of things. But no matter how impotent you may sometimes feel, have courage still — and persevere.

It is certain, if you aim high enough, that you will find your strongest beliefs ridiculed and challenged; principles that you cherish may be derisively dismissed by those claiming to be more practical or realistic than you. But no matter how weary you may become in persuading others to see the value in what you value, have courage still—and persevere.

Inevitably, if you aim high enough, you will be buffeted by demands of family, friends, and employment that will conspire to distract you from your course. But no matter how difficult it may be to meet the commitments you have made, have courage still—and persevere.

Analysis:  In her commencement speech, Albright encourages women to stand firm and to “aim high,” despite the prevalence of gender inequality. Albright recognizes that women face opposition and glass ceilings, but she urges them to “have courage still— and persevere,” repeating the phrase after each challenge she discusses. Like her attitude towards success, Albright’s speech always returns to the idea that women must “have courage still — and persevere,” regardless of the obstacles presented to her. Albright’s motto to “have courage still—and persevere” is the most prominent part of her speech, and remains consistent even when the rest of her speech shifts, which mirrors the outlook that Albright endorses.

Definition: appealing to credibility

Example:  “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr. (1963)

I think I should indicate why I am here in Birmingham since you have been influenced by the view which argues against "outsiders coming in." I have the honor of serving as president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization operating in every southern state, with headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia. We have some eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South, and one of them is the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights. Frequently we share staff, educational and financial resources with our affiliates. Several months ago the affiliate here in Birmingham asked us to be on call to engage in a nonviolent direct action program if such were deemed necessary. We readily consented, and when the hour came we lived up to our promise. So I, along with several members of my staff, am here because I was invited here. I am here because I have organizational ties here.

Analysis:  King mentions that he is the “president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference” that operates in “every southern state” and has “eighty-five affiliated organizations across the South.” He also emphasizes that he is in Birmingham because he was “invited” due to “organizational ties.” King spends a significant amount of time describing his credentials and his affiliation with the Church, which not only creates a common experience among the clergymen and himself but also establishes King as a respectable man with significant accomplishments. Because many white southerners believed that African Americans were inferior to themselves, King takes the time to appeal to his own credibility and authority in hopes that the clergymen will view him as their equal and will respect his message.

Note: please don’t write “appeals to ethos/pathos/logos.” Instead, try “appeals to credibility/emotion/logic,” or go further to describe specifically which emotion or credentials the author appeals to.

23. extended metaphor

Definition: differs from a regular metaphor in that several comparisons similar in theme are being made

Example:  “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” by Nicholas Carr (2008)

Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose.

Analysis:  Carr employs an extended metaphor  to liken his brain to a machine, suggesting that something “has been tinkering” with his brain, “remapping” and “reprogramming” his “neural circuitry.” By comparing his brain to a machine, Carr conveys his feeling that he is a slave to his computer and his sense of disconnectedness from his brain. Rather than being in harmony with his mind, he describes his brain as a separate entity. Carr’s metaphor also highlights the increasing influence of technology in modern life — so much so that our brains themselves have become computers.

24. imagery

Definition: descriptive language that provides vivid images that evoke the senses

Example:   Last Child in the Woods  by Richard Louv (2008)

In our useful boredom, we used our fingers to draw pictures on fogged glass as we watched telephone poles tick by. We saw birds on the wires and combines in the fields. We were fascinated with roadkill, and we counted cows and horses and coyotes and shaving-cream signs. We stared with a kind of reverence at the horizon, as thunderheads and dancing rain moved with us. We held our little plastic cars against the glass and pretended that they, too, were racing toward some unknown destination. We considered the past and dreamed of the future, and watched it all go by in the blink of an eye.

Analysis:  Louv recounts his experience staring out of the car window as a child with vivid imagery , describing watching “telephone poles tick by,” “birds on the wires,” “cows and horses and coyotes,” and “shaving-cream signs.” Louv jots seemingly disconnected images in short snippets, mimicking a car whizzing past an ever-changing landscape. The sharp images appeal to the reader’s sense of nostalgia as Louv allows them to witness their own youth “go by in the blink of an eye.”

25. inductive reasoning

Definition: reasoning that moves from specific observations to broader generalizations and theories; uses observations to detect patterns and regularities, and develops a hypothesis and later broader theories based on these observations (bottom-up approach)

Example:  “On Being a Cripple” by Nancy Mairs (1986)

"Cripple" seems to me a clean word, straightforward and precise. As a lover of words, I like the accuracy with which it describes my condition: I have lost the full use of my limbs. "Disabled," by contrast, suggests any incapacity, physical or mental. And I certainly don't like "handicapped," which implies that I have deliberately been put at a disadvantage, by whom I can't imagine (my God is not a Handicapper General), in order to equalize chances in the great race of life. These words seem to me to be moving away from my condition, to be widening the gap between word and reality. Most remote is the recently coined euphemism "differently-abled," which partakes of the same semantic hopefulness that transformed countries from "undeveloped" to "underdeveloped," then to "less developed," and finally to "developing" nations. People have continued to starve in those countries during the shift. Some realities do not obey the dictates of language.

Analysis:  Mairs begins by outlining her views on the word “cripple,” which “describes [her] condition” in a “straightforward and precise manner,” unlike vague terms such as “handicapped” and “differently-abled,” which widen “the gap between word and reality.” Much like “people have continued to starve” in underdeveloped nations despite the shift in nomenclature, Mairs scorns the “semantic hopefulness” that has led people to use less precise words to describe her condition, even though the disability itself cannot change. Mairs uses inductive reasoning  to conclude that “some realities do not obey the dictates of language” as she appeals to readers’ logic to deduce that using euphemisms to describe unfavorable circumstances is irrational and only serves to dilute the rectitude of precise language.

Definition: stating the opposite of what is said or meant

I hope you will treasure up the instructions which I have given you, and make them a guide to your feet and a light to your understanding. Build your character thoughtfully and painstakingly upon these precepts, and by and by, when you have got it built, you will be surprised and gratified to see how nicely and sharply it resembles everybody else’s.

Analysis:  Twain instructs youth to “treasure” his instructions and to construct their “character thoughtfully and painstakingly upon” the precepts they have read. However, Twain mentions that if they do so, they will be “surprised and gratified to see how nicely and sharply it resembles everybody else’s.” Twain’s irony  warns youth that if they simply obey their parents, they will not become a unique individual, and the unexpected ending to his satire reinforces his position that one should not mold themselves to meet societal norms.

27. juxtaposition

Definition: placing two or more things side by side for comparison or contrast

Example:   Silent Spring  by Rachel Carson (1962)

Along the roads, laurel, viburnum, and alder, great ferns and wildflowers delighted the traveler’s eye through much of the year. Even in winter, the roadsides were places of beauty, where countless birds came to feed on the berries and on the seed heads of the dried weeds rising above the snow. The countryside was, in fact, famous for the abundance and variety of its birdlife, and when the flood of migrants was pouring through in spring and fall people traveled from great distances to observe them. Others came to fish the streams, which flowed clear and cold out of the hills and contained shady pools where trout lay. So it had been from the days many years ago when the first settlers raised their houses, sank their wells, and built their barns.

Then a strange blight crept over the area and everything began to change. Some evil spell had settled on the community: mysterious maladies swept the flocks of chickens; the cattle and sheep sickened and died. Everywhere was a shadow of death. The farmers spoke of much illness among their families. In the town the doctors had become more and more puzzled by new kinds of sickness appearing among their patients. There had been several sudden and unexplained deaths, not only among adults but even among children, who would be stricken suddenly while at play and die within a few hours.

Analysis:  In her novel Silent Spring , Rachel Carson describes the beautiful American town with the cold, vapid town that it is destined to become due to climate change. She juxtaposes  the town’s “great ferns and wildflowers,” “birdlife,” and “clear and cold” streams with the “strange blight” that cast an “evil spell” on the community and the animals who have “sickened and died” from “mysterious maladies.” By creating such a sharp contrast between the present and the future, Carson coveys the magnitude of the climate crisis and emphasizes the urgency with which we must address it. Carson’s starkly contrasting images aim to evoke a strong emotional response in the reader that appeals to their sense of responsibility and citizenship.

Definition: appealing to logic

Example:  Greta Thunberg’s speech at the National Assembly in Paris (2019)

A lot of people, a lot of politicians, business leaders, journalists say they don't agree with what we are saying. They say we children are exaggerating, that we are alarmists. To answer this I would like to refer to page 108, chapter 2 in the latest IPCC report. There you will find all our "opinions" summarized because there you find a remaining carbon dioxide budget. Right there it says that if we are to have a sixty-seven percent chance of limiting the global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees, we had on January 1st, 2018, 420 gigatons of carbon dioxide left in our CO2 budget. And of course, that number is much lower today. We emit about 42 gigatons of CO2 every year.

Analysis:  In her address to the National Assembly in Paris, Thunberg cites the 2018 “IPCC report” that outlines a total “remaining carbon dioxide budget” of “420 gigatons” in order to “have a sixty-seven percent chance of limiting the global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees,” while “we emit about 42 gigatons of CO2 each year.” By citing specific data from a reputable scientific journal, Thunberg appeals to her audience’s logic; the data proves that the only viable option is to limit carbon dioxide emissions.

29. metonymy

Definition: a figure of speech consisting of the use of the name of one thing for that of another of which it is an attribute or with which it is associated

Example:  Margaret Thatcher’s eulogy for Ronald Reagan (2004)

Yet his ideas, so clear, were never simplistic. He saw the many sides of truth. Yes, he warned that the Soviet Union had an insatiable drive for military power and territorial expansion, yet he also sensed that it was being eaten away by systematic failures impossible to reform. Yes, he did not shrink from denouncing Moscow’s evil empire, but he realized that a man of goodwill might nonetheless emerge from its dark corridors.

Analysis:  In her eulogy for United States President Ronald Reagan, Thatcher refers to the Soviet Union as “Moscow’s evil empire.” Her metonymy  explicitly communicates a disdain for the Soviet Union, which establishes common ground between the United States and the United Kingdom, which helps Thatcher strengthen relations with the United States while eulogizing a friend.

Definition: the speed at which a piece of writing flows — use when discussing organization; point out where action/syntax begins to speed up, slow down, is interrupted, etc.

Example:   Notes on ‘Camp’  by Susan Sontag (1964)

1. To start very generally: Camp is a certain mode of aestheticism. It is one way of seeing the world as an aesthetic phenomenon. That way, the way of Camp, is not in terms of beauty, but in terms of the degree of artifice, of stylization.

2. To emphasize style is to slight content, or to introduce an attitude which is neutral with respect to content. It goes without saying that the Camp sensibility is disengaged, depoliticized — or at least apolitical.

Analysis:  Sontag writes Notes on ‘Camp’  as a “series of jottings” rather than in paragraph format in order to mimic the spontaneous and ever-changing nature of Camp. By presenting her notes as a numbered list, Sontag develops a quick, irregular pace  that is more fitting to describe the eccentricities of Camp. Because the notes are presented as a list, the ideas move by quickly, which further mirrors the whimsicality that is so characteristic of Camp.

31. paradox

Definition: apparently self-contradictory statement, the underlying meaning of which is revealed only by careful scrutiny; its purpose is to arrest attention and provoke fresh thought

Example:  “On the Writing of Essays” by Alexander Smith (1881)

He is the frankest, most outspoken of writers; and that very frankness and outspokenness puts the reader off his guard. If you wish to preserve your secret, wrap it up in frankness. The Essays are full of this trick. The frankness is as well simulated as the grape-branches of the Grecian artist which the birds flew towards and pecked. When Montaigne retreats, he does so like a skillful general, leaving his fires burning.

Analysis:  Smith describes Montaigne’s writing style as very frank and outspoken, asserting that “if you wish to preserve your secret, wrap it up in frankness.” Smith’s paradox , although outwardly nonsensical, forces the reader to pause and ruminate on the conflicting ideas, which naturally places emphasis on these ideas. Through his paradox, Smith suggests that an author’s works often contain intimate personal revelations that seem obvious, yet are often overlooked by most readers.

32. parallelism (parallel structure)

Definition: a repetition of sentences using the same grammatical structure emphasizing all aspects of the sentence equally

Example:  “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” by Lou Gherig (1939)

When the New York Giants, a team you would give your right arm to beat, and vice versa, sends you a gift — that's something. When everybody down to the groundskeepers and those boys in white coats remembers you with trophies — that's something. When you have a wonderful mother-in-law who takes sides with you in squabbles with her own daughter — that's something. When you have a father and a mother who work all their lives so you can have an education and build your body — it's a blessing. When you have a wife who has been a tower of strength and shown more courage than you dreamed existed — that's the finest I know.

Analysis:  Gherig presents a series of parallel  sentences to emphasize his gratitude for the life he has lived. Because each sentence follows the same structure, Gherig’s list builds to a climax, which Gherig uses to enumerate his priorities and to emphasize his love for his family. Gherig further emphasizes his appreciation for his family even above his career by shifting from the phrase “that’s something” to describe his wife’s courage as “the finest” he knows. By breaking the pattern in his parallel sentences, Gherig focuses the attention on his family and loved ones, humbly placing his own successes on the back burner.

Definition: appealing to emotion

Example:  Viola Davis’s Women’s March Speech (2018)

I am speaking today not just for the 'Me Toos,' because I was a 'Me Too,' but when I raise my hand, I am aware of all the women who are still in silence. The women who are faceless. The women who don't have the money and don't have the constitution and who don't have the confidence and who don't have the images in our media that gives them a sense of self-worth enough to break their silence that is rooted in the shame of assault and rooted in the stigma of assault.

Analysis:  In her speech at the 2018 Women’s March, Viola Davis recognizes the millions of women who have been silently affected by sexual violence. She describes the women “don’t have the money,” “constitution,” or “confidence,” and those who still struggle with the “shame” and “stigma of assault.” Davis employs anaphora, repeating the phrase “don’t have” to evoke a sense of empathy for these women among the audience. By emphasizing that these victims “don’t have” the resources that many take for granted, Davis sheds light on the cruel reality that many victims still face due to the stigma surrounding sexual assault and women’s rights.

34. polysyndeton

Definition: the use of many conjunctions has the effect of slowing the pace or emphasizing the numerous words or clauses

Example:  “After the Storm” by Ernest Hemingway (1932)

I said, “Who killed him?” and he said, “I don’t know who killed him but he’s dead all right,” and it was dark and there was water standing in the street and no lights and windows broke and boats all up in the town and trees blown down and everything all blown and I got a skiff and went out and found my boat where I had her inside Mango Key and she was all right only she was full of water.

Analysis:  After learning of the murder, the narrator describes as “dark and there was water standing in the street and no lights and windows broke and boats all up in the town,” repeating the conjunction “and.” Hemingway employs

polysyndeton  to illustrate the narrator’s shock and panic following the murder. By inserting “and” between each phrase, Hemingway slows down the pace of the sentence, conveying the sense of the narrator’s surroundings moving in slow motion after hearing the news.

35. rhetorical question

Definition: a question presented by the author that is not meant to be answered

Example:  Clare de Booth Luce’s Speech at the Women’s National Press Club (1960)

For what is good journalism all about? On a working, finite level it is the effort to achieve illuminating candor in print and to strip away cant. It is the effort to do this not only in matters of state, diplomacy, and politics but also in every smaller aspect of life that touches the public interest or engages proper public curiosity.

Analysis:  In her speech at the Women’s National Press Club, de Booth asks the rhetorical question : “For what is good journalism all about?” in order to signal a shift in tone as she moves to describe the purpose of “good journalism.” By asking the audience a question, she invites them to consider their own motivations as journalists as she explains her own belief that “good journalism” is “the effort to achieve illuminating candor in print.” Rather than simply speaking about her views on journalism, de Booth expertly inserts a rhetorical question in order to evoke a moment of wonder and self-reflection in her audience before she answers her own question.

36. stream of consciousness

Definition: a technique that records the thoughts and feelings of a character without regard to logical argument or narrative sequence; reflects all the forces, internal and external, affecting the character's psyche at the moment

Example:  “Ain’t I a Woman” by Sojourner Truth (1851)

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man — when I could get it — and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?

Analysis:  In 1851, Sojourner Truth gave a moving speech at the Women’s Rights Convention without preparation. Truth’s stream of consciousness  approach to the speech allows her to directly address her audience, beginning by mentioning “that man over there” and refuting his beliefs that women are fragile. Truth then moves to note that she has “ploughed and planted” more successfully than men, and she moves to the fact that she can “work as much and eat as much as a man.” She shifts yet again to recount that she has “borne thirteen children” and that “none but Jesus” heard her cry with her “mother’s grief” when they were sold to slavery. Albeit slightly messy, Truth’s lack of structure is effective because it reflects the never-ending struggles that African American women faced. When the injustices seemed to cease, another injustice would arise in a never-ending cycle of oppression. Truth’s speech thus resonated with many other women who had experienced the same struggles, and Truth became a powerful voice in the fight racial and gender equality.

37. synecdoche

Definition: the rhetorical substitution of a part for the whole

Example:  “Falling Down is Part of Growing Up” by Henry Petroski (1985)

We are transported across impromptu bridges of arms thrown up without plans or blueprints between mother and aunt, between neighbor and father, between brother and sister — none of whom is a registered structural engineer. We come to Mama and to Papa eventually to forget our scare reflex and we learn to trust the beams and girders and columns of their arms and our cribs.

Analysis:  Petroski refers to a child’s parents and crib as “beams and girders and columns” that the child must trust, emphasizing the structural aspect of a young child’s support system. Instead of referring to the parents and crib as a whole, Petroski uses synecdoche  to strip away the sentimental connotations associated with a mother’s arms and a baby’s crib, highlighting only the “beams and girders and columns” that prevent the child from falling and returning to his novel’s central topic of engineering.

Definition: the structure of sentences and/or phrases

We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward gaining political independence, but we still creep at horse and buggy pace toward gaining a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, "Wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger," your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodiness" — then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.

Analysis:  In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” King addresses those who instruct him to “wait” for racial equality by describing the “stinging pain of segregation” as seeing “vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers,” seeing “hate-filled policemen curse, kick, and even kill your brothers and sisters,” and seeing the “tears welling up” in your six-year-old daughter’s eyes when “she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children,” among a host of other horrific images. Rather than using several shorter sentences to describe segregation, King uses a single sentence, separated by numerous semicolons. King’s choice of syntax  mirrors the never-ending reach of segregation and racial inequality. While the sentence consists of a string of short images, it pauses on a longer phrase in which King describes finding his “tongue-twisted” as he explains to his “six-year-old daughter why she can't go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television,” and seeing “tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children” while he watches the “ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky” and her “distort her personality by developing an unconscious bitterness toward white people.” By making this phrase significantly longer than his other images, King allows the reader to pause and ruminate on the idea of a young girl losing her innocence to an unjust world. King appeals to the reader’s emotions as he conveys such a heartbreaking image.

Definition: a statement of purpose, intent, or main idea in a literary work

Example:   Notes on ‘Camp’  by Susan Sontag

58. The ultimate Camp statement: it's good because  it's awful . . . Of course, one can't always say that. Only under certain conditions, those which I've tried to sketch in these notes.

Analysis:  Sontag places her thesis  at the end of her Notes on ‘Camp’ , which allows her to summarize her list and to assert that Camp is “good because  it’s awful.” Sontag concludes the notes by referencing her sporadic list of musings regarding Camp as a whole and declaring them the “conditions” under which Camp can be both good and awful.

the use of stylistic devices that reveal an author’s attitude towards a subject

Example:  “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” by James Baldwin (1979)

I say that the present skirmish is rooted in American history, and it is. Black English is the creation of the black diaspora. Blacks came to the United States chained to each other, but from different tribes: Neither could speak the other's language. If two black people, at that bitter hour of the world's history, had been able to speak to each other, the institution of chattel slavery could never have lasted as long as it did. Subsequently, the slave was given, under the eye, and the gun, of his master, Congo Square, and the Bible–or in other words, and under these conditions, the slave began the formation of the black church, and it is within this unprecedented tabernacle that black English began to be formed. This was not, merely, as in the European example, the adoption of a foreign tongue, but an alchemy that transformed ancient elements into a new language: A language comes into existence by means of brutal necessity, and the rules of the language are dictated by what the language must convey.

Analysis:  Baldwin adopts a formal, academic tone , assessing the development of “Black English” through a historical lens. Baldwin concludes that “Black English is the creation of the black diaspora” as “an alchemy that transformed ancient elements into a new language.” By using academic diction, Baldwin approaches the development of Black English not as a cultural or social issue, but simply as a historical phenomenon that should be studied objectively, which allows him to persuade his readers that Black English should be considered a distinct language.

👉 Play Kahoot with AP Lang teacher Kathryn Howard as she recaps rhetorical strategies and devices!  

One last disclaimer: Fiveable is an educational company without political or religious affiliations and it neither endorses nor opposes any views expressed in the above passages. There you go! When looking at each device and its corresponding example, think of ways and reasons authors integrate these rhetorical devices, styles, and terms into their writing! Thinking that much ahead will pay off when you write the Rhetorical Analysis essay in May! 😄

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example - Free Samples

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay - A Complete Guide With Examples

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Crafting an Effective Rhetorical Analysis Essay Outline - Free Samples!

Ethos, Pathos, and Logos - Structure, Usage & Examples

Writing a rhetorical analysis essay for academics can be really demanding for students. This type of paper requires high-level analyzing abilities and professional writing skills to be drafted effectively.

As this essay persuades the audience, it is essential to know how to take a strong stance and develop a thesis. 

This article will find some examples that will help you with your rhetorical analysis essay writing effortlessly. 

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  • 1. Good Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example
  • 2. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example AP Lang 2023
  • 3. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Examples for Students 
  • 4. Writing a Visual Rhetorical Analysis Essay with Example 
  • 5. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Writing Tips

Good Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

The step-by-step writing process of a rhetorical analysis essay is far more complicated than ordinary academic essays. This essay type critically analyzes the rhetorical means used to persuade the audience and their efficiency. 

The example provided below is the best rhetorical analysis essay example:

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Sample

In this essay type, the author uses rhetorical approaches such as ethos, pathos, and logos .  These approaches are then studied and analyzed deeply by the essay writers to weigh their effectiveness in delivering the message.

Let’s take a look at the following example to get a better idea;

The outline and structure of a rhetorical analysis essay are important. 

According to the essay outline, the essay is divided into three sections: 

  • Introduction
  • Ethos 
  • Logos 

A rhetorical analysis essay outline is the same as the traditional one. The different parts of the rhetorical analysis essay are written in the following way:

Rhetorical Analysis Introduction Example

The introductory paragraph of a rhetorical analysis essay is written for the following purpose:

  • To provide basic background information about the chosen author and the text.
  • Identify the target audience of the essay. 

An introduction for a rhetorical essay is drafted by:

  • Stating an opening sentence known as the hook statement. This catchy sentence is prepared to grab the audience’s attention to the paper. 
  • After the opening sentence, the background information of the author and the original text are provided. 

For example, a rhetorical analysis essay written by Lee Jennings on“The Right Stuff” by David Suzuki. Lee started the essay by providing the introduction in the following way:

Analysis of the Example: 

  • Suzuki stresses the importance of high school education. He prepares his readers for a proposal to make that education as valuable as possible.
  • A rhetorical analysis can show how successful Suzuki was in using logos, pathos, and ethos. He had a strong ethos because of his reputation. 
  • He also used pathos to appeal to parents and educators. However, his use of logos could have been more successful.
  • Here Jennings stated the background information about the text and highlighted the rhetorical techniques used and their effectiveness. 

Thesis Statement Example for Rhetorical Analysis Essay 

A thesis statement of a rhetorical analysis essay is the writer’s stance on the original text. It is the argument that a writer holds and proves it using the evidence from the original text. 

A thesis statement for a rhetorical essay is written by analyzing the following elements of the original text:

  • Diction - It refers to the author’s choice of words and the tone
  • Imagery - The visual descriptive language that the author used in the content. 
  • Simile - The comparison of things and ideas

In Jennings's analysis of “The Right Stuff,” the thesis statement was:

Example For Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement

Rhetorical Analysis Body Paragraph Example 

In the body paragraphs of your rhetorical analysis essay, you dissect the author's work, analyze their use of rhetorical techniques, and provide evidence to support your analysis. 

Let's look at an example that analyzes the use of ethos in David Suzuki's essay:

Rhetorical Analysis Conclusion Example

All the body paragraphs lead the audience towards the conclusion.

For example, the conclusion of “The Right Stuff” is written in the following way by Jennings:

In the conclusion section, Jennings summarized the major points and restated the thesis statement to prove them. 

Rhetorical Essay Example For The Right Stuff by David Suzuki

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example AP Lang 2023

Writing a rhetorical analysis for the AP Language and Composition course can be challenging. So drafting it correctly is important to earn good grades. 

To make your essay effective and winning, follow the tips provided by professionals below:

Step #1: Understand the Prompt

Understanding the prompt is the first thing to produce an influential rhetorical paper. It is mandatory for this academic writing to read and understand the prompt to know what the task demands from you. 

Step #2: Stick to the Format

The content for the rhetorical analysis should be appropriately organized and structured. For this purpose, a proper outline is drafted. 

The rhetorical analysis essay outline divides all the information into different sections, such as the introduction, body, and conclusion.  The introduction should explicitly state the background information and the thesis statement. 

All the body paragraphs should start with a topic sentence to convey a claim to the readers. Provide a thorough analysis of these claims in the paragraph to support your topic sentence. 

Step #3: Use Rhetorical Elements to Form an Argument 

Analyze the following things in the text to form an argument for your essay:

  • Language (tone and words)
  • Organizational structure
  • Rhetorical Appeals ( ethos, pathos, and logos) 

Once you have analyzed the rhetorical appeals and other devices like imagery and diction, you can form a strong thesis statement. The thesis statement will be the foundation on which your essay will be standing. 

AP Language Rhetorical Essay Sample

AP Rhetorical Analysis Essay Template

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example AP Lang

AP Lang Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Examples for Students 

Here are a few more examples to help the students write a rhetorical analysis essay:

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Ethos, Pathos, Logos

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Outline

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example College

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example APA Format

Compare and Contrast Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Comparative Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

How to Start Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example High School

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example APA Sample

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example Of a Song

Florence Kelley Speech Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example MLA

Writing a Visual Rhetorical Analysis Essay with Example 

The visual rhetorical analysis essay determines how pictures and images communicate messages and persuade the audience. 

Usually, visual rhetorical analysis papers are written for advertisements. This is because they use strong images to convince the audience to behave in a certain way. 

To draft a perfect visual rhetorical analysis essay, follow the tips below:

  • Analyze the advertisement deeply and note every minor detail. 
  • Notice objects and colors used in the image to gather every detail.
  • Determine the importance of the colors and objects and analyze why the advertiser chose the particular picture. 
  • See what you feel about the image.
  • Consider the objective of the image. Identify the message that the image is portraying. 
  • Identify the targeted audience and how they respond to the picture. 

An example is provided below to give students a better idea of the concept. 

Simplicity Breeds Clarity Visual Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Writing Tips

Follow the tips provided below to make your rhetorical writing compelling. 

  • Choose an engaging topic for your essay. The rhetorical analysis essay topic should be engaging to grab the reader’s attention.
  • Thoroughly read the original text.
  • Identify the SOAPSTone. From the text, determine the speaker, occasions, audience, purpose, subject, and tone.
  • Develop a thesis statement to state your claim over the text.
  • Draft a rhetorical analysis essay outline.
  • Write an engaging essay introduction by giving a hook statement and background information. At the end of the introductory paragraph, state the thesis statement.
  • The body paragraphs of the rhetorical essay should have a topic sentence. Also, in the paragraph, a thorough analysis should be presented.
  • For writing a satisfactory rhetorical essay conclusion, restate the thesis statement and summarize the main points.
  • Proofread your essay to check for mistakes in the content. Make your edits before submitting the draft.

Following the tips and the essay's correct writing procedure will guarantee success in your academics. 

We have given you plenty of examples of a rhetorical analysis essay. But if you are still struggling to draft a great rhetorical analysis essay, it is suggested to take a professional’s help.

MyPerfectWords.com can assist you with all your academic assignments. The top essay writer service that we provide is reliable. If you are confused about your writing assignments and have difficulty meeting the deadline, get help from custom essay writing online .

Hire our analytical essay writing service today at the most reasonable prices. 

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

    Revised on July 23, 2023. A rhetorical analysis is a type of essay that looks at a text in terms of rhetoric. This means it is less concerned with what the author is saying than with how they say it: their goals, techniques, and appeals to the audience. A rhetorical analysis is structured similarly to other essays: an introduction presenting ...

  2. The 20 Most Useful Rhetorical Devices

    Eutrepismus is another rhetorical device you've probably used before without realizing it. This device separates speech into numbered parts, giving your reader or listener a clear line of thinking to follow. Eutrepismus is a great rhetorical device—let me tell you why. First, it's efficient and clear.

  3. How to Use Rhetorical Devices Properly in Your Writing

    A rhetorical device is a technique used by writers or speakers to convey a message to the audience or to evoke a particular response or emotion. To engage the elements of rhetoric, you can use a rhetorical device. These devices can be used to enhance the meaning of a message, make it more memorable, or make an argument more persuasive.

  4. 31 Common Rhetorical Devices and Examples

    The use of a word to modify or govern two or more words usually in such a manner that it applies to each in a different sense or makes sense with only one . opened the door and her heart to the homeless boy. MORE TO EXPLORE: Rhetorical Devices Used in Pop Songs

  5. 15 Rhetorical Devices That Will Spice Up Your Essays

    Comparing two things using "like" or "as": When we finally got our soup, it was cold as ice. Similes and metaphors are common rhetorical devices used in literature. If you're interested in learning more, read 15 Literary Terms You Need to Know to Write Better Essays.

  6. How to Use Rhetorical Devices in Your College Essay

    These are only a select few of the vast array of rhetorical devices that can be used to enhance an essay. Try browsing a list of devices and attempting to incorporate several into the latest draft of your personal statement. The greatest advantage of rhetorical devices is that they are incredibly effective in lending an essay a strong emotional ...

  7. Rhetorical Device: Definition and Examples

    This article will show you the importance of Rhetorical Devices and how to use it. A rhetorical device is any language that helps an author or speaker achieve a particular purpose (usually persuasion, since rhetoric is typically defined as the art of persuasion). ... For example, the 5-paragraph essay is a rhetorical device that many people ...

  8. 9.5 Writing Process: Thinking Critically about Rhetoric

    The assignment is to write a rhetorical analysis of a piece of persuasive writing. It can be an editorial, a movie or book review, an essay, a chapter in a book, or a letter to the editor. For your rhetorical analysis, you will need to consider the rhetorical situation—subject, author, purpose, context, audience, and culture—and the ...

  9. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

    5 Rhetorical Analysis Essay Tips. Here are five focused tips that will help you lay a solid foundation for your examination. Dissect Rhetorical Strategies: Break down the text to identify specific rhetorical devices such as metaphor, simile, or parallelism. Evaluate Tone and Diction: Pay attention to the author's tone and word choice. Analyze ...

  10. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay-Examples & Template

    Rhetorical appeal #2: Pathos. The purpose of Pathos-driven rhetoric is to appeal to the reader's emotions. A common example of pathos as a rhetorical means is adverts by charities that try to make you donate money to a "good cause". To evoke the intended emotions in the reader, an author may use passionate language, tell personal stories ...

  11. Rhetorical Analysis

    A rhetorical analysis essay breaks a work of non-fiction, such as an essay, speech, cartoon, advertisement or performance, into parts and explains how the parts work together to persuade, entertain, or inform an audience. ... Anaphora: a rhetorical device that features repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive sentences ...

  12. What Is a Rhetorical Device? Definition, List, Examples

    The following list contains some of the most important rhetorical devices to understand: Alliteration, a sonic device, is the repetition of the initial sound of each word (e.g. Alan the antelope ate asparagus). Cacophony, a sonic device, is the combination of consonant sounds to create a displeasing effect. Onomatopoeia, a sonic device, refers ...

  13. How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis: 6 Steps and an Outline for Your

    Body Paragraph #1: Ethos. Describe how the speaker makes an appeal to ethos (the audience's sense of ethical responsibility) Use specific examples, referring to word choice, tone, anecdotes, and other devices. Body Paragraph #2: Pathos. Describe how the speaker makes an appeal to pathos (the audience's emotions)

  14. Using Rhetorical Strategies for Persuasion

    There are three types of rhetorical appeals, or persuasive strategies, used in arguments to support claims and respond to opposing arguments. A good argument will generally use a combination of all three appeals to make its case. Logos. Logos or the appeal to reason relies on logic or reason. Logos often depends on the use of inductive or ...

  15. 9.3 Glance at Genre: Rhetorical Strategies

    Rhetorical Devices and Language Use. When doing a rhetorical analysis, notice these devices writers use to organize and emphasize their writing. Figurative language: similes and metaphors. Comparing one aspect of things that in other ways are completely different is an essential part of rhetorical language. Simile example: "The treasure chest ...

  16. 6.4 Rhetorical Appeals: Logos, Pathos, and Ethos Defined

    4.10 A review of the five-paragraph essay; 4.11 Moving Beyond the five-paragraph format; Deeper Reading: "I Need You to Say I" Chapter 5: Writing a Summary and Synthesizing ... balanced, and persuasive argument. It is important to understand, though, that using rhetorical appeals does not always lead to a sound, balanced argument. In fact, any ...

  17. Using rhetorical devices effectively in college essays?

    4. Keep a balance between natural language and rhetorical devices. While rhetorical devices can make your essay more engaging, you don't want your writing to sound overly done or artificial. Strike a balance by ensuring you're still using clear, direct language and not relying solely on rhetorical devices to convey your message.

  18. Rhetorical devices for rhetorical analysis essays?

    Hi there! Rhetorical analysis essays focus on examining how an author uses different rhetorical devices to achieve their purpose. Here's a list of common rhetorical devices that you might want to analyze: 1. Pathos: Emotional appeal to the audience 2. Ethos: Establishing credibility and trustworthiness of the writer or speaker 3. Logos: Use of logical reasoning and evidence 4.

  19. AP Lang

    An author would use a rhetorical device (e.g. imagery, allusions, etc.) to achieve a certain aesthetic. 2. allegory . Definition: This rhetorical device references the expression by means of symbolic fictional figures and actions of truths or generalizations about human existence. Allegory Example: Animal Farm by George Orwell (1945)

  20. 60+ Rhetorical Devices with Examples for Effective Persuasion

    61. Dysphemism. Dysphemism is the use of harsh or derogatory language to describe something or someone, often for the purpose of criticism or humor.For example, calling taxes "government theft" or referring to a leader as a "tyrant." 62. Asterismos. Asterismos is a rhetorical device where a word or phrase is placed at the beginning of a sentence or paragraph to draw attention to the ...

  21. 20+ Best Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example & Sample Papers

    This article will find some examples that will help you with your rhetorical analysis essay writing effortlessly. On This Page. 1. Good Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example. 2. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Example AP Lang 2023. 3. Rhetorical Analysis Essay Examples for Students. 4.