So you've just been assigned a confusing-sounding essay format - rhetorical essay. Now you're thinking, what the hell is this? I don't remember having to write this in high school. Well, you are sort of correct. Rhetorical essays are probably the most challenging format for beginners to understand. Not because of their high skill level, but because they stray so far away from average, analyze a subject, essay. It is a format very popular among literature students in colleges and universities. Despite how off-putting it might seem, it's not as difficult in practice. By the end of this blog post, you're not only going to be able to distinguish the different types of essays but also write your own rhetorical essay without any troubles. More than that will guide you through real-life rhetorical analysis essay examples, showing you exactly what's right and what's wrong with those samples. But let's pay attention to some theory first.
In a few words, a rhetorical essay takes a look at the mechanics beneath fancy writing. A student will have to take a very close look at things like tone, punctuation, modes, and several other things that a writer has used to influence one's public.
Ok, so there is a little bit more to it than just that. Writing has a lot of mechanics. Like, thousands. No person can be expected to know everything. Luckily, as long as you know something you'll be able to navigate through a given text and identify the key elements that have been used. We've assembled a small list of the most commonly seen techniques in writing, as well as the three modes of persuasion.
Ethos.Ethos aims to appeal to an ethical and esthetical nature of the public. In other words, an author uses ethos to convince the public in his own credibility.
A sample of ethos would be: "While soldiers are giving their lives for this country, politicians sit in their chairs and review statistics of how many units the army has lost. Young lives of these brave soldiers are brought down to a statistical equation. This is unacceptable and an insult to Human Nature."
Pathos. This rhetoric mode appeals to emotion. Authors use pathos to create feelings of empathy, sympathy, and pity. In other words, they try to make their audience feel something. Pathos is achieved by using colorful and meaningful language - language can find in fictional prose.
A sample of pathos:" While her father's money was wasting away, she could not imagine marrying somebody for his wealth alone. She was only 17, and she hadn't felt love before. It was unacceptable to be asked to surrender her youth and her virginity to somebody she had no feelings for just for the sake of money. She would rather meet financial ruin then trample on her principles."
Logos. As the name suggests, logos deals with an intellectual side of our brain. Authors who use logos are trying to reason with their audience, using cold facts. Logos is achieved by using advanced and abstract language you could find in textbooks. Research and facts and necessary to use logos successfully.
So, these are the three modes of persuasion. Persuasion is a literary art of convincing your audience and proving your viewpoint. Persuasion itself can be done in many ways, and encountered in many texts under different forms, but a basic formula is the same. When writing a rhetorical essay you will be expected to identify and analyse these three modes. You might also encounter them as “appeals”. Once you get a firm understanding of these modes, you will be able to identify an appeal used in any text.
Here is a list of elements and literary devices you can encounter in a rhetorical essay. Understanding these devices will help you come up with a truly exceptional example of rhetorical analysis essay.
That's pretty much all the theory you should know. Now, let's jump straight to rhetorical analysis essay examples.
This essay will be looking at J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This novel takes a totally new turn in Rowling's cycle, making a shift to darker imagery and more powerful metaphors. The following paper will be analyzing the way JK uses literary motifs and undertones. We will be taking note of the setting, major conflicts, and intense metaphors used in this novel.
The first two books are directed towards children. The tone is whimsical and adventurous, and it reminds some of a coming of age tale from the 50s. As the books progress, however, the tone and theme become much heavier. We begin to see motifs of betrayal and start questioning character motivations. The prose takes a sharp turn towards a more serious drama. This is very noticeable in the fourth book, The Goblet of Fire. The major conflict of this book is Harry competing in a legendary Triwizard Tournament - a dangerous game of skill and knowledge. Right from the start, we see an element of hyperbole and allusion. The setting is dark, the characters are secretive. We get a glimpse of our villain which is a walking anthropomorphized creature that barely resembles a human. In the first twenty pages, there is a murder. Clearly, the book tone has been established. It will be a mature tale for young adults.
One of the reasons J.K. Rowling decided to change up her style from the adventure children story to a more dark fantasy is that her audience grew up. Kids who picked up the first book of Harry Potter when they were twelve, grew up with the characters. By the fourth book, they were fifteen at least. It was a brilliant move on JK's side to evolve her own writing style and meet her audience's needs.
As the story progresses, readers experience another element: fear. The motif of fear is recurring throughout the book series, but its true origin begins in this novel. There is fear of growing up, as it is evident in Harry, Ron, and Hermione's relationship. The trio evolves from children to young adults as they begin developing feelings for other people. Alongside maturing, there is also fear of an ever-growing political force that threatens to change everything and the fear of death.
Death is another motif that is featured frequently in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Characters are under constant pressure of death. As early as the Second chapter, Harry's life is threatened. Death Eaters, a symbol we will discuss later, attack the Quidditch World cup. Hundreds of people die.Taking a look at the previous books, the fourth one takes that death toll to an extreme.
This brings me to the next motif. The downside of fame is prevalent through all seven books. One of the reasons Harry is always in danger is because of his insane popularity. JK writes this as a satire to modern culture and how we worship superstars and celebrities.
Politicians are always under fire by J.K. Rowling. The Minister of Magic, Fudge, is a corrupt and cowardly man who is more interested in his own popularity rather than that of his citizens. JK uses parallelism to draw a connection between Fudge and the United States President. Even though she is British, JK knows perfectly well how corrupt and unstable the American Government can be.
Moving on from the motif of death, we will take a look at some quotes that apply the three modes of persuasion…
This rhetorical analysis essay example starts off on a promising note, but as our student progresses, we can see that this paper will get a C+ at best. Even though not finished, this rhetorical analysis essay sample has way too much information about the author. Another huge drawback of this paper all students should avoid is an absence of a thesis statement in the intro. In general, final sentence of an introduction should be making a claim, not just stating what this paper is going to be about.
George Orwell's ‘Shooting an Elephant’ essay is a great example of outstanding persuasive writing. Orwell, considered by many modern Prometheus of Literature, does a fantastic job using several literary devices to influence his audience.
‘Shooting an Elephant’ is an autobiographical account of Orwell's employment as a British policeman in Burma. Through the story, Orwell struggles with his feelings of empathy towards the Burmese people, their dislike for colonizing British, as well as a general sense of British Imperialism. This leads the author crafting a compelling thesis - Imperialism is an evil that destroys both the oppressor and the oppressed.
Orwell has always been an outspoken critic of Imperialism. His encounter with the hardships in Burma gave him the necessary knowledge to openly fight against this institution. The use of ethos right from the start (the title) establishes tone for an entire story.
Other instances of ethos are his unhappy job situation. Orwell cannot stand being a policeman in such a country where he is forced against his will to punish, as he sees them, innocent people. This emotional struggle is clearly portrayed to Orwell's reader. As a result of his job, the narrator is forced to witness a savage killing of an innocent elephant which dies in a painful and undignified way. So, Orwell is drowning his readers in pathos. We can't help but feel extreme empathy for both Orwell - an Imperialist subject, the Burmese people - the subject of oppression, and the elephant - an innocent life snuffed out to appease the population. These events bring to light the injustice and unease of a shaky political situation.
Orwell’s story is clearly meant to make readers unsettled. This recollection of the most negative aspects of his hardships in Burma serves to set the tone not only for his life but the entire institution of Imperialism. Regarding how effective the argument is, it seems his goal in writing this story matches perfectly with what he is trying to convey to his readers.
‘Shooting the Elephant works not only on a personal level but on a societal one as well. It is a terrifying analysis into…
This is a better example of a rhetorical analysis essay; yet, it also has a downside. Here, the student focuses on the meaning behind the story, while his goal should be interpreting the language and means of persuasion - not Orwell's intentions.