Rhetorical analysis specific

Rhetorical Analysis
Critical Reading and Writing
Critical Reading
When you are asked to do a "rhetorical analysis" of a text,
you are being asked to apply your critical reading skills to
break down the "whole" of the text into the sum of its
– Determine what the writer is trying to achieve, and what writing
strategies he or she is using to try to achieve it.
Reading critically means more than just being moved,
affected, informed, influenced, and persuaded by a piece of
Reading critically also means analyzing and understanding
how the work has achieved its effect.
What’s in a question?
On the next slides is a list of questions to ask when
beginning to analyze a piece of prose.
These questions can be used to simply read the
text rather than write a formal analysis (a sample
of detailed formal analysis follows later in this
Keep in mind that the writer does not need to apply
all of these questions to every text. This list is
simply one method for getting started on reading
(and then writing) more critically.
Questions to ask for CR
What is the general subject? Does the subject mean anything
to you? Does it bring up any personal associations? Is the
subject a controversial one?
What is the thesis (the overall main point)? How does the
thesis interpret/comment on the subject?
What is the tone of the text? Do you react at an emotional
level to the text? Does this reaction change at all throughout
the text?
What is the writers' purpose? To explain? To inform? To
anger? Persuade? Amuse? Motivate? Sadden? Ridicule? Is
there more than one purpose? Does the purpose shift at all
throughout the text?
Questions to ask for CR
How does the writer develop his/her ideas? Narration?
Description? Definition? Comparison? Analogy? Cause
and Effect? Example? Why does the writer use these
methods of development?
How does the writer arrange his/her ideas? What are
the patterns of arrangement? Particular to general?
Broad to specific? Spatial? Chronological? Alternating?
Is the text unified and coherent? Are there adequate
transitions? How do the transitions work?
Questions to ask for CR
What is the sentence structure like in the text? Does the
writer use fragments or run-ons? Declarative?
Imperative? Interrogative? Exclamatory? Are they
simple? Compound? Complex? Compound-complex?
Short? Long? Loose? Periodic? Balanced? Parallel? Are
there any patterns in the sentence structure? Can you
make any connections between the patterns and the
writers' purpose?
Does the writer use dialogue? Quotations? To what effect?
How does the writer use diction? Is it formal? Informal?
Technical? Jargon? Slang? Is the language connotative?
Denotative? Is the language emotionally evocative? Does the
language change throughout the piece? How does the
language contribute to the writers' aim?
Questions to ask for CR
Is there anything unusual in the writers' use of
punctuation? What punctuation or other techniques
of emphasis (italics, capitals, underlining, ellipses,
parentheses) does the writer use? Is punctuation
over- or under used? Which marks does the writer
use when, and for what effects? Dashes to create a
hasty breathlessness? Semi-colons for balance or
Are important terms repeated throughout the text?
Are there any particularly vivid images that stand out?
What effect do these images have on the writers'
Questions to ask for CR
Are devices of comparison used to convey or enhance
meaning? Which tropes--similes, metaphors,
personification, hyperbole, etc. does the writer use?
When does he/she use them? Why?
Does the writer use devices of humor? Puns? Irony?
Sarcasm? Understatement? Parody? Is the effect comic
relief? Pleasure? Hysteria? Ridicule?
Rhetorical Analysis
While the term "rhetorical analysis" is, at first, rather
intimidating for many people, it is easily understood (at
least at its most basic) when broken down and defined.
– Rhetoric: The art of persuasion
– Analysis: The breaking down of some thing into its parts
and interpreting how those parts fit together.
In rhetorical analysis, then, we examine how authors
attempt to persuade their audiences by looking at the
various components that make up the art of persuasion.
Components of Rhetoric
Although there are certainly many different
viewpoints regarding what, exactly, rhetoric is, it is
quite often divided into the following general areas:
– 1. Purpose: What is the author attempting to do with his/her
work? Understanding the intended purpose of a text is the first
(and crucial) step in a deeper understanding of the text and
– 2. Audience: Who is the text written for? Obviously, an author's
intended reader plays a large role in how the author appeals to
the audience. An audience consisting of children, for example,
calls for very different strategies than an audience of economists
– 3. The Appeals: Aristotle, when referring to the strategies that
writers use in their texts, discusses three main groups: Ethos,
Pathos, and Logos.
Three Rhetorical Styles
Ethos: The Ethical appeal does NOT refer strictly to ethics.
The ethical appeal, instead refers to the credibility,
character,and confidence of a writer. There are a number of
ways in which an author may establish ethical appeal.
Pathos: Pathos is often referred to as the the emotional
appeal, although it may certainly go beyond emotion.
Examples of pathos include the use of emotion-laden words,
the use of description, and the use of repetition.
Logos: The logical appeal refers to the use of reasoning to
appeal to the reader. Examples of this include the use of
definitions, statistics, law, and comparisons.
Acme Gizmotronics, the company that you've
trusted for over 100 years, has recently entered
the World Wide Web! Now you can purchase our
fine products through the internet. Our quality
gizmos, widgets, and thingamabobs can be
shipped to you within minutes. All come with the
famous lifetime guarantee that makes Acme the
company that the world depends on for it's gizmo
Our spokesperson, Mr. Coyote says "I'm not really
a coyote, but I play one on tv. I've used Acme
products for years. Their slingshots, rocket
launchers, crowbars, pogo sticks, and power pills
are the best around. And don't forget their highpowered dynamite! I buy everything from Acme.
They are the company that I trust the most."
ACME is currently supporting research into a
form of clean, ultra-efficient, cesium-based power
that promises to usher in a new period of cheap,
globally available power. Based on a small island
off the coast of Costa Rica, ACME Technology
Research is one of our most significant divisions.
Interested in learning more about ACME? We
thought you might be.
Back to reality - Ethos
ACME is not a real company, contrary to
popular belief. It's something we made up
to use as an example of Ethos.
The ACME homepage is an example of
ethos because of the way it keeps referring
back to the character of ACME.
ACME is a company that "you have trusted
for over 100 years." They even have a
spokesperson vouching for their integrity.
ACME's new dihydro-cesium
detonation process
By combining cesium and
dihydro-oxide in laboratory
conditions, and capturing the
released energy, ACME has
promised to lead the way into
the future. Our energy source
is clean, safe, and powerful.
No pollutants are released
into the atmosphere. The
world will soon have an
excellent source of clean
A typical example of energy
released from the dihydro15
cesium process.
ACME's new dihydro-cesium
detonation process
ACME is currently working towards a
patent on our process. Our
scientists are exploring ways to use
the process in cars, houses,
airplanes, and almost anything else
that needs power. ACME batteries
will be refitted with small dihydrocesium reactors. Once the entire
world is powered by ACME's
generators, we can all relax and
enjoy a much easier life.
Back to Reality - Logos
Logos is an argument based on logic or reason.
The ACME Research page is primarily logos-based
because it appeals to the reason of people reading
It suggests that Cesium will provide the world's
energy for a very long time. It is clean, safe, and
efficient, all of which are appeals to the logic of the
By using such convincing reasons in its argument,
ACME hopes to provide the world's energy.
Cesium-Based Reactor Kills!
A baby turtle breaks free from the leathery shell of
its egg, catching its first glimpse of its first sunrise.
It pauses a moment to rest, unaware of the danger
that lies so close to it.
As the tide comes in, approaching the nest, it also
approaches a small pile of metal - cesium. The
water draws closer and closer, the turtle
unsuspecting of the danger.
Finally, the water touches the cesium. The nest is
torn to bits in the resulting explosion, destroying
even more of an endangered species.
Cesium-Based Reactor Kills!
Why does this happen? One name: Acme.
Acme Gizmotronics is supporting a dihydro-cesium
reactor, trying, in their anthrocentrism, to squeeze
energy out of such destructive explosions. And,
they are dumping waste cesium onto the shores of
their island, threatening the environment. Studies
have shown that the dihydro-cesium reactor will
destroy the island's ecosphere in less than four
months! Other environmental concerns that can
be seen on the Web.
Cesium-Based Reactor Kills!
How can they get away with this?
Costa Rica (where the island is near) has lax environmental
laws, allowing Acme to do whatever they want - including
destroy endangered species.
What can you do about this?
Don't let them get away with it! Boycott Acme products! And
call your representatives, and tell them you support stricter
legislation to prevent things like this!
Back to Reality - Pathos
Pathos is an argument based on emotion,
playing on sympathy, fears, and desires.
The Say "NO!" To Acme! page is pathosbased because it relies on an emotional
response from the people reading it.
By stressing the helplessness of the
(endangered) turtle, it attempts to sway
people to its side, against the "commericial
hordes" of Acme.