In a rhetorical analysis essay, you need to explain the methods that the author of a book, article, or film uses to convey their message and create a necessary impression. You should also determine whether the original work’s argument is successful or not.
Identify the work’s SOAPS: speaker (author and their credentials), occasion (the context in which the text was written), audience (those to whom it was written), purpose (what the author wanted to achieve in this text), and subject (the topic discussed).
There are three main kind of appeals – ethos (the author’s reference to his or her credibility, e. g. “I have 20 years of experience as a family therapist” or “I’ve seen it with my own eyes”), logos (logical arguments, facts, and statistics that support the author’s view), and pathos (appeal to emotions – anger, sympathy, desire). In most works, you are likely to discover all three kinds. Write out or highlight the brightest examples.
Find out which of these rhetorical strategies the author uses. Write out or highlight specific examples.
Look through the notes of appeals and style details you have taken. How does each of these strategies help the author achieve their purpose? Does any of them seem to fail or hurt instead of helping? Next, think why the author might have chosen to use these strategies. How could this choice be altered if the text was intended for a different audience?
Briefly summarize the text’s contents and purpose in your introduction. Mention the SOAPS, but only if you see a way to do it in an unobtrusive manner, without simply listing them.
Make an argument on whether these techniques are successful or not. Example: “The True Stories’ excessive use of pathos conflicts with the work’s declared goal of providing the objective analysis of the situation of families with small children in poor neighborhoods.”
If you are to produce a five-paragraph essay, devote your first body paragraph to ethos, the second to logos, and the third to pathos. For a longer essay, think of particular examples of each appeal in the text, e. g. the use of objective evidence to verify the main claim (logos), or the use of visual elements appealing to aesthetics (pathos). There may be more than one example for each appeal.
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