Tips/Strategies for Rhetorical Analysis

Examples of student rhetorical analysis essays here:

  1. Example of a Rhetorical Analysis Essay: “I Have a Dream” (Macfarland)
  2. Rhetorical Analysis of MLK’s “I Have a Dream” (Ted Wilkenfeld)
  3. Rhetorical Analysis Essay (John Manfredonia)
  4. Rhetorical Analysis on “I Have a Dream” (Michael Hyun Jr.)

Online Resources:

Analyzing Rhetorical Texts


Use the following questions when analyzing rhetorical texts:

  • Which kind of text structure is used? Explain.
  • Identify the main argument (thesis).
  • Analyze the rhetorical appeals (pathos, ethos, logos).
  • Identify any figurative language used (similes, metaphors, allusions, hyperbole, etc.).
  • Assess the evidence presented to back up the argument.
  • Complete SOAPStone:
    • Subject: What is the topic of the text?

      Occasion: Why is the speech being delivered or passage written? Is it a special event?

      Audience: With whom is the writer or speaker communicating? How do you know? Which words tell you?

      Purpose: What is the audience supposed to do? What lesson should they learn? How is the audience supposed to feel at the end?

      Speaker (or author): Is the speaker a reliable person to discuss this topic? What qualifications does he or she possess?

      Tone: What is the tone or attitude of the speaker or author towards the subject?

The War in Syria

syria war

Click here for some background on the conflict in Syria. More information here, courtesy of PBS.

Consider the following two recent New York Times articles on the war in Syria and the United States’ possible intervention:

“Hearing You Out” (Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times)

“What War Means” (Frank Bruni, The New York Times)

Complete a “Rhetorical Analysis.” Questions to consider:

  1. What is the main argument?
  2. Who is the audience?
  3. What appeals does the argument use (Logos, Ethos, Pathos)?
  4. Ethos: Who is making the argument? What authorities does it rely upon?
  5. Logos: What facts, reasoning, evidence are used?
  6. Whose interests does it serve? Who gains/loses by it?
  7. How is the argument organized?
  8. How does the language/style work to persuade the audience?

From Everything’s An Argument (Lumsford, Ruszkiewicz, Walters, 92-93).

Discussion Question: Do you believe the United States government should intervene (get involved) in the war in Syria?