As a part of thinking rhetorically about an argument, your professor may ask you to write a formal or informal rhetorical analysis essay. Rhetorical analysis is about “digging in” and exploring the strategies and writing style of a particular piece. Rhetorical analysis can be tricky because, chances are, you haven’t done a lot of rhetorical analysis in the past.
To add to this trickiness, you can write a rhetorical analysis of any piece of information, not just an essay. You may be asked to write a rhetorical analysis of an ad, an image, or a commercial.
The key is to start now! Rhetorical analysis is going to help you think about strategies other authors have made and how or why these strategies work or don’t work. In turn, your goal is to be more aware of these things in your own writing.
When you analyze a work rhetorically, you are going to explore the following concepts in a piece:
You will be thinking about the decisions an author has made along these lines and thinking about whether these decisions are effective or ineffective.
The following page provides a sample rhetorical analysis with some notes to help you better understand your goals when writing a formal rhetorical analysis.