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Guide to Writing a Rhetorical Analysis
GOAL: Write an out-of-class essay that identifies what the author is doing in the text to engage the reader and convey her message. Basically, you are taking the entirety of the text, and you are breaking it down into parts that explain the writing strategy. Think about HOW the author writes (as opposed to WHAT the author writes).
CHOOSING A SUBJECT: The writing style of Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e by Jasminne Mendez.
REMINDERS: All texts are written about in the present tense. Moreover, keep in mind the rhetorical triangle:
pathos ∆ logos
ethos—the persona, tone, and/or credibility of the author
pathos—emotional appeal to the audience
logos—logic, the actual information delivered
Writing is a dialog between the author, text, and audience.
THE ORGANIZATION: Write a five-paragraph essay, using an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Your introduction should mention the author and essay title early on in the paragraph but should have a thesis statement (your main point) at the end of the paragraph. Each body paragraph should address a critical point of the essay; see the questions at the end of this handout for tips to select a paragraph topic. Each body paragraph should have at least one quotation from the text to prove your point. Your conclusion restates your thesis in a different light, so use different words to convey the same ideas from the introduction. Be sure every paragraph has a topic sentence (the sentence that introduces the idea of the paragraph). Be sure to stay on subject; you should address the author and text in every paragraph. Use transitional phrases when needed.
OPTIONAL BRAINSTORMING: Here are some brainstorming ideas to consider for addressing your critical points:
What is the main point the author is trying to make?
Is the point clear?
What kind of writing style (narration, rhetoric, etc.) is the author using to express this point?
Does the author use figurative language (symbolism, metaphor, etc.) to make the reader see the point?
Rhetoric is the art of persuasion, so does the author persuade in any way?
What is the author’s tone? Does it shift?
Do you trust what the author is saying?
Is she convincing?
Is the ethos of the author inviting?
What makes the text memorable or vivid?
How does the author use pathos? Is there an intended audience? How does the author engage this audience? Does he or she use humor or shock value?
Does the author’s logos make sense or does it contradict the author? Is the text loaded with too much logos, to the point of boredom? Why?
How would you characterize the text?