Basic understanding of how to write a rhetorical analysis essay

Whether you are taking AP English class in high school or you are enrolled in an advanced language course at the university, chances are your final examination will consist of a variety of writing tasks, including the one where you will be asked to write a rhetorical analysis essay. Before jumping into a meticulous explanation of how to write a rhetorical analysis essay, you need to gain a solid understanding of what it is and what exactly your professor expects you to hand in.

A concept of a rhetorical analysis essay can be simply described as an explanation of somebody’s speech or writing. Usually, your task will be to analyze and interpret the meaning of an author’s words and to disclose the techniques that a speaker or a writer uses in order to reach their audience.

Outlining your writing

The first thing you need to understand about the rhetorical essay is that it is not just a plot summary of the text. The objective of a rhetorical essay is to explain how the author intended to influence their audience through the power of their words. What you are asked to do is similar to encrypting an enigma. The catch is, in order to explain the writing you need to wrap your head around it so that you have a clear understanding of the text. To do so, consider multitasking while reading a passage. Before actually writing an essay, our goal should be to answer the following questions:

  • Who is an author of the passage?
  • What is the key message that an author is trying to convey?
  • Who is his or her audience?
  • What prompted him or her to give this speech/write this piece at this exact time and setting?

If you manage to answer these by the time you finish reading a passage, you can save a considerable amount of time when outlining its structure.

Structure of a rhetorical essay

Similarly to any other essay, a rhetorical one should consist of the well-known pattern of an introduction, the main body, and a conclusion. Nevertheless, feel free to add transitional paragraphs, but try to limit them to six so that your essay is not overloaded.

In the introduction, state the key message that you derived from the text. This will help you to further break down the rest of the writing in accordance with its main idea and will show your professor that you know how to comprehend complex concepts and summarize them.

Once you proceed to the main body of your essay, stop for a second and think of how you felt after reading the text. When it comes to persuasive speeches, there is a simple classification suggested by Aristotle for the methods people use to reach to other people. Most of the techniques fall under the ethos, the logos, and the pathos.

  • The ethos validates one’s opinion or point of view and reasons the audience to trust those by giving them concrete credentials of the source of information.
  • The pathos appeals to the audience’s emotions.
  • The logos calls for the logic.


Identify what is the main method used by an author of the passage given to you and explain your decision by linking the techniques to excerpts of the text. To support your point and to seamlessly proceed to the conclusion, make sure you essay answers the following questions:

  • Why did the author choose this technique?
  • What about their setting made this technique work of fail?
  • How did the audience respond to the way the information was presented to them?

Most of the time, your task will be to encode a speech, so you might want to analyze its historical or social value. Your conclusion should not only contain the summarized approach of the author, but also give a perspective on how, or if, their words reached their target audience.

While knowing how to write a rhetorical analysis essay is an important asset, it is no surprise that many students struggle with this particular task. That is why we are always happy to provide our assistance and help you pass your language course with a solid A.