How to Create a Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Essays seem to be a massive part of everyday life at school and college. One essay that many students have been scratching their head at is writing a Rhetorical Analysis essay. It sounds complicated, doesn’t it? But if you keep reading, you will truly learn how to write an effective essay.

What Is A Rhetorical Analysis Essay?

Before starting writing our essay, it is crucial to understand what a Rhetorical analysis essay is. Simply, it is an essay exploring and understanding the writing of the writer. Try saying that 10 times fast.

You need to look at how the writer has written a particular piece of work, rather than what their points/views are. It is all about discussing techniques and dissecting how the writer uses them to get their message across.

Although it may sound too difficult or you feel totally out of your depth, we can guide you through it. And you will find, in no time at all, you will have a solid essay.

The Best Way to Approach Your Rhetorical Analysis Essay

The first step you take along the road to completing your essay is understanding how to approach it. We can use the technique that is known as the SOAPSTone method.

The SOAPSTone method stands for:

S Speaker
O Occasion
A Audience
P Purpose
S Subject
T Tone


If you can follow this particular method, you will find planning your essay and figuring out how to approach it far more manageable. Keep on reading, and you will be able to understand how each of these can help you.


The speaker refers to whoever is telling the story that you are analysing. One common mistake that many people make is to confuse the author of the text with the speaker.

In many cases, the author may decide to tell the story they are telling from a different perspective. It might be that they tell the story from the point of the main character of view. Or they may write from the narrator’s perspective.

One tip you can use to decide which is to ask yourself a series of question:

  • Who is speaking?
  • Are the speaker and the author the same person?
  • Is there anything I know about the speaker?
  • What can I assume about them?

By asking these questions to yourself, you can begin to unravel the text and begin to analyse the writing.


This section refers to the context of a piece of writing. There are generally two different ways you can begin to decipher what the text has to say.

  • A micro view of any situation
  • A macro view of the situation

Taking a micro view of a situation is about understanding the location where any piece of writing has been set in. While zooming out, taking in the macro view of a situation is about thinking when writing was written environment the author inhabited.

Some questions to ask yourself when you are reading or researching are:

  • What are the time and the place of the text I am reading?
  • What era am I looking at?
  • Any historical events taking place?
  • Has the environment influenced it in any way?
  • Are there any details about the social or political climate?


There are going to be no prizes for guessing what this section is going to focus on. As you probably may have guessed, this part is asking who the text is aimed at. What group of people is the author hoping will read and consume the writing?

When you are conducting your research or reading through the piece of writing, try and put yourself into the writers’ shoes and think who you would like to aim this text at. Other questions you can think to yourself are:

  • Who do I think the audience is?
  • Is the audience defined by the author in the text?
  • Are there any assumptions I can make about the audience?
  • The purpose of the text? Why was it aimed at that particular audience?

By putting yourself into the audience’s shoes, you may be able to understand why the text was written to that particular group of people. This will help you immensely when you come to writing the essay.


By understanding the purpose of a particular piece of writing, you can begin to understand the author, even if it is just glimpsed. You want to be dissecting and trying to understand why the author has written it and whether or not there is a message they are trying to get across.

While looking at the text, keep these questions in mind:

  • What is the author’s purpose?
  • Have they made the purpose clear?
  • How did they convey the message?
  • How does this writing make me feel?
  • Is there an effect the author wanted to impress upon their readers?


When you are trying to understand the subject of any giving piece of writing. What you are really looking for is to find the central message of the writing or what the main topic is about.

You should write a few sentences about this, and you should explain this in a few lines. While you look, make sure to keep asking yourself these questions:

  • What is the main idea?
  • Has the author revealed any information about the topic?
  • Is there an underlying message?
  • When is the subject revealed to the reader?
  • How is the subject presented to the reader?


The tone tends to be the word choices that the author has made when writing the text. It also can be the imagery the author has used or any other literary device they have chosen to put into their text.

The author’s writing can show you how they feel about the subject or how the writing is supposed to make the reader feel when reading.

Think about these kinds of questions:

  • What words are used?
  • What is the author’s attitude towards the writing?
  • What is their point of view?
  • How do you feel after reading?
  • What devices are used in writing?

After you have researched each of these sections in-depth, it will be soon to write your essay. You also may be wondering whether or not the steps above are necessary.

It may seem like many questions to ask yourself, and you may even re-read the writing more than once, but this is a good thing. You begin to build the foundation of your essay and give you a platform to build from.

Writing your Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Now, we come to actually writing your essay. We have broken it down into some simple steps which you can follow. You will be guided and shown how you can craft what you write. Let’s get into it!

Find the Persuasion Tactic You Will Use

You will need to include some of these tactics during your essay; they are by far the best way to create an essay that has an impact as they can change your readers’ minds. You need to keep in mind the three types of persuasion—ethos, Pathos and Logos.

Simply put:

  • Ethos calls upon the ethics of the author
  • Pathos is about the emotion of the audience
  • Logos uses logic employing evidence

An in-depth look at these three elements can be found here. The article will explain what each of them means and how they can be used in an essay.

Read the Text Multiple Times

A critical step in crafting your essay is to read the text or piece of writing. This doesn’t mean that you mindlessly skim over the words and not take anything in. We mean properly read the text.

By actively reading the text, you begin to analyse what has been written because you need to find all the answers to your questions. Those answers lie within the writing.

One of the best ways to do this is to read through the text multiple times. You will be surprised about how much you can miss within a piece of writing if you read it once or twice. Just think, when you are reading a book, all the things you pick up on that you couldn’t see before.

While reading, it will also be good to apply the acronym we learned before; if you can’t remember, look back now. If you can remember what it is, we can move on.

Using this method and constantly thinking about the sorts of questions outlined, you begin to unravel the mystery held within the text. Remember, you’re going to be digging deep to discover all that needs to be found. Make sure you have your shovel and a notebook to record your findings.

Create your Thesis Statement

Your thesis statement is by far one of the most critical elements of an essay. Placed on the very last line of your introduction, your statement needs to be well-thought-out, well-formed and coherent.

A well-formed thesis statement summarises the essay for the reader. It makes the main points clear concise. It should be:

  • Informative: it needs to highlight what the essay is about without expressing any opinion or views.
  • Straightforward and easy to read.
  • Appealing: like your introduction, it needs to hook the reader.

It is worth referencing examples online to really understand the style and what should be included.

Craft the Outline for Your Rhetorical Essay

Just like any other essay, the rhetorical analysis essay follows a specific pattern. By making the outline beforehand, you building a plan in which to write.

A well-crafted outline will allow your essay to flow smoothly throughout and remain connected. Spend some time to develop it, as this will save you time in the future.

Your essay will be composed of three different sections:

  • Introduction
  • Main Body
  • Conclusion

Let’s have a look at what each of these paragraphs will look like.


To begin your introduction, you need to introduce the topic that you will be analysing. By introducing it, to begin with, you give the reader the chance to grasp what you will be writing about and gain a little more context.

You should also include some details of the author, just to give some background and again more context to your paper. Your readers will thank you for this as they will know what you are writing about.

You should then mention all the techniques and tactics the author has used during the text; refer to the method at the beginning.  You will use this paragraph to define what your purpose is, why you are analysing this text.

The paragraph will end with your well-crafted thesis statement, which you should have already written. Remember, make it coherent, well-formed and well-thought-out.

All that is needed is a link to the next paragraph in your essay, and we can call the introduction finished.

Main Body:

The link from your previous paragraph should lead you onto the first paragraph of the main bulk of your essay. You will use this section of the essay to back up and justify all of the claims and arguments you make.

You should explain and go deeper into the writer’s persuasion and analyse the author’s techniques and tactics, explaining what has led you to this conclusion.

It will be good practice to start a new paragraph whenever you are talking about a different technique or tactic. Each one should have its own section, as this will keep your essay clear and easy to follow. Also, it will be great if each paragraph was in chronological order; again, this will keep your essay easy to follow.

Don’t forget to supply plenty of evidence with all your points/claims. Unsupported arguments won’t look very good and will make you appear you are guessing or have made it up.


When you reach a conclusion, you are nearly finished. Yay! This paragraphs job is to tie the essay together. This paragraph shouldn’t be used to add new information in, as you won’t have room to provide any supporting evidence.

You should rephrase your thesis statement here and end with how you think the writers work has impacted the audience or broader society.

Edit and Revise Your Essay

You’re done! Well, not entirely; the vast majority of the work is done but not all. After you have written your essay, you move into an equally important phase—the editing.

You need to check that everything is polished and sounding right. Take note of any formatting requirements; these can trip you up if not addressed.

When you are going through re-reading your work, make sure you are thorough. You should be reading your essay multiple times before you submit it. It is far better to read it one hundred times and submit it once than to read it once and fail.

When you feel your essay is perfect and nothing more needs changing, re-read it and check the little things. This could be spelling, punctuation or formatting.

Try reading your essay out loud or backwards to see if it really makes sense. You may have missed something small or a sentence that does not work. Little things can be easily missed.

Common Pitfalls in Essay Writing

Making mistakes is normal; everyone does it. But by avoiding these small mistakes, you can make sure to have an essay that packs a punch.

Things to avoid are:

  • Not creating a good thesis statement
  • Making your essay too complex and difficult to follow
  • Extreme views or opinions
  • Bad formatting
  • Not answering key questions
  • No transitions between paragraphs
  • Ghastly grammar
  • Silly spelling
  • Poor punctuation
  • Plagiarism

These mistakes, although small, can cost you significantly. They can be the difference between an essay making the grade and it failing. So, you need to make sure you double-check everything to make sure it is correct, flows nicely and isn’t plagiarised to the last word.

If you are going to use quotes from the text, make sure you cite your source. It seems tedious, but it is vital. If you want an in-depth look at editing and proofreading, then there are many fantastic articles online. This article is excellent and offers some great advice. It can be found here.

There are also some excellent services online that you can use to make sure your essay is perfect. However, try to do as much work as yourself because this will give a lot of practice for future essays. As they say, practice makes perfect.

In Conclusion

Now you are done! Now, you need to submit your essay and watch it blow people away. We know how confusing rhetorical analysis essays can be; in fact, we know many people struggle with essay writing in general.

It demands a lot of research and evidence gathering. It also pushes you to write flawlessly and have an in-depth knowledge of different rhetorical techniques and other confusing writing devices.

But we know that if you follow along and avoid the pitfalls, you can create an essay that will blow people’s minds. You are sure to achieve the grade that you want, and you will feel less confused.

You can relax now! Your essay is finished!

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