Writing assignments abound in college courses, with many requiring you to persuade your audience by arguing a claim of value, judgment, or opinion.
To present an argument convincingly, effective rhetoric is crucial. According to Ardita Dylgjeri in the “Journal of Educational and Social Research,” rhetoric can be defined as “the intentional use of language to influence an audience.” But how do you go about using language in this way?
In 4th century B.C., Greek philosopher Aristotle answered this very question in his comprehensive treatise, “Rhetoric.” He describes the triad of rhetorical devices: logos, ethos, and pathos, which connect the topic, the speaker, and the audience. The most influential communication employs all three.
Logos is the appeal to logic or reason and is directly connected to the topic. As proposed by Paula M. Carbone in “Aristotle in the Classroom: Scaffolding the Rhetorical Situation,” Aristotle opined that “the best arguments were suggested by the topic.” Moreover, Aristotle believed logos is “the superior persuasive appeal,” the most important. One can achieve logos by using reliable facts and statistics as well as inductive or deductive reasoning.
According to Stacy Weida and Karl Stolley of Purdue University, inductive reasoning begins with a specific situation and then applies broader conclusions or generalizations based on reliable evidence. For example, if you leave your house at 8 a.m. and make it to your class on time, you may conclude that leaving at 8 a.m. each day will ensure you are always on time.
Weida and Stolley explain deductive reasoning begins with a generalization, which is then applied to a specific situation using reliable evidence. For example, all bananas are fruits, and all fruits grow on trees. So, all bananas grow on trees.
When developing logos, the organization of your argument should be clear and logical. It is best to start with your strongest claim because as L. D. Rosenberg advises in “Aristotle’s Methods for Outstanding Oral Arguments,” you do not want you best argument to “get muddled or lost amid a sea of less persuasive arguments.” Outlining is a great way to visualize your organization before drafting your essay.
Ethos is the appeal applied to the speaker’s character and credibility; this device is directly tied to the speaker. Ethos is associated with ethics, so your trustworthiness as an expert on your topic is essential. You want your audience to trust that you know about the topic you are arguing. Carbone explains, “A speaker who is not credible or knowledgeable about the topic will have a hard time convincing others of anything, simply because an audience will not take seriously arguments from someone whom they do not respect, trust, or believe to be knowledgeable about the topic.” Luckily, there are several ways to accomplish ethos:
- Use fair, objective language
- Use and cite credible sources
- Include personal experiences with the topic
- Present counter-arguments accurately
- Find commonalities between your position and counter-arguments, such as common values
- Edit your essay for surface level errors (grammar, punctuation, citations)
Pathos directly connects with your audience by the appealing to their emotions. Dylgjeri explains, “Pathos is the power with which the writer’s message moves the audience to his or her desirable emotional action. Thus a good [writer] should know for sure which emotion would effectively impact [the] audience.” There are several ways to achieve strong pathos in an essay in order to invoke sympathy, anger, celebration, fear, or whatever the desired emotion.
To create an emotionally-charged essay, you may include emotional anecdotes. If you’re writing an essay about the dangers of tobacco use, tell the story of a woman suffering from lung cancer including harrowing details about symptoms, treatments, and pain to stir your audience’s emotions. Using strong connotative language — language with both direct and implied meanings — can create strong emotions in your audience as well. For example, using the word hate has a stronger connotation than the word dislike. Also, the inclusion of figurative language, such as vivid imagery, metaphors, or similes, can bring your essay to life for your audience by painting a picture with your words.
Carbone, P.M. (2014). Aristotle in the classroom: scaffolding the rhetorical situation. Voices from the Middle, 21(3), 41-48.
Dylgjeri, A. (2014). Logos, ethos and pathos in albanian political discourse. Journal of Educational and Social Research, 4(4), 55-59.
Rosenberg, L.D. (2007). Aristotle’s methods for outstanding oral arguments. Litigation, 33(4), 33-39. Weida, S. & Stolley, K. (2013). Using rhetorical strategies for persuasion. OWL at Purdue
Many students may have problems or difficulties with writing a rhetorical analysis essay. It is a special writing assignment, and students just don’t understand how to go through the creating this kind of essay.
A good rhetorical analysis essay may be written on almost any subject. It should provide a persuasive line of reasoning, effective arguments, and a summary as well as a clarification and an explanation of what do you think about the subject and why do you think so. Sometimes students prefer to order the rhetorical analysis essay. For some reasons, it can be a good decision. But remember that a rhetorical analysis essay is a part of the AP English exam. If you have to pass this exam and have no experience in writing this type of essay you may have problems. So use your chance to find out the main peculiarities and tips and read the article.
Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Preparation
Remember that the AP exam is a type of task which has strict time limits. If you are about to create an outstanding paper, you have to devote much energy and efforts to the preparation stage because it can determine the final result. You need to break down the time, which is allocated for the exam into three steps: reading the text, analysing, and finally writing.
Reading And Analysing The Text
Of course, you will start reading the text from its introductory information. Use the advice of professional writers and take notes about some important facts and crucial information. It will make the analysis process easier.
Write down the answers to the next questions:
- What do you know about the author of the text?
- What are the peculiarities of the target audience?
- What was the purpose of the text?
Answering these questions during reading, you will be able to simplify the analysing and writing process. They explain what strategies the author used, what persuasive methods and arguments made the article conclusive and in which way pathos, ethos, and logos were connected and interacted. Analyse the article or document taking into account ethos, logos, and pathos. You will find at least one method of persuasion when passing the AP English exam.
Ethos, Pathos, and Logos are three different modes of persuasion that can be used to convince the audience.
- The ethos always appeals to the ethics. It assesses the author’s credibility;
- The pathos in its turn refers to the human emotions. The author creates an effective emotional response and in this way convince the audience;
- The logos appeals to a ratio or logics. The author uses facts and reasons in order to persuade the audience.
When you have finished the analysing of separate parts or methods, you need to determine which method is the most effective to persuade the readers. You should explain why do you think the author has chosen this method or approach and does this method is really effective in a particular situation.
Creating an Outline and Writing
After reading the text and analysing it, you should review your notes. After that, you will start the process thanks to which you can earn your A+ grade. Follow the common structure of the rhetorical analysis essay and create and outline which consists of the next parts:
- Body paragraphs;
It is the reliable way to satisfy the requests of your professor.
It is the shortest part of the paper, but still important. You will devote the biggest part of your time to body paragraphs in order to make them informative and persuasive. That’s why you will not have enough time for introduction, so you have to make it short and at the same time well-directed.
Provide the summarization of all main arguments of the author. It will show that you have understood the main idea of the article. If you understand what does the author say and in which way you will be able to express your own opinion on the issue. Don’t’ forget about the persuasive styles and their effect. You can read more about how to create an introduction here.
The body paragraphs of the rhetorical analysis essay will take the most of your time. It is the biggest part of your paper, and you should answer many questions here. What is the most important thing you should do in this part of the essay? You will have to explain in which manner and with the help of which methods and strategies the author of the text develops the main thesis. Pay attention to the devices which he applies to. Find out all strategies of persuasion that were used and devote each one paragraph to one strategy. Your statements and ideas should answer some of these questions:
- Which feelings, reactions or responses does the strategy make the readers to experience? And how?
- Does the strategy actually work?
- How does the strategy work in the particular example?
- How do you think why did the author of the text use the particular strategy to influence the reader?
It is the hardest part of writing process which requires good writing skills and appropriate writing style. If you have not much experience in writing, you can read examples of good papers here.
When you have finished explaining the strategies, arguments and persuasive methods in the body part of the essay, it’s time to end the paper with an effective and impressing conclusion. In this part, you should explain the way in which the text has affected its readers. You should show the end result and the feedback which the author gets from his or her audience. Give the explanation of the effect which each device has. After that, conclude them all together to find out the importance of the text as a whole.
As you can see, a rhetorical analysis essay is not an easy task. It is complicated and requires good writing skills. If you are not sure that you can cope with it, just ask for the help of professional writers. But if you have to create a rhetorical analysis essay within the exam, you should pay attention to the advice that we give in this article. If you still have difficulties or questions, feel free to ask them in the comments.
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