Rhetoric is commonly defined as “the art of persuasion.” Rhetorical tools give us the means to sway our audience and to persuade them to invest in our argument.
Rhetoric is everywhere and can involve any kind of text including speeches, written arguments (such as columns, editorials, essays, etc.) images, movies, documentaries, news reports and more. It is important to understand how these various mediums attempt to persuade audiences by using appeals to rhetoric.
As we discussed in COM 1010, in order to understand how rhetoric is used in any form of communication, we need to understand the rhetorical situation of that communication.
Below, you can see the components that shape the rhetorical situation of a text.
The “rhetorical situation” describes the components of any situation in which you may want to communicate, whether in written or oral form.
To define a “rhetorical situation,” ask yourself this question: “who is talking to whom about what, how, when, where, and why?”
There are five main components:
A rhetorical analysis helps you arrive at an understanding of how a particular writer attempts to persuade his or her audience. Learning to identify rhetorical strategies can help you to 1.) Become a more critical reader, and 2.) Become a more persuasive writer by using effective rhetorical strategies in your own writing.
What is a Rhetorical Analysis?
The purpose of a rhetorical analysis essay is to:
Questions to think about while you read a written communication or listen to an oral communication:
How does the writer use each strategy to develop his or her purpose?
Ethos: Ethical appeals establish the credibility and goodwill of the author or of the sources used to support an argument. Where and how does the author explain his or her related background or establish the credibility of the sources used?
Pathos: Emotional appeals draw on the readers’ emotional response to the subject and on shared beliefs and values. Where does the author use language and/or create images that are emotionally charged?
Logos: Logical appeals use reasoning and evidence to support an argument. Logical appeals draw on facts, statistics, research, financial costs, observations, and experiments to reach conclusions using logical schema. Where and how does the author use evidence? What kinds of evidence are used? What logical schema does the author draw on to interpret the evidence?