Rhetorical Analysis

Steps in Rhetorical Analysis

  • Identify the question being addressed
  • Identify the author’s purpose
  • Observe diction, syntax, examples (anecdotes), structure, and persona
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of strategies at conveying the questions and meeting the author’s purpose

Categories of Questions at Issue

These are also known as Stasis Questions.

  • Fact
  • Definition
  • Circumstance
  • Policy
  • Value

Rhetorical Context

  • Setting: time and place
  • Circumstance: identities, attitudes, values, actions, backgrounds, messages, and behaviors

Analyzing Context of a Published Work

  • Where was it published?
  • Written by whom?
  • Why was it written?
  • For whom was it written?
  • When was it written?


  • Presenting yourself as a speaker or author of authority
    • Voice: point-of-view, person, etc.
    • Tone: formality, attitude, etc.

Rhetorical Appeals

  • Ethos: The ethical appeal to an audience/readers
    • Legal, religious, social
  • Pathos: The emotional appeal to an audience/readers
    • Often anecdotes used
    • Love, hate, pain, suffering, etc.
  • Logos: The logical appeal to an audience/readers
    • Research, history, any factual evidence


  • The words chosen by an author or speaker
  • Nouns and pronouns matter most, indicating people, things, or ideas at issue
  • Verbs reflect intensity and opinions (reading carefully)
  • Modifiers can reveal emotional intensity, depth of feelings

Look for patterns in word choices


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Writer: C. S. Wyatt
Updated: 08-Mar-2017
Editor: S. D. Schnelbach