It’s worth asking then: is rhetorical analysis of visual documents any different than this basic description? Yes and no. Sometimes you will encounter an interplay of words and images, which may complicate the number of rhetorical devices in play. Additionally, traditional schooling has emphasized analysis of certain texts for a long time. Many of us are not so accustomed to giving visual documents the same kind of rigorous attention.
That said, writing a rhetorical analysis is often a process of merely finding the language to communicate this knowledge. Other times you may find that looking at a document from a rhetorical design perspective will allow you to view it in new and interesting ways.
The classic, rhetorical appeals are logos, pathos, and ethos. These concepts roughly correspond to the logic, emotion, and character of the document’s attempt to persuade. You can find more information on these concepts elsewhere on the OWL. Once you understand these devices, you could potentially order your essay by analyzing the document’s use of logos, ethos, and pathos in different sections.
The conclusion of a rhetorical analysis essay may not operate too differently from the conclusion of any other kind of essay. Still, many writers struggle with what a conclusion should or should not do. You can find tips elsewhere on the OWL on writing conclusions. In short, however, you should restate your main ideas and explain why they are important; restate your thesis; and outline further research or work you believe should be completed to further your efforts.
Be careful using chronological ordering when dealing with a document that contains a narrative (i.e. a television show or music video). Focusing on the chronological could easily lead you to plot summary which is not the point of a rhetorical analysis.
No matter what specific direction your essay takes, your points and observations will revolve around the rhetorical situation of the document you are analyzing. A rhetorical situation occurs when an author, an audience, and a context come together and a persuasive message is communicated through some medium. Therefore, your rhetorical analysis essay will consistently link its points to these elements as they pertain to the document under question. More general information about the rhetorical situation can be elsewhere on the OWL. The following sections deal with considerations unique to analyzing visual documents.
In a rhetorical analysis essay, you should aim to bring out the goal of the writer, author or artist (also known as the rhetorician) and the techniques, examples used in achieving that goal. Apart from highlighting the techniques and tools, you should also highlight the extent of effectiveness of such techniques/tools employed by the author. Remember you are not debating, justifying or agreeing/disagreeing with the authors argument or stand; instead, you are trying to highlight the ways and methods through which the author is trying to impress the target audience convincing them of his argument or stand. You also highlight whether those methods and means are actually effective and successful or not in achieving its goals. The following steps will help you become better in writing a rhetorical analysis essay:
A website might potentially have an audience of anyone with internet access; however, based on the site, there are audiences more likely to end up there than others. A pamphlet or flyer may also technically have an audience of anyone who finds it; however, their physical placements may provide clues for who the designer would most like to see them. This is often called a “target audience.” Identifying and proving the target audience may become a significant portion of your rhetorical analysis.
III. Analysis of the speaker. You will give your reasons, based on information from the text and video and or audio portions of the speech to explain why this speaker is persuasive. There are a number of ways to explain the speaker’s persuasiveness including Aristotle’s Rhetoric, The elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) the basic model of communication, and other elements from Chapter 1, 3 and 4.
I chose this story for my rhetorical analysis essay example for the benefit of students who want to improve their writing abilities and those are thinking of starting a career in writing. The style of the writer in narrating her tale is very simple but effective. First, she describes the fulfilling environment pervading in the clinic and then proceeds by explaining the predicament of the woman who is one of their patients eager to procreate. When narrating the clinical situation of the lady in question, the author becomes very methodical and technical in her narration showing the depth of her knowledge in the medical field.
This resource covers how to write a rhetorical analysis essay of primarily visual texts with a focus on demonstrating the author’s understanding of the rhetorical situation and design principles.
As you may see, analyzing how a document’s purpose is rhetorically accomplished to persuade its audience can involve many factors. Search the owl for more information on some of the concepts mentioned in these questions.