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Rhetoric Definition Essay Format

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Thesis statement in a definition essay

Thesis statement in a definition essay

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Rhetoric - Examples and Definition of Rhetoric

Rhetoric Rhetoric Definition

Rhetoric is a technique of using language effectively and persuasively in spoken or written form. It is an art of discourse. which studies and employs various methods to convince, influence or please an audience.

For instance, a person gets on your nerves, you start feeling irritated, and you say, “Why don’t you leave me alone?” By posing such a question, you do not ask for a reason. Instead, you simply want him to stop irritating you. Thus, you direct language in a particular way for effective communication or make use of rhetoric. A situation where you make use of rhetoric is called a “rhetorical situation”.

Difference between Rhetorical Device and Figures of Speech

Rhetorical figures or devices are employed to achieve particular emphasis and effect. Rhetorical devices, however, are different from “figures of speech”. Wherever and whenever a figure of speech is used in written texts and speech, it alters meanings of words. For example, the metaphor used in the expression “He is a tiger,” is a complete altered form of a simple idea “He is brave.” Try to compare this example to the use of a rhetorical device in the example below:

“I am never ever going to rob anyone for you and never, never ever give in to your sinful wish.”

The repetition in the above example does lay emphasis on the statement but does not alter the sense of it.

Common Rhetoric Examples

Below are a few examples on how rhetoric is employed by using various literary devices :

  • How did this idiot get elected? – A rhetorical question to convince others that the “idiot” does not deserve to be elected.
  • Here comes the Helen of our school. – An allusion to “Helen of Troy” to emphasize the beauty of a girl.
  • I would die if you asked me to sing in front of my parents – A hyperbole to persuade others not to use force to make you do something which you don’t want to do.
  • All blonde-haired people are dumb. – Using a stereotype to develop a general opinion about a group.

Nevertheless, the difference between rhetorical devices and figures of speech is so minute that both share many features. A figure of speech becomes a device in rhetoric when it is aimed at persuading the readers or listeners.

Example of Rhetoric in Literature

Let us try to analyze the use of rhetoric in some literary works:

Example #1

John Milton ’s Paradise Lost has several examples of rhetoric. To quote an example from Book V:

“advise him of his happy state—
Happiness in his power left free to will,
Left to his own free will, his will though free
Yet mutable”

The repetition of the phrase “free will” emphasizes the theme of human creation which is making free choices, but the phrase “yet mutable” creates ambiguity that, despite being free, Adam had to be careful, as a wrong act could make him lose his freedom.

Example #2

John Donne addresses death in his Death, be not Proud (Holy Sonnet 10) by saying:

Thou ‘art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy ‘or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?

The rhetorical question “why swell’st thou then?” serves to play down the horrific nature of death. He devalues death by calling it a “slave”, and that it keeps the despicable company of “poison, war, sickness” and seeks their support.

Example #3

We see Walt Whitman in his poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry use anaphora :

Flood-tide below me! I watch you, face to face;
Clouds of the west! sun there half an hour high! I see you also face to face.

Anaphora is a device where the same word or phrase is repeated at regular intervals to achieve a rhetorical effect.

Function of Rhetoric

Rhetoric, as explained above, is a tool for writers and orators which empowers them to convince their readers and listeners about their point of view. Often, we find rhetoric examples in religious sermons and political speeches. They aim to make comparisons, to evoke tender emotions, to censure rivals and all this is done to persuade listeners.

Advertisers give their ads a touch of rhetoric to boost their sales by convincing people that their product is better than other products in the market. For instance, in an advertisement, a girl – after shampooing her hair – says, “I can’t stop touching my hair.” This is an attempt to entice consumers, through visual rhetoric, to have soft and shiny hair like her.

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Rhetoric - Wren English

This is a research essay although many of the sources have been provided for you already. Yes, you are welcome. You must use four of the sources provided and one source of your own. Essays without sources are opinions and will not earn credit.

You've been assigned a topic. This week you will be reading your sources related to your topic. You must stay current with your reading. You must take notes each night and you must select quotes from the sources. Create a system to keep track of your material.

These essays must be unique, that is, you may not lean on other students to do the work for you. If your group produces identical essays using the identical sources, you will fail. If you are working with another student, you are not technically in a group. You must work with another student who has the opposing view.

This is a five paragraph essay at the minimum. Most likely each paragraph will be approximately half a page in length. More paragraphs are acceptable.

The MLA format guide is in the attachments below. Look for "Final_Draft_FormatA" and you will ready to go.

Rhetorical Analysis of Advertisements: Answer the following questions as you analyze each site or television commercial. In each section, use your own words to describe the definition of each term. Next, discuss how each rhetorical tool is used in the material. Describe how the tool is used and describe the potential effect on the audience. Remember that you are also analyzing imagery in this assignment. You are to make inferences based on the evidence provided. In the study of literature and politics you are required to make judgments. Be judgmental but be scientific in your analysis.

1. Logos: Define in your own words the definition of logos. How does the material make use of logos? What is the impact of the logos?

2. Ethos: How does the material make use of ethos? Does the material rely on situated ethos or invented ethos? Situated ethos is creditability that is established already; a connection between the speaker and the audience is already established in some manner. Invented ethos is creditability that must be part of the argument. Does the material attempt to establish the authority or trustworthiness? It is not uncommon for the use of logos to blend in with the use of ethos. In what ways does the material make use of logos to establish trust? Finally, what is the specific impact created by the use of ethos in this material?

3. Pathos. What is the emotional appeal used in the material? In websites and television commercials, pathos is most often employed by the use of specific images or music. Analyze the imagery in the material and describe the potential impact of pathos on the audience.

4. Persona: What key words can be used to describe the persona of the material? Define in your own words the definition of persona. Next, paint a word picture based on all analysis conducted up to this of the persona the material attempts to convey.

5. Audience: Define the term audience in your own words. Use evidence from the material to describe the audience. Be specific and detailed. Most of the material we will use in class will be complicated and have a wide audience target range. It will not be acceptable to simply identify one audience and it will be equally unacceptable to say that the material targets “everybody.”

Logos, Ethos and Pathos

Whenever you read an argument you must ask if it is persuasive and why. There are several ways to appeal to an audience. Among them are appealing to logos, ethos and pathos. These appeals are prevalent in almost all arguments.

To Appeal to Logic (logos)

Evokes an emotional response

Logos: The Greek word logos is the basis for the English word logic. Logos is a broader idea than formal logic--the highly symbolic and mathematical logic that you might study in a philosophy course. Logos refers to any attempt to appeal to the intellect, the general meaning of "logical argument." Everyday arguments rely heavily on ethos and pathos, but academic arguments rely more on logos. Yes, these arguments will call upon the writers' credibility and try to touch the audience's emotions, but there will more often than not be logical chains of reasoning supporting all claims.

Ethos: Ethos is related to the English word ethics and refers to the trustworthiness of the speaker/writer. Ethos is an effective persuasive strategy because when we believe that the speaker does not intend to do us harm, we are more willing to listen to what s/he has to say. For example, when a trusted doctor gives you advice, you may not understand all of the medical reasoning behind the advice, but you nonetheless follow the directions because you believe that the doctor knows what s/he is talking about. Likewise, when a judge comments on legal precedent audiences tend to listen because it is the job of a judge to know the nature of past legal cases.

Pathos: Pathos is related to the words pathetic, sympathy and empathy. Whenever you accept an claim based on how it makes you feel without fully analyzing the rationale behind the claim, you are acting on pathos. They may be any emotions: love, fear, patriotism, guilt, hate or joy. A majority of arguments in the popular press are heavily dependent on pathetic appeals. The more people react without full consideration for the WHY, the more effective an argument can be. Although the pathetic appeal can be manipulative, it is the cornerstone of moving people to action. Many arguments are able to persuade people logically, but the apathetic audience may not follow through on the call to action. Appeals to pathos touch a nerve and compel people to not only listen, but to also take the next step and act in the world.

Persona: What is the image the company, or commercial is attempting to convey? Remember, the image the company sends is almost always different from the image of the real people working at the company.

Audience: Who is the intended audience? What evidence can be pulled from the text to show the intended audience? Is there more than one audience?

Are you about to leave Vanden and attend college? Well, you will most likely take a placement test. The placement test is not an admission test. The placement test helps the college or university place you in the proper English or math course. You must do well on this placement test or you may need to spend an unnecessary amount of time in college making up classes. Please click on the link below and prepare for this placement exam.

Still trying to figure it all out? Try the link below. Identify a theme that is of interest to you. Read some of the essays within that theme. Remember: Essays used as samples; essays used as models, are not to be replicated or plagiarized. Plagiarism is a very serious offense and my prevent you from graduating with your class in 2014.

Sally Sample is in the attachment below.

Problem Solution Click on the link to discover some potential problems!

NEWS Instructions and links. Click this link to get to the assignment and see examples.

Ethos Pathos Logos Kairos

Do you need a free word program because you do not have Microsoft Word? Click on the link below. Did I mention that these programs are free?

Every year, sadly, at least one or two seniors fail to graduate due to plagiarism or some other form of cheating. Some students believe in magic and miracles, that is, they think they will be the ones to get successfully cheat.

You will get caught. Please do not put yourself in an impossible situation. It is better to not write the essay or do the assignment than it is to get caught cheating. Think about the end game. One act of plagiarism or one moment of cheating can ruin the semester for you.

It is not worth it.

In addition, my class is a cell phone free zone. No phones are allowed. If I see your phone, I will take it.

Patriotic definition essay rhetoric - flood myth essay 2012

Patriotic definition essay rhetoric Patriotic definition essay rhetoric

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Purdue OWL

Welcome to the Purdue OWL

This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue ( When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice at bottom.

Contributors: Mark Pepper, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli.

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.

Visual Rhetoric: Analyzing Visual Documents Definition and Goals of Visual/Rhetorical Analysis

A visual document communicates primarily through images or the interaction of image and text. Just as writers choose their words and organize their thoughts based on any number of rhetorical considerations, the author of such visual documents thinks no differently. Whether assembling an advertisement, laying out a pamphlet, taking a photograph, or marking up a website, designers take great care to ensure that their productions are visually appealing and rhetorically effective.

The goal of any rhetorical analysis is to demonstrate your understanding of how the piece communicates its messages and meanings. One way of looking at this process is that you are breaking the piece down into parts. By understanding how the different parts work, you can offer insights as to the overall persuasive strategies of the piece. Often you are not looking to place a value judgment on the piece, and if there is an implicit or implied argument you may not be ultimately taking a side.

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.

We now live in such a visually-dominated culture, that it is possible you have already internalized many of the techniques involved with visual communication (for example, every time you justify the text of your document or use standard margins, you are technically using visual rhetoric).

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.

Like you would in a book report or poetry analysis, you are offering your “reading” of the visual document and should seek to be clear, concise, and informative. Do not only give a re-telling of what the images look like (this would be the equivalent of stopping at plot summary if you were analyzing a novel). Offer your examples, explain the rhetorical strategies at work, and keep your focus on how the document communicates visually.

Contributors: Mark Pepper, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli.

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.

Elements of Analysis The Rhetorical Situation

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.

The audience is the group of people who may or may not be persuaded by the document. Analyzing the audience for a visual production may not be all too different from analyzing an audience for a solely textual work. However, unlike academic essays or short answers written on an examination, visual productions often have the potential to reach wider audiences. Additionally, unlike literature or poetry, visual documents are often more ingrained in our daily lives and encountered instead of sought.

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.

It’s best to think of audience analysis as seeking and speculating about the variables in people that would make them read the same images in different ways. These variables may include but are not limited to: region, race, age, ethnicity, gender, income, or religion. We are accustomed to thinking these variables affect how people read text, but they also affect how people interpret visuals.

Here are some tips and questions for thinking about the audience of visual documents (they are also tips you can use when composing your own).

  • Different audiences have different taste for certain visual styles. For example, the quick cuts and extreme angles of many programs on MTV are often associated with the tastes and tolerance of a younger audience.
  • People have drastically different reading speeds. In slide shows or videos with text, look for accommodations made for these differences.
  • Whether by using controversial or disturbing imagery, sometimes documents purposefully seek to alienate or offend certain audience groups while piquing the curiosity of others. Do you see evidence of this and why?
  • Does the document ask for or require any background familiarity with its subject matter or is it referencing a popular, visual style that certain audiences are more likely to recognize?

Visual productions have almost limitless purposes and goals. Although all parts of the rhetorical situation are linked, purpose and audience tend to be most carefully intertwined. The purpose is what someone is trying to persuade the audience to feel, think, or do. Therefore, a well produced document will take into account the expectations and personalities of its target audience. Below are four categories of purposes and example questions to get you thinking about the rhetorical use of visuals. Note. a document may cross over into multiple categories.

Informational. documents that seek to impart information or educate the audience

Examples: Brochures, Pamphlets, PowerPoint presentations

  • How does the layout of the information aid readability and understanding?
  • How do images clarify or enhance textual information? (Try imagining the same document without the visuals and ask how effective it would be).
  • What mood or feelings do the visuals add to the information? How does that mood aid the effectiveness of the information?

Inspirational. documents that primarily inspire emotion or feeling often without clearly predetermined goals or purposes

Examples: Photography, Paintings, Graffiti

  • What emotions are invoked by the document? How?
  • Can you use color symbolism to explain how the artist created a mood or feeling?
  • Has the image been framed or cropped in such a way to heighten a mood or feeling? Why?

Motivational. documents that spur direct action, attendance, or participation

Examples: Advertisements, Flyers, Proposals

  • How do images make the product look appealing or valuable?
  • How do images help create excitement or anticipation in the audience?
  • Is there text paired with the images that give the image added associations of value?

Functional. documents that aid in accomplishing tasks

Examples: Instruction Sets, Forms, Applications, Maps

  • How do pictures or illustrations clarify textual directions?
  • How does layout aim to make the form easy to use and eliminate mistakes?
  • Has size (of text or the document itself) been considered as a way to make the document user friendly and accessible?

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.

Context refers to the circumstances of the environment where a piece of communication takes place. Sometimes the author has a measure of control over this context, like within the confines of a presentation (where, of course, there will still be some factors beyond control). Other times,a document is specifically made for an audience to encounter on their own terms. Either way, context is an important part of the rhetorical situation and can easily make or break the effectiveness of a document’s message.

Below are some questions to get you thinking about the possibilities and pitfalls when analyzing the context of a visual document.

  • In a presentation setting with many people, has the document considered the size and layout of the room so that all participants have a chance of experiencing the document equally?
  • Does the document use any techniques to draw attention to itself in a potentially busy or competitive environment?
  • Linking is how websites get noticed and recognized. The sites that link to a web page or internet document can provide a context. Do the character of those links suggest anything about the document you are analyzing?

Contributors: Mark Pepper, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli.

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.

Organizing Your Analysis

There is no one perfect way to organize a rhetorical analysis essay. In fact, writers should always be a bit leery of plug-in formulas that offer a perfect essay format. Remember, organization itself is not the enemy, only organization without considering the specific demands of your particular writing task. That said, here are some general tips for plotting out the overall form of your essay.


Like any rhetorical analysis essay, an essay analyzing a visual document should quickly set the stage for what you’re doing. Try to cover the following concerns in the initial paragraphs:

  1. Make sure to let the reader know you’re performing a rhetorical analysis. Otherwise, they may expect you to take positions or make an evaluative argument that may not be coming.
  2. Clearly state what the document under consideration is and possibly give some pertinent background information about its history or development. The intro can be a good place for a quick, narrative summary of the document. The key word here is “quick, for you may be dealing with something large (for example, an entire episode of a cartoon like the Simpsons). Save more in-depth descriptions for your body paragraph analysis.
  3. If you’re dealing with a smaller document (like a photograph or an advertisement), and copyright allows, the introduction or first page is a good place to integrate it into your page.
  4. Give a basic run down of the rhetorical situation surrounding the document: the author, the audience, the purpose, the context, etc.
Thesis Statements and Focus

Many authors struggle with thesis statements or controlling ideas in regards to rhetorical analysis essays. There may be a temptation to think that merely announcing the text as a rhetorical analysis is purpose enough. However, especially depending on your essay’s length, your reader may need a more direct and clear statement of your intentions. Below are a few examples.

1. Clearly narrow the focus of what your essay will cover. Ask yourself if one or two design aspects of the document is interesting and complex enough to warrant a full analytical treatment.

The website for provides an excellent example of alignment and proximity to assist its visitors in navigating a potentially large and confusing amount of information.

2. Since visual documents often seek to move people towards a certain action (buying a product, attending an event, expressing a sentiment), an essay may analyze the rhetorical techniques used to accomplish this purpose. The thesis statement should reflect this goal.

The call-out flyer for the Purdue Rowing Team uses a mixture of dynamic imagery and tantalizing promises to create interest in potential, new members.

3. Rhetorical analysis can also easily lead to making original arguments. Performing the analysis may lead you to an argument; or vice versa, you may start with an argument and search for proof that supports it.

A close analysis of the female body images in the July 2007 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine reveals contradictions between the articles’ calls for self-esteem and the advertisements’ unrealistic, beauty demands.

These are merely suggestions. The best measure for what your focus and thesis statement should be the document itself and the demands of your writing situation. Remember that the main thrust of your thesis statement should be on how the document creates meaning and accomplishes its purposes. The OWl has additional information on writing thesis statements.

Analysis Order (Body Paragraphs)

Depending on the genre and size of the document under analysis, there are a number of logical ways to organize your body paragraphs. Below are a few possible options. Which ever you choose, the goal of your body paragraphs is to present parts of the document, give an extended analysis of how that part functions, and suggest how the part ties into a larger point (your thesis statement or goal).

This is the most straight-forward approach, but it can also be effective if done for a reason (as opposed to not being able to think of another way). For example, if you are analyzing a photo essay on the web or in a booklet, a chronological treatment allows you to present your insights in the same order that a viewer of the document experiences those images. It is likely that the images have been put in that order and juxtaposed for a reason, so this line of analysis can be easily integrated into the essay.

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.

A spatial ordering covers the parts of a document in the order the eye is likely to scan them. This is different than chronological order, for that is dictated by pages or screens where spatial order concerns order amongst a single page or plane. There are no unwavering guidelines for this, but you can use the following general guidelines.

  • Left to right and top to down is still the normal reading and scanning pattern for English-speaking countries.
  • The eye will naturally look for centers. This may be the technical center of the page or the center of the largest item on the page.
  • Lines are often used to provide directions and paths for the eye to follow.
  • Research has shown that on web pages, the eye tends to linger in the top left quadrant before moving left to right. Only after spending a considerable amount of time on the top, visible portion of the page will they then scroll down.

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.

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