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Rhetorical Analysis Essay example

Rhetorical Analysis Essay


You will choose a published argumentative essay and analyze the rhetoric of an argument. Your essay must include an analysis of the writer’s purpose, the writer’s audience, the argument’s use of appeals (Logos, Pathos, and Ethos), the argument’s weakness, and the argument’s evidence (quoted passages, allusions, similes, metaphors, anecdotes, etc.).

Helpful Information:

  • Refer to the checklist starting on p.113—‘Preparing to Write a Rhetorical Analysis’—for help in developing your essay.
  • Remember to adhere to the outline on p. 24 of the Practical Argument textbook.
  • Also, refer to the writing template on p. 119 to help you organize your essay.


Deniz Bilgutay’s essay on p.115 in Practical Argument


  • Select one primary source to use in the essay. You may use one of the examples below or select your own. If you would like to do another speech/essay not on the list below, you must first get that speech approved by me. The speech/essay must take a strong position for or against of past or current social or political issue.
    •  The speech is your only source.
    • Check with your instructor if you are unsure if your web source qualifies.
    • The essay must be published on a reputable periodical, magazine, journal, or historical website.
    • See your grammar handbook for how to correctly list a magazine or journal article in the Work Cited page.
    • See your grammar handbook for how to correctly cite a magazine or journal article within your essay.
  • 400-500 word requirement
  • The primary source should be documented according to MLA standards.
  • The essay must be formatted to MLA standards.
  • No secondary sources are permitted.


  • No contractions
  • Do not use the words ‘you,’ ‘your,’ ‘yours,’ or ‘yourself’ in the essay.
  • Avoid the pronoun ‘it.’

Choose from the following famous essays/speeches:

  • Martin Luther King Jr.: I Have a Dream, 1963
  • Winston Churchill: Their Finest Hour, 1940
  • Queen Elizabeth II: Coronation Speech, 1953
  • Barack Obama: Keynote Address to the Democratic National Convention, 2004
  • Jonathan Edwards: Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, 1741
  • Chief Joseph: Surrender Speech, 1877
  • George W. Bush: 9/11 Speech, 2001
  • Ronald Reagan: Tear Down This Wall, 1987
  • Nelson Mandela: Address on the Release From Prison, 1990
  • Mother Teresa:  Love Begins at Home, 1979
  • Maya Angelou: On the Pulse of Morning, 1993

You may also choose an approved film/literature speech that is making a powerful argument for or against a social or political topic.  Here are a few examples:

  • Professor Keating: Dead Poets Society, 1989
    • “The Difficulty in Maintaining Your Own Beliefs in the Face of Others” – On Conformity
    • “Poetry, Beauty, Romance, Love, These Are What We Stay Alive For”
    • “Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May” – “Carpe Diem” – “Seize the Day!”
  • Atticus Finch: To Kill a Mockingbird, “Closing Court Argument at the Robinson Rape Trial,” 1962

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