The Writing Process
The Rhetorical Analysis
Welcome to the world of college-level writing. By the end of this session, you should feel comfortable creating the parts of a college-level paper. You will learn about thesis statements, body paragraphs, introductions and conclusions, plus peer review. As part of your final paper, you will learn about researching using credible sources, and you will write an essay that includes these sources.
Our first assignment is a rhetorical analysis. In a rhetorical analysis, we examine the rhetoric or language that persuades someone. Rhetorical analysis focuses on how well persuasion is presented rather than what is being presented. An advertisement will be used in this assignment, and you will assess how well the advertisement presents its product, rather than on the product itself.
After you have decided on your advertisement, be sure to read the text and graphics or pictures carefully so that you understand what you have read. Write down your ideas regarding the three rhetorical strategies (ethos, logos, or pathos) described below, as well as words, phrases, sentences, graphics, and/ or pictures that support your ideas about these strategies. Keeping in mind that your goal is to explain the effectiveness—or ineffectiveness—of the advertisement, identify its main idea and the background behind the work itself.
There are three major ways that writers or ad creators persuade their audience to buy their product or service. The first is logos, which appeals to the audience’s sense of logic. You will look for ways that the text and pictures or graphics make sense and are in line with our beliefs and values.
The second is ethos, when the authors try to use their credentials or position to make the audience believe what they are saying. The reputation and expertise of the author can come into play in this appeal.
The third is pathos, which is an appeal to the emotions of the audience. Pathos includes both “happy” emotions, such as humor, as well as “sad” emotions, such as fear. As you analyze your chosen ad, pay attention to the types of appeals it contains. This will help you “read” the ad and understand how you, as a consumer, are (or are not) being persuaded about a product or service.
Parts of an Essay
The Introduction is the opening paragraph or paragraphs in an essay, and should be several sentences, with the last sentence as the thesis statement. It is important to learn this format because you will be using it in all of your papers in this class.
An introduction is like a first impression; it can make or break the paper because the writer has only one chance to get the reader’s attention. The writer has to begin with something that will make the readers want to or have to read the paper. Read some of the examples of introductions in Chapter 19 of Writing Today. Notice that none of the examples includes ideas that prove the thesis statement; you prove the thesis statement in the ideas after the introduction, not before it. The writer can begin with:
· A series of interesting questions
· A fascinating scenario or example
· A startling statistic
· An intriguing quotation
The Introduction for the Rhetorical Analysis must introduce the advertisement you will analyze. Unless you put the ad in context, the reader has no idea where it came from or why you are writing about it. Be sure to include the title of the ad, when it was made or updated, and the product it is persuading the reader to buy. Also, your readers need to be able to make a smooth transition from your attention-getter to your ad information, so include a transitional sentence before you get to the thesis statement. Below is an example of an introduction based on Figure 1 in Chapter 9; notice that the thesis statement is the last sentence in the paragraph:
Doesn’t everyone want more energy? Life in the 21st century is an endless train of things to do and people to do them with. People juggle career, school, and family with the expectation that they must feel and look good doing it. Young people, especially, feel this pressure to do and be all things, and a bottomless pit of energy is required to accomplish it. Enter Red Bull, an energy drink that promises drinkers enough caffeine to stay awake. The 2005 Red Bull ad, “Red Bull Gives you Wings,” is an effective advertisement that can be evaluated using three criteria: appeal to reason, appeal to credibility, and appeal to emotions.
The Thesis Statement includes the main idea plus the points used to prove the main idea. Craft your thesis with the idea that the entire paper must prove that thesis. Thesis statements should:
• Be one complete sentence in statement form, not as a question:
○ No: Problems in my high school. Or: Are there problems in my high school?
○ Yes: My high school had three problem areas: poor teachers, unruly students, and unequipped classrooms.
• Be written in parallel form with approximately the same number of words for each point listed:
○ No: Florida is a great vacation destination for three reasons: the beautiful weather, cultural diversity, and when you go to many places of entertainment.
○ Yes: Florida is a great vacation destination for three reasons: the beautiful weather, cultural diversity, and plentiful entertainment.
• Be written with a narrow focus on one topic, not several topics:
○ No: All Doritos commercial are great because all of them appeal to reason, appeal to credibility, and appeal to emotions.
○ Yes: The 2011 Doritos commercial featured in the 2011 Super Bowl, “Healing Grandpa,” is an effective advertisement when its appeal to reason, appeal to credibility, and appeal to emotions are all considered.
• Be free of announcements or first-person statements:
○ No: My topic is celebrities, and I think I want to prove that being a celebrity is not so glamorous and carefree as it seems: lack of privacy, a variety of pressures, and tons of competition are three of many disadvantages.
○ Yes: Being a celebrity is not so glamorous and carefree as it seems: lack of privacy, a variety of pressures, and tons of competition are three of many disadvantages.
The Thesis Statement for the Rhetorical Analysis should include the overall impression of the ad. In other words, is it an effective or ineffective ad? Include the three strategies (logic, ethos pathos), which you will analyze in the three body or supporting paragraphs. Consider this thesis statement:
The 2005 Red Bull ad, “Red Bull Gives you Wings,” is an effective advertisement that can be evaluated using three criteria: appeal to reason, appeal to credibility, and appeal to emotions.
The points appeal to reason, appeal to credibility, and appeal to emotions let the reader know what ideas your supporting paragraphs will be detailing.
• Paragraph 2 in the paper (after the introductory Paragraph 1) will develop the appeal to reason point;
• Paragraph 3 will detail the appeal to credibility idea;
• Paragraph 4, will tackle the appeal to emotions point.
The Body or Supporting Paragraphs in an essay provide support for the thesis statement.
The topic sentence is usually the first sentence of the paragraph; it is the point taken from the thesis statement and made into a sentence. A paragraph that begins with “first of all” or a transition word that means “first” or “primary” will let the reader know that the first point is about to be explored. Consider the thesis statement from above about celebrities and the topic sentences that come from this statement:
Thesis: The 2005 Red Bull ad, “Red Bull Gives you Wings,” is an effective advertisement that can be evaluated using three criteria: appeal to reason, appeal to credibility, and appeal to emotions.
Topic sentence, paragraph 2: First of all, the advertisement relies on an appeal to reason for its basis.
Topic sentence, paragraph 3: Secondly, Red Bull brings in an appeal to credibility to convince the advertisement’s viewers.
Topic sentence, paragraph 4: Red Bull’s final appeal is to emotions to make consumers want to believe that “Red Bull gives you wings”
Each of these topic sentences will begin a paragraph; the rest of each paragraph develops and proves its topic sentence.
Focus on ideas that directly prove the topic sentence and include examples and analyses of these examples.
Consider using Capital Letter Ideas throughout the paragraph: Capital Letter Ideas are words that must be capitalized because they offer details to the reader. Details and specifics are required to keep a reader interested.
Here is a body paragraph for the thesis on Red Bull:
In this advertisement, humor is used effectively for emotional appeal. The story represented in the ad is an emotional parable that reflects the life of many young people. The bird represents all the things in young people’s lives that humiliate and embarrass them, but that they can’t fix. The professor-like man is a figure students can relate to, and he seems, like them, powerless. The underlying suggestion is quite powerful: a drink might embolden a person to dream what was once thought to be impossible. The emotional message is if you drink Red Bull, you can get back at, or be free from, those who humiliated you in the past.
Notice how the paragraph does not include words or phrases from the ad to prove its appeal to emotions. Without these words and phrases, ideas appear disconnected and unconvincing.
Now consider this sample paragraph:
In this advertisement, humor is used effectively for emotional appeal. The story represented in the ad is an emotional parable that reflects the life of many young people. The bird represents all the things in young people’s lives that humiliate and embarrass them, but that they can’t fix. The professor-like man is a figure students can relate to, and he seems, like them, powerless. When he uses Red Bull to take revenge, with “bull” taking on a masculine connotation of confrontation and physical aggression, young people not only laugh at the absurdity of a professor turning into a bird, but also feel the emotional release of their own frustration. The action suggested in the phrase “gives you wings” lets us know the freedom that can exist for the taking, with “wings” taking on the connotation of flight or freedom. It’s funny that this transformation from man to bird cannot actually occur, but the underlying suggestion is quite powerful: a drink might embolden a person to dream what was once thought to be impossible. The emotional message is if you drink Red Bull, you can get back at, or be free from, those who humiliated you in the past.
With the addition of Capital Letter Ideas, as well as words or phrases enclosed in quotations marks, the essay is far more convincing.
Include phrases enclosed in quotation marks to point out wording in the ad that is especially persuasive. Readers can envision the ad without having it in front of them, and the essay is far more persuasive.
Repeat this process for every body paragraph: refer to the thesis statement after writing each paragraph to make sure that your thesis has been developed to some extent. This diligence should lead you toward writing successful essays.
Finally, you will need a Conclusion. Can you tell that this lecture is nearly finished? This section starts with the word “Finally.” That is a signal word for a conclusion. It is one way to let you readers know that you are coming to an end. In your conclusion, you restate the point of your paper and remind readers why they read your work.
One big no-no for a conclusion is DO NOT bring up a new idea or supporting point for your topic because you will make your readers wonder if they missed something in your paper or if you are just trying to fill up space.
Instead, consider including recommendations, predictions, implications, and/ or even a series of questions.
The conclusion in the Rhetorical Analysis should also leave a great final impression. Don’t spend your time repeating ideas that you clearly stated in earlier paragraphs. At the same time, don’t bring up another persuasive appeal. Be clear and concise, and include several sentences that bring that paper to a conclusive end:
This ad is clearly targeted toward young people, particularly students. The makers of this product should market it to another audience they may not have considered: new mothers or fathers. With a newborn who is up all night wanting to nurse or have a bottle, new parents must stay awake long enough for the baby to be satisfied. Sometimes this can take an hour, and when it’s two or three times during the night, a Red Bull might be just the answer to keeping alert during feedings. Of course, Red Bull would need to clarify that the parent takes the drink, not the baby!
A Word about Transitional Devices: In an essay, everything belongs together. There is a link from one idea to the next. Sometimes, a special device or cue is needed to make links more apparent to your readers. Those links are called “transition words.” Most notably, a transitional phrase might be needed at the beginning of a supporting paragraph to introduce the paragraph’s topic and to link back to the thesis statement. Such transitional words and phrases include first, second, third, finally, and within paragraphs, words such as for example, for instance, in contrast, on the other hand, however, and therefore.
Criteria for Grading the Rhetorical Analysis
Always check with your instructor if something is not clear. A good idea is to have your instructor look over your topic and thesis before you start writing your paper. This way you can be sure that you are on a good path. Never be afraid to ask for help. The best students are usually the ones who ask lots of questions. Asking questions in class or online and having them answered helps everyone to learn.
Thesis: The thesis statement must be clear and occur at the end of the first paragraph. It signals to the reader the points that the body or supporting paragraphs will detail.
Organization: Five paragraphs must exist, starting with the introduction that includes the thesis statement, followed by three body paragraphs and a conclusion. Each of the three body or supporting paragraphs must have a topic sentence and supporting sentences that prove the topic sentence on the effectiveness of the ad. Focus on proving the topic sentence must exist at all times, without ideas going off-topic or irrelevant ideas. Transitional phrases help the flow of ideas.
Content: The introduction includes the attention grabber, as well as the information about the ad. Ideas in each of the three body paragraphs include analysis of the effectiveness of rhetorical strategies (ethos,logos, or pathos) the advertisement presents. No additional research or outside sources should be included.
APA: The rough draft and final draft must both follow the correct format according to APA. Be sure to include the link of your ad at the end of your paper. This tutorial is helpful is helpful in setting up the correct format.
Grammar/Spelling/Mechanics: The paper must have minimal errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Word choice must be appropriate for college-level writing, and sentence structure must be varied.