How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay, with Examples
A rhetoric analysis essay is a type of essay given in literature classes and courses.
But, a rhetorical analysis is not your typical essay; instead of focusing on the meaning behind a given piece of literature, it analyzes how the text is written.
And, that is why it is challenging.
In literature, students are taught to pay attention to all elements of a given text.
Therefore, when given an essay, they start by analyzing literary elements such as metaphors and symbolism.
Using this approach, a student ends up with an analysis or summary essay, instead of a rhetorical analysis essay.
Generally, students find rhetorical analysis essays to be challenging to write and research.
But, with the right approach, a rhetorical analysis essay is a straightforward essay.
What Is A Rhetorical Essay?
As mentioned above, you do not approach a rhetorical analysis essay like any other essay.
Let’s say you want to see how a clock works – you will open it to reveal the gears and cogs.
That is what a rhetorical essay is supposed to achieve precisely.
You are not supposed what the author meant, but how and what he used to put his message across.
Basically, you will breakdown phrases and words in a text to reveal all the literary functions the author used.
Rhetorical Essay Examples
The following essay examples will put the information above into perspective.
Rhetorical Essay Example #1
Rhetorical Analysis of ‘What it is Like to go to War’ by Karl Marlantes
In ‘What it is Like to go to War’, Karl Marlantes proposes the way a society should approach issues related to war and how the soldiers should be prepared for the task ahead. Malantes tells the story from his own point of view. He offers expository and graphic pictures of the experiences he had during the Vietnam War. The experiences are lodged in his memory and he feels it’s the right time to share with readers. He tells the story from his own point of view and offers sensory details that will make the reader more involved. The narrative is in the form of a story which is easy to read and follow. Malantes was serving as a reserve officer when he was integrated into the active service to serve during the Vietnam War. He witnessed daily deaths and was wounded by a grenade. He received several medals for this such as the Navy Cross, which is one of the highest combat awards. After the Vietnam War, he continued with his studies in Oxford. During his service at the military intelligence in Washington DC, he was constantly ridiculed by Americans who did not support the war. He sought professional therapy after experiencing depressing memories of the war. In his narrative, he is open-minded and talks freely about his experiences during the war. He also points out his responsibilities and weaknesses during the war.
Basing his proposal on his experiences, he came up with a plan that could better prepare soldiers who are expected to go to war. He notes that they should be psychologically and emotionally prepared for the grave outcomes including killing people. They are expected to treat their enemies with humanity and use ethical violence. They should be armed with the knowledge that serving in combat can be thrilling and at times and so should not feel shame. Malantes notes that he at times enjoyed the thrill of combat but the memories make him sad. After the completion of the war, the military should give veterans a time to reflect on the happenings before leading a normal life again. The society has a role to play in the preparation and welcoming back veterans after the war. He urges leaders not to use violence because they have the power to mobilize citizens to live in peace. In times of war, communities are supposed to choose the side they will support wisely and then help to end the war quickly before it takes a toll on a region. The community should also know the conditions that soldiers endure during the war hence find better ways to integrate them back into the society without rejecting them.
Malantes uses real-life experiences where one time he watched one of his wounded men fighting for his life. He shows great responsibility and effective leadership while in the battlefield. He says that he was responsible for making all the decisions hence would live with the mistakes he made. However, his command at the firebase makes serious mistakes. In one, one of the platoon’s mortals drops a short round, wounding three marines. One of them suffers severe brain damage and this reminds Marlantes of the price he has to pay for he was responsible for their deaths and wounds (p. 6). He says that the duty of veterans is usually overwhelming, and they have to carry the burdens always. He points out that the mind of combat is always jammed (p. 39). His platoon is involved in various ‘white heart atrocities’ which is a form of revenge when their own is either wounded or killed. As such, when one of their men nicknamed Canada is killed, his group invades their enemies to ‘get their pride back’ (p. 99). Marlantes is seen to take the blame for killing the NVA in an ironical twist where his group members while grieving the Trojans use the fallen heroes as a motivation to go on with the fight. During the post-war experience, Malantes sinks into depression and he has a hard time accepting his own deeds. He enforces the idea that rituals and peer counselling within the armed forces are essential to help veterans cope with war experiences.
Marlantes, Karl. (2012). What it is Like to go to War. New York; Grove Press.