Organizing Your Analysis
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.
Contributors:Mark Pepper, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli
Last Edited: 2015-08-30 05:01:04
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Amazon.com 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.
Somehow in the high school, your teacher stated something like an analytical essay, defined it as a type of writing that tries to analyze a text in an already established topic. This sounds like a perfect simplified mode of writing that just summarizes the events or characters but in practice, it can prove to be hectic. So, before learning how to write a good analytical essay, need have to have a clear understanding of what it actually is.
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By definition, it’s an academic writing that separates the ideas and facts, gives the meaning to the facts to enable the reader to understand them easily. From this definition, it is very clear that it is not just a summary of the text, but an arrangement of how themes and characters align in a narrative. Analytical essay assists the reader to have a larger scope of understanding than it would be provided in a summary, as the facts are scrutinized and examined closely to portray the actual meaning of the text in a broader clearer picture.
How to write a good analytical essay
Writing a successful paper is not as automatic as you might think, thus, it requires some critical considerations. Remember that every word appealing and also helpful to the reader. The first genuine step is by studying examples of analytical essays considered successful.
This step sets a clear understanding of how to arrange the ideas and facts, and how to present them in the analysis. Of course, you are not confined to write exactly the way other samples outline, but it a great way to kick start your learning process.
Once an idea has been incepted in your memory, scrutinize the topics to have a clear understanding of the facts at hand.
There are several writing outlines but generally, three general parts namely the Introduction, the Body and the Conclusion incorporated in every essay. The three make the general format of an essay.
Plays an integral part of the overall writing. The first sentence should be interesting and attractive to the reader so that it can instill a motivation to continue studying the analysis. There are several options available to kick start your creative writing like making a compromising statement, giving interesting breathtaking facts or even asking a rhetorical question. This style draws the inspiration and the reader cannot wait to see the content in the whole review. After this, create a proper thesis statement that now introduces the reader to the main subject as it is.
The last bit is the proof of how you the thesis statement are supported throughout your analysis. It is from the introduction where you develop a list of ideas and topics to be included in the body.
- is the PowerPoint of the entire writing so creativity should be portrayed at its best here. Typically, the body should not have less than three paragraphs depending on the topic under scrutiny but a writer can incorporate as many as deemed fit with his work.
The structure of the body mainly involves a topic sentence, a claim and the evidence. This is the general template of an analytical essay. The topic sentence introduces the reader on what the paragraph entails. The claim narrows down on more specific details concerning the topic sentence. And finally, the evidence section supports the claim. The three should allow the reader to understand the topic under consideration leaving no loopholes along. The evidence should directly relate to the claim to give a good flow of ideas in the topic.
It is a summary of your essay stating your main points indirectly.
This is the finishing point of any paper. This section should be literary good to prompt the reader to go over the topic again and again to probably get some facts right about a misunderstood section. It’s a point of reference and review. The reader can use it as a guide to refer back to the topics discussed. It is better if the conclusion can leave the reader satisfied and contented with the facts and evidences outlined on the essay.
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It is important
From the above points, analytical essay writing follows the outlined general structure. It is the effort of the writer to make it as persuasive as possible so as to accomplish the intended purpose in its meaning. It is important to review the whole work after done writing to see and improve on the ideas outlined in the whole statement.