RHETORICAL ANALYSIS: CRITICAL WRITING

When you write a rhetorical analysis, all you're really doing is putting onto paper the strategies you discovered/ideas you came up with when reading the text critically. Below is a set of guidelines devised to help you organize the thoughts from your critical reading process. The guidelines detail the aspects of the text you might consider discussing, and they offer you some direction in terms of organizing your paper. Remember that you do not have to cover all of these aspects when writing a formal rhetorical analysis. GUIDELINES FOR RHETORICAL ANALYSIS

YOUR TITLE: The title of your essay is the first point of contact you have with your reader. What sort of title would describe your paper and distinguish it from other papers written on the same essay? Example: "Political Spin" (from sample) A Rhetorical Analysis of the Letter from George Bush to Saddam" YOUR INTRODUCTION: DETAILING THE RHETORICAL SITUATION 

How would you describe the rhetorical situation? What will you say about the writer, the subject, thecontext, the audience, and the principal aim/purpose of the text? Are there any aims subordinate to the principal aim? How would you summarize the essay in one or two sentences? (Try not to digress into a lengthy paraphrase of the piece.) What is the writer's thesis? What features of substance and style will you focus on in the body of your essay, and why do you consider them so important to the discourse? (This is your thesis.)  

YOUR ESSAY'S BODY: DISCUSSING THE CONTENT OF THE TEXT 

How does the writer develop the discourse, and why has she/he chosen these methods of development? How has the writer arranged the discourse, and why has he/she chosen this pattern of arrangementover others? (Make specific reference to the introduction, the thesis, the body, and the conclusion if you think it is important.) 

ethos. How well does the writer achieve the purpose. refutation. appeal to the audience. If the essay is persuasive. and how do these appeals strengthen or weaken the argument? Are there any fallacies or other weaknesses in the argument? How do they affect the reader¶s response to the work? What kinds of assumptions are at work here? Are they fair assumptions? What are the particular strengths of the argument? How does the writer establish common ground? Does the writer make effective use of concession. and/or counterargument?   YOUR ESSAY'S BODY: DISCUSSING THE STYLE OF THE TEXT  Which of the following features of style do you consider most important to the discourse and why?        language (including level of diction and tone of voice) figurative language. allusion (biblical. or pathos) predominates. symbolism. and demonstrate the effect of style on content? NOTE THE FOLLOWING CONVENTIONS OF ANALYSIS:     Analyze a text in the simple present tense Enclose essay titles inside quotation marks Refer to yourself as "the reader" or "the audience" Support your claims with textual evidence (direct quotations and paraphrases) . irony humour number and length of paragraphs length and style of sentences rhythm and repetition  How do these particular features of style enable the writer to achieve her/his purpose? YOUR CONCLUSION: Use your conclusion to comment on the effect and effectiveness of the essay as a whole.). historical etc. which of the persuasive appeals (logos.

Why is Bush¶s primary concern here not one of persuasion (despite the immediate context)? We must first ask ourselves whether or not Bush is actually even putting forth an argument. a persuasive piece intended to convince the Iraqi leader to withdraw his forces from occupied Kuwait before war breaks out. would you feel like you¶re a part of a rational discussion. at least on the surface. If you were Saddam. Bush works towards his dual purposes (an expository. not much of a rational argument (let alone a convincing one). repetition."The Mother Of All Battles" and "Americans will be swimming in pools of their own blood?"). Given that excessive rhetoric is typical of political speeches and letters (Do you remember Saddam¶s own favorites -. and the depth of the analysis. George Bush is putting a political spin on a possibly bloody conflict in which many coalition soldiers may perish. the critical reader will see that Bush¶s "argument" is. Notice. or Saddam and his forces will be obliterated. the writers' level of detail here. and possibly some nuclear devices. Keep in mind that on the eve of the war. If Bush is really doing everything in his power to avoid a military confrontation. In this sense. all of which underscore the threatening tone that looms throughout the letter. or is he simply dictating an either / or fallacy? Either Saddam removes his forces from Kuwait. however. which is odd in that Bush himself repeatedly points out that much is at stake. Are there two sides to this issue in the terms that Bush puts the situation (remember that an argument is a rational discussion that requires two sides)? Does the American President allow for two such sides. but rather to explain to another audience--perhaps the world and posterity--why we had to go to war. Compare this response to your reading of the text. or do you become even more defiant (the only way left for you to save any political face)? Bush¶s use of language and style is particularly important to both of his dual purposes.SAMPLE RHETORICAL ANALYSIS The following sample analysis the letter written from George Bush to Saddam Hussein. he is dictating the unconditional withdrawal of Iraqi forces. in particular. Political Spin: An Analysis of George Bush¶s Letter to Saddam Hussein President George Bush¶s letter to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is. a vast stockpile of chemical or biological weapons. and persuasive appeals. The chief rhetorical aim here seems not to be to persuade a ruthless dictator to act rationally. or would you be feeling like you¶re being backed into a corner? Do you give in. why is there no further opportunity for negotiations? Sanctions? He is simply telling Saddam what he must do. In paragraph . the use of evidence from the text. Upon closer reading. the pervading fear was that Saddam had at his fingertips. The superficiality of the American President¶s argument leads one to seek out other more likely purposes. reputationclearing explanation masked behind a weak attempt at persuasion) through his calculated use of diction. sentence length. it is notable that Bush refrains from using figurative language that plays on word meanings. in fact.

and clearly. you¶d better do what you¶re told. putting aside the fact that Kuwait wasn¶t a very democratic country even before the invasion. Bush would want history to see his motivations as more lofty than the preservation of the West¶s crude oil supply. Bush ends his letter by offering that. Bush wants his demands to be clear: he uses no uncertain terms. He assures Saddam that "(w)hat is at issue here is not the future of Kuwait--it will be free" implying that the reason for his (and the world¶s) fast actions is one of democracy. However. in a way. He is clearly taking the moral highground when he rather ironically asserts that "(t)here can be no reward for aggression"(paragraph #5). bloody exchange." "coalition partners. Bush¶s deliberate use of inclusive and exclusive words helps to set up Saddam in opposition to the world. he does. Bush makes every effort to portray himself and the United States as just simply contributing members of an international group." Therefore. we have to ask ourselves why Bush goes to such great lengths to come across as a defender of freedom. His sentences and paragraphs are short." "international community. but to inform" (paragraph #9). "I write this letter not to threaten. America is simply one of many nations seeking a peaceful resolution. for the most part. Built subtly into his language are Bush¶s persuasive appeals. or we¶ll annihilate you! Ironically. His repeated use of "world. it is the position of the world community" (paragraph #4). also. and at the same time. he says he has doesn¶t want to punish the Iraqi people either. The American President contradicts his entire "us-the world" versus "you" argument in paragraph #8 when he finally reveals the ultimate threat behind the coalition forces--"(t)he American people would demand the strongest possible response"--ultimately." and "we" in polar opposition to words like "you. it is "us" (George Bush and the United States) versus "you. and it certainly . it wasn¶t because of the United States. Could this carefully constructed sense of ethos have anything to do with the "oil fields and installations" of paragraph #8? Certainly if thousands of Americans ended up dying in the Persian Gulf." and "your" distinctly isolates Saddam Hussein from what appears to be world opinion. Bush¶s ethical mask and attempts to distance himself and America from the central conflict begin to unravel themselves at the end of the letter. to get his message across tersely. he explains to Saddam that he is writing "because it is said by some that you do not understand just how isolated Iraq is" and because he wants "to eliminate any uncertainty or ambiguity" (paragraph #3) that may be confusing the Iraqi President.#2. As members of this coalition. accomplish both. His cause and effect development of pointing out the results and possible results of Saddam¶s actions and inactions lead to an ironic turn in tone. It doesn¶t seem to be for Saddam¶s benefit." "UN Security Council. so that no meaning could be lost through interpretation or translation. he is championing the powerless. he informs the world that if we end up in a prolonged. "this is not simply the policy of the United States. He clearly threatens the Iraqi leader with the numerous logical appeals to the immense forces arrayed against him (an appeal that has little "rational" basis to back it up given the either/or mentality behind it). According to Bush.

If bloodshed occurs.wasn¶t because of the peace-loving American President. . it is solely the responsibility of Saddam Hussein.

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