Rhetorical analysis essay focuses on assessing the method used for delivering a message. This assignment isn’t about giving an opinion on the topic. The purpose is to analyze how the author presents the argument and whether or not they succeeded. Keep reading to find out more strategies and prompts for a rhetorical essay.

This article will help college and high school students choose a unique topic for a rhetorical analysis essay. You can analyze books, speeches, movies, and even advertisements. To succeed, choose a subject that seems more familiar to you. And keep in mind that our custom writing team is always ready to help you with any assignment.

✍️  Rhetorical Topics on Fiction

Fiction is written from imagination. Like any literature, fiction has its way of communicating a message. You may choose to analyze your personal response to the text. Or, study its background and think about the author’s intention. The following list will inspire ideas for a great rhetorical analysis paper topic:

  1. How is the theme of divine presented in Life of Pi?
  2. Analyze the main rhetorical features of The Great Gatsby.
  3. The simple language in All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.
  4. How J.D. Salinger reveals the life of a teenager in The Catcher in the Rye.
  5. The emotional appeal of Station Eleven.
  6. How Erin Morgenstern creates diverse characters in The Night Circus.
  7. The theme of justice in The Heretic’s Daughter.

Aristotle quote.

  1. Language of mystery in The Secret Life of Violet Grant.
  2. How is the character development presented in The Alchemist?
  3. Voice of the author in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.
  4. The confrontation between characters in The Poet X.
  5. How main character’s heritage is presented in Gabi, a Girl in Pieces.
  6. Analyze Prudence Shen’s writing techniques in Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong.
  7. Love and crisis in Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.
  8. How is the theme of friendship delivered in Code Name Verity?
  9. Lord of the Flies: civilization vs. savagery.
  10. The theme of elitism in One Hundred Years of Solitude.
  11. Why John Steinbeck emphasizes dreams in Of Mice and Men.
  12. Rhetorical devices used in The Sense of an Ending.
  13. Lincoln in the Bardo: reflections on humanism.
  14. The language of shame in The Vegetarian by Han Kang.
  15. What’s the function of the setting in There There?

💬  Rhetorical Analysis Topics: Speeches

There are quite a few legendary speeches in history. If you want to analyze one, answer these questions:

  • What’s the objective of the speaker?
  • What is the historical background of the speech?
  • What could be the audience’s expectations?

Start thinking about your thesis statement as you select one of the topics below:

  1. Rhetorical devices in The Campaigns of Alexander by Alexander the Great, 326 BC.
  2. Persuasion in The Third Philippic by Demosthenes, 342 BC.
  3. Expressive means in Funeral Oration by Pericles, 431 BC.
  4. Explore the way Theodore Roosevelt uses rhetoric in The Man with the Muck-Rake, 1906.
  5. Rhetorical analysis of Pope Urban II’s Speech at Clermont, 1095.
  6. Queen Elizabeth’s intentions in Spanish Armada speech, 1588.
  7. Rhetorical devices used in George Washington’s Resignation Speech, 1783.
  8. How William Wilberforce persuades the audience in Abolition Speech, 1789.
  9. Expressive means used in Ain’t I A Woman? by Sojourner Truth, 1851.
  10. Emotional appeal in Chief Joseph’s Surrender Speech, 1877.
  11. Historical context of Freedom or Death by Emmeline Pankhurst, 1913.
  12. Ways to engage the audience in Franklin D Roosevelt’s Inauguration Speech, 1933.
  13. Rhetorical devices used in We Shall Fight on the Beaches Speech by Winston Churchill, 1940.
  14. The main objective of Gettysburg Address by Abraham Lincoln, 1863.
  15. Heroism in Charles de Gaulle’s The Appeal of 18 June, 1940.
  16. Emotional language in William Lyon Phelps’s The Pleasure of Books, 1933.
  17. How does Mahatma Gandhi persuade the listener in Quit India, 1942?
  18. Main rhetorical features of I Have a Dream speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963.
  19. What expressive means does Nelson Mandela use in I Am the First Accused, 1964?
  20. How John F. Kennedy engages with the audience in his Inauguration Speech, 1961.
  21. The context of Address to the Nation on the Challenger by Ronald Reagan, 1986.
  22. Gratitude in Lou Gehrig’s Farewell to Baseball speech, 1939.

📜  Topics for Rhetorical Analysis: Poetry

There are so many unique things a poem can convey. Analyzing it will require multiple careful readings. In your essay, answer the following questions:

  • Who is the speaker in the poem?
  • Does the title influence your idea of the meaning?
  • Is there anything peculiar about the poem’s rhythm and structure?

Analyzing poetry.

  1. Analyze the use of personification in William Butler Yeats’ Brown Penny.
  2. The narrator in Allen Ginsberg’s America.
  3. How Langston Hughes uses emotional appeal in Let America Be America Again.
  4. Regret in The Mother by Gwendolyn Brooks.
  5. The key allegories used in Daddy by Sylvia Plath.
  6. The mood of And the Moon and the Stars and the World by Charles Bukowski.
  7. William Blake’s A Poison Tree: themes of anger and darkness.
  8. What rhetorical devices does Walt Whitman use in O, Captain! My Captain!
  9. Sylvia Plath’s A Life and its context.
  10. Faces of love in A Red, Red Rose by Robert Burns.
  11. Analyze the role of contrast in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.
  12. How does Stephen Crane characterize war in Fast Rode the Knight?
  13. The function of street language in Dream Deferred by Langston Hughes.
  14. Self-acceptance in Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman.
  15. How does Shel Silverstein connect with the reader in Where the Sidewalk Ends?
  16. Unorthodox punctuation in I Carry Your Heart with Me by E. E. Cummings.
  17. To You by Walt Whitman: what is the function of the title?
  18. The setting in A Dream within a Dream by Edgar Allan Poe.
  19. Who is Emily Dickinson’s There is another Sky addressed to?
  20. Analyze Shel Silverstein’s irony in Messy Room.
  21. The speaker in Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost.
  22. Analyze main rhetorical devices used in W. H. Auden’s Funeral Blues.

📰  Rhetorical Analysis of Journal and Newspaper Articles

To analyze an article from a rhetorical perspective, try reading it with a purpose. It will help you determine the author’s main point. Besides, you can consider analyzing the article title and its role in persuasion.

Analyzing an article.

  1. People vs. nature in The Killer in the Pool by Tim Zimmerman.
  2. What are the arguments presented by David Grann in The Mark of a Masterpiece?
  3. A thief’s double life in Joshua Bearman’s Art of the Steal.
  4. Analyze the narration in Hope. Change. Reality. by Wil S. Hylton.
  5. William Finnegan’s In the Name of the Law and its emotional appeal.
  6. Persuasive devices used in Mississippi’s Corrections Reform by John Buntin.
  7. What makes Howard Jacobson’s Smash so endearing?
  8. Power fantasy in Video Games: the Addiction by Tom Bissell.
  9. The theme of prejudice in Forrest Wilder’s He Who Casts the First Stone.
  10. Credibility in The Little Pill That Could Cure Alcoholism by James Medd.
  11. Ways to connect with the audience used in Solitude and Leadership by William Deresiewicz.
  12. The way Zach Zorich uses rhetorical devices in Should We Clone Neanderthals?
  13. Acceptance in Autism’s First Child by John Donvan and Karen Zucker.
  14. How motherhood is presented in Scott Carney’s Inside India’s Rent-A-Womb Business.
  15. The theme of hope in Are You Sure You Want to Quit the World? by Nadya Labi.
  16. Howard Jacobson’s On Taking Comic Novels Seriously: what helps to persuade the reader?
  17. How Jonah Weiner uses social media in Kanye West Has a Goblet.
  18. What rhetorical devices Beth Kowitt most prominently uses in Inside the Secret World of Trader Joe’s?
  19. The theme of success in Seven Years as a Freelance Writer by Richard Morgan.
  20. The context of Keeping It Kosher by Frank Bruni.
  21. Analyze the use of humor in Rick Bragg’s article The Guiltless Pleasure.
  22. Ways of engaging with the audience in The Man the White House Wakes Up to by Mark Leibovich.

📚  Rhetorical Topics in Non-Fiction

The term “non-fiction” refers to writings based on facts. When analyzing non-fiction, research the context surrounding the text. It is also important to pay attention to the way the text is written. Think about the author’s objective and who the target readers are. This will help you carry out a thorough rhetorical analysis.

  1. Point out the main rhetorical devices used in A Brief History of Time.
  2. The theme of racism in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
  3. The setting of In Cold Blood.
  4. Trauma in John Hersey’s Hiroshima.
  5. How the theme of grief is discussed in H Is for Hawk.
  6. Analyze the main rhetorical features in Isak Dinesen’s Out of Africa.
  7. Voice of the narrator in Farley Mowat’s Never Cry Wolf.
  8. How Nick Hornby explores fandom in Fever Pitch.
  9. The emotional appeal in Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage.
  10. Elie Wiesel’s Night: the loss of innocence.
  11. What makes M.F.K. Fisher’s How to Cook a Wolf inspiring?
  12. Discuss the title’s function in A Moveable Feast.
  13. The theme of overcoming in Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.
  14. What’s the role of setting in Dreams from My Father: a Story of Race and Inheritance?
  15. How to Win Friends and Influence People: what persuasive devices are used in it?
  16. The theme of grief in The Year of Magical Thinking.
  17. Life on the Mississippi: past and present.
  18. How Marshall McLuhan explores communication in The Medium is the Massage.
  19. Persuasion in Silent Spring.

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring.

  1. The Right Stuff: the themes of courage and heroism.
  2. What makes Anne Frank: the Diary of a Young Girl terrifying?
  3. Emotional appeal in Goodbye to All That.

The primary purpose of any ad is persuasion. A good advertisement establishes the connection between the product and the consumer.

Pay attention to the following points:

  • What’s the overall impression of the advertisement?
  • What’s the primary audience?
  • Are the rhetorical devices used effectively?

You can write an interesting rhetorical analysis essay based on one of the advertisements from the following list:

  1. Dunkin’ Donuts: America Runs on Dunkin.
  2. California Milk Processor Board: Got Milk?
  3. Lay’s: Betcha Can’t Eat Just One.
  4. Red Bull: Red Bull gives you wings.
  5. The Mosaic Company: We Help the World Grow the Food It Needs.
  6. Meow Mix: Tastes So Good, Cats Ask for It by Name.
  7. Nike: There Is No Finish Line.
  8. Bounty Towels: Quicker Picker Upper.
  9. M&M: Melts in Your Mouth, Not in Your Hands.
  10. BMW: Designed for Driving Pleasure.
  11. McDonald’s: The Simpler, the Better.
  12. Taco Bell: Think Outside the Bun.
  13. L’Oréal: Because You’re Worth It.
  14. Gillette: The Best a Man Can Get.
  15. Apple: Think Different.
  16. Panasonic: Ideas for Life.
  17. MasterCard: There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s MasterCard.
  18. Dollar Shave Club: Shave Time. Shave Money.
  19. Capital One: What’s in Your Wallet?
  20. Harley Davidson: All for Freedom. Freedom for All.
  21. Levi’s: Quality Never Goes out of Style.
  22. Disneyland: The Happiest Place on Earth.

🎥  Movie Monologues: Topics for Rhetorical Analysis

In some movies, a character gives a speech that captures everyone’s attention. Making a rhetorical analysis of the movie monologue will require making observations, such as:

  • Characterize the speaker and their intentions.
  • Describe the scene where the monologue takes place.
  • Pay attention to the vocabulary and the tone of voice.

Here are a few famous movie monologues that can fit well into your rhetorical essay.

  1. Chris Evans in Avengers: Endgame.
  2. Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries.
  3. Octavia Spencer in The Help.
  4. Sam Worthington in Avatar.
  5. Mel Gibson in Braveheart.
  6. Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.
  7. Gregory Peck in To Kill A Mockingbird.
  8. Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.

Ingmar Bergman quote.

  1. Sylvester Stallone in Rocky Balboa.
  2. Meryl Streep in Sophie’s Choice.
  3. Tom Wilkinson in Michael Clayton.
  4. Ellen Burstyn in Requiem for a Dream.
  5. Morgan Freeman in The Shawshank Redemption.
  6. Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator.
  7. Charlize Theron in Monster.
  8. Wes Bentley in American Beauty.
  9. Robin Williams in Good Will Hunting.
  10. Viggo Mortensen in Return of the King.
  11. Salvatore Corsitta in The Godfather.
  12. Angela Lansbury in The Manchurian Candidate.
  13. Laurence Fishburne in The Matrix.
  14. Viola Davis in Doubt.

✅  Rhetorical Analysis Writing Guide

To carry out a rhetorical analysis, consider the rhetorical situation. Use what you know about the author and their intentions. A good rhetorical essay includes not only analysis, but also description and evaluation of the text.

Rhetorical situation.

But first, outline your essay using these steps:

  1. Introduction/summary. Briefly summarize the text.
  2. Thesis. Point out the main rhetorical feature and its function you’ve discovered in the text. It’s crucial to provide supporting evidence for your thesis. Your essay should answer the question: did the author succeed as a rhetorician?
    • Example of a thesis:
      In his book The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain shows America through a child’s eyes. The social commentary is made effective through the use of irony and regional dialect.
  3. Body paragraphs. Start each paragraph with a short topic sentence that points back to the thesis. In this section, explore the elements of the rhetorical situation:
    • Ethos, which refers to the author’s credibility.
    • Pathos, or the emotional appeal.
    • Logos, which means persuasion by showing evidence.
    • Kairos, referring to the timing.
    • Stasis, or the situation when the argument “gets stuck” due to the opinion difference.
    Don’t forget to give examples when talking about the elements of the rhetorical situation!
    Here’s an example of using logos to resolve a stasis:
    The author argues that alcohol is dangerous. He cites arguments of people who don’t believe it to be true. Then, the author uses compelling evidence to prove them wrong.
  4. Conclusion. Make a final assessment of the text and review your argument.

We hope this article helped you find a good topic for a rhetorical analysis essay. We also hope that it helped you understand how to write it perfectly.

Good luck with your assignment!

🔍  References