Surely you’ve already realized the difficulty involved in compacting all that is important in your essay into one key sentence – the thesis statement. Reaching a stage in writing your essay when you have decided on the main point that you would like to make can be quite challenging. That is especially when you consider the bearing that a single sentence could have on your entire essay. That's how important a thesis statement is. It's a focal point, a foundation on which you consequently build your paper, relating all the arguments you make back to this statement. Thesis statements vary depending on a particular type of essay you're writing. Here, we provide a detailed guide on how one formulates a rhetorical analysis thesis statement.
Rhetorical analysis is a detailed study of how an author of a non-fiction work succeeded (or failed) in creating a specific effect – to convince, inform or entertain his/her audience. Analyzed work can be a text, a speech or a visual argument such as an advertisement or promotional video. You refer to the author of such work as a rhetorician. Important tools used by a rhetorician include factual evidence and, more importantly, appeals of an emotional (pathetic), ethical or logical type. Generally speaking, appeals represent attempts to earn the audience's approval by making use of fundamental human affinities or shared experience. Pathetic ones (here, we use the word pathetic without a negative connotation) primarily elicit an emotional response, sympathy or compassion, disappointment, sorrow or anger to persuade the audience of the rhetorician's argument. Logical ones use common sense to prove a point, while ethical ones rely upon the author's authority and trustworthiness to persuade the public of whatever attitude he/she has expressed towards a specific theme or topic. When performing a rhetorical analysis, you should look at which tool or technique the author has used, how successfully and what he/she has achieved by doing so.
All thesis statements represent a final element of the introduction section of an essay. They consist of three parts: topic, argument and reason for it. A thesis statement written within a rhetorical analysis paper could look like this:
Author (name) effectively convinces readers (viewers) of the product quality by pointing to the (health or other) benefits of using it.
Alternatively, you could also argue:
Author (name) fails to persuade the audience of the product quality by using trivial argumentation and appealing to the wrong emotions.
But how do you decide what stand to take towards work you're analyzing? First of all, you should explore the goal a particular text or video is intended to reach. Next, check if the rhetorician has successfully achieved it. Then try to find out which techniques he/she used along the way and what has proven to be decisive in gaining the audience's approval or disapproval.
While there is no simple recipe on how to compose a compelling thesis statement for your rhetorical analysis essay, there are a few essential rules to follow:
Step #1: consider all possible angles of approaching your analyzed material. Read or watch it several times and write down everything that comes to your mind. Include impressions made on you by the author, as well as emotional responses these impressions elicited. Then think of the author's style and rhetorical appeals he utilized to accomplish his aim.
Step #2: restrict the scope of your analysis by deciding on which aspects of the material you would like to focus. These will be subjected to meticulous examination in your paper. Upon analysis, you will decide on the author's effectiveness in proving his point. What contributed to his success or failure?
Step #3: formulate your thesis. Now is the time to compose a compelling thesis which provides information on your general position regarding the material you analyzed and the main argumentation that you will discuss in more detail in the remaining parts of your essay. Take a stand on how you think the author's style, tone, and the various appeals used contributed to influencing the audience to think or feel in a particular way. If necessary, write multiple thesis statements and later decide on the most fitting one.
Step #4: refine your thesis. If you think your working version of the thesis statement is a bit rough around the edges, polish it to get a final version which pinpoints your position and expresses your point of view most clearly. A thesis statement is like a living organism; it changes and evolves over the time needed to write the rhetorical analysis essay. Adjusting it along the way is therefore crucial.
With a bit of luck, the information and guidance provided in this text will make the task of writing a rhetorical analysis thesis statement somewhat easier. It is a critically important part of the essay and should be given sufficient consideration so that you can structure the entire paper around it.