Rhetorical Analysis

Essay One: Rhetorical Analysis of a Text

Your first formal essay for the semester will be to write a rhetorical analysis on a text. For this assignment, you should select one of the following texts we’ve read and/or viewed together as a class to analyze rhetorically:

·              “The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie => the one I chose

·             “My Life As an Undocumented Immigrant” by Jose Antonio Vargas

·             Donald Trump campaign speech and press release from December 7, 2015

·             “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Martin Luther King, Jr.

As Lunsford, Ruszkiewicz, and Walters write in Everything’s an Argument, to analyze a text rhetorically means to perform “a close reading of a text to find how and whether it persuades” (91). As we’ve practiced in class, more than discussing in detail what the argument is, your rhetorical analysis should focus on the details of how each text makes its argument and ultimately how effective that argument is. Some things you’ll want to consider are the text’s language, rhetorical situation and context, audience, rhetorical techniques, organization/structure, and purpose (i.e., to convince, to persuade, to propose/call to action, to inform, or to explore).

You may also want to consider:

·             Ethos—How does the writer establish trust with the audience? How does the writer establish his/her authority to speak on the topic? Does s/he handle the argument fairly or only present one side? Does the biography and background of the writer make him/her more or less credible?

·             Logos—How logical and well supported is the argument? What types of evidence does the author use—quotations, allusions to other texts or historical/cultural references, statistics, laws, step-by-step logical reasoning, narratives/testimonies?

·             Pathos—In what way(s) does the author attempt to connect with his/her audience emotionally? How does s/he use personal stories to make emotional connections? What moments can you pinpoint where the writer is trying to draw out a particular emotion from the audience? Are these emotional appeals effective, ineffective, overplayed? Explain how/why.

·             Opposing arguments—Did the author address counterarguments or alternative points of view? And was s/he effective at fairly engaging with them and shooting them down?

·             Style (word choice, sentence structure, details, imagery, tone/voice)—What are the elements of this author’s style and do they add to the argument or detract from it? If you are looking at a speech, here you may also examine how the speaker presents him/herself.

·             Is there a clear thesis? What is it? Does the author state it explicitly or implicitly? Why do you think s/he made such a choice?



Likely, you will not (and, arguably should not) answer all of these questions in your final paper. It’s up to you to focus on just the ones that you find most relevant to your assessment of your chosen text. You must be sure to ground your analysis in specific examples from the text. This means you will likely quote regularly from the text, analyzing roughly 2–3 quotations or concrete textual examples in each body paragraph.


In addition, while it’s fine to write an analysis primarily focused on the ways a text is rhetorically convincing and effective, you must find at least one point of critique in your chosen text. This point of critique should be discussed in a paragraph of its own, likely near the end of your paper (though it could be you find this fits better elsewhere). This critique could take the form of identifying missed opportunities or places where the writer might expand, develop, or edit down his/her argument; areas of pathos, ethos, or logos that fall short in the text; or other ways you felt the writer failed to make the most of his/her rhetorical situation. Consider the critique the place where you get to voice how you can see the text being improved. Note: Should you be writing an analysis that is focused mostly on negatively critiquing your text, you will need to identify at least one point where the author succeeds rhetorically and spend a paragraph focused on that component.


Format and Due Dates:

Use the following length and formatting requirements:

·             3–5 pages, double-spaced, Times New Roman, size 12, 1-inch margins all around

·             Typed, double-spaced, page numbers on all pages except the first page

·             First page: in the upper left-hand corner, put the following info:

o   Your name

o   Instructor name

o   Rhetoric 110N

o   Date (written in correct format, like so): 23 February 2016

·             Title (centered on first page after signature block)—create your own unique title that could only go on your paper


Friday 2/12: Bring working thesis statement, introduction, and at least one body paragraph with you to class

Tuesday 2/16: Essay #1 first draft due in Canvas by 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday 2/23: Essay #1 final draft due in Canvas by 5:00 p.m.











The Danger of a Single Story- Rhetorical Analysis

Ashlee Nguyen

University of San Francisco


The Danger of a Single Story- Rhetorical Analysis


Have you ever heard a rumor that completely contrasts with your true self or someone close to you? It has been well portrayed by Adiche in her story “The Danger of a Single Story”. She explains how a story can be a danger to oneself, and it affects her and people around her. The purpose of this thesis is to inform about devices and rhetorical methods used by chamamanda Adiche in her speech.


Adiche speech surrounds a theme that she terms as the “danger of a single story” which in real sense means the danger of stereotyping. In the Webster’s dictionary, the term stereotyping is defined as “an often and untrue belief that many people have about all people or things with a particular characteristic”. She exposes all the stereotypes she has ever encountered and uses those experiences to enlighten a lesson of the danger of knowing or telling only a single story, perspective or a point of people or thing. I have listened to this speech on youtube.com and it resonates with me every time it plays. This is true because we might have experienced similar situations as her. But the most obvious reason am always hooked to her speech is her intelligent use of logos (logic), credibility (ethos), and emotional appeal (pathos), to drive her points.

Her speech points out the flaws of stereotyping whether it is done on empathy or not; it identifies why it is important to consider the other side of a coin before judging a person or a situation, so as to give an impartial and a fair story of people or things. This Nigerian speaker seems to be very skilled in driving her story in canons of rhetoric, arrangements, invention, memory, style and delivery. This thesis analyzes all the subjects that gave rise to her speech and also analyzes her use of pathos, ethos, and logos that she employed to drive her points to the audience.

The Context of the Speech/ the Rhetorical Situation

Amamanda Adiche, who is the speaker, is a Nigerian by descent; she is a writer and author who have been termed as “the most prominent of a procession of critically acclaimed young Anglophone authors that is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African Literature”. She was born in the city of Enugu where she was brought up as the fifth of six children. She has made many speeches and written three books. Her work has been endorsed by celebrities such as Beyoncé who employees Adiche’s work in her song, “Flawless”. Adiche seems to deliver her speech to an audience which seems mostly to be white and sponsored by TED Talks.


Let’s look at the appeals she employs to argue her position now that the scene is already set

She utilizes credibility (ethos), well known as “audience grabber” to arrest their attention and keep their focus. She delivers stories starting with herself as a child which her audience can easily relate to. In her story, she covers about the then and recent debate regarding immigration situation in America.

With precision and expertise, she appeals the emotions of the audience with a strong sense of pathos as seen below. To start with, she narrates the story of a little boy who was her house keeper and was a humble background. She employs humor as she explains the ridiculous nature of stereotyping. She narrated a story of her room-mate who was an American, and she felt pity for her just because she was an African. She also gives a story about how she was being informed about a stereotype of her book and the African characters in the book and how she sarcastically responded by giving her version of stereotype about a book she once read with an American characters.

She also employs logos which in this case can be said to be the arrangement of all her experiences and ideas so as to add power in a direction that is appealing. Through her use of eloquent language, she supports her claims as seen below. She speaks proper English with fluency and starts with her childhood and how the “single story” was given to her since she was a child. She also uses issues that are of notable books, the national debate as well as artists such as Mariah Carey to give her story that the audience can identify her with.

Besides, she also uses her failure and experience in stereotyping of other people so as to further connect with the audience. Funny enough, she also critiques her behavior to portray that she is also subject to this behavior as well. She insists that we should begin with positive stories of people to get a clear picture of their story.

Lady Adiche sets and maintains an audacious tone in the whole speech. She holds and connects the audience captive with each situation or story she uses to drive her point at home.


Ms. Adiche reveals how people stereotype things or people in a convincing, eloquent and soft-spoken manner to her audience. She provides topics of national debate; lessons learned and even suggest how to tell people stories without stereotyping. She captures and engages the audience through the use of cannons of rhetoric’s involving pathos, ethos, and logos. Her style of delivering the speech motivates me every time I listen to her, and I intend to emulate her.



Adichie, C. (2016). The danger of a single storyTed.com. Retrieved 17 February 2016, from http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story?language=en

Merriam-webster.com,. (2016). Definition of STEREOTYPE. Retrieved 17 February 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/stereotype

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