Rhetorical analysis is the study of how an author attempts to connect to their reader. Behind every piece of art or writing (or at least most of them), the creator most likely has a purpose in why the piece is the way it is. The creator may have the intent of portraying a message to the audience or may try to utilize different elements to alter the audience’s way of thinking. This “art of persuasion” is known as rhetoric and dates to Ancient Grecian times where great thinkers such as Aristotle and Socrates utilized different rhetoric strategies to make convincing arguments. These rhetorical strategies are prominent in many works of writing from your local newspaper to thriller novels. Authors of these works may attempt to persuade readers by utilizing metaphors, different language styles, syntactical/organizational cues and many different elements that may subliminally persuade readers in different ways.
There are three major elements to an author’s rhetorical strategy: The Message, The Writer/ The Speaker and The Audience. An author will have a message that they will attempt to portray to their audience. For example, in the light of today’s political turmoil, there have been numerous articles written about current US president, Donald Trump. Trump may go down in history as the United States’ most controversial president. While some well-respected media sources have refrained from displaying any bias towards Donald Trump’s presidency, some media sources have allowed their biased opinions to leak into their reports. There are numerous web articles posted on some of America’s most prominent news sources displaying (mostly) negative bias towards Donald Trump and his presidency. In these cases, the writer, which is a representative of the news source, is trying to portray their message, which can be summed up as an argument to sway supporters away from Trump while also building anger towards him that they hope will allow democracy to reverse Trump’s presidency. These journalists may attempt to convince the reader about the drastic need to impeach Trump by utilizing metaphors to poke fun at his actions. They also may quote Trump making ignorant, child-like remarks to characterize Trump as not “president-like”. Alongside these strategies, the news sources are aware of their political and social clout and are utlizing their reputation to further convince the audience of their argument’s validity. These simple elements are the very backbones of a writer or speaker’s rhetoric.
While the press utilizes rhetoric strategies to convince a population that change needs to come, writers of children books attempt to portray noteworthy messages to their readers. Some of these writers have been successful in portraying messages universal to people of all ages. For example, Iggy Peck, Architect is a picturesque children’s book written by Andrea Beaty. In an interview with Beaty, she tells of her imagination filled childhood where she played the role of detective, movie star, spy and world explorer. The book tells the tale of second grader, Iggy Peck. Everyone around him watches in awe as he goes on to build extravagant buildings using ordinary items he finds around him. For example, he builds a aesthetically pleasing towers using dirty diapers and castles made out of chalk. Iggy’s imagination roams free until he encounters his second grade teacher, Miss Greer, whose distaste for architecture leads to a ban of any exemplification or discussion of architecture. She scolds Iggy for any building he makes and threatens to send him to the principal’s office. Miss Greer’s attitude is changed when while on a field trip, the class is trapped on an island and Iggy is the only one who can save them by building a bridge made of candy, shoestrings, tree roots and other seemingly insignificant items.
Beaty attempts to portray a thematic message by utilizing different rhetorical elements. The writer herself grew up as a child with an extremely powerful imagination that pushed her to do great things. Beaty’s message to both children and adults is that imagination is a powerful tool that can push one to do great things. Imagination is usually associated with children and has been known to die down as the child grows physically and mentally into an adult. It is often frowned upon and considered immature for an adult to have a vivid imagination comparable to a child, however, Beaty incorporating colorful artwork that displays outlandish yet extremely clever designs of buildings made out of fun items commonly associated with childhood to show how the power of this “childish” imagination can have its value in common “adult” occupations such as architecture. Creativity is one aspect that will never lose its value no matter what age you are. With the same creativity and imagination that Iggy Peck, someone can be able to make revolutionary designs that are used to build amazing structures.
Besides being used in children’s books, rhetorical strategies are present in “boring adult” pieces of writing such as home design articles. For instance, Apartment Therapy is a home and décor website founded in 2001 and has been considered one of the most prominent sites in home design. They have various articles showing pictures of the homes of ordinary people and details about that person’s goal for how they want their room to look, how they plan on doing so, what they buy to do it and what store they bought it from. Altogether, the purpose of the site is to provide inspiration for people who are looking to design a home.
The website does a good job in inspiring its readers. For example, Tracey’s Vintage Modern in Manhattan shows various pictures of the reader, Tracey Steele’s home and its décor. The website’s simplistic design helps accentuate on the simplicity of the home. There is a quick summary of Tracey’s intentions with the apartment. Below it, there is a survey about what she likes and doesn’t like about the apartment, how her friends think of its design and challenges, dreams and advice she can give to the reader. Below that is a simplistic list of every piece of décor in the apartment. The article does a good job in inspiring a potential home designer by using simplistic visual elements to accentuate on the importance of simplicity in making an aesthetically pleasing home interior. The writers, Tracey and the editor together utilize these visual elements and simplistic layouts to inspire the audience to have a simplistic approach towards designing their home
From the great days of Aristotle and Socrates to today, rhetoric has played a great part in all of our lives. For us to truly understand its full potency, rhetorical analysis has must be used. Believe it or not, in order to truly understand the true meaning behind a book, rhetorical analysis is essential. Sometimes, we analyze an author’s rhetoric subconsciously. By analyzing the author’s rhetoric, we can truly get a perspective on why a piece was written, and why it was truly written the way it was, therefore, allowing us to take our reading experience and general knowledge to another level.
Beaty, Andrea. Iggy Peck, Architect. Dreamscape Media, 2018.
“Saving the World, One Room at a Time.” Apartment Therapy, Apartment Therapy, LLC., www.apartmenttherapy.com/about.
Sparacio, Andrea. “House Tour: Vintage Eclectic Manhattan Apartment.” Apartment Therapy, Apartment Therapy, LLC., 12 Oct. 2015, www.apartmenttherapy.com/tracys-vintage-modern-in-manhattan-house-tour-193298.