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Analytical English Essay

Organizing Your Analysis

Summary:

This resource covers how to write a rhetorical analysis essay of primarily visual texts with a focus on demonstrating the author’s understanding of the rhetorical situation and design principles.

Contributors:Mark Pepper, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli
Last Edited: 2015-08-30 05:01:04

There is no one perfect way to organize a rhetorical analysis essay. In fact, writers should always be a bit leery of plug-in formulas that offer a perfect essay format. Remember, organization itself is not the enemy, only organization without considering the specific demands of your particular writing task. That said, here are some general tips for plotting out the overall form of your essay.

Introduction

Like any rhetorical analysis essay, an essay analyzing a visual document should quickly set the stage for what you’re doing. Try to cover the following concerns in the initial paragraphs:

  1. Make sure to let the reader know you’re performing a rhetorical analysis. Otherwise, they may expect you to take positions or make an evaluative argument that may not be coming.
  2. Clearly state what the document under consideration is and possibly give some pertinent background information about its history or development. The intro can be a good place for a quick, narrative summary of the document. The key word here is “quick, for you may be dealing with something large (for example, an entire episode of a cartoon like the Simpsons). Save more in-depth descriptions for your body paragraph analysis.
  3. If you’re dealing with a smaller document (like a photograph or an advertisement), and copyright allows, the introduction or first page is a good place to integrate it into your page.
  4. Give a basic run down of the rhetorical situation surrounding the document: the author, the audience, the purpose, the context, etc.

Thesis Statements and Focus

Many authors struggle with thesis statements or controlling ideas in regards to rhetorical analysis essays. There may be a temptation to think that merely announcing the text as a rhetorical analysis is purpose enough. However, especially depending on your essay’s length, your reader may need a more direct and clear statement of your intentions. Below are a few examples.

1. Clearly narrow the focus of what your essay will cover. Ask yourself if one or two design aspects of the document is interesting and complex enough to warrant a full analytical treatment.

The website for Amazon.com provides an excellent example of alignment and proximity to assist its visitors in navigating a potentially large and confusing amount of information.

2. Since visual documents often seek to move people towards a certain action (buying a product, attending an event, expressing a sentiment), an essay may analyze the rhetorical techniques used to accomplish this purpose. The thesis statement should reflect this goal.

The call-out flyer for the Purdue Rowing Team uses a mixture of dynamic imagery and tantalizing promises to create interest in potential, new members.

3. Rhetorical analysis can also easily lead to making original arguments. Performing the analysis may lead you to an argument; or vice versa, you may start with an argument and search for proof that supports it.

A close analysis of the female body images in the July 2007 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine reveals contradictions between the articles’ calls for self-esteem and the advertisements’ unrealistic, beauty demands.

These are merely suggestions. The best measure for what your focus and thesis statement should be the document itself and the demands of your writing situation. Remember that the main thrust of your thesis statement should be on how the document creates meaning and accomplishes its purposes. The OWl has additional information on writing thesis statements.

Analysis Order (Body Paragraphs)

Depending on the genre and size of the document under analysis, there are a number of logical ways to organize your body paragraphs. Below are a few possible options. Which ever you choose, the goal of your body paragraphs is to present parts of the document, give an extended analysis of how that part functions, and suggest how the part ties into a larger point (your thesis statement or goal).

Chronological

This is the most straight-forward approach, but it can also be effective if done for a reason (as opposed to not being able to think of another way). For example, if you are analyzing a photo essay on the web or in a booklet, a chronological treatment allows you to present your insights in the same order that a viewer of the document experiences those images. It is likely that the images have been put in that order and juxtaposed for a reason, so this line of analysis can be easily integrated into the essay.

Be careful using chronological ordering when dealing with a document that contains a narrative (i.e. a television show or music video). Focusing on the chronological could easily lead you to plot summary which is not the point of a rhetorical analysis.

Spatial

A spatial ordering covers the parts of a document in the order the eye is likely to scan them. This is different than chronological order, for that is dictated by pages or screens where spatial order concerns order amongst a single page or plane. There are no unwavering guidelines for this, but you can use the following general guidelines.

  • Left to right and top to down is still the normal reading and scanning pattern for English-speaking countries.
  • The eye will naturally look for centers. This may be the technical center of the page or the center of the largest item on the page.
  • Lines are often used to provide directions and paths for the eye to follow.
  • Research has shown that on web pages, the eye tends to linger in the top left quadrant before moving left to right. Only after spending a considerable amount of time on the top, visible portion of the page will they then scroll down.

Persuasive Appeals

The classic, rhetorical appeals are logos, pathos, and ethos. These concepts roughly correspond to the logic, emotion, and character of the document’s attempt to persuade. You can find more information on these concepts elsewhere on the OWL. Once you understand these devices, you could potentially order your essay by analyzing the document’s use of logos, ethos, and pathos in different sections.

Conclusion

The conclusion of a rhetorical analysis essay may not operate too differently from the conclusion of any other kind of essay. Still, many writers struggle with what a conclusion should or should not do. You can find tips elsewhere on the OWL on writing conclusions. In short, however, you should restate your main ideas and explain why they are important; restate your thesis; and outline further research or work you believe should be completed to further your efforts.

Great, you finished watching a movie or reading a book for university! However, before you’re free to go explore the wonders of college life, the professor decides to give you guys some work (what a nice guy). He gives out the instructions and tells you to analyze the book/movie and provide an informative argument for any topic of your choice. Obviously, it has to link back to the book/movie, but besides that the world is yours. Have no idea what you’re doing? Looks like you’ve come to the right place!


Table Of Contents



What is An Analytical Essay

The term “Analytical Essay” may sound foreign to you, but no worries, it is almost guaranteed that you have written one before! If we take a look at the definition, the term analysis means .

Therefore, an analytical essay is a piece of writing that provides an informative observation about the specific topic or idea. So let’s imagine that your topic of choice is . Obviously, writing an essay on the topic of marijuana is too general. There is so much you can talk about: from its origins in ancient times to its impact towards the war on drugs. However, the analytical essay asks you to take a small section of the entire topic, and use critical thinking to come up with some sort of argument, aka your thesis!

Topics And Ideas

There is an infinite number of different essay topics that can be analyzed. Think about any sort of fact or idea: connections can be made from anything, thus we formulate ideas and use fact to support it! In the grand scheme of things, doing jobs like this is what brought humanity from hitting rocks together for warmth to sending humans to the moon! From what we know, we can create more ideas and thus advance as a society. But enough philosophy, let’s get into the various types of analysis!

Rhetorical Analysis Essay

Just like it sounds, this is an essay where you . Imagine you are proving a fact to somebody who either can’t comprehend it or is skeptical of its authenticity! This type of analysis is based on facts and logic, so they tend to be in the fields of science and mathematics!

Examples of this can be:

  • Geometric Proofs
  • Fundamental of Physics (Newton’s Law, Theory of Relativity,...)
  • General Principle of Economics (Money makes Money)

Literary Analysis Essay

One of the most common types of analysis that college and high school students perform. After reading a specific short or any piece of literature, provide an informative analysis of a certain situation, or critically analyze a quote and its impact on the plot! This is different from rhetorical in the sense that rhetorical analysis is mostly based around logic and provable facts. A literary analysis usually goes deeper into things such as emotion and decision making of certain characters! Examples of this can be:

  • Effects of “Utopia-rescue” societies on people! Book: 1984 By George Orwell
  • Loves an effect on human decision making. Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare
  • Conforming to societies norms: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee!

Process Analysis Essay

If we think about the definition, a process is a change from one state to another through several stages or levels. A common way to explain this change would be through an essay format. This would require you to explain its purpose, as well as explaining the transformation through a series of paragraphs. Examples of this can be:

  • Amazon's Logistics
  • The Water Cycle
  • The Cycle of Depression
  • Sleep Cycle

Character Analysis Essay

Usually used within the context of some sort of story/tale, character analysis is very similar to process analysis essay. This type of essay requires you to explain and analyze the transformation of a character from the initial point until the end. Things that should be analyzed are as follows: personality, character traits, mental reformation, etc... Examples of this can be:

  • Transformation of Huck and Jim in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
  • Will Hunting’s mental evolution in Good Will Hunting
  • Viktor Navorksi in The Terminal

Poetry Analysis Essay

Poetry analysis requires the writer to research the poem’s content, structure and historical significance in an explanatory style. The goal is to make the reader understand the poems overall significance and its purpose. Examples of this can be:

  • Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken
  • Edgar Allan Poe's A Dream Within a Dream
  • Emily Dickinson's There is Another Sky

Causal Analysis Essay

If you have ever dealt with an annoying child ask “WHY” a million times in a row, then you have dealt with this type of paper in real life! The causal essay requires you to answer a why question to the best of your abilities. A lot of the times, questions can’t be answered 100%. This is why the causal essay is also known as the Speculating About Causes Essay. This requires you to describe the process that occurs, following up with why you believe it occurred in this style. Examples of this can be:

  • Why do we respond physically to fear?
  • Why do we crave sugar?
  • Why do teenagers rebel against their parents and authority?
  • Why are random shootings becoming more common in the U.S.?

These are just some of the most common types of analytical essays. The variation is practically endless, but they all must follow the same type of outline.

Steps To Take Before Writing

Unless essay writing comes to you naturally, preparation is key in writing that well-rounded and high-quality paper. So before you start typing up your masterpiece, 5 steps should be taken:

  • Brainstorm and Decide on a Topic;
  • Craft A Captivating Title;
  • Create a strong Thesis;
  • Find Supporting Evidence;
  • Create an Outline.

Brainstorm and Decide on a Topic:

  • Step 1 requires you to figure out what you’re going to be writing about (obviously). Sometimes in the advance, you are given some options to pick from. You could have already been told what type of analytical essay you have to write, or you could have just been thrown into the improvisation pool. Regardless it’s important to scope in to your topic.
  • When you get right down to it, the topic that you decide to write about should match one that either interests you or it should be one that you fully understand. It would be idiotic to pick a topic that you struggle to fully comprehend or one that puts you to sleep. It’s fairly important to write about something that you at least slightly enjoy!

Craft A Captivating Title

  • As soon as your title is the first thing your reader will see try to make it as attractive as possible. After reading it, readers will decide, does it worth to read the rest or not.

Create A Strong Thesis

  • The goal of the analytical essay is to prove a certain point that the writer is trying to make. From the information that has been gathered, the writer needs to link things together and create a certain decision. This decision is called a thesis, and it’s an argument that is created to prove an assumption created by the writer, using facts and research. For certain topics, it's important to introduce the outside forces that contributed to the creation of your thesis. For example, if you are talking about historical events, it's important to introduce the external factors that led to your thesis. If we are talking about Scientific Research, then considering the scientific method is a necessity.
  • The thesis shouldn't be a simple yes or no question with an answer. It should be a complex point that has many interconnected factors. The thesis should be controversial and require tons of research to come up with a respectable statement. Lastly, the thesis should be a high impact statement that strongly effects the topic of choice.

Find Supporting Evidence

  • You won't be able to sway anybody with your thesis statement unless it's backed by something. This is why all good statements need research and analysis. It's important to gather information that supports your argument. Depending on the type of essay, it won’t necessarily be straightforward information.
  • If we are talking about a historical topic or some sort of scientific fact, then your supporting evidence will evidently be facts taken from previous findings. However, if you are writing a literary analysis essay, then most likely your evidence will be quotes from the story. This type of evidence requires analysis and assumptions in regards towards how the reader should interpret the line.

Create An Outline

Organizing the structure of the essay is very important and makes the entire writing process easier. A number of paragraphs in the paper carries little to no importance. Paper outline will vary based on the topic of discussion and the thesis statement that is created. Regardless, the Intro-Body(s)-Conclusion style is a staple in any Analytical Essay.

Proper Outline

Introduction

The introduction usually starts out with some sort of background information. Sometimes using a hook statement can be effective, but it is not required. There is no specific style for the introduction, but background information is the most common method of approach. You should provide information that is relevant to your thesis. This information should start out broad and narrow down in relevance towards the thesis. The structure will look something like this.

  • Hook Statement/ Brief Introductory Point
  • Background Info (Narrowed)
  • Transition sentence
  • Thesis Statement

Body Paragraphs

The main goal of the body paragraphs is to fully prove the thesis statement. Each individual paragraph should focus on a certain aspect of the thesis. For example, if the thesis is centered around the evolution of Will Hunting, then the body paragraphs should each hold their own point. One body paragraph focuses on his diminishing self-guilt, and a second could talk about the ever increasing support system and its impact on his mentality. The body paragraphs should maintain proper structure:

  • Topic Sentence: Introduce the main point of the body paragraph in one straightforward and effective sentence.
  • Analysis: Analyze your supporting evidence and explain how the evidence supports your thesis. This part should take 1 or 2 sentences and is arguably the most important part of the entire essay. The reader will see your understanding of the topic based on what you write within these 2 sentences. Make sure it`s creative and impactful, but also keep it original!
  • Evidence: No analysis is complete without supporting evidence. This is where you show how you handled the research. The analysis is created from the supporting evidence that you find, so they should always go hand in hand. Make sure that these 2 parts link together in a straightforward manner.
  • Concluding Sentence: After providing a well thought out analysis and adding in evidence, the paragraph should always add a concluding sentence. Restate to the reader your analysis and its significance to the point in hand.

After reading a single body paragraph, the viewer should have clearly understood the argument or point you were trying to prove. If he had some trouble painting himself a picture or understanding your logic, then one or more parts of your body paragraph may have some mistakes.

It's important to mention that having numerous body paragraphs isn’t that important. Depending on the topic, each essay will vary based on the depth of the thesis. Quality over quantity goes a long way here.

Conclusion

The conclusion plays a vital role in the sense that it ties up the entire essay.
First things first, you should start out by restating your thesis statement. The significance of this is to clearly exemplify to your viewer that you have fully proven the thesis and to summarize the steps you took in order to do so. To end the entire essay, it’s necessary to create an overall concluding statement. This can be either what you have learned from writing the essay or what the audience should take away from your work. The structure should look like this:

  • Rephrase the Thesis statement
  • Summarize key points
  • Overall Concluding Statement

General Tips and Advice

Proofread

After writing the entire essay, take a short break and then reread it from front to back. The chances are that you will find parts of the paper which are filled with mistakes or parts that need clarity. Regardless of what the issues are, make sure the essay has clarity before handing in completed work.
You can also get academic writing help from out company in case You need some third-party opinion.

Get a Second Pair of Eyes

Just because the essay made sense to you, doesn’t mean that everyone else will receive it with the same level of understanding. Online essay writer or peer edits help to give the essay a wider range of clarity.

Make sure the thesis fits your argument points

Your paper will be highly judged based on how well you proved your thesis. That’s why it’s important to edit your thesis based on the type of arguments you provided. If your explanations don’t perfectly suit the thesis statement you crafted, then adjust it accordingly.

Analytical Essay Sample

Essay Writing Advice From Our Professional Team

Professor Jay, from EssayPro

An analytical essay is not explained in many writing textbooks. In essay writing, an analysis is the fundamental element of synthesis essays, summary essays, reflective essays, and most types of college papers. Without knowing how to analyze articles or walk your reader through a process properly, you will not be able to produce lab reports or literature papers. In an essay like this, something to stress is that analysis requires you dig deep; you can not simply summarize. You need to go beyond the who, what, where, and when, and instead answer questions of how and why.

My personal advice is to begin with a set of questions: How is this written? Who is the audience? And Is it effectively written for that audience? After answering these, it will be much easier to answer how exactly the author wrote the piece and elaborate further on why the piece was written. While writing, make sure to annotate and take notes. Keep your eye on the author’s tone and diction. This skill is incredibly important and will follow you all through middle school, high school, college, and then into life itself.

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