Rhetorical Analysis Thesis Statement Elements to include in your thesis statement: • The writer/speaker • The intended audience (if known) • The form of communication (i.e., letter, speech, essay, article, etc.) • The principal tone(s) of the piece (two tones, if possible) • A summary of the writer/speaker’s argument • A statement of the writer/speaker’s purpose (i.e., convince, inform, explore, etc.) In this _(tone adjective(s))_ _(form of communication)_, ____(writer/speaker)________(tone verb)_______(summary of argument)___in order to___(statement of purpose)___.
Example thesis statement for a rhetorical analysis essay • In the humorous yet disquieting article “Girl Moved to Tears by Of Mice and Men Cliffs Notes,” The Onion mocks a generic college student who is emotionally affected by the study guide summary of Steinbeck’s classic novel in order to illuminate the pseudo-intellectualism rampant on college campuses. • In order to illuminate the pseudo-intellectualism rampant on college campuses, The Onion published the humorous yet disquieting article “Girl Moved to Tears by Of Mice and Men Cliffs Notes,” whichmocks a generic college student who is emotionally affected by the study guide summary of Steinbeck’s classic novel.
Thesis Statement for “This Is Water” • In his casual yet sober commencement address to the graduating class of Kenyon College, David Foster Wallace juxtaposes two incongruous life perspectives—one of unconscious egocentrism, the other of mindful attentiveness—in order to encourage his listeners that they can choose to live a life of humble awareness.
Tracing elements through the rhetorical framework diagram • Explain how a particular persuasive element or organizational decision contributes to one of the appeals or creates a tone and how, together, they affect the writer’s overall purpose and meaning. • How What Why
Why What Tone How
WHY—Purpose: to encourage audience to adopt his humble awareness • WHAT—Tone: modesty, humility • WHAT—Ethos: Wallace knows audience—they don’t want to be preached at or told how to think—this statement makes audience more receptive • HOW—Simple statement: “I am not the wise old fish.”
Avoid the words Ethos, Logos, and Pathos • Instead of ethos, say “establishes credibility” or “makes a connection with the audience” or “earns the right to be heard” • Instead of logos, say “constructs the logical argument” or “posits the assertion/claim” • Instead of pathos, say “evokes (not invokes) (a particular emotion) ”
Example of tracing an element through the rhetorical framework diagram Shortly after his opening joke about fish and water, Wallace makes the simple assertion that “[He] is not the wise old fish” (Wallace 1). Through this statement, Wallace accomplishes several initial goals. First, heobviates his audience’s possible suspicion that he’s about to pedantically preach at them for the next half hour. He’s keenly aware that his audience, comprised mostly of graduating seniors from a prestigious liberal arts college, is not interested in being told what to do or how to think, and this modest claim serves to make them more receptive to his message. His self-diminishing statement also creates a tone of humility, one that he employs throughout the speech. Ultimately, the statement and the tone both serve as models for the humble awareness Wallace hopes to encourage in his listeners.