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Rhetorical Appeals Analysis (+ Examples)

Rhetorical Appeals Analysis
Rhetorical appeals analysis is a method of examining and evaluating the persuasive techniques used in written or spoken communication. It involves analyzing how the author or speaker employs rhetorical appeals to persuade, inform, or influence their audience. The three primary rhetorical appeals are ethos, pathos, and logos, which were first introduced by the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle in his work “Rhetoric.”

Overview: Ethos, Logos, Pathos

Here’s an overview of the three main rhetorical appeals:

  1. Ethos: Ethos refers to the appeal to the credibility, authority, and trustworthiness of the speaker or writer. In rhetorical analysis, you examine how the author establishes their credibility and expertise on the topic. This may include considering the author’s qualifications, experience, or use of reputable sources to build trust with the audience.
  2. Pathos: Pathos involves appealing to the emotions and feelings of the audience. In rhetorical analysis, you assess how the author uses emotional language, anecdotes, vivid descriptions, and storytelling to elicit specific emotions in the audience. The goal is to understand how the author connects with the audience on an emotional level.
  3. Logos: Logos pertains to the use of logic, reason, and evidence to support an argument. In rhetorical analysis, you investigate the author’s use of facts, statistics, logical reasoning, and sound arguments to persuade the audience. This involves assessing the strength of the author’s evidence and the validity of their reasoning.

When conducting a rhetorical appeals analysis, you typically consider the following questions:

  • How does the author establish their credibility (ethos)?
  • What emotional appeals does the author use, and how do they impact the audience (pathos)?
  • What logical arguments, evidence, or reasoning does the author provide to support their message (logos)?
  • How do these appeals work together to persuade or influence the audience?
  • Is one appeal more dominant than the others, or do they balance each other effectively?

Rhetorical appeals analysis is commonly used in the fields of literature, communication, rhetoric, and public speaking to analyze and understand the persuasive techniques employed by authors, speakers, advertisers, and politicians. It helps individuals gain insight into how communication is crafted to influence and persuade audiences.

How to Write

Writing a rhetorical appeals analysis involves breaking down a text or speech to examine how the author or speaker uses ethos, pathos, and logos to persuade their audience. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to write a rhetorical appeals analysis:

  1. Choose a Text: Select a text or speech to analyze. This could be a speech, essay, article, advertisement, or any other piece of communication that uses persuasive techniques.
  2. Read or Listen Carefully: Thoroughly read or listen to the text or speech, paying close attention to the author’s argument, tone, style, and use of language.
  3. Identify the Appeals:
    • Ethos: Consider how the author establishes their credibility. Look for information about the author’s background, qualifications, and expertise. Note any references to trusted sources or authorities.
    • Pathos: Examine how the author appeals to emotions. Identify emotional language, vivid descriptions, anecdotes, and stories that evoke feelings in the audience. Note the emotions targeted and the intended impact.
    • Logos: Analyze the use of logic and evidence. Identify statistics, facts, examples, and logical reasoning the author uses to support their argument. Assess the effectiveness of these elements in making the argument more convincing.
  4. Consider the Context: When writing your analysis, take into account the context in which the text was created. Consider the audience, the purpose of the communication, and any historical or cultural factors that may influence the rhetorical choices made by the author.
  5. Organize Your Analysis:
    • Introduction: Begin your essay with an introduction that provides some context for the text or speech, including the author’s name, the title, and the main topic or argument. Also, briefly state your thesis, outlining what you intend to analyze in terms of ethos, pathos, and logos.
    • Body Paragraphs: Dedicate separate paragraphs to each rhetorical appeal (ethos, pathos, and logos). In each paragraph, provide specific examples and quotes from the text to support your analysis. Explain how each appeal is used and its impact on the audience.
    • Integration: Throughout your analysis, connect the appeals. Discuss how they work together to strengthen the overall persuasive message.
  6. Evaluate the Effectiveness: Assess how well the author’s use of ethos, pathos, and logos accomplishes their persuasive goal. Consider whether one appeal is more dominant than the others or if they are balanced effectively.
  7. Conclusion: Summarize your analysis and restate your thesis. Discuss the overall effectiveness of the rhetorical appeals and their contribution to the author’s persuasive success. You may also reflect on the broader implications of the text’s persuasive techniques.
  8. Proofread and Revise: Carefully proofread your analysis for clarity, grammar, and coherence. Make sure your analysis flows logically and that your points are well-supported with evidence from the text.

Remember that a strong rhetorical appeals analysis goes beyond simply identifying the appeals; it involves explaining how they function within the text and evaluating their effectiveness in persuading the audience. Support your analysis with specific examples and evidence from the text to make your analysis more compelling.


Here are some examples of rhetorical appeals in various forms of communication:

  1. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” Speech (Speech):
    • Ethos: Martin Luther King Jr. establishes his credibility by referencing the American Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, positioning himself as a champion of American values and civil rights.
    • Pathos: He appeals to the emotions of the audience by painting a vivid picture of a future where racial equality is achieved, invoking hope, and using powerful metaphors like “I have a dream.”
    • Logos: King uses logic and evidence when he speaks of the “promissory note” of equality and references specific injustices faced by African Americans, such as police brutality and segregation.
  2. Apple’s “1984” Commercial (Advertisement):
    • Ethos: Apple establishes its brand as innovative and revolutionary by portraying itself as a company challenging the status quo.
    • Pathos: The ad appeals to viewers’ emotions by depicting a dystopian future and then offering hope through the Macintosh computer, creating a sense of empowerment and rebellion.
    • Logos: While the ad focuses more on ethos and pathos, it indirectly uses logos by suggesting that the Macintosh is a rational choice for those who want to break free from conformity.
  3. Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” (Literary Text):
    • Ethos: Atticus Finch, a character in the novel, exemplifies ethos through his moral integrity and legal expertise, making him a trusted figure in the story.
    • Pathos: The novel evokes emotions through its portrayal of racial injustice in the American South, particularly in the trial of Tom Robinson, prompting readers to empathize with the characters’ experiences.
    • Logos: The story uses logic to demonstrate the flaws in the racially biased legal system and the irrationality of prejudice.
  4. Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” (Documentary Film):
    • Ethos: Al Gore, the former Vice President, establishes credibility through his political background and personal commitment to raising awareness about climate change.
    • Pathos: The film appeals to viewers’ emotions by showcasing the devastating impact of climate change through images of melting ice caps, natural disasters, and endangered wildlife.
    • Logos: Gore presents scientific evidence, such as charts and graphs, to support his argument about the reality of global warming and its consequences.
  5. Nike’s “Just Do It” Campaign (Advertisement):
    • Ethos: Nike, a well-known sports brand, uses ethos by associating itself with famous athletes like Michael Jordan and Serena Williams, implying that using their products can lead to success.
    • Pathos: The campaign appeals to the emotions of determination, ambition, and inspiration by featuring athletes overcoming obstacles and achieving greatness.
    • Logos: While emotional appeals dominate, some advertisements also incorporate logos by highlighting the technical features of their products, such as advanced shoe technology or athletic performance metrics.
  6. Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address (Speech):
    • Ethos: Abraham Lincoln, as the President of the United States during the Civil War, establishes credibility by addressing the nation during a pivotal moment in history.
    • Pathos: Lincoln appeals to the emotions of the audience by emphasizing themes of sacrifice, dedication, and the idea that the United States is a nation “conceived in liberty” and dedicated to the proposition that “all men are created equal.”
    • Logos: While the speech is more emotionally driven, it relies on the logical premise that the Civil War is testing whether a nation founded on such principles can endure.
  7. George Orwell’s “1984” (Literary Text):
    • Ethos: Orwell uses ethos by drawing on his own experiences and observations as a writer to create a chilling and authoritative portrayal of a totalitarian society.
    • Pathos: The novel evokes fear and a sense of dread among readers as they witness the dystopian world of surveillance, censorship, and oppression.
    • Logos: The story engages in a form of logical critique by examining the dangers of authoritarianism and the manipulation of truth, appealing to the reader’s rationality.
  8. Coca-Cola’s “Share a Coke” Campaign (Advertisement):
    • Ethos: Coca-Cola, a long-established brand, leverages its reputation to promote a sense of trust and familiarity with consumers.
    • Pathos: The campaign taps into emotions by personalizing Coke bottles with people’s names, encouraging a sense of connection and nostalgia.
    • Logos: While emotion is central, the campaign also emphasizes the refreshing and enjoyable qualities of the product.
  9. Winston Churchill’s “We Shall Fight on the Beaches” Speech (Speech):
    • Ethos: Churchill, as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War II, establishes his credibility by addressing the nation in a time of crisis.
    • Pathos: The speech appeals to the emotions of determination and resolve, particularly through the famous line, “We shall fight on the beaches,” inspiring a sense of unity and bravery.
    • Logos: While emotion is prominent, the speech also contains logical reasoning about the importance of defending freedom and democracy against tyranny.
  10. Disney’s “The Lion King” (Film):
    • Ethos: Disney, as a renowned entertainment company, creates a sense of trust and reliability, particularly for family-friendly content.
    • Pathos: “The Lion King” appeals to emotions by exploring themes of love, loss, and personal growth, especially through the character arc of Simba.
    • Logos: While emotional storytelling is central, the film also conveys lessons about responsibility, leadership, and the circle of life, appealing to viewers’ sense of reason.
  11. Malala Yousafzai’s United Nations Address (Speech):
    • Ethos: Malala, a Nobel laureate and advocate for girls’ education, establishes her credibility through her personal experiences and her global recognition as an education activist.
    • Pathos: She appeals to the emotions of the audience by sharing her own story of surviving a Taliban attack and advocating for the rights and education of girls worldwide, evoking empathy and a sense of urgency.
    • Logos: While the speech is emotionally charged, Malala also uses logical arguments to support her call for global education reform, emphasizing the importance of education in building a better world.
  12. Dove’s “Real Beauty” Campaign (Advertisement):
    • Ethos: Dove, a well-known personal care brand, positions itself as a champion of real beauty by using real women in their advertisements, establishing trust with consumers.
    • Pathos: The campaign appeals to emotions by challenging conventional beauty standards and encouraging women to embrace their natural beauty, fostering feelings of empowerment and self-confidence.
    • Logos: While the emotional appeal is strong, Dove also uses data and research on self-esteem and body image to support its message, appealing to viewers’ rationality.
  13. John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address (Speech):
    • Ethos: As the newly elected President of the United States, Kennedy establishes his credibility by addressing the nation during his inauguration.
    • Pathos: He appeals to the emotions of hope and unity, famously saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” inspiring a sense of duty and patriotism.
    • Logos: While the speech is primarily emotionally driven, it contains logical arguments about the challenges of the Cold War era and the need for global cooperation.
  14. Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” (Literary Text):
    • Ethos: Austen’s status as a respected novelist and social commentator lends credibility to her portrayal of characters and society.
    • Pathos: The novel appeals to readers’ emotions by exploring themes of love, class, and personal growth, particularly through the romantic relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.
    • Logos: While emotion is central, the story also offers a logical critique of societal norms, particularly in the context of marriage and social status in 19th-century England.
  15. Red Bull’s “Stratos” Space Jump Event (Live Event and Advertisement):
    • Ethos: Red Bull, as an energy drink brand known for extreme sports and daring feats, leverages its reputation to create excitement and anticipation for the event.
    • Pathos: The event appeals to emotions by showcasing Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking freefall from the stratosphere, evoking feelings of awe, exhilaration, and adrenaline.
    • Logos: While emotion is central, the event incorporates scientific and technical aspects, such as the use of advanced equipment and the study of high-altitude jumps, appealing to viewers’ curiosity and fascination.

These examples demonstrate the versatility of rhetorical appeals across different contexts, from speeches and literature to advertisements and live events, in effectively conveying messages and engaging audiences.