When writing an analytical essay, for each body paragraph, are you only supposed to discuss one persuasive technique and explain that?I don't get it, because if you only have 3 body paragraphs, and...

When writing an analytical essay, for each body paragraph, are you only supposed to discuss one persuasive technique and explain that?

I don't get it, because if you only have 3 body paragraphs, and you explain only three persuaive techniques, then you wouldnt be able to cover all the other minor techniques used.

Asked on by jasseb

1 Answer

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

When writing an analytical essay whose topic or focus has been assigned by a teacher, the most important thing to do is to follow the teacher’s directions as precisely as possible.  Each teacher may be trying to accomplish a distinct objective in assigning an essay, including the objective of teaching students to follow directions precisely. While there is no absolutely right or wrong way to write an analytical essay, the “right” way in the case of an assigned essay is the way the teacher wants you to accomplish the task.

Therefore, the very best thing to do in writing such an essay is to follow very closely any written instructions you have received from your teacher.  If you do not understand those instructions, you should feel free to ask your teacher for clarification. Most teachers welcome questions from students (unless the question concerns something that has already been clearly explained, especially in writing). Teachers assume that a student who asks questions is a student who is genuinely interested in following directions, doing well, and exploring the assigned topic as fully as possible.  Therefore, never hesitate to ask your teachers questions.

I can imagine ways in which you could write an analytical essay on a piece of literature in which you focus, in each of three body paragraphs, on a primary technique while also discussing subsidiary techniques related to each primary technique.  For example, let’s assume that you were asked to write three body paragraphs dealing with sound effects, imagery, and themes.  In the first paragraph, you could break the general category of “sound effects” down into such specific matters as alliteration, assonance, metrical rhythms, onomatopoeia, etc.  Likewise, in a paragraph generally focused on imagery, you could, for instance, discuss imagery involving sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, and hearing (to mention just a few possibilities).  In a paragraph dealing with the general topic of “themes,” you could deal with related themes (goodness, virtue, morality, ethics) or opposed themes (evil, vice, immorality, unethical behavior).  In much analytical writing, it is a good idea to break any topic down into its component parts, moving from general to specific.

Let’s imagine that you were asked to analyze a piece of persuasive writing by studying the text in terms of such standard analytical categories as pathos, ethos, and logos.  Pathos involves an appeal to a reader’s emotions.  Logos involves an appeal to a reader’s reason.  Ethos involves establishing the ethical credibility of the writer.  As the Purdue web site linked below explains it,

Ethos or the ethical appeal is based on the character, credibility, or reliability of the writer.

You might devote each of three middle paragraphs to each of these broader methods of persuasion, but then within each paragraph you might discuss more specifically how, exactly, the writer of the essay appeals in these three ways.  For example, in appealing to the reader’s emotions, does the writer use vivid language likely to stir an emotional response?  Does the writer try to arouse pity, joy, anger, patriotism, etc.?  Does the writer ask questions, employ exclamations, tell stories, etc.?

Take an especially close look at the Purdue University site linked below.

Good luck!