academic writing secrets

Writing A Rhetorical Analysis Essay On The Scarlet Letter

When you are asked to write a rhetorical analysis essay on Hawthorne’s “Scarlet Letter”, you should follow this format.

Formatting for the introduction:

  1. Speaker: what are the writer’s credentials and the writer’s name
  2. Occasion: what piece are you analyzing
  3. Subject: what is the main point of the piece (think of this as a few words to summarize it)
  4. Purpose: what is the purpose of the piece
  5. Audience: relate to how the author a portrays an attitude or feeling to relate to her audience

For example:

Author, Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote the novel, “The Scarlet Letter” about a women in the late 1840’s who is forced to wear a scarlet colored “A” on her chest because she was an adulterer. The purpose of the piece is a symbolic and semi-allegorical depiction of life in Salem and Concord, Massachusetts. He relates to his audience through the eyes of the narrator who was a customhouse surveyor.

Formatting the body:

This is the section of the paper where you will analyze the piece. You will look into the strategies that the author used to tell the story. You should start in the beginning and work chronologically when describing how Hawthorne expresses his thoughts. The best way to keep it organized is to break it into pieces. The easiest way to break it down is to talk about the beginning of the piece first and then work your way to the middle and then to the end. You can have a paragraph devoted to each section. You can use transitional phrases to move from one section to the next. Make sure to use linking words like opens, closes, contrasts, shifts to, etc.

In each section you will:

  • Introduce the part that you are referring to.
  • Identify the sections with specific examples from the text
  • Explain how that proves your point.
  • Create a transition to the next idea

Formatting the conclusion:

This is where you will pull it together. The best way to do that is to go full circle back to the thesis statement. You will want to rewrite it so that it is unique. You wouldn’t want to just rewrite the same sentence. Hit on all of your key points again.

Remember that this paper analyzes how the writer wrote the piece of literature and not the piece itself. That is an important key to keep in mind.


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