Rhetorical Analysis

Dear Class, 

I write this essay to you as a way to describe the different rhetorical strategies that are used. I have provided two examples of texts that exhibit ways in which a text can appeal to the readers emotions or their understanding of logic. During this phase I have learned that not only were texts written to illustrate something that had happened in the authors life or something they are trying to describe, but in fact they are trying to educate the reader and make them feel for the characters and events that happen inside the writing. But aside from learning strategies within a text, I have learned values from reading a text outside of the curriculum and what we were told to read. The second text I have listed within my essay gave me an understanding for life and its values. And that no matter how big or small, we all end life the same way, with death. It is extremely unfortunate, and it is the truth. Without the option to possibly look beyond what we were assigned to do, I would have never come across the text by Virginia Woolf and never would have had my eyes opened in the ways that she had described through such a small object. Obviously one of the terms that impacted my learning and writing piece was explaining rhetorical situation, being that this essay was veered toward understanding rhetorical strategies within a persuasive text. But aside from the obvious, I was introduced to tone within a text and the understanding of speaking to an audience. There is clearly other terms that have been introduced through learning about these texts and writing about them, but the most important are the ideas of tone, rhetorical situation and audience. In this phase’s assignment, the idea of “explore and analyze, in writing and reading, a variety of genres and rhetorical situations” help to achieve one of the course learning outcomes. Another course learning outcome that has helped with the development of this essay was the idea of “Recognize(ing) and practice(ing) key rhetorical terms and strategies when engaged in writing situations” as well as the ” develop(ment of) strategies for reading, drafting, collaborating, revising, and editing”. These learning outcomes are important in understanding the process with any essay. Especially understanding the developmental strategies of reading something, then drafting, then working with someone to reread what you have written, and then revising and then editing. It helps to come up with a strong essay, and without this idea of going back and learning from what others have to say, there is not development to your essay therefore can result in not doing as well. Within this essay in particular allows each of us to explore the writings of different authors and learning how they used rhetorical strategies within their essays. So thank you to all that have helped me to come to this point where my essay is now complete and the best that it can be.


A rhetorical analysis is a method used to persuade his or her audience into either doing something or thinking some type of way. Rhetorical analysis can be a type of manipulation to explain what is happening in the text. One way in doing so is by looking at the context of what is created. Another way is being able to summarize the text and describing the author’s main points in identifying his thesis. When doing an analysis, you must ask yourself a few simple questions: is the author successfully supporting his claim? Does the flow of the text make sense? Does the author appeal to the idea of pathos, or in other words your emotions? And lastly, is the author trying to convince you of something to have a certain opinion on? The purpose of a rhetorical analysis is to not support or critique any given text but is meant to discuss how the argument was presented and the ways it was used to be effective. Those who write an analysis are looking into what the author has decided to set as their goals in the text that they have written in a way to support their claims. Just like in the famously known essays, written by Amy Tan and Virginia Woolf, there are several ways that their essays prove to be persuasive with using rhetorical strategies. 

Amy Tan’s Mother Tongue is an example of a text that is used to persuade its audience. It tells the story of a daughter and her mother living in a world while speaking what is known as “broken English”. The essay pulls apart the many ways that the English language is used. For Tan, the type of English that her family has been utilizing is “broken English”. This type of speaking is well known within families that are not native to English speaking countries. Throughout the essay, Tan describes the type of difficulties that her mother is facing, while living in America. She expresses the fact that although her mother comes off as not knowing much of the English language, the reader soon comes to understand that it is her heavy accent and her misuse of grammar that comes off as being hard to understand. But to Tan, this way of speaking is completely normal because she grew up with her mother’s version of English. Tan communicates an example as to how her mother is never taken seriously, and even worse, without any respect. She shows this through the story of her mother’s visit to the hospital. Her mother was fearful of a benign brain tumor. When she had called the hospital and spoke in her heavy accent, she was not taken seriously. The doctors claimed to have “misplaced” the CAT scan that she was asking for, even after she had explained the unfortunate incident of her husband and son, who had both died of brain tumors. Once Tan decided to call up the hospital and ask for the documents that her mother was looking for, all of a sudden, the hospital becomes extremely apologetic and promises to fix their error. Aside from blatantly showing the value of American lives over Asian lives, Tan expresses her rebellion against the cliché Asian major of being either science or math. She decides that she is her own person and she does not need to feel like she must listen to what every other person is doing, therefore she decides to switch her initial major of science to English. From then on, she had become a bestselling and award-winning author and even pleased her mom with the concluding line stated by her mother, “So easy to read”. Proving that she made her mother proud.  

Throughout Tan’s story, she uses two rhetorical strategies to get her points across. One of which is where she focuses on the emotional appeal of the reader, also known as pathos. She presents ways in which her mother has been receiving terrible and unfair treatment, all because she is speaking in an American accent. Tan tells the story of her mother’s interaction with a doctor at the hospital losing her documents from her CAT scan. While another time expresses the unfair treatment that her mother receives from her stockbroker. The stockbroker had lost her mother’s checks because he had not sent them to his boss when he was supposed to. Both these examples appeal to how the reader feels. They make us pity Tan’s mother for the unpleasant treatment that she is receiving. The reader can understand that Tan’s mother was treated unfairly with something that really should not have been made into that big of a deal. By appealing to the emotional standpoint of Tan’s readers, Tan was able to convince her readers of the argument she was conveying, while also appealing to another rhetorical strategy of ethos. This type of rhetorical strategy appeals to logic, she conveys several questions that she has been asked several times as to “why there are not more Asian Americans represented in American Literature. Why are there few Asian Americans enrolled in creative writing programs? Why do so many Chinese American students go into engineering?” (Tan). She expresses her unknown knowledge for the real answers to these questions but gives her personal opinion. She says that according to surveys, Asian American students tend to do better in math and science classes rather than English and reading classes. She states that it is noticeable to teachers that these Asian American students are doing better in the math and science classes, therefore they tend to tell students to keep to the path of math and science degrees and to veer away from English and reading, even if it was they want to do. Tan indicates these facts from her own life experiences, as well as study’s that she has found, which is how she can express the logic, or logos, within her essay. 

Just like in Amy Tan’s essay Mother Tongue, the essay The Death of the Moth, written by Virginia Woolf, shows a type of persuasive text that educates its audience in one way or another. This short story expresses the struggles that a moth faces before its death. The essay symbolizes the short life of a moth that corresponds to the real-life and death nature that everyone is faced with. Woolf is moved by the struggle of the moth and its fight for its life against death. Woolf starts the story by explaining her surroundings and the fact that she cannot focus on what she is doing. She is thinking about the nature that is catching her eye outside of the window she is sitting near, when she suddenly notices a moth. This moth flies quickly between windows while struggles to go through a windowpane. The author finds an interest in the way that the moth behaves and comes to several conclusions as to what it might mean. Woolf expresses that while she sees the struggle of the moth trying to escape, as it is flapping its wings, she feels a type of empathy for it because it cannot be free. After spending a great deal of time struggling, the moth finally gives in and falls to the bottom of the window. It now appears still; it has lost the energy and life it once had and is now on its back facing up, struggling to get back on its legs again. Finally, in a quick moment of relief, the moth succeeds in fixing its position. However, several moments after, it dies. Woolf takes this idea of the challenge that the moth faces and compares it to the challenges of life. Woolf is showing within her essay, how much attention she has paid to the smallest details of everyday life. The moth now becomes a symbol for the reader to understand that the end in everyone’s life is just the same whether our lives were significant or not. Woolf is trying to portray the unfortunate events of life when it is faced with death. She expresses how death represents a strong force that cannot compete against life. No matter how much one tries to escape the fate of death, once it signals everything else is useless.

Throughout Virginia Woolf’s essay, she portrays a universal struggle between life versus death. She expresses the use of rhetorical strategies to get her point across. In Woolf’s conclusion, she states, “death is stronger than I am” (Woolf). This provides the final touch of her argument. Throughout the text, Woolf has provided her case of the power of death by convincing the reader through the emotional state, also known as pathos. The beginning of the story starts with a soft explanation of the author’s surroundings. But at the first sign of death the tone changes, the story goes from an “a pleasant morning” to something being explained as “so stiff or so awkward” (Woolf). She is expressing a tone that gives the reader a connection to the moth. As death engulfs the moths being, Woolf’s rhetorical transformation changes and comes to a completion as she says, “When there was nobody to care or to know, this gigantic effort on the part of an insignificant little moth, against a power of such magnitude, to retain what no one else valued or desired to keep, moved one strangely. Again, somehow, one saw life, a pure bead” (Woolf). This is now expressing how death has come and is not only destroying the life of an innocent moth, but also the reality of Woolf’s life. Once the moth fights his fight against death, the tone expresses the cheerful yet instinctive sense of the reader’s eventual understanding of the way that the moth has lost his fight to the death. Words that Woolf uses such as, “superb” and “succeeded” show the effort of the moth despite it being helpless. Woolf illustrates the moth’s struggle as being “marvelous as well as pathetic” to convey the tone that she is trying to express (Woolf). She is showing that as much as one may fight, death is expected for everyone. Throughout the story, death is explained from different angles, but is there to express death in its most powerful light. The way Woolf has chosen to describe death as being personified. She explains it as being an object rather than it being something that occurs. This is shown how she states in her conclusion of how “death is stronger than I am” (Woolf). Woolf’s main purpose of her story is to remind her readers that there is this strong power that controls everyone’s life, no matter how big or how small you are. She expresses that although one can attempt to avoid death, just as the moth had, that there is a fate that we are all given and that it is impossible to outrun it. She conveys this message with not so much as logic but with the use of emotions and feelings instead. Woolf makes us feel for the demise of the moth, and so informs the reader of a complete understanding and respect for the entire eternal power of death.

Within the essays of both Mother Tongue, and The Death of the Moth, written by Amy Tan and Virginia Woolf, there are methods of rhetorical analysis used to appeal to the readers. In Amy Tan’s story, she tells the story of her life living with her mother who is not native to America. She expresses the obstacles she is facing throughout her story, and how she has overcome them. Through rhetorical strategies, such as logic and emotion, she educates her readers with a clear story and clear initiative. Tan proves to be a strong woman, she showed everyone who has ever known her to stand up for what she believes is right. She does not let societal norms or other people’s opinions determine how she decided to run her life. While in Virginia Woolf’s story, she is describing death as something inevitable that everyone has to unfortunately face. Within her narration, she is depicting the struggle between life and death through the battle that a moth has come to face. Woolf uses rhetorical devices such as tone and metaphors within her narration to appeal to the feelings and emotions of her readers. As the tone shifts throughout the story, Woolf’s metaphors enhance the idea that death is something that is fateful and cannot be outrun. Both stories written by Amy Tan and Virginia Woolf manifest major emotions to the readers who choose to read these amazing persuasive essays. 

Works Cited

Staff, EasyBib. “Mother Tongue by Amy Tan .” EasyBib, Chegg, 1 Jan. 2020,


Woolf, Virginia. The Death of the Moth, 1942,