How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis

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Ralph Waldo Emerson's essay "Self-Reliance" is often the first or only exposure students get to Emerson's thought. Here are some resources to help understand this essay:

An essay introducing the background and context of Transcendentalism, for help in understanding where Emerson's ideas came from.
From Emerson himself, with some dictionary and other simple definitions listed as well.
Basic information on Transcendentalism - links to the two items above plus more.
- HTML searchable copy of the text at

Ann Woodlief's excellent introduction to the Emerson essay, Self-Reliance.
An article by Alfred I.

The information will help your reader understand the natureof the work under analysis.

The body paragraphs should analyze particular components of the work. For instance, in an analysis of the Katz commentary, the body would offer specific illustrations of the flawed passages in Katz's commentary; these illustrations would support the analytical claims that you are making about the work. The focus, then, is objective analysis, not subjective response.


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A critical analysis is subjectivewriting because it expresses the writer's opinion or evaluation of a text.

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Analysis Essay Writing, examples, topics, outlines

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How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis: 15 Steps (with …

Colemanscurry If you're trying to write an essay on what Self-Reliance means, be sure to take Emerson's own ideas into consideration! A good teacher assigning an essay on Self-Reliance will admire a student who takes Emerson's thought seriously. Parroting back what you think the teacher wants to hear about Emerson is to violate the very spirit of the essay!But that doesn't mean that you can write just anything.

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