Rhetorical analysis: Terms & examples

Figures of speech

A figure of speech is the use of a word or a phrase that transcends its literal meaning, i.e., a way of creating meaning by organizing words or phrases in specific patterns (schemes) or by using them figuratively (tropes).
You will find longer lists here (and elsewhere):

Allegory
A sustained metaphor continued through whole sentences or even through a whole discourse; e.g., The ship of state has sailed through rougher storms than the tempest of these lobbyists.
Alliteration
Repeated used of the same sound(s), e.g., Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden … (J. F. Kennedy, American President, 1961).
Allusion
An implied or indirect reference to a person, event, or thing or to a part of another text. It is up to the reader or the hearer to make the connection, so the allusion must refer to common ground between author and reader/speaker and hearer.
Antithesis
Juxtaposition of opposites, e.g., This election is not about the miners; not about the militants; not about the power of the unions: it's about the disastrous failure of three and a half years of Conservative government. (Harold Wilson, British Labour leader, 1974).
Irony
Implying the opposite of what is actually said, such as describing a bad situation as "good times".
Lists
especially of three items = tri-colon, e.g., Friends, Romans, countrymen (Shakespeare, 1600); …the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth
Metaphor
a word or phrase for one thing that is used to refer to another thing in order to show or suggest that they are similar; e.g., The energy, the faith, and the dovotion we bring to this endeavour will light our country (J.F. Kennedy, 1962); the black sheep of the family
Metonomy
Referring to a thing, a concept or a person by means of association; e.g., A summary of international relations issued by the White House last week …
Omission
Leaving out something
Oxymoron
A paradoxical antithesis with only two words, e.g.; living dead; the sound of silence
Parallelism
Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I may remember. Involve me and I will learn. (Benjamin Franklin, American President)
Repetition
repetition of a word or a phrase at the beginning (anaphora) or at the end (epiphora) of several successive sentences, e.g., I have a dream … I have a dream … I have a dream today (Martin Luther King, 1963)
Rhetorical question
A question that is not intended to be answered.

Forms of appeal

A speaker (or a writer) can use any of the three classical forms of a appeal to add strength to his argument. Usually all three forms of appeal will be present in a speech or a text, but the strength or the weakness of the case may favour some forms over others: if your case is not logically coherent, you should not base your presentation on a logos appeal, but rather on pathos or ethos; and if you are bald-headed and comfortable with that, you should probably not try to sell a hair tonic by means of an ethos appeal.

Ethos
appeals to the speaker's (good) character, e.g., I am a husband, a father, and a taxpayer. I have served faithfully for 20 years on the school board. I deserve your vote for the city council.
Pathos
appeals the receiver's emotions, e.g., He wants to hurt the elderly by cutting Medicare
Logos
appeals to the receiver's sense of logic or reason, e.g., If everybody only did what they felt like, nobody would empty the rubbish bins. (Or: 50.000.000 flies can't be wrong …)

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