rhetorical analysis essay topics

Top 150 Rhetorical Analysis Essay Topics


A rhetorical analysis essay is an essay that analyzes the persuasive techniques of a given text. Rhetorical analysis essays are typically about 3-5 pages long and often require referencing outside sources to illustrate how effective or ineffective a particular technique is. For example, to show how Shakespeare used irony, one might reference other texts from him or her (such as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”) and discuss what happened in those other contexts where Shakespeare employed this technique.

The following list includes 150 rhetorical analysis essay topics sorted into various categories that include;

  • fiction
  • non-fiction
  • poetry/literature
  • speeches
  • funny
  • movies

These topics may also help develop arguments and counter-arguments in an analysis essay, depending on your particular teacher’s preferences.

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Rhetorical Analysis Essay Topics: Funny

  1. “The Death of Comedy” by Bill Hicks
  2. The “Funniest Joke Ever Told (by a man who has to be anonymous)” (found in an email)
  3. The humour of writers: Twain, Hemingway, Nabokov, and Vonnegut
  4. “Why is the comic so short, while grief is so long?” (Aristotle’s commentary on comedy)
  5. “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe
  6. “The Nose” by Nikolai Gogol
  7. William Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116
  8. The Three Stooges: Moe, Larry, and Curly and the Marx Brothers: Groucho, Harpo, Chico 9. “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift
  9. Mark Twain’s Preface to “Tom Sawyer”
  10. “Memoirs of an Inexperienced Mind” by Joseph Mitchell
  11. A funny passage from “Our Mutual Friend” by Charles Dickens.
  12. The humour of P.G. Wodehouse
  13. Elmore Leonard’s “The Man Who Rained on Himself”: is a tongue-in-cheek look at man’s search for meaning, or was it an attempt to steal God’s thunder?
  14. A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift (the classic case of hyperbole)
  15. George Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” (the classic case of personification)
  16. The humour on the stage directs to “A Streetcar Named Desire” by Tennessee Williams.
  17. The humour (and the tragedy) in “The Glass Menagerie” by Tennessee Williams
  18. A comparison of “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift and the novel “Three Men in a Boat” by Jerome K. Jerome
  19. A comparison of the humour found in Kafka’s stories and in Jokes (using both as representative of how humour is culturally dependent)
  20. A comparison of “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and Kafka’s short stories (noting that often in his stories, the characters are all too aware they are being fooled)
  21. The humour is found in the diaries of Samuel Pepys.
  22. A comparison of “A Modest Proposal” and John Barth’s novel, “The Sot-Weed Factor,” both use metaphor.
  23. The humour is found in the plays written by the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes and comparing him to the modern-day playwrights George Bernard Shaw and Harold Pinter.
  24. “Directing the Audience’s Attention: The Role of Attention Cues on Humor Reception” (Matthew Zanna, Robert Gibbs, 2003)
  25. The humour in the movie “Dr. Strangelove” by Stanley Kubrick.

You may also check funny debate topics!

Topics for Rhetoric Analysis Essays about Speeches

Interesting and persuasive topics for a rhetoric analysis essay about speeches.

If you need to write a paper on a rhetorical analysis of speeches, make sure it will be interesting to your audience. A proper list of interesting topics should help you with that. You can always consult with other people for suggestions — your classmates, teachers or family members are always grateful to help you with your homework.

Here is a list of interesting topics for a rhetoric analysis essay on a speech:

  1. Chief Joseph’s Surrender Speech, 1877, and the history of American Indians
  2. The speech of Martin Luther King on the eve of his assassination
  3. Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address: “With malice towards none; with charity for all.”
  4. Listeners’ responses to Mark Antony’s Funeral Oration
  5. Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution Speech, 1939″ and the impact of his oratory skills on history
  6. Analysis of contemporary speeches and their political impact
  7. Analysis of speeches in the context of their historical importance.
  8. Analysis of rhetorical devices used in George W Bush’s address n 9/11
  9. Audience response to Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream Speech, 1963″
  10. Use of the teleprompter during President Obama’s address on gun control
  11. Analysis of the impact of Obama’s “Change we can believe in” speech, 2008
  12. A comparison of Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X’s speeches on civil rights issues
  13. Expressive means in Funeral Oration by Pericles, 431 BC.
  14. FDR’s inaugural address on 4 March 1937 and its impact on American history.
  15. Appeal to duty and patriotism in Winston Churchill’s “Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat” Speech June 1940,
  16. Analysis of Ronald Reagan’s “Tear down this wall!” speech, 1987
  17. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and its impact on American history
  18. George W Bush Address to Congress on September 20, 2001, in the context of its historical importance.
  19. Analysis of a speech by Martin Luther King Jr on civil rights issues
  20. The use of satire as a tool for persuasion in Mark Antony’s funeral oration
  21. Eisenhower’s heartfelt appeal for brotherhood and understanding in his 1953 inaugural address warns against the dangers of the Cold War.
  22. How oratory skills influenced Hitler’s rise to power and the outcome of world war II
  23. Audience response to President Kennedy’s 1963 assassination.
  24. How television has changed political campaigns through technology, media strategies, and framing effects.
  25. How do political speeches affect public opinion, especially during a campaign?

You may also check informative speech topics

Fiction Rhetorical Analysis Essays Topics

Fiction topics for rhetorical analysis essays focus on imagination. As a reader, you should keep an open mind and allow the author to take you on a journey. The rhetorical analysis focuses on the author’s intention. For example, when analyzing fiction, we need to focus on what happens rather than what could happen in real life.

This is a great list of topics for fiction rhetorical analysis essays.

1. The use of violence in Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

2. Rhetorical devices used to portray the protagonist’s experience of place and time in To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee

3. How is the concept of using elements of science fiction different from dystopian writing?

4. This is the Great Depression in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

5. Illustration of how to create a list with A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

6. Theme of deception in The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

7. Compare and contrast The Double by Fyodor Dostoevsky to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.

8. Use of irony and how it is conveyed in the text with A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift

9. Enemies, friendships, battles in The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

10. Framing of self-indulgence in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

11. Theme of Christian redemption in The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

12. The idea of identity as a hybrid product with What’s-his-name and His Exits by Minae Mizumura

13. The idea of a monster being created in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley versus Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (the book)

14. Unethical behavior and its consequences in The Godfather by Mario Puzo

15. Fluidity of reality without a cohesive plotline in Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf

16. The use of Biblical references conveying themes, characterization, and symbolism in Paradise Lost by John Milton

17. The role of fate versus free will as portrayed by Siddhartha by Herman Hesse and The Stranger by Albert Camus

18. Analysis of Alan Moore and Jacen Burrow’s use of water to symbolize chaos in The Annotated League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Gentlemen

19. Fear in the Victorian era as portrayed in H.G Wells’ The Time Machine, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher.

20. The use of folklore in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman series versus John Steinbeck’s Mice and Men

21. How does C.S. Lewis’s writing differ from J.R.R Tolkien’s? Why are there such huge differences in theme and intent?

22. The use of ambiguity and how it affects the story with Ethan Frome.

23. The role of women in a man’s world with A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen versus To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

24. The importance of identity to society as portrayed in Chief Bromden’s monologues in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

25. How is the use of feminism different from Barbara Kingsolver to Margaret Atwood? Why do they differ? What styles characterize their writing and why? (Comparing The Handmaid’s Tale with The Poisonwood Bible)

29. How is African American Vernacular English portrayed differently in The Color Purple, by Alice Walker & Beloved, by Toni Morrison?

30. Interrogation techniques as portrayed in 1984 by George Orwell versus its use in Disney’s Zootopia

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Non-Fiction Rhetorical Analysis Essays Topics

These topics are based on facts. For the students who are looking for non-fiction essay topics, here we have some. Students can choose any of these topics and get started with their non-fiction essay writing.

1. The process of globalization is addressed in The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad.

2. The impression created by the author of “For Whom the Bell Tolls.”

3. Explication of how Damon’s writing style is used as a stylistic device in his article, “Terry Schiavo, A Life in Pictures. “

4. Examination of how Augustine uses rhetorical strategies to make his case for a just war theory in “Concerning Military or Civil Society.”

5. The effect of the author’s tone in Mark Bernstein and Terence Moran’s article, “Living Room Wars: Rethinking Media Audiences for a Postmodern World. “

6. The effects of the rhetorical appeals in the author’s article “An American Tragedy: An Unfinished Novel by Theodore Dreiser (Part I) by Louis J. Budd.”

7. Rhetorical Appeals used in Norman Mailer’s “The White Negro”.

8. Making a case for how the author’s tone contributes to the interpretation of his comments in “Gender, Nature, and Nurture” by Sara Shatford Smith.

9. How the author uses emotions to express herself in The Handmaid’s Tale.

10. What is the mood of “I Stand Here Ironing”?

11. How does Louis Pollock create the hero Zeno in “My Life in a Basket”?

12. Who is Philip Allingham? Memento Mori: The Lynching Photographs and their effect on today’s society (Part II)

13. Do you agree or disagree with the author’s opinion in “Reading is Sexy!”?

14. What is the main message of “The Real Crash” article?

15. Is it justifiable to compare ‘A Day at the Beach, Monet’s Bathers, and Cézanne’s Beach Bathers’?

16. What is the main theme of “My Left Breast”?

17. How do you see the irony in “The Emperor” story by Anton Chekhov?

18. Explain the structure of “Mrs. Dalloway” novel by Virginia Woolf.

19. Explain the role of violence in the story “The Cask of Amontillado” by Edgar Allan Poe.

20. What does it mean to say, “Marriage is a good idea but not for me”?

21. Explain the effects of the first-person narrative in “My Left Breast”.

22. Is fear a recurring theme in “The Tell-Tale Heart”?

23. Discuss the author’s views on society as shown in the novel The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.

24. Do you agree or disagree with this statement: “The characters in Les Misérables are so memorable because they are broken”?

25. Analyse the rhetorical strategies used by Yejide Kilanko and her husband to sway their readers in “An African Prince: The True Story of a Royal Kidnapping”.

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Poetry Rhetorical Analysis Topics

Poetry is considered to be a creative expression of emotion from authors. Poetry talks about an author’s mood, situation, and story, which can easily capture the reader into it even without using any language. Rhetorical analysis of poetry is all about taking apart the poem to find out how it was written.

This article aims at providing you with an idea about some rhetorical analysis topics in poetry that might be helpful for you to make a paper or essay on poetry.

  1. The speaker’s tone in An Old-Fashioned Love Story by Edgar Allan Poe.
  2. The tone of Death and Fame by Hayden Carruth.
  3. Author’s message in Elizabeth Bishop’s poem One Art.
  4. The theme of obsession in Allen Ginsberg’s Howl.
  5. The theme of war in Walt Whitman’s O Captain! My Captain!
  6. Obsession, longing, and love in Langston Hughes’ Springtime.
  7. Use of personification in Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott.
  8. How does Walt Whitman use the imagery in his poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry?
  9. William Butler Yeats’s Lake Isle of Innisfree: character analysis & theme analysis.
  10. The symbolism of trees in William Butler Yeats’s Lake Isle of Innisfree.
  11. William Blake’s poem The Tyger: theme analysis & character analysis.
  12. The figurative language is used in Evelyn Underhill’s poem The Road to Love.
  13. Robert Browning’s My Last Duchess: the use of dramatic monologue and its effect on the reader.
  14. William Wantling’s My Last Duchess: character analysis & theme analysis.
  15. The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost: an analysis of its meaning, structure, and tone.
  16. How does Edgar Allan Poe use tone in the poem Annabel Lee?
  17. William Blake’s The Tyger: a close-reading of structure and form.
  18. A detailed look at theme and imagery in Shel Silverstein’s A Boy Named Sue.
  19. Charles Bukowski’s Poem and The Moon and The Stars and The World: writing an introduction to it.
  20. An inquiry into the use of colour in Dylan Thomas’s A Refusal to Mourn the Death, By Fire, Of A Child In London.
  21. A close look at Walt Whitman’s description of a sunset in the poem Vapors.
  22. Edgar Allan Poe created an effect on the reader using the rhyme scheme that is found in his poem, Annabel Lee.
  23. An allegorical interpretation of F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.
  24. How do you interpret the author’s message on war by reading Robert Frost’s Home Burial?
  25. Comparing and contrasting two of William Blake’s Poems: London and The Tyger.

Rhetorical Analysis Essay Topics: Movies

Movies are a form of art that allows us to engage with the real world in ways we might not otherwise be able to do. Topics for this may include:

Typical Rhetorical Analysis essay topics about Movies:

  1. The Hunger Games.
  2. Can you discuss the usage of epic period songs in historical movies?
  3. Do movie trailers influence our buying behaviours? Contrast two or more movie promotional strategies.
  4. How does watching a new version of an old story affect the audience’s perception? Compare to other versions and conclude.
  5. What are the modern trends in the production of movies?
  6. What do you think of the way that motion picture adaptations change their source material to appeal to modern audiences?
  7. Is there any Hollywood movie that you were thrilled with? Why?
  8. Do the audience experience emotions from watching movies in 3D format?
  9. Should Hollywood promote or restrict violence and sexual content in movies?
  10. What do you think of the way people who have never seen a superhero movie before reacting to The Avengers?
  11. What do you think of product placement in movies? Is it effective or not?
  12. Is it okay to use technology such as CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) in movies?
  13. What is your opinion of prequels and remakes?
  14. How do you think movie violence affects teenagers?
  15. Which genius benefited from public attention after the film “Napoleon”?
  16. Can there be a perfect movie that has no missteps in scene construction or poor dialogue?
  17. What do you think is the most important “visual clue” in the film?
  18. How comfortable are you with slow movies like The Thin Red Line?
  19. Was The Lion King a great movie or just a pastiche of other films and stage plays?
  20. Is it okay to lie to your child/children if it means that they will learn something good from it?
  21. What is your favourite Disney movie, and why? How were they able to appeal to adults as well as children?
  22. What was Terrence Malick’s intention in making The Thin Red Line?
  23. Analyze the rhetorical persuasion method of Rain Man
  24. Fight Club: what I love about this film. Is Tyler Durden an example of the Godfather effect?
  25. Can we say that actions speak louder than words when it comes to movie characters who have been framed as “quiet”?

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