For this essay assignment you will use what we will learn about argument, close reading and
rhetorical analysis over the next few weeks, as well as our discussions about the American
Dream, in order to write an argumentative essay that analyzes and compares two presidential
announcement speeches. By synthesizing the content of the speeches and your own
interpretations, examine how each speech attempts to appeal to voters, and which speech is
ultimately more effective. Which rhetorical strategies do the speeches use, and how do they use
them? Finally, explore what the speeches might reveal about each speaker’s intended audience, or
the speakers’ assumptions about their audience.
Prompt: Write a 3 page long argumentative essay in which you analyze and compare two
presidential candidates’ uses of rhetorical strategies to support your reasoning of which
speaker more effectively “sells” his or her vision of the American Dream.
Prewriting Steps To Help Brainstorm and Outline:
1) Choose TWO presidential announcement speeches (all four available on the class site)—
Bernie Sanders (D)
Hillary Clinton (D)
Donald Trump (R)
Ted Cruz (R)
2) Closely read and annotate your selections to determine which rhetorical strategies are used
and to what effect.
- Logos-appeal to logic
- Pathos-appeal to emotion
- Ethos-appeal to authority
- Diction-word choice
- Imagery- descriptive details that appeal to the five senses
- Metaphor/analogy-comparison of unlike things
- Repetition/parallelism—using the same words or sentence structure more than once
- Tone—the attitude the speaker has towards his/her subject
- Syntax—the arrangement of sentences.
- Speaker/Narrator/Perspective—who tells the story or relates the essay
- Inductive Reasoning—use of specific instances to arrive at a general conclusion
- Deductive Reasoning—use of a general claim to arrive at a specific conclusion
- Fallacies (generally not good)—use of false reasoning
- Dialectic/Rogerian Strategy-acknowledging and making concessions to the other view to appear
3) Develop a working thesis that puts forth your position about which speaker’s use of rhetorical
appeals and other techniques is more effective and why.
4) Determine 3-5 main supporting points or reasons to back up your thesis.
Possible Rhetorical Strategies/Elements of Writing (there are more…)