To Kill a Mocking bird Closing Argument Lesson

Objectives: Students will be able to write an argumentative essay defending why lawyers should defend unpopular clients by using evidence from three provided sources.  

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.11-12.1 Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.  

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1.B Develop claim(s) and counterclaims fairly and thoroughly, supplying the most relevant evidence for each while pointing out the strengths and limitations of both in a manner that anticipates the audience’s knowledge level, concerns, values, and possible biases.  

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.11-12.1.C Use words, phrases, and clauses as well as varied syntax to link the major sections of the text, create cohesion, and clarify the relationships between claim(s) and reasons, between reasons and evidence, and between claim(s) and counterclaims. 

Differentiations: Extra support for vocabulary (word bank) and syntax, co-teaching, various access points to the text, grouping by skills and learning styles, graphic organizer, template, repetition, and scaffolded instructions 

Do Now: Pick a question from yesterday’s talk about the text and write a paragraph to respond to the question.  

Guided Practice: We’ll ask for 2 volunteers to share their responses. We’ll evaluate how questions can help us think and write critically. 

Mini Lesson: How does Harper Lee use claim and emotional diction to portray a lawyer who bravely represents an “unpopular” client Tom Robinson? 

Watch the clip of Atticus Closing Argument 

We’ll look at Chunk 1. 

Claim: The defendant is not guilty. 

Emotional Diction( patho): “The case is as simple as black and white”, ” [evidence] flatly contradicted”, ” to be sure beyond all reasonable doubt” 

Main Idea: Robinson is not guilty because the evidence against him is questionable ( 12 words). 

Art of Persuasion: Atticus juxtaposes contrasting statements connected with “”but. For example, it requires no minute sifting of complicated facts, but it does require you to be sure beyond all reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the defendant“; ” It has relied instead upon the testimony of two witnesses whose evidence has not only been called into serious question on cross-examination, but has been flatly contradicted by the defendant.””. The defendant is not guilty, but somebody in this courtroom is. 

Independent Practice 

Each group will analyze each assigned chunk and complete the following- 

  • Underline his claim 
  • Circle emotional diction 
  • Summarize the main idea in fewer than 12 words 
  • How does Atticus persuade the jury? 

Check for understanding: 

Now apply the strategies you have learned from Atticus Finch’s closing argument, revise the paragraph you have written about why lawyers should defend unpopular clients.  

Your Task: Write an argumentative essay in which you argue whether lawyers should defend unpopular clients. You must use all three sources provided for you:

  • Source 1: informational text ” legal view : defending unpopular clients”
  • Source 2: Excerpt fro To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Source 3: article about John Adam’s defending the British soldiers


Thematic Analysis of the poem ” A Blessing”

Objectives: Students will be able to write a theme analysis by examining the text through a specific literary device such as diction, imagery or figurative language and tone.

Cite strong and thorough textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text, including determining where the text leaves matters uncertain.
Determine two or more central ideas of a text and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to provide a complex analysis; provide an objective summary of the text.

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings; analyze how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term or terms over the course of a text

Content: Students are provided with translators & dictionaries to help them with unfamiliar vocabulary.

Process: Instructions are scaffolded ( annotation guidelines & graphic organizer) for students to follow. Handouts are provided for students to annotate a text. Lesson tools and model essay are given for students to emulate. TILL and thematic statement templates are provided for students to create a thesis statement.

Products: Various strategies are taught and choices provided to help students complete a task based on their individual abilities and the connections they can make with the text.


A list of tone words with definitions

Do Now: Identify a transitional word or phrase in the model essay. Circle them. Identify the parts in the model essay where you feel you want to adopt in your own essay writing. Why? Pair-share.

Mini Lesson with Guided Practice:

  1. Effective use of verbs and verbal phrases ( see the lesson tool); conjunctions
  2. Use the Essay checklist and teacher model esay to guide your writing.

Checklist for the Thematic Analysis of the Poem “A Blessing”

  1. Identify two different tone words to describe the speaker’s feelings or attitude
  2. Identify three specific examples from the poem to support/illustrate each tone
  3. Identify the pattern of your examples: descriptive dictions, sensory details, imagery, figures of speech, symbol
  4. Make a TILL Statement (This ILike Life)-Theme(This is like life because wild ponies can only be found nature and they are so pure and gentle. The speaker seems to enjoy the fleeting and affectionate relationship with the ponies, thus revealing mankind’s desire to be in harmony with nature.)
  5. How do the tones reveal the author’s attitude toward nature?
    • The author uses imagery to reveal he is awed yet spiritual attitudes toward nature,
  6. Thesis statement- combining and TILL statement and tone descriptions:
    • (Title or author) Wright explores the idea of the realtionship between man and nature and how nature can gift people with spiritual experiences even though/even if it is untamed (wild). The author uses imagery to reveal his awed yet spiritual tone toward nature.

Writing the essay

    1. Introduction:
      • State the thematic statement
      • The author uses _____________( a poetic device or strategy) to illustrate the idea.
    2. Body
      • Body paragraph 1:
        1. ( Topic sentence) First, the author uses imagery to describe a sense of awe inspired by nature.
        2. context) In the beginning part of the poem, the author describe how he and his friends encounter two wild ponies off the highway.
        3. (example #1 of the imagery and analysis) They meet two Indian ponies describe as “twilight” who “bounds softly” on the grass. Instead of being aggressive, the ponies “come gladly” and “welcome my friend and me”. The speaker is so awed by the friendly attitude the ponies that they “step over the barbed wire” to meet them. The ponies “ripple tensely”, galloping with happiness at the speaker’s presence. Then they “bow shyly like “wet swans”. The imagery of the ponies’ galloping happily and grazing peacefully reveals how awed the speaker is by the experience.
        4. (“So What”-connecting back to the theme) Thus, the author seems to long for the harmony between people and nature.
      • Body Paragraph 2:
        1. ( Topic sentence) The author continues to explore the idea of nature in a more spiritual way.
        2. ( context- a critical summary of the section that you’ll discuss) The speaker interacts with the ponies by touching her soft ear.
        3. ( example #2 of the imagery and analysis) Ponies seem to enjoy the speaker and his friend’s presence as seen in the imagery “she walked over to me/And nuzzled my left hand. “ The speaker seems to be in euphoria as he senses become sharpened: he feels “the light breeze” and the ponies’ “delicate” and soft ear. The physical experiences in nature all of a sudden are transformed into a spiritual feeling as the speaker reflect, “ …if I stepped out of body I would break/into blossom”. The imagery of the speaker budding into a full-blown flower is magical and spiritual.
        4. ( “So What”- connecting back to the thesis statement”) If people and nature live in harmony, we can experience spiritual enlightenment and pure happiness.
    3. Conclusion: The author uses imagery to reveal how necessary it is for mankind to be in harmony with nature in order to be happy.

Student Independent Practice

Students will use the checklist to guide their writing ,step by step according to his/her preparation and ability.

Exit Slip: Check off the steps you have completed. Save the portion of the essay you have written.

LCT Lesson on The Royale

Objectives: Students will be able to make personal connections to the protagonist Jay Jackson, an outsider in American culture by “translating a line or scene” from the play into a style of their own choice, e.g. a poem, a personal essay, an editorial, a visual ,a poster or a song, etc.

Do Now: Reflect on the play and select a scene or line that resonates with you the most. Briefly explain why.


Teaching Points

  1. What is “translation”? What’s the process like?
    1. Your translation should contain the essential content element of the original source.
    2. You will want to choose a source type that your audience is relatively familiar with so that when they read your translation, they recognize and appreciate the transformation.
    3. You will also want to select a source with a fair degree of stylistic difference from the style that you want to translate into, e.g. you may not want to write a monologue or a scene in this case since The Royale is a play after all.
    4. Your understanding of style will significantly impact the quality of your translation. Style isn’t only about your vocabulary and sentence structure; it also involves ideological ( beliefs, values and assumptions) and epistemological ( source and application knowledge) elements.
  2. Your own creative work of “ translation” should demonstrate the following-
    1. Need to do more that convert words, phrases associated with one style into words and phrases associated with another
    2. Reflect the values, understanding, conventions; expectations and knowledge of the style you use reshape the content (theme) of the play.
  3. Review a couple of sample “translation” work.
  4. Write a reflection on why you decide to choose this particular style to “translate” the meaning of the play or make connection with the central character.

Student Independent Practice

Students will work in small groups of three and do the following activities-

  • Share their “highlighted moments” in the play and jot them don on a poster paper ( to be displayed in class).
  • Recollect scenes or specific lines by any of the character in the play and explain to each other the significance of the scene or the words.
  • Discuss in why ways Jay Jackson is an outsider not only in ( mainstream) American culture at the turn of the 20th century but also his own African American culture of that time. How does he cope with the alienation?
  • In what way do you feel that Jay Jackson represents you to certain extent? Why?
  • Help each other recollect the scene or lines from the play as accurately as possible and discuss in what style you will “translate” the scene to demonstrate your connection with the character.

Reflection: How do you feel the play can be timeless in a sense of personal struggle against alienation and personal identity?

Homework: and translate a scene or line from The Royale. Select an appropriate style that you believe best reflects and represents your understanding of the play of main character, Jay Johnson.


Writing Rhetorical Analysis

Objectives: Students will be able to gain clear understanding of how to write a rhetorical analysis essay by using SOAPStone.

Do now: Review SOAPStone using he handout given. What does each element stand for?

Mini Lesson: Review the lesson on how to write an AP Rhetorical Analysis Paragraphs and Essays ( see handout)

Independent Practice

Compose a rhetorical essay using year 2014’s Question 2 prompt.

Homework: Review more notes on rhetorical analysis essay elements and strategies.


Agenda for the next few news before the exam on Wednesday May 11-

5/5/2016: ( at home) Write a synthesis essay ( in ink by hand)  using 2011 prompt ( 55 minutes total). Use the rubric and sample essay to review your own essay and hand in your critiqued essay  as well as questions you still have about writing the synthesis essay.

5/6/2016 ( during periods 1 & 4):

  • Per 1: Review all handouts relating to the rhetorical analysis. ( use the lesson above).
  • Per 4:Write a rhetorical essay on demand ( 40 minutes by hand in ink) using the prompt of 2014 ( in the Question 2 packet).
  • ( At home): Review your own rhetorical essay by using the rubric and sample essay.

Over the weekend: Review

  1. Practice a new set of multiple choice questions (optional)
  2. Practice writing an essay on Question 3 based on year 2015.( required)
  3. Practice writing on an synthesis essay and rhetorical analysis by using a past prompt in the College Board website. ( optional)





The Toulmin Model

Objectives: Students will be able to apply Toulmin model in an argumentative writing.

Resource: Read more about the Toulmin method (27-33)

Do Now:  Of all the concepts or methods below, pick one to explain what it means how it is used in an argumentative writing. Share in class.

  • Arguments of facts
  • arguments of value
  • arguments of policies
  • claim
  • support
  • warrant
  • backing
  • qualifier
  • reservation
  • rebuttal

Mini Lesson and Guided Practice

  • A claim is an assertion
  • The support consists of the data used as evidence, reasons, or grounds for the claim.
  • A warrant expresses the assumption necessarily shared by the speaker and the audience.
  • Similar to the second premise of a syllogism, it serves as a guarantee, linking the claim to the support.
  • Backing consists of further assurances or data without which the warrant lacks authority
  • A qualifier, when used (e.g., “usually,” “probably,” “in most cases,” “most likely”), restricts the terms of the claim and limits its range, indicating the degree of strength delivered by the warrant.
  • A reservation explains the terms and conditions necessitated by the qualifier.
  • A rebuttal gives voice to objections, providing the conditions that might refute or rebut the warranted claim.

Toulmin states it this way: Data, so (qualifier) claim, since warrant, on account of backing, unless reservation.

A good classroom model is : Because (data as support), therefore, or so (qualifier?) (claim), since (warrant), because, or on account of (backing), unless (reservation).

Data (It is raining.) Claim (I should take my umbrella.) ↑ ↑ ↑ Warrant Qualifier Reservation (It will keep me dry.) (Probably.) (Unless it has a hole in it.) ↑ Backing (The material is impervious or waterproof.)

“Because it is raining, I should probably take my umbrella, since it will keep my head dry on account of its impervious or waterproof material, unless, of course, there is a hole in it.”

Independent Practice

Use the following sentence construction: “Because__________, therefore,______ ____, since__________, on account of__________.

Carefully read the following passage from “Against School: How Public Education Cripples Our Kids and Why,” by former New York State Teacher of the Year and author John Taylor Gatto, published in Harper’s Magazine. Then write an essay in which you support, refute, or qualify Gatto’s claim that public education trains children to be mass consumer robots and ultimately limits growth potential. Use appropriate evidence to develop your position

Because textbook authors are filling their books with charts, graphs, and pictures, therefore education is declining in this country, since less written information equals less learning.” Data Claim (Textbooks contain charts, graphs, pictures.) (Education is declining.) ↑ Warrant (Learning comes from written text.) ↑ Backing (Traditionally, students have been learning from written text.)

Rebutal: Then the student casts his own response into the model as well: “Because graphs, charts, and pictures provide information, they do not hinder the education system, since that information is a supplement to written text.” In this case, he does not include a qualifier or reservation. Data Claim (Graphs, charts, and pictures provide info.) (Visuals do not hinder education.) ↑ Warrant (Visual information supplements written text.) ↑ Backing (Students learn from a variety of media.)

As he presents his claim, he doesn’t argue with Rock’s data. He acknowledges its validity, as far as it goes (effecting a reasonable voice through its appeal to logos and pathos), and then zeros in on the warrant with a pair of rhetorical questions: “Much of Rock’s argument is indisputable; however, some of it can be interpreted in different ways. Take, for instance, his criticism of textbooks for using too many visuals, particularly of a map replacing a topographical description. Is the map really a bad thing? Are any of the charts and graphs a bad thing?” [sic] This student goes on to argue the value of visuals not as replacements for, but as supplements to, written text—developing a qualified and reasoned argumen

Another student addresses a similar issue, that of “teaching to the test” (a favorite target of students), and casts her claim into the model. She reasons that “because teachers are modifying lesson plans to teach only to a specific test, therefore students are losing the ability to think deeply about concepts, since such specialized teaching does not allow a child to learn any more about a topic on a broader or deeper scale, unless teachers are able to teach to the test while still incorporating additional enriching material.” The reservation she presents at the end is one that might well appeal to teachers; indeed it is one that can make an effective appeal in the written argument.

The Things They Carried is not an accurate depiction of the Vietnam War, but rather a portrayal of personal truth—what the war meant to the soldiers and how it changed them. O’Brien is trying to bridge the gap between the soldier and the audience. This chapter (“How to Tell a True War Story”) is important to the story as a whole because it undermines the conventions of storytelling. Data Claim (The selected chapter undermines (It is important to the conventions of storytelling.) the story as a whole.) ↑ Warrant (The novel’s unconventional narrative structure is a significant feature of its literary merit.) (The selected chapter demonstrates that significance.) ↑ Backing (Narrative method is an important feature of fiction.) (The content, style, rhetoric, and theme of the chapter) In this case, the warrants and their backing indicate what will become the substance of the body of the essay. Arguing that the story, and not the war, is O’Brien’s subject, her essay concludes, “It is in this way that true war stories are never about war. They are about love, memories, and sorrow—the heaviest things they had to carry.”

Homework: Revise your argument essay using the new Toulmin tool.

the Association of Judges of the Supreme Court Essay Contest

High Schools: The Association of Judges of the Supreme Court Essay Contest

Entry Deadline: April 22, 2016
Contact: Debra Lesser

The Association of Justices of the Supreme Court of the State of New York and the New York Law Journal have partnered with the New York City Department of Education to sponsor the 16th Annual Law Day Essay Contest for high school students in grades 10-12. The Law Day theme for 2016 is “Miranda: More than Words” because 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of one of the nation’s best-known U.S. Supreme Court cases, Miranda v. Arizona. The theme will explore the procedural protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution, how these rights are safeguarded by the courts, and why the preservation of these principles is essential to citizens’ liberty. Ten students will win the opportunity to intern for one week with a justice of the Supreme Court and earn a $100 gift card. A maximum of 10 entries from each school will be considered. One of the winning essays will be published in the New York Law Journal, a legal periodical published by American Lawyer Media (ALM). Click here to apply.

The 2016 Law Day theme will explore the procedural protections afforded by the U.S. Constitution, how these rights are safeguarded by the courts, and why the preservation of these principles is essential to our liberty.

Students should write a 500 word essay presenting a compelling discussion on the topic with special focus on the importance and impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Miranda v Arizona, (384 US 436 [1966]).

A case example  –


Writing a Rhetorical Analysis

Things you must know in order to accurately analyze a text:


2. Rhetorical Strategies

a. Appeals (ethos, logos, pathos)

b. Style (diction, syntax, details, imagery, tone, etc.)

3. Why did the author choose these strategies for the particular audience, occasion, and/or purpose?

a. This is the analysis part! Without this, you are merely summarizing the text.

b. Think about these questions:

i. HOW do the rhetorical strategies help the author achieve his/her purpose?

ii. WHY does the author chose those strategies for that particular audience and for that particular occasion?

Once you’ve identified the information above, it’s time to begin putting your thoughts and ideas into a format that proves you have accurately analyzed the text. There are many ways to write an effective rhetorical analysis essay. Below is one way that is a good, simple format to help you get started. You may find as you become more comfortable with analysis that you want to deviate from this format. That’s fine as long as you are still focusing on numbers 1-3 from above.


The introductory paragraph to an analysis essay is usually brief. However, it must contain some essential information.

Put SOAPS in your introduction and follow this format:

FORMAT: 1. Speaker, Occasion, and Subject (Writer’s credentials), (writer’s first and last name), in his/her (type of text), (title of text), (strong verb – see list at end of this handout) (writer’s subject).

Well-known essayist and writer, Joan Didion, in her essay, The Santa Ana, describes the dramatic mood altering effects of the Santa Ana winds on human behavior.

2. Purpose (Writer’s last name)’s purpose is to (what the writer does in the text).

Didion’s purpose is to impress upon readers the idea that the winds themselves change the way people act and react.

3. Audience He/she adopts a[n] (adjective describing the attitude/feeling conveyed by the writer) tone in order to (verb phrase describing what the writer wants readers to do/think) in his/her (intended audience).

She creates a dramatic tone in order to convey to her readers the idea that the winds are sinister and their effects inescapable.

EXAMPLE: Novelist, Amy Tan, in her narrative essay, “Fish Cheeks,” recounts an embarrassing Christmas Eve dinner when she was 14 years old. Tan’s purpose is to convey the idea that, at fourteen, she wasn’t able to recognize the love her mother had for her or the sacrifices she made. She adopts a sentimental tone in order to appeal to similar feelings and experiences in her adult readers.


This is the analysis part! This is where you include a detailed explanation of strategies used by the writer.

When writing an analysis, it is crucial that you work chronologically through the text. This means that you start at the beginning of the text and work your way through it by discussing what the writer is saying and the effectiveness of the strategies he/she is using at the beginning, middle, and end of the text.

Sometimes this means that you will discuss each paragraph (one at a time), and sometimes this means that you will divide the text into sections and discuss the beginning, middle, and end of the text.

Whether you discuss each paragraph or each section depends on the length and organization of the text itself. To help you move chronologically through the text, there are transition words you can use. A few of them are listed below: Begins/ opens/ closes/ contrasts/ Shifts to/ juxtaposes/ ends/ moves to

Every analysis paragraph MUST:

  • Identify the part of the text you are analyzing by using transition words and strong verbs to explain what is being said.
  • Identify the strongest rhetorical strategies used in that particular section. This includes incorporating specific text examples (exact words from the text – see last page of this handout for proper format) into your own words. Do NOT try to discuss every strategy the writer uses; pick the strongest!
  • Clearly and specifically explain how the rhetorical strategies are used to help the writer achieve his purpose and reach his audience.
  • The above items must be woven together seamlessly into one sophisticated paragraph of the body of your analysis essay. A sample format is below:

FORMAT and EXAMPLE [from Pres. Reagan’s speech after the space shuttle Challenger explosion in the 1980s]:

1. The first sentence identifies which section of the text you are discussing and the main idea of that section.

(Writer’s last name) (transition word) his/her (type of text) by (strong verb) that (main idea of this section of the text).

Reagan begins his tribute to the Challenger astronauts by acknowledging that the shuttle accident has appropriately postponed his planned State of the Union address and by expressing the depth of his and his wife’s personal grief.

2. The second sentence conveys the writer’s support for the main idea by identifying and providing a specific example for one rhetorical strategy used by the writer. [This sentence is repeated if you want to discuss more than one rhetorical strategy.]

He appeals to the mournful emotions of the audience by admitting that he and Nancy are “pained to the core” (3), that today is rightfully a “day for mourning and remembering” (2-3), and that the accident is “truly a national loss” (4).

3. The third sentence explains how the rhetorical strategies you discussed in the previous sentences help the writer achieve his purpose by using an in order to statement.

He joins in this time of mourning in order to unify the nation and humbly admit that “we share this pain with all of the people of our country” (4).

4. The fourth sentence identifies the effect of the writer’s use of these rhetorical strategies on the audience.

This outpouring of emotion from the president conveys a calming tone that reassures the Nation that their grief is both understandable and proper.

Put it all together and this is what one paragraph of the body of a rhetorical analysis essay might look like:

Reagan begins his tribute to the Challenger astronauts by acknowledging that the shuttle accident has appropriately postponed his planned State of the Union address and by expressing the depth of his and his wife’s personal grief. He appeals to the mournful emotions of the audience by admitting that he and Nancy are “pained to the core” (3), that today is rightfully a “day for mourning and remembering” (2-3), and that the accident is “truly a national loss” (4). He joins in this time of mourning in order to unify the nation and humbly admit that “we share this pain with all of the people of our country” (4). This outpouring of emotion from the president conveys a calming tone that reassures the Nation that their grief is both understandable and proper.


The conclusion is probably the easiest part. Be brief. In one-two sentences, simply remind your reader of the things you said in the introduction.


 Rhetorical & Stylistic Analysis of Prose Passage

For the AP English Language Exam, the different types of analysis include the analysis of structure, purpose, and style.

These are possible “Types” of Analysis Questions

o       Analyze an author’s view on a specific subject

o       Analyze rhetorical devices used by an author to achieve his or her purpose

o       Analyze stylistic elements in a passage and their effects

o       Analyze the author’s tone and how the author conveys this tone

o       Compare and/or contrast two passages with regard to style, purpose, or tone

o       Analyze the author’s purpose and how he or she achieves it

o       Analyze some of the ways an author recreates a real or imagined experience

o       Analyze how an author presents him or herself in the passage

o       Discuss the intended and/or probable effect of a passage

Discourse simply means “conversation.” For the writer, this “conversation” takes place between the text and the reader.  To communicate with the reader, the writer uses a particular method or combination of methods to make his or her ideas clear to the reader.

Rhetoric is basically an umbrella term for all of the strategies, modes, and devices a writer can employ to allow the reader to easily accept and understand his or her point of view.

Modes of Discourse

Prose can be divided into FOUR primary categories: They are listed below.

  1. Exposition: illustrates a point
  2. Narration: tells a story
  3. Description: creates a sensory image
  4. Argumentation: takes a position on an issue and defends it

Rhetorical Strategies

These include example, contrast and comparison, definition, cause and effect, process analysis, and division/classification.  The writer may also employ descriptive and narrative strategies.  These are the basic approached a writer uses to tell a story, explain a point, describe a situation, or argue a position (Modes of Discourse).

  1. Narration –Tells a story (Mode of Discourse).  Recounts an event. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end.  There’s a point to it- a reason for recounting the event becomes clear to the reader.
  2. Description (Mode of Discourse)- Writing that appeals to the senses. It can be objective, which is scientific or clinical, or it can be impressionistic, which tries to involve the reader’s emotions or feelings.  Description can be direct or indirect, and the organization can be as follows:
    1. Chronological
    2. Spatial
    3. Emphasizing the most important detail
    4. Emphasizing the most noticeable detail
  1. Example/Exemplification – Example is a specific event, person, or detail of an idea cited and or developed to support or illustrate a thesis or topic. Provide examples or cases in point. Are there examples – facts, statistics, cases in point, personal experiences, interview quotations – that you could add to help you achieve the purpose of your essay?  Seneca once said, “Every guilty person is his own hangman.”  The truth of this observation can be illustrated by the lives of countless villains.  Once such is Macbeth, from Shakespeare’s tragedy of the same name.  At the instigation of his wife, Macbeth kills the king of Scotland and usurps his throne – an act of treachery for which Macbeth and his wife suffer torments of guilt.
  2. Definition  – Identifies the class to which a specific term belongs and those characteristics which make it different from all the other items in that class.
  3. Comparison and Contrast  – Discuss similarities and differences. These essays may be organized in several ways including:
    1. subject by subject-Subject A is discussed in its entirety and is followed by a full discussion of subject B.
    2. point by point-A major point related to A is examined and is immediately followed with a corresponding point in subject B.
    3. Combination-In a longer essay, the writer may employ both strategies.
  4. Division and Classification –Classification separates items into major categories and details the characteristics of each group and why each member of that group is placed within the category. Divide a whole into parts or sort related items into categories.
  5. Causal Analysis (Cause/Effect) – Analyze why something happens and describe the consequences of a string of events. It establishes a relationship: B is the result of A. It can emphasize the causes, the effects, or both.  It can detail a single cause with many effects, or several causes with a single effect, or any combination.  Depending on his or her purpose, the writer can choose to present the most important idea in the beginning, middle, or the end. In some cases, the successful writer of a cause and effect essay anticipates and addresses reader objections and/or questions.
  6. Argumentation (Mode of Discourse)-Convince others through reasoning. Are you trying to explain aspects of a particular subject, and are you trying to advocate a specific opinion on this subject or issue in your essay? Type of writing in which the author argues a position on a particular issue. Takes a position on an issue and defends it.
  7. Process Analysis-Analyzes a process. Explain how to do something or how something happens. Process can have one of two purposes.  It can either give instructions or inform the reader about how something is done. It is important to understand that a clear process presentation must be in chronological order.

Rhetorical Structure-Determine how the rhetorical strategies are utilized in the development of the author’s purpose.

Style Analysis 

This information was taken from the Vertical Teaming Workshop presented by College Board and Five Steps to a Five.

There are 9 areas that may be considered when analyzing the elements of style: diction, sentence structure (pacing/syntax), treatment of subject matter, figurative language/imagery, selection of detail, point of view, attitude, tone, and organization.

 Style-the particular manner of expression of a writer which distinguishes him from other writers

Terms to Classify a Writer’s Style:

journalistic               vivid                 rhythmic            scholarly           pedestrian

bookish                  ornate               sincere             artificial             dignified

pedantic                 poetic               comic               literary              dramatic

original                   imitative            detailed            homely             dull

classical                 forceful scientific           abstract             concrete


Also known as word choice, refers to the conscious selection of words to further the author’s purpose. A writer searches for the most appropriate, evocative or precise word or phrase to convey his or her intent. Diction is placing the right word in the right place.  It is a deliberate technique to further the author’s purpose or intent.

Describe diction by considering the following:

  1. Words may be monosyllabic (one syllable in length) or polysyllabic (more than one syllable in length).  The higher the ratio of polysyllabic words, the more difficult the content.
  2. Words may be mainly
  3. colloquial (conversational/slang) He’s Nuts
  4. informal (personal, conversational) He’s Crazy
  5. formal (academic/literary), He’s schizophrenic
  6. old-fashioned (archaic).
  7. Words may be mainly denotative (containing an exact/dictionary meaning) or connotative (containing a suggested/emotional meaning).
  8. Words may be concrete (specific) or abstract (general).
  9. Words may be euphonious (pleasant sounding), e.g. butterfly, or cacophonous (harsh sounding), e.g., pus.

Words That Describe Language/Diction

Students often need to develop a vocabulary that describes language.  Different from tone, these words describe the force or quality of the diction, images, and details.  These words qualify how the work is written, not the attitude or tone.

Jargon pedantic Poetic
Vulgar euphemistic Moralistic
Scholarly pretentious Slang
Insipid sensuous Idiomatic
Precise exact Concrete
Esoteric learned Cultured
Connotative symbolic Picturesque
Plain simple Homespun
Literal figurative Provincial
Colloquial bombastic Trite
Artificial abstruse Obscure
Detached grotesque Precise


concrete Exact

Syntax/Sentence Structure-The grammatical structure of sentences.  Without syntax, there is no clear communication.  When we refer to syntax in the context of rhetorical analysis, we are not speaking of grammatical correctness, but rather of the deliberate sentence structure the author chooses to make his or her desired point.

Describe the sentence structure by considering the following:

  1. Examine the sentence length.

Are the sentences telegraphic (fewer than five words in length), short (approximately five words in length), medium (approximately eighteen words in length), or long and involved (thirty words or more in length)?  Does the sentence length fit the subject matter; what variety of lengths are present?  Why is the sentence length effective? How does the structure fit the subject matter?

  1. Examine sentence patterns. Some elements to be considered are:


A declarative (assertive) sentence makes a statement, e.g., The king is sick.  An imperative sentence gives a command, e.g., Off with their heads.  Aninterrogative sentence asks a question, e.g., Why is the kings sick? An exclamatory sentence makes and exclamation, e.g., The king is dead!


A simple sentence contains one subject and one verb, e.g., The singer bowed to her adoring audience.  A compound sentence contains two independent clauses joined by a coordinate conjunction (and, but, or), or by a semicolon, e.g., The singer bowed to the audience, but she sang no encores.  A complex sentence contains an independent clause and one or more subordinate clauses, e.g., You said that you would tell the truth. A compound-complex sentencecontains two or more principal clauses and one or more subordinate clauses, e.g., The singer owed while the audience applauded, but she sang no encores.


A loose sentence is one in which the independent clause comes at the beginning and makes complete sense if brought to a close before the actual ending, e.g., We reached Edmonton/that morning/after a turbulent flight/and some exciting experiences.  A periodic sentence makes sense only when the end of the sentence is reached because the independent clause comes at the end, e.g., That morning, after a turbulent flight and some exciting experiences, we reachedEdmonton.

In a balanced sentence, the phrases or clauses balance each other by virtue of their likeness or structure, meaning, and/or length, e.g., He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters.

Natural order of a sentence involves constructing a sentence so the subject comes before the predicate, e.g., Oranges grow in California.  Inverted order of a sentence (sentence inversion) involves constructing a sentence so the predicate comes before the subject, e.g., In California grow oranges.  This is a device in which normal sentence patterns are reversed to create an emphatic or rhythmic effect.  Split order of a sentence divides the predicate into tow parts with the subject coming in the middle, e.g., In California oranges grow.

Juxtaposition is a poetic and rhetorical device which normally unassociated ideas, words, or phrases are placed next to one another, creating an effect of surprise and with, e.g., The apparition of those faces in the crowd;/Petals on a wet, black bough (In a Station of the Metro by Ezra Pound).

Parallel structure (parallelism) refers to a grammatical or structural similarity between sentences or parts of a sentence.  it involves an arrangement of words, phrases, sentences, and paragraphs so that elements or equal importance are equally developed and similarly phrased, e.g., He was walking, running, and jumping for joy.

Antithesis-Contrasting words, phrases, or clauses are placed next to each other.

Repetition is a device in which words, sounds, and ideas are used more than once for the purpose of enhancing rhythm and creating emphasis, e.g., …government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth (Address at Gettysburg by A. Lincoln).

A rhetorical question is a question which expects no answer.  It is used to draw attention to a point and is generally stronger than a direct statement, e.g., If Mr. Ferchoff is always fair, as you have said, why did he refuse to listen to Mrs. Baldwin’s arguments?

  1. Examine the sentence beginnings. Is there a good variety or does a pattern emerge?
  2. Examine the arrangement of ideas in a sentence.  Are they set out in a special way for a purpose?
  3. Examine the arrangement of ideas in a paragraph to see if there is evidence of any pattern or structure.

Treatment of Subject Matter and Selection of Detail

Selection of detail is part of an author’s style.

Describe the author’s treatment of the subject matter by considering the following.  Has the author been:

  1. Subjective?  Are his conclusions based upon opinions; are they rather personal in nature?
  2. Objective?  Are his conclusions based upon facts: are they impersonal or scientific?
  3. Supportive of his main idea?  If so, how did he support his claims?  Did he: state his opinions; report his experience; report observations; refer to statements made by experts; use statistical data?

Figurative Language/Poetic Devices/Imagery-What is the purpose? What is the effect? How do they work?

  1. Simile is a comparison of two different things or ideas through the use of the words like or as.  It is definitely stated comparison, where the poet says one thing is like another, e.g., The warrior fought like a lion.
  2. Metaphor is a comparison without the use of like or as.  The poet states that one thing is another.  It is usually a comparison between something that is real or concrete and something that is abstract, e.g., Life is but a dream.
  3. Personification is a kind of metaphor which gives inanimate objects or abstract ideas human characteristics, e.g., The wind cried in the dark.
  4. Hyperbole is a deliberate, extravagant, and often outrageous exaggeration. It may be used either for serious or comic effect; e.g., The shot that was heard ’round the world.
  5. Understatement (Meiosis) is the opposite of hyperbole. It is a kind of irony which deliberately represents something as much less than it really is, e.g., I could probably manage to survive on a salary of two million dollars per year.