20 Good Rhetorical Analysis Essay Topics You Should Consider

In a rhetorical analysis essay, you are expected to talk about the ways in which a writer or speaker tries to convey a point through various devices, including vocabulary, metaphor, hyperbole, example, and allusion, among others. Your job, as the writer, is to break down a speech, monologue, poem, or book into its major points and discuss how each element is meant to convince an audience of the overlying message. In order to write a good rhetorical analysis essay, though, you must first choose a good topic.

It can be difficult to figure out what will make a good topic for a rhetorical analysis essay. Should you pick a speech, a monologue, or a poem? What about a sermon, or a short story? Any of these can be used in a rhetorical analysis essay, but some are going to be easier for you depending on your interests. If you really like politics, maybe you would like to write about a famous presidential speech. If you like Shakespeare, maybe you would like to write about a famous monologue. If you are religious, a sermon might be the most interesting topic for you. Whatever you choose, it should be well-known or at least important in some sense: speeches that happened after major crises or poems that have stood the test of time, for example, will be much more interesting (and easy!) to write about than a forgotten short story or a routine political address. Here are 20 great rhetorical essay topics.

  1. Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation
  2. Mario Cuomo’s “Shining City on the Hill” Speech
  3. Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Pearl Harbor speech
  4. George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” Speech
  5. John F. Kennedy’s 1963 speech in West Berlin
  6. Hamlet’s monologue where he says “to be or not to be”
  7. David Foster Wallace’s essay, “Consider the Lobster”
  8. Edgar Allen Poe’s short story, “The Pit and the Pendulum”
  9. Lou Gehrig’s “Luckiest Man” speech
  10. The editorial “Is There A Santa Claus?” by Francis Pharcellus Church (better known as “Yes, Virginia”
  11. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech
  12. William Wallace’s speech to his men in “Braveheart”
  13. The novel “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
  14. Jonathan Edward’s sermon, “Sinners in the hands of an angry God”
  15. William Faulkner’s Nobel Peace Prize speech
  16. President Obama’s inaugural address
  17. Richard Nixon’s “I Am Not a Crook” speech
  18. Calvin Coolidge’s 1923 State of the Union address, the first presidential speech to be broadcast on the radio
  19. The poem “I Saw In Louisiana A Live-Oak Growing” by Walt Whitman
  20. Tom Hanks’ Academy Award acceptance speech for “Philadelphia”