Rhetorical analysis is a form of criticism (or close reading) that employs the principles of rhetoric to examine the interactions between a text, an author, and an audience. Also called rhetorical criticism or pragmatic criticism.
Rhetorical analysis may be applied to virtually any text or image–a speech, an essay, an advertisement, a poem, a photograph, a web page, even a bumper sticker.
When applied to a literary work, rhetorical analysis regards the work not as an aesthetic object but as an artistically structured instrument for communication that focuses on the audience, the writer and the purpose of the literature. As Edward P.J. Corbett has observed, rhetorical analysis “is more interested in a literary work for what it does than for what it is.”