One of the key lessons is that reading well and writing well are very closely related. As Bartholomae and Petrosky write in their introduction to Ways of Reading: “you should not expect to read [a work] once and completely understand [it] or know what you want to say” (4). Writing about something you read helps you understand it better; the cyclical process of reading, writing, re-reading, and revising helps you to become a “strong, active, and critical” reader and writer.

But this is hard work, and, as several of the essays we read in Unit 1 note, there are many things that can get in the way of the hard work of reading and writing—everything from “invasion of one’s mind by ready-made phrases” discussed by Orwell, to the skim reading discussed by Klass and Wolf.

Your Assignment

Write a rhetorical analysis describing the way that George Orwell and one other author we read in Unit 1 achieve their purposes for writing their essays/articles.

Even though you are writing about 2 different pieces, your essay must still be unified. You should begin your essay by identifying a shared presumption or concern that underpins both authors’ pieces. You should also consider the following in your essay:

  • Each author’s primary purpose or concern. Please note that I do not say “argument” because not every author is making a strident argument; purpose can be more nuanced than argument. Note that, even as you may be writing about the same piece as your peers, each person can identify a slightly different nuance to the authors’ purposes.
  • Ways in which the authors’ purposes/concerns overlap
  • Secondary purposes/concerns that support or extend each author’s primary purpose
  • Types of evidence or logic that each author uses to forward his purpose
  • The organizational structure each author uses and how it helps achieve the purpose

Additional Tips for Successful Completion

+ A rhetorical analysis essay should not contain your own independent analysis of the subject matter of the text. It analyzes the way authors achieve their purposes.

+ You must include many direct references to the texts. Do not merely summarize what an author did: quote them extensively and offer close analysis of the words you quote.

+ Say more about less. Do not attempt to write about everything an author does to achieve his or her purpose. Pick a few key things that you think they do to most successfully achieve their purposes and write in detail about those things. Depth over breadth.

+ Do not write a 5 paragraph essay. Write as many paragraphs as you need to say what you want to say. Consciously choose how many paragraphs you are writing based on what you want to say, not based on an arbitrary, pre-set form. You will hear me say this many times: you should be so committed to your paper’s organization and content that, should I suggest you change it, you will want to argue with me that you have a reason for putting everything as you did.

Composition Requirements:

  • Correctly referenced sources, introducing the author and title, giving context for the source, incorporating quotations grammatically correctly, and punctuating quotations correctly.
  • What Would Orwell Do? Use Orwell’s 6 rules and 4 (+2) questions to evaluate your own writing. Use clear language and do not try to “dress up” your writing with unnecessary padding and superfluous language. A few specific things to do:
    • Avoid words of magnitude that try to insist that something is meaningful rather than explaining why it is meaningful (really, extremely, huge, etc.)
    • Avoid “meaningless words”: “interesting”, “aspect”, “important” (these are great words for annotating a text or in freewriting! But in a final product, replace them with explanations of what is actually interesting about it, why is it important, etc.)
  • Meaningful transitions between paragraphs
  • Form Follows Function: do not write a 5-paragraph essay for no reason! Write as many paragraphs as are needed by the content of your essay.

Please note: This is NOT a research paper. You are not to gather outside evidence.


  • 1200 words minimum
  • Times New Roman 12 point font
  • 1 inch margins
  • MLA format for heading and page numbers
  • A works cited page (use the formatting for the articles you write about given below)

Please see pp. 3-4 of the Syllabus for more information on grading, rewrites, and feedback.

Unit 1 Readings

Bartholomae, David and Anthony Petrosky. “Introduction: Ways of Reading.” Ways of Reading: An Anthology for Writers. 7th ed., Bedford/St. Martins, 2005, pp. 1-16.

Doubek, James. “Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away.” NPR News, 17 Apr. 2016, Accessed ___________.

Klass, Perry. “How Children Read Differently From Books vs. Screens.” The New York Times, 16 Mar. 2021, Accessed _____________.

Orwell, George. “Politics and the English Language.” 1946., 29 Dec. 2019, Accessed ____________.

Wolf, Maryanne. “Skim reading is the new normal. The effect on society is profound.” The Guardian, 25 Aug. 2018, Accessed _____________.

NB: put the date you accessed the article after “Accessed.” Use standard date format, e.g. “Accessed 5 Sept. 2022.”

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