Why Do Authors Use Rhetorical Devices In Essays?

Since the time of Ancient Greece, people were interested in perceiving others in some ideas or views. Ancient philosophers invented rhetoric, the art of persuasion for that aim. This article will help you become familiar with rhetorical devices, distinguish them from rhetorical figures, and discover how and why both of them are used in the essays.

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Types of rhetorical devices

You know well that to perceive someone, it is not enough just to express your idea or view. And even though you can provide strong arguments, sometimes it is still not enough for success. So, what is necessary to perceive a person and make them share your ideas or views? The art of rhetoric claims that four main concepts/components must be concluded in the text or speech for it to be perceived. These concepts/components, called rhetorical devices, are as follows:

  • Ethos;
  • Logos;
  • Kairos;
  • Pathos.

Let’s take a closer look at each and every one of them and define in which cases they can or cannot be used.


This word means ‘character‘ in Greek. As a rhetorical device, ethos is responsible for credibility. This device is necessary for any type of paper, starting from an academic essay or research and finishing with an online article or review.

You often can see that an expert on some website refers to scientific studies. You probably faced the requirements of using only peer-reviewed sources for academic papers. And, agree, you will put more trust into a speech when an Oxford, Harvard, or some other top university professor makes it.

All the examples above are about credibility. It is essentially about the authority of an author of text or speech. In the case when the author is not authoritative enough, it is about sources to which the person refers to support the respective idea or point of view.


The word ‘logos‘ seems to be similar to ‘logic‘ and you are not wrong with that, because logic is exactly the matter this device is responsible for. Logic is about argumentation and reasoning. It is also useful for both academic and non-academic texts.

You can have the best and strongest arguments, but the paper or speech will be cheap and won’t buy success if the arguments have the wrong order. It doesn’t matter if one is making a creative speech or writing a college or university assignment. The text must have a clear structure in which arguments and facts are evidently related to each other and are ordered to support the main idea.


In Greek, ‘kairos‘ means the right moment. This rhetorical device means using arguments that are suitable for the context in relation to the right time. For example, students can often face the requirement to use for their essays, studies or reviews sources only for the last five years. In this case, it is about kairos because the information older than five years cannot still be relevant for some topics and in certain fields.

However, kairos is important not only for academic papers. For example, when you visit a website of some company, you expect to find up-to-date information about its services and prices. For the companies that want you to become their customer, it is no less important to advertise their service at the right time and when people are in the right mood. Thus, kairos is important for any context, academic, personal, professional, or any other.


This particular rhetorical device is responsible for the emotional involvement of the audience. It must not be used in academic writing, but you can use it in speeches, magazine articles, fictional literature, and many other types of sources. While science must produce objective information and let the audience perceive it logically, a wide range of other areas need sympathy from the audience for certain views or ideas.

For instance, you often can see that in the article about some social or environmental trouble, the writer shows as an example one particular person of a family that suffered. It is much easier to feel sympathy for them, and the further impression is much stronger when the authors refer to the statistics and show how many of such families suffered from the trouble.

You might also need assistance to write your article and use rhetorical figures in them. You can find custom professional essay writing help on CustomWritings, for example, or any other site which you prefer for buying essays online. Many people from the UK, USA, and other countries appeal to professional writers to get original, personalized examples of rhetorical analysis in English written from scratch. A paper of high quality can be useful to make further analyses easier.

Rhetorical figures

As you already know, rhetorical devices are ethos, logos, pathos, and kairos. But before we consider the last one, let’s pay a little attention to the rhetorical figures. First, we must clearly distinguish them. Rhetorical devices, as you already know, are only four, and they appeal to the general areas of human perception. Rhetorical figures are also called figures of speech. They appeal to the emotions – that’s why we look at them just after pathos.

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There is a long list of rhetorical figures, and we will consider here only several of them. Yes, we just noted that pathos is not used in academic speech because it is inappropriate to appeal to emotions in the scientific context. However, some rhetorical figures can still be used in academic writing.

One of them is the epithet, which is a word or a syntagm which characterizes something or someone. Literally, any word. You can say that something is blue or green, new or old, cold, hot – whatever. Any characteristic is an epithet.

Another important rhetorical figure to take in consideration is the metaphor. The basis of the metaphor is comparison, showing one thing through another. Examples of a common metaphor are ‘as free as a bird‘ or ‘the heart of stone‘. You do not mean that a person literally has a heart made out of stone, but instead that the stones are very hard and thereby showcase a hint of emotionlessness with respect to that respective person.

But how is this related to academic writing? There is such a thing as a dead metaphor, a rhetorical figure that was used so often that it is perceived as fact and does not have an impact on emotions. For example, the syntagms ‘key role‘ or ‘main role‘ are examples of dead metaphors that you can find in academic articles.

Persuasive skills in rhetoric and argumentation are key to a great speech before a target audience. Image source: www.pixabay.com

There are many other figures of speech that you cannot face in academic writing – for example, simile or analogy. The first one is a comparison of two things. The second explains something via a similar thing or situation. You can often hear that something is as easy as a pie – this is an analogy. More examples are sarcasm, irony, and analogy. While you probably are familiar with two first, the last one contradicts a negative statement with something positive.

As we already noted, there is a long list of rhetorical figures, and we will not consider all of them. However, now you know several examples and the difference between rhetorical figures and rhetorical devices. In conclusion, it can be very hard to figure out all of the rhetorical details or make a rhetorical analysis.

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4 Responses to Why Do Authors Use Rhetorical Devices In Essays?

  1. Oliver jake says:


  2. Naomi Clark says:

    Thank you for the article!

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