Analyzation is a key aspect of being a reader. Through the use of rhetorical analysis, people can dissect a literary work to study how authors write and what the purpose for it is. It’s not simply just reading the words and what the author writes but how and why they write these words in the particular style that they do and what audience they’re aiming for. You must analyze the strategies that the author uses throughout their work and figure out the purpose of their writing is. Throughout my time in the FIQWS classroom, I had a lot of opportunities to do that same thing but with different works of literature. From comics to poems, to books, and even commercials; the class as a whole were able to learn and then perform the action of rhetorical analysis. Here are some examples:
After having read ten chapters of the children’s comic, “El Deafo”, the notion of identity is quite evident. It’s very interesting because it’s not just another girl or boy trying to grow up and find themselves, it’s the more complex issues that arise when a disability interferes. Readers can see that Cece is not a well-spoken person. She keeps everything she thinks of to herself, rarely voices her opinions, and lets a lot of people push her around. Whether it be her new friends, her mother, or most of the kids she interacts with, we can visually see her suppression to say what’s on her mind. Because of this, she creates this El Deafo persona, a superhero that’s not afraid of anything or anyone and does as she pleases. This superhero is the exact opposite of what Cece identifies herself as which is kind of depressing to see. How she can be so lively and strong in her imagination but so weak and fragile in real life. But, as the story progresses, we slowly see that this imaginative persona is starting to come out in real life. From her screaming at her friend to kicking her mother on the leg, she is slowly coming to terms with herself.
After having read Chapter 2 of “Soon I Will Be Invincible”, we are introduced to Fatale’s character who experienced a tragic accident she can’t remember and is now a cyborg. The writer uses elements such as transformation, insecurities, and isolation to further the message of self-identity which connects to the audience who are young adults. However, he fails to do this due to Fatale being a one-dimensional character who ends up falling short as a character and becomes more of a background buzz amidst all these superheroes. The writer also frequently substitutes psychological depth of Fatale and the rest of the heroes we are introduced to with teenage angst and constant bickering. Which is definitely annoying because these “superheroes” are far from being teenagers yet they act like one. Not to mention, the lack of diversity between the heroes’ voices are quite evident. Everyone sounds the same in conversation and no one sounds particularly interesting. Therefore, the author was trying to use Fatale as a sort of plot device to retell the history of this super-human verse but, he fails at creating real depth for Fatale which is a tragedy.
The readings that I found particularly interesting and important for me were the poems titled, “Lighter” and “Superman”. Although they weren’t beautiful and artistic like “Ms Marvel” or cute and informative like “El Deafo”, these poems really struck a chord with me. I found them very eye-opening and I loved examining them. The one I found the most intriguing was “Lighter”. The main theme was that villains and heroes believe they are the heroes of their own journeys. Everyone knows there is always the “Hero” and the “Villain” but the only difference between these two opposing sides of nature is perspective. We are led to believe that these protagonists and antagonists are complete opposites of one another when really, they are one of the same. They both share a similar or almost identical basic group of extreme traits in their personalities. A character that is perceived as a hero can easily be made out to be the villain when looked through different lenses. Right, and wrong, ethical and unethical, moral and immoral aren’t always on opposite ends of evil and good. I was even able to connect this unknown character in the book to the mythological Prometheus. The stealing of the lighter alludes to Prometheus’ theft of fire. Therefore, the only thing a hero represents is the audience’s position in the story: It is the character the audience most cares about and most empathizes with. Because “heroes” are not perfect and “villains” are not necessarily as evil as they are misunderstood.
After having watched the commercial for cochlear implant, I was quite stunned. I didn’t know what a cochlear implant was but the commercial, as vague as it was, was uncomfortably clear. A cochlear implant is an electronic medical device that replaces the function of the damaged inner ear. In other words, it fixes your hearing. However, the EVMS ad was downright rude and disrespectful to the community of people that are hard of hearing. We are introduced to a girl who can’t hear but wants to pursue a career in medicine. The narrator tells the audience, which would most likely be people who are deaf, that she can’t become a doctor because she can’t hear or listen. Not only is that offensive, but it’s also not true. There are numerous doctors who are hard of hearing and while it might make things a little difficult, it is not impossible like the narrator said. She then goes to take the surgery and then, just like magic, she is able to become a doctor because she can listen. The writers of this commercial clearly didn’t know to market to their audience very well and were sending a really negative message. That being, you can’t have a career of importance because you lack something, which is hearing. And the only way to succeed in life is if you “fix” it.
All in all, rhetorical analysis is highly essential for any reader. It distinguishes the audience, the writer, and the message as a whole to further analyze and showcase the purpose of a literary piece. As showcased above, throughout my semester in FIQWS, I was able to do this by trying to understand the author’s intention and why he or she failed or succeed in doing so. I tried to also understand the audience in which they were probably targeting and what that means for the overall message of the work. Whether it was a children’s comic, an offensive commercial, or a super-hero novel; I was able to rhetorically analyze it and understand the work better with it.