Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Rhetorical Analysis

The following is a rheotrical analysis I did for my Rhetorical II class. Often when students see that they must do a "rhetorical analysis" they tend to freak out and stress. I know all to well about stressing out, therefor I am hoping other people can use this as a guide/example for their own papers.  I follow this general guide for all of my papers in both highschool and college.

My steps for writing a paper are as follows:
1.Identify what the assignment is asking for
2. Develop your topic
3. Develop a good thesis! (This is your entire paper in one sentence. Handling the thesis creates an outline for you to follow) Your thesis should state what your argument is (or what you are explaining), and points that you plan to address. (I always try to go with 3)

Paragraph Structure:
-Point #1
-Point #2
-Point #3
(Points should be mentioned in the same order as your thesis!)

When writing your paper it is not so important to focus on spelling and grammer. Just get your ideas out, this is was proofreading is for. In fact, I don't even do my correct citations until the very end. While writing I simply put places holders in parentheses where a citation will later go.

Now, here is a copy of my Rhetorical Analysis of "The Lives of a Cell", by Lewis Thomas:

*For a copy with the original formatting, not corrupted by Blogger see - [REDACTED]

Hunter Gregal  
Professor Removed For Anonymity
Rhetoric II
March 14, 2014
Just a Bunch of Cells
            Humans have been known to simplify their existence on Earth by assuming they are dominant, stable organisms. According to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution however, humans are simply the result of numerous biological mutations in nature (Than). In Lewis Thomas’s ‘The Lives of a Cell,” the true stability of the human organism is examined in-depth in ways that begin to highlight a prevalent flaw in the “all mighty” human species ideology. Thomas incorporates usage of personification, simile, and metaphor in order to argue the underlying point in “The Lives of a Cell” that he is trying to make: humans have created the false illusion that they are the product of their own accomplishments, and are actually a very fragile and dependent organism at the cellular level.
            Thomas is attempting to make a powerful point to the reader concerning a very complex subject. In order to help fortify his argument and make it easier to understand to the reader, Thomas uses the strategy of personification. His use of personification not only makes the complex system of cellular activity easier to understand, but also helps shape his tone into that of someone the reader can relate to. For example, Thomas explains to the reader that despite common belief, a human is not composed entirely of “human” cells. At one point in time very early in the biological history of the human species, a foreign bacterium merged itself into human cells and has been there ever since (Thomas 550-552).  This new bacteria plays the role of consuming human cell nourishment in return providing the human cell with chemical energy. The foreign source of these bacteria, known as mitochondria, can be proven through cellular examinations revealing that separate “mtDNA” is present alongside of the expected human DNA (Martin, Roettger, and et al). To make this concept of “we are not alone, even in our own bodies” simpler, Thomas uses personification and gives the mitochondria human-like characters. Thomas writes, “They turn out to be little separate creatures, the colonial posterity of migrant prokaryotes, probably primitive bacteria that swam into ancestral precursors of our eukaryotic cells and stayed here” (Thomas 550-552). By giving the foreign bacteria mitochondria human behavior such as “swimming,” and even referring to the organism by using personal pronouns, Thomas is essentially creating a bond between the reader and his writing. As such, the reader is now more drawn into the text and more susceptible to Thomas’s end argument.  
              When an author is attempting to explain something that may not be well understood by everyone, it often makes sense to use comparisons in order to relate confusing information to something that is more widely understood by the general public. It is this exact reason that Thomas uses the literary device known as simile throughout his text. Thomas is attempting to make the point to the reader that human beings are under the illusion that they are the most successfully organism solely due to their own accomplishments. This involves briefly informing the reader of complex biology concepts such as cellular mutation and symbiotic relationships without derailing the main argument. In one specific example, Thomas compares the joint-relationship between humans and mitochondria to that similar of a type of bacteria known as rhizobial found in the roots of beans (Thomas 550-552). This helps show the reader how much humans rely on the presence of a foreign bacteria such as the way plants rely on roots.  Another spot where Thomas utilizes the power of simile to help drive his argument is where he attempts to figure out what the Earth is comparable to. First he compares Earth to an organism (much like a human), but decides that Earth is much too complex to be compared to something so simple. Eventually Thomas concludes “it is most like a single cell”, where he not only uses simile but also a hint of irony to show that the Earth truly is very complex much like a single cell (Thomas 550-552).The irony here is implied for as stated earlier by Thomas, humans have the illusion that they are very simple, stable creatures; but, in reality are only the product of millions of complex cells relatable to the complexity of planet Earth (Thomas 550-552).   
                Another example of a rhetorical strategy Thomas uses is his use of the device known as metaphor. Thomas’s first use of metaphor is used in a way similar to that of his reason for using simile; to help explain a complex issue. A simile compares two unlike things using words such as “like” and “as” whereas a metaphor compares two unlike things by stating that they are the same (Maddox). However, the difference of using a metaphor to compare two unlike things and using a simile to do the same is that a metaphor offers a different sense of tone for the reader. When using a simile in order to simplify a subject the reader is often well-aware of the fact that something is being made simple for them. This often shifts the sense of “power” to the author and the reader is simply along for the ride such as in the earlier example of comparing mitochondria to bacteria in the roots of beans (Thomas 550-552). The control being held by the author is not a bad thing, especially in the case of an argument; it is simply a way for the author to take an authoritative voice. However, when Thomas says, “My cells are no longer the pure line entities I was raised with; they are ecosystems more complex than Jamaica Bay”, he is comparing cells to ecosystems without blatantly stating that a cell is not an ecosystem (Thomas 550-552). Thomas is assuming that the reader can pick up on the fact that an environmental ecosystem is not the same as a living cell, thereby shifting power to the reader. This sense of power the reader gains, no matter how insignificant it may seem, actually empowers Thomas in is argument. He is essentially letting the reader believe that they are now the one in control and as such choosing to side with Thomas in his argument as opposed to being forced to side with him. Another location where Thomas uses metaphor is when he states “Evolution is still an infinitely long and tedious biologic game” (Thomas 550-552). In this case of metaphor Thomas is not so much as trying to make the reader understand evolution as he is trying to say “evolution is not as simple as you may think”. By using metaphor instead of stating this, the reader can continue to believe that they are not being told what to believe. 
            Human beings have essentially become the dominant species on the planet Earth. In fact according Thomas, modern humans have even begun to detach themselves from nature. Unfortunately, this can has lead to a false sense of understanding one’s biological place in nature. In the case of the human race, Thomas believes that this detachment from nature has bred ignorance in the form of an illusion. Thomas argues through the use of rhetorical strategies such as personification, simile, and metaphor that humans have formed the illusion that they are perfect, powerful, and simple beings. Thomas attempts to argue this point by refuting the simplicity of the human organism with facts and information regarding the true nature of the human body. He goes into details such as that of the complexity of a cell and the human’s dependence on foreign entities in order to convince the reader that no organism is a simple, stable, all powerful being. Despite being a complex issue to inform the average person of, Thomas manages to utilize rhetorical strategies and creates an argument that can appeal to anyone. Overall in “The Lives of a Cell” Thomas is telling the reader that despite everything, humans truly are just a bunch of cells.

Works Cited
Maddox, Maeve. "What is the Difference Between Metaphor and Simile?" Daily Writing Tips. n. page. Web. 12 Mar. 2014.Than, Ker. "What is Darwin's Theory of Evolution?" Live Science. (2012): n. page. Web. 11 Mar. 2014.Thomas, Lewis. "The Lives of a Cell." 75 Thematic Readings: An Anthology. New York, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003. 550-552. Print.William Martin, Roettger, Mayo, et al. "Modern endosymbiotic theory: Getting lateral gene transfer into the equation" Journal of Endocytobiosis and Cell Research. VOL 23. (2012): n. page. Print.