Rhetorical Analysis

Subject: Sociology
Type: Synthesis Essay
Pages: 4
Word count: 1175
Topics: Social Studies, Social Work


The effect of Hurricane Matthew on the Haitian coast attracted significant attention of both the global media and the international community. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti for the first time on Tuesday October 4, 2016 (IOM, 2016, p. 1). For 52 years, Haiti had not been hit by first category 4 Hurricane. However, when Matthew struck the country, it caused massive damages to property such as critical infrastructure, homes, and schools (IOM, 2016, p. 1). The hurricane affected over two million people while more than half of the affected population was in dire need of humanitarian aid. Hurricane Matthew spread towards Southeast United States, leading to displacement and the loss of lives. In the wake of the emergency, the international media focused on the effect of the hurricane. The media reported the impacts of the hurricane from the time it began in Haiti to the time it reached the United States. In this paper, a rhetorical analysis of the two introductory sentences from different newspaper articles has been done to examine the use of rhetorical devices and/or appeals in reporting. One sentence (herein referred to as “the first sentence”) has been derived from an article in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald. The other sentence (herein referred to as “the second sentence”) has been obtained from an article in China Daily of China. Both articles were published on October 8, 2016 in the wake of Hurricane Matthew.  

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Authors and the Intended Audience

Joseph Guyler Delva and Scott Malone co-authored the article in the Sydney Morning Herald. The article’s title reads, “Death toll rises as Hurricane Matthew lashes Florida.” However, the sentence under analysis reads as follows: “Hurricane Matthew had killed almost 900 people and left tens of thousands homeless in Haiti earlier before it skirted Florida’s Atlantic Coast and plowed northward over waters just off Georgia” (Delva & Malone, 2016). This information was intended for both the citizens of Haiti and citizens of Australia. It enabled them to follow the impact of the hurricane and determine if their friends and relatives were safe. Arguably, the information could have been intended for the global public and humanitarian organizations willing to contribute towards the response mechanisms. 

The second sentence is found in an article by China Daily titled, “Hurricane Matthew kills almost 900 in Haiti before hitting U.S.” Since there are no identifiable authors, the article could have been published by the editorial of the China Daily. The sentence under rhetorical analysis reads, “Hurricane Matthew killed almost 900 people and left tens of thousands homeless in Haiti earlier in the week before plowing northward on Saturday over waters just off the U.S. southeast, where it caused flooding and widespread power outages” (China Daily, 2016). The intended audiences include Haitian nationals and English-Speaking Chinese nationals as well as the global public. It also targets foreign nationals in China who may have relatives in Haiti and are likely to be affected by the outcome of the hurricane. 

Rhetorical devices/appeals


The first sentence utilized rhetorical devices and appeals in its construction. According to Dlugan (2013), logos are embodied in the use of facts, analogies, and statistics or citing authorities regarding a particular domain of study (p. 1). The use of logos in writing helps to reinforce the argument by making it more reliable for the consumer. In the first sentence, Delva and Malone (2016) have revealed the number of people who have been killed by the hurricane as well as the number of people without homes to buttress the magnitude of the hurricane. The authors reveal the number of fatalities as “almost 900” while “tens of thousands” have been left homeless. It is evident that the statistics regarding the number of victims of the hurricane are not merely presented. They have been derived from reliable sources which could include humanitarian organizations responding to the crisis. It is a surprising coincidence that the second sentence embodies striking resemblance with the first sentence. It has reported “900 killed and tens of thousands left homeless.” To emphasize the intensity of the problem, the second sentence reveals that the hurricane plowed northwards towards the United States. The figures stress the intensity of the hurricane and enable the audience to conceptualize its effects. 


Ethos is used to persuade the audience about the credibility of the author. According to Dlugan (2013), ethos involves selecting a relevant language that the audience can easily understand and avoiding biases (p. 1). It also encompasses the introduction of the author’s pedigree and the use of proper grammar and syntax. In the first article, Delva and Malone (2016) correctly use proper grammar to communicate to the audience. The author’s choice of vocabulary is relevant in conveying the message to the intended audience. The construction of the sentence has followed subject-verb-object (SVO). For example, “Hurricane Katrina (subject) had killed (verb) almost 900 people (object)…” In this regard, the authors exhibit lingual precision by allowing the doer of the action to come first in the sentence followed by the action and the victim of the action. An analysis of the use of ethos in the second sentence reveals similar findings the Sydney Morning Herald. The construction of the sentence has followed the fundamental rules of grammar and syntax. The arrangement of nouns and verbs are in harmony thereby reflecting the author’s credibility. The correct use of linguistic typology erases any doubt about the author’s credibility in reporting the incidence.


The use of pathos in writing is meant to generate sympathy from the audience.  Pathos appeals to human emotions because it draws feelings of pity (Dlugan, 2013, p. 2). It can inspire anger and trigger the audience into action. The first sentence exhibits an aspect of suffering which demonstrates the use of pathos. In the sentence, the hurricane has killed some people and left others homeless. Here, the emphasis is not on the magnitude but on the consequences (death and homelessness). Such tragic consequences appeal to emotions of human beings. On the other hand, the second sentence similarly evokes feelings of pity among the audience. Like the Sydney Morning Herald, China Daily has used the words (killed and homelessness) to create an emotional appeal. However the second sentence exhibits the third and fourth elements of pathos which include ‘flooding’ and ‘widespread power outage’.  The additional elements underscore the difficulty of movement and the lack of access to news from the various forms of media that rely on electricity. 

A close analysis of the rhetorical strategies used in the development of the first sentence and the second sentence reveal an interesting similarity. Both authors have communicated the message by employing similar styles and methods. Both sentences have expressed the magnitude of the problem in similar ways which are evident in the use of words. However, the only difference noted in the construction of the sentences is the inclusion of “flooding and widespread power outage” in the second sentence. In this regard, the methods that the authors have used do not vary significantly with the cultural context.

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  1. China Daily. 2016, October 8. Hurricane Matthew Kills almost 900 in Haiti before Hitting U.S. Chinadaily.com.cn, Retrieved from http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2016-10/08/content_26991476.htm
  2. Dlugan, A., 2013. Ethos, pathos, logos: 3 pillars of public speaking. Six Minutes. Last modified September, 2.
  3. International Organization for Migration (IOM). 2016, December 14. Haiti-Hurricane Matthew. Reliefweb.int, retrieved from http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/IOM%20Situation%20Report%20%2310-%20Hurricane%20Matthew.pdf
  4. Delva, J. G., & Malone, S. 2016, October 8. ‘Death toll rises as Hurricane Matthew lashes Florida.’ Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/world/death-toll-rises-as-hurricane-matthew-lashes-florida-20161007-grxqmu.html
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