Purpose, Audience, Nature of the Medium

The Rhetorical Situation

The rhetorical situation is the context or set of circumstances for which a text is composed.

  • Who is the creator of the message? Who is the intended receiver or audience of the message?

  • What type of medium is used and what is the nature of the medium (e.g.text features)?

  • What is the overall purpose and claim of the message?

Purpose (claim), Audience, Nature of the medium

1) Purpose and claim

Why did the author write this text? And why did the author write this text in a certain way? What is the occasion for the text e.g. some specific incident or event? What is the intent of the piece: TO INFORM, TO NARRATE, TO PERSUADE, TO DESCRIBE? See https://www.mrsmacfarland.com/dp-curriculum/text-types for more information on different text types and their purposes.

Consider the following:

– what the author said and the diction used

– what the author did not say

– how the author said it and the alternative ways it could have been said

-what the intended effect is e.g. to reflect, to call to action

What is the author's claim in the text? What is the main idea that the author is proving in the communication?

2) Audience

Who is the target audience? How does the text’s language and rhetoric suit the audience? Are there groups excluded from the intended audience? Is there more than one intended audience?

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Location

  • Education

  • Socioeconomic status

  • Beliefs, Values, Attitudes (special interest groups)

3) Nature of the Medium: What are the characteristics that define the text? Consider the differences in the variety of texts such as newspaper articles, magazine ads, editorials, blogs, etc. What modes of writing are included: expository, narrative, descriptive, argumentative? Does the author adhere to the conventions of the genre or stray from them? What is the impact of the medium and how the message is received? Consider the text type.

Lead into Thesis


In (Name of Work), (Full Name of Author) (uses, employs, relies, utilizes), (device/strategy/technique), and (device/strategy/technique) to (show, reveal, emphasize, argue, reinforce, insist, point out) that (effect/purpose/theme).