How to Write a Critical Essay
The main reason for writing a critical essay is to weigh up somebody’s work (a book, an essay or any other literary work) in line to increase the reader’s understanding of it. A critical analysis is one-sided writing because it expresses the writer’s opinion or estimate of a text. Analysis means breaking down and studying the elements. Writing a critical essay needs two steps: critical writing and critical reading.
- Recognize the author’s thesis and purpose.
- Study the structure of the passage by spotting all main ideas.
- See or check a dictionary or encyclopedia to understand material that is unknown to you.
- Make a sketch of the work or write a report of it.
- Write a review of the work.
- Decide the purpose which could be.
- To inform with accurate material.
- To convince with an appeal to reason or emotions
- To amuse (to affect people’s emotions)
- Estimate how the author has accomplished his idea
- If the idea is to inform, has the material been presented accurately, clearly, with order and coherence?
- If the idea is to look for evidence, convince, logical reasoning, contrary evidence
- If the idea was to entertain, decide how emotions are affected: does it make you cry, laugh, angry? Why did it affect you?
Think about the following questions: How is the material prepared? Who are the intended viewers? What is the writer’s thought about the audience? What kind of imagery and language does the author use?
OUTLINE FOR CRITICAL ESSAY
You can draft your essay’s critique using the outline below.
Background details to help your readers understand the nature of the work
Details about the work
Statement of topic and purpose
Essay statement indicating the writer’s main reaction to the work
Review or description of the work.
Interpretation and/or estimate.
Discussion of the work’s organization.
Discussion of the work’s style.
Discussion of the topic’s treatment.
Discussion of how it appeals to a particular audience.
Evade introducing your purpose by stating “I think” or “in my opinion.” Keep the focal point on the subject of your analysis, not on yourself. Knowing your opinions weakens them.
Always title the work. The fact that your reader knows what you are writing about does not mean you don’t need to include the title of the work.
More questions to reflect on
- Is there a controversy surrounding either the channel or the subject which it concerns?
- What about the subject matter is of present interest?
- What is the overall worth of the passage?
- What are its weaknesses and strengths?
Support your essay with detailed evidence from the text examined. Remember to include paraphrases and quotes, and that critical analysis is not to only inform, but also to estimate the worth, and validate a fact.
As a writer you set the principles, you should be open-minded and be well informed. You can show your opinions, but you should also support them up with evidence.
Your review should provide details, interpretation, and valuation. The details will help your reader understand the nature of the work under analysis. The interpretation will clarify the meaning of the work, therefore needing your correct understanding of it. The valuation will talk about your opinions of the work and present how justified they are.
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