Writing A Critical Essay
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So you have been assigned the task to write a critical analysis paper? And you are probably freaking out because you don’t have a clue what exactly does critique or critical analysis mean… Don’t worry, you are among those hundreds, if not thousands of students who feel the same way and look for paper writing help. Continue reading if you want to find out what is meant by critical analysis, how you can compose it and what resources you will need.
What is meant by Critical analysis?
Okay, so what is critical analysis all about? It is basically subjective writing about an essay, research study or report, book, theory or movie etc. in which the writer is expected to make an argument for two main purposes; one, to introduce and explain why the author has made the argument and two, to provide your own evaluation or opinion to that argument in such a way that it contributes to the readers understanding of the subject.
Sounds complicated, right?
It really isn’t. Let me give you an example to simplify the concept more. Consider that you have just seen a movie at the cinema with your friends. After it ends and you walk out of the hall, you give your judgement about different aspects of it, and if your friend presents a different opinion, you would argue, discuss and debate. While you may like and agree certain parts or views presented in the movie, you would also disagree and dismiss other ideas. You will have your own logical explanation of what the movie director did not do right and what could have been done to make the movie more entertaining or interesting.
That’s exactly the approach you adopt when writing a critical analysis paper. Now that the concept is clear (I hope), lets move on to how to write a critique. Please don’t get confused with these different terms, critique, critical analysis and critical review, all mean the same.
10 Steps to Write a Critical Analysis Paper
Okay, so let’s begin.
- First, create a rough draft in which you answer the following basic questions that will be incorporated in your critical review paper afterwards.
- What is the author’s stance on the subject?
- In what context the argument was made; what is the theoretical background of the author and how does it influence his/her opinion?
- Has the author provided any solution to the issue? Is it reasonable in the given situation?
- What tools have been used to support the argument? For example, emotional appeals, research evidences, logic etc.
- How effective and valid is the author’s tools of persuasion.
- If the author’s purpose is to provide information, critique on whether the info is presented in a logical and coherent manner.
- If the author’s aim is to entertain the reader/audience, evaluate if the work triggers any emotion and to what extent does it influence your emotions or feelings.
- Once you have the answers to the above questions, it is now time to start writing your critical essay. Start by introducing the book/ theory, etc that you will analyze in your paper by mentioning the title, author, important publication details and the argument or topic to be analyzed. This will be your thesis statement on which the entire critical review will be based. Keep it concise and clear.
- Next, summarize the work of the author. You need to make sure that you don’t cover tiny little details of the work. That will almost be like copying the author’s composition. Discuss the main points as presented by the author and this should also be a concise explanation. You can decide on the length of this part depending on the required word count, but it should not be more than 25-30% of the total word count.
- Next comes the analysis part, here you will need the answers you have already written down on your rough draft. Describe each main point made by the author, say how he or she has supported it and then evaluate how effective, efficient, valid and strong the argument is based on the given context.
- One important thing you need to keep in mind while writing a critical review is that you can’t simply dismiss or approve an argument on the basis of your personal opinion. You Support your opinion and analysis by giving reference to a credible resource. It could be established facts, theories, research findings, events, etc. In short, your analysis should be logical.
- As mentioned earlier, you need to review the work from top to bottom. Analyse the first argument made by the author (in case it’s a literary work) and then proceed to the next. Your critical essay will also be marked on how coherent and logically structured your content is.
- The next step is to discuss the implications of the author’s argument and any other questions that it gives rise to. Assess whether the implications are good or negative. Also highlight how effectively (or ineffectively) the issue has been dealt with by the author.
- Conclude your paper by giving a brief review of what you have analyzed, what solutions or findings have been achieved from the argument and what are the strengths and weaknesses of the topic, methodology etc. which the writer has used.
- It is extremely crucial that you keep a neutral and fair approach throughout your critical essay. Critical analysis does not necessarily mean that you only bring out the negative aspects of the work or try to disagree with every argument. Your writing should be fair, i.e. it should look at both the positive and negative aspects of the writers work.
- Last but not least, proofread your work. Yes, it is a step that is often ignored, yet it is as important as the writing process itself because you get a chance to check your work from a second person’s view and most likely, you will find out some grammatical, formatting or semantic errors that you can edit and polish up your critical analysis paper.
Order your Critical Analysis Paper
- Identify the author's thesis and purpose
- Analyze the structure of the passage by identifying all main ideas
- Consult a dictionary or encyclopedia to understand material that is unfamiliar to you
- Make an outline of the work or write a description of it
- Write a summary of the work
- Determine the purpose which could be
- To inform with factual material
- To persuade with appeal to reason or emotions
- To entertain (to affect people's emotions)
- If the purpose is to inform, has the material been presented clearly, accurately, with order and coherence?
- If the purpose is to persuade, look for evidence, logical reasoning, contrary evidence
- If the purpose was to entertain, determine how emotions are affected: does it make you laugh, cry, angry? Why did it affect you?
SAMPLE OUTLINE FOR CRITICAL ESSAY
After the passage under analysis has been carefully studied, the critique can be drafted using this sample outline.
- I. Background information to help your readers understand the nature of the work
- A. Information about the work
- 1. Title
- 2. Author
- 3. Publication information
- 4. Statement of topic and purpose
- B. Thesis statement indicating writer's main reaction to the work
- II. Summary or description of the work
- III. Interpretation and/or evaluation
- A. Discussion of the work's organization
- B. Discussion of the work's style
- C. Effectiveness
- D. Discussion of the topic's treatment
- E. Discussion of appeal to a particular audience
Avoid introducing your ideas by stating "I think" or "in my opinion." Keep the focus on the subject of your analysis, not on yourself. Identifying your opinions weakens them.
Always introduce the work. Do not assume that because your reader knows what you are writing about, you do not need to mention the work's title.
Other questions to consider: Is there a controversy surrounding either the passage or the subject which it concerns?
What about the subject matter is of current interest?
What is the overall value of the passage?
What are its strengths and weaknesses?
Support your thesis with detailed evidence from the text examined. Do not forget to document quotes and paraphrases.
Remember that the purpose of a critical analysis is not merely to inform, but also to evaluate the worth, utility, excellence, distinction, truth, validity, beauty, or goodness of something.
Even though as a writer you set the standards, you should be open-minded, well informed, and fair. You can express your opinions, but you should also back them up with evidence.
Your review should provide information, interpretation, and evaluation. The information will help your reader understand the nature of the work under analysis. The interpretation will explain the meaning of the work, therefore requiring your correct understanding of it. The evaluation will discuss your opinions of the work and present valid justification for them.