Critical essays


People love criticizing everything: from fresh vegetables and new emojis to literature and banking reforms. However, when talking about a critical essay, it is not necessarily a negative opinion regarding something. The author of such an essay analyzes, evaluates, or attempts to interpret a specific subject. Making a claim, an author offers some supporting ideas to prove it.

A critical essay presupposes the use of critical thinking. However, you should also be aware that writing a critical essay also requires vital reading and writing skills. You must learn how to analyze what you read or see and interpret its creator’s purpose and intent. Notably, a critical essay excludes your feelings and must demonstrate your reasoning and supporting facts.

The aim of a critical essay

You may have noticed that nearly every job description includes critical thinking as one of the desired skills. People must be able to prove their position using a crucial vision and argument. Critical essays can be reasonable means to improve that skill to perfection. Besides, it is an excellent assignment to train your interpretation abilities.

For instance, if you take a classical movie, you can interpret it in the context of the time when it was shot. You can go further and analyze it in the context of politics or contemporary art. It is up for you to decide. And it is similar when it comes to critical essays. This is a thought-provoking train-up.

Here are some crucial writing goals you need to follow when working on your assignment:

  • Suggesting an objective point of the original author of a piece of art you are analyzing.
  • Providing a complete and uncut analysis of the work under consideration.
  • Making a thorough examination and analysis of the work and demonstrating your ability to support the original author’s concept and claim.
  • Defining the strong and weak sides of a journal or article entry.
  • Critical evaluation of the work created by a writer or artist.

Сritical essay types

When you get a critical essay assignment, you should consider several essential types of this writing presupposed. These are several most common fields for writing a critical essay:

  • Sociological criticism
  • Biographical criticism
  • Mythological criticism
  • Gender criticism
  • Formalist criticism
  • New historicism
  • Reader-response criticism
  • Psychoanalytical criticism

Writing a critical essay step by step

You should not bother if you have not written this type of written task yet. A critical essay is not that complicated if you know what to do and how to handle it the best. The main point here is to comprehend the instructions clearly and the expected result.

Some tips before you plunge into writing a critical essay

  • Before you learn about critical writing’s structural peculiarities, you should also be aware of some features that can make your life easier. The following recommendations will make the writing process smooth.
  • You must practice and master the active reading technique. Many students struggle with staying focused all the time as they read a text. A method referred to as active reading will help concentrate and notice all crucial details for a critical essay.
  • Understand what a teacher expects of you. Before you start writing, read the instructions and make sure you understand everything in it. If something is unclear, it would be better to clarify every detail before carrying out your task. Asking for help and clarification is normal and even obligatory; your tutor would gladly assist.
  • Study the source material. Whether you are to analyze the entire work or an excerpt, you must have a strong understanding of it. A critical paper requires you to know the details, especially when you need to analyze the original source in the context of other works. Besides, you can find the required quotation faster if you know the text well. Also, consider reading the original material twice or more, as there is a possibility you can miss out on something vital.
  • Define the most apparent problematic issues as you are reading or reviewing the material. In most cases, the material for a critical essay has got something on the surface — the problems or challenges that seem primary for the author. It is better to note every problematic aspect that seems to be the most prominent in the source. Later on, the remaining patterns will emerge as well.
  • Make notes. Making notes can be very helpful: the more remarks you have, the better. You will see that the notes after the first reading may differ from the ones you take after the second or third-time reading. You will then use some of these for your essay. Simultaneously, do not go over the top — make your remarks concise and to the point. Later, you will need to find the solutions to these problems.
  • Reading essay samples is a good idea. Some may consider that practice to be a cheating technique; however, if you stick to this point of view you can call any artist a cheater as well. Sample essays can be inspiring for you. However, it is not the most important thing. The point is that by reading several critical works, you can see what vocabulary, grammatical structures, and tone correspond to this essay type.
  • You are not here to summarize the source. Often, students cannot summarize an original author’s words instead of presenting their vision and critical view. It is a harsh mistake that can result in a poor grade.

Outline for your critical essay

Some people prefer to create a rough draft as they are reading the original source. Yet, it might be somewhat distracting. Perhaps, it is a suitable option for those who have some experience in writing this type of essay. The optimal variant is to sketch something after the second reading of the text; however, it is up for you to decide.

The critical essay outline’s structure is the same as that of any other essay: introduction, central part, and conclusion. Your body part presupposes some subheadings in it. You will likely realize what subheadings should be in your work during the active reading. Refer to your notes as you create the paper’s plan — these will help you create a solid body of the essay. Be ready to rewrite the outline several times.

The structure of your critical essay

As you may understand, your critical essay must include an introductory part with an effective thesis statement, the main body with all the necessary ’stuffing,’ and conclusion — the only summarizing part of your work. These three sections comprise complete and meaningful critical writing.

The introductory part. The introduction is the most complicated part for many students. It is the very beginning of your essay, and you still struggle with the desire to quit and hang out with friends instead of writing the task. Some people also start writing an article from the body part and go back to the introduction after completing their work’s significant bulk. But you still need a thesis.

The thesis statement is you pole-star. You must understand that this closing sentence of the introductory paragraph is a measure of your successful completion of the assignment. If you have a correct and catchy thesis — the entire essay will be excellent; if not — perhaps, you do not even need to continue writing the essay. It is a joke, of course; the point is that having a grasping thesis is a must.

Consider following these rules:

  • Do not use cliches
  • The thesis should be in the first introductory paragraph; it can be either the last sentence or among the first few sentences — it all depends on the paragraph’s length. Note that the preceding sentences introduce an issue to a reader, while the following sentences explain the thesis.
  • Do not use metaphoric words, be concise and transparent.
  • Speak about the vital purpose and do not mention any side or minor arguments.

The body part. It is the essence of your work. You must keep it to the point and always refer to the thesis statement without scattering your readers’ attention. It is an excellent practice to always check up with the thesis if you are unsure whether you write something worthy. If the paragraph supports your key idea — you are doing it right.

Every claim you make should not only correspond to the thesis but also offer some backup. Your evidence should come from credible sources; make sure to use examples and quotes if needed. Note that your work should consist of not less than three paragraphs in the body paragraph.

The conclusion. Your final point of destination is the conclusion. It is, perhaps, the easiest part of any essay, as you need to restate the thesis from the introduction and mention the claims you used for your main body. At the same time, you may want to impel a reader to further thinking and searching for the solutions independently. All in all, a strong statement that underpins your central point is a perfect way to finish the critical essay.

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