Critical Analysis Essay Sample

Critical Essay Requires a Lot of Attention

Many tend to struggle when they are writing a critical essay. It is one of those essays that are indeed critical to write about. However, if you follow the prescribed guidelines to write a critical essay, you should be doing a pretty good job with it.

To start with, you have to understand the topic that you are using to write a critical essay on. If there are any notes about the authors or experts, try to research in-depth and get as many useful facts as possible to guarantee good critical essay results.

There are many who don't take research too seriously. Somehow they feel that the amount of information they have in hand is sufficient to fill in a critical essay but they might be wrong. You need to bring about as much data as you can and this is only to help you make your critical essay better. Seek for information not just from the internet as the easiest source, you can brush through a few books and journals as well.

With all the information that you have, you can go about using it to put it down on the paper. Use your descriptive skills; bring your perception on paper. To simplify the language make sure you divide the information well with an introductory paragraph, a body and the ending with an apt conclusion.

Conclusion is a very important part of your critical essay; hence do not take it too relaxed. Be patient all throughout the essay, if you are in a hurry to wrap it up with just about anything in the conclusion then you would probably ruin all your hard work on a critical essay. Your conclusion should never be general, this is where you can take the liberty of putting down what you feel about your essay and the points covered in it. Certainly this could be your zone and the reader would love to know what you feel about the topics covered in your critical essay.

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A critical analysis (sometimes called a critique, critical summary, or book review) is a systematic analysis of an idea, text, or piece of literature that discusses its validity and evaluates its worth. A critical analysis usually includes a summary–a concise restatement of what a text says–and an evaluation–how well it says it. A critical analysis in literature, for example, might examine the style, tone, or rhetorical appeals of a text, while an analysis of a scientific paper might examine the methodology, accuracy, and relevance of the research.

A good critique will consider the following questions

  • Who is the author, and what are his/her qualifications?
  • What is the nature of the work (type, purpose, intended audience)?
  • What is its significance? How does it compare to other material on the same subject? By the same author?
  • What is the author's thesis?
  • What is the organizational plan or method? Is it well conceived? Does it achieve the author's objectives?
  • What are the underlying assumptions? Are they stated or do they lurk behind a stance of neutrality and objectivity?
  • How do assumptions and biases affect the validity of the piece?
  • Are arguments/statements supported by evidence? Is the evidence relevant? Sufficient?
  • Is the author's methodology sound?
  • What evidence or ideas has the author failed to consider?
  • Are the author's judgments and conclusions valid?
  • What rhetorical strategies does the author use? Are they effective?

A word about the thesis statement

Remember that no matter what format you follow in writing your critical analysis, it should have a thesis statement that establishes your approach to or opinion about the piece. Your thesis statement will not be the same as the original author's thesis statement. For example, say that the original author's thesis statement is “the moon is made of green cheese.” Your own thesis might be “the author's assertion that the moon is made of green cheese is ill-founded and is not supported with adequate evidence.”

Organizing the Critical Analysis

There are many models for writing a critical analysis. Some disciplines recommend breaking an analysis into two sections: The first section provides a summary of the content of the work, while the second section analyzes and evaluates the work. Other disciplines, in contrast, favor a model in which the summary and analysis are smoothly integrated. See the reverse side for two serviceable (if unembellished) formats for a critical analysis. Also, remember that length can vary from a paragraph to several pages.

Sample Critical Analysis — Two-Part Structure

Introduction

[Summary Section]

In “Nature Cannot be Fooled,” [title] originally published in 1998 in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, [date and source] Washington University Professor Jonathan Katz[author name and descriptor] contends [active verb] that American Society denies reality, living instead as if its “wished-for fictions” were “true” [paraphrase (and partial quotation) of author's thesis]. Katz further [transition] argues[active verb] that this distorted view of reality manifests itself in many negative ways—from public health policy to education. [list of key ideas]

[Evaluation Section]

(Note that the evaluative terms are bold-faced for the purposes of illustration only.)

Unfortunately, Katz fails to support his argument. His commentary relies onfallacies, unsupported claims, and opinions rather than on logical statements, supported claims, and facts. Therefore, even though Katz expresses much passion, he fails to offer a persuasive argument. [Use your own thesis statement to provide an organizational plan for the paper.]

Body Paragraphs

The body paragraphs should analyze particular components of the work. For instance, in an analysis of the Katz commentary, the body would offer specific illustrations of the flawed passages in Katz's commentary; these illustrations would support the analytical claims that you are making about the work. The focus, then, is objective analysis, not subjective response.

Conclusion

The conclusion may restate the author's thesis, but the main purpose of the conclusion should be to emphasize your assessment of the writer's work.

Sample Critical Analysis — Integrated Model

One technique for integrating a summary and an evaluation is simply to merge the two separate sections (like the examples above) into a single introductory paragraph. Another technique is to synthesize the summary and evaluative comments, as in the following sample introduction:

Introduction

In 1936, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” for an audience of literary scholars of his own day. Thus, the essay can pose some difficulties for modern readers, who may not be familiar with literary history or the specific critics to whom Tolkien refers. In addition, Tolkien's diction is formal and quite dense. Nevertheless, he offers a persuasive and masterful defense of Beowulf, one of England's most beloved works. [Our thesis] Tolkien argues that Beowulf scholars are wrong to mine the poem solely for historic evidence about the Anglo-Saxon period, rather than reading it as a great and inspiring work of literature. [Tolkien's thesis] Although he agrees that its historical value is high, he shows that Beowulf is so powerful as a poem that its literary qualities far outshine its historical value.

Teresa Sweeney & Fran Hooker Webster University Writing Center, 2005

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