What is a Critical Essay?
A critical essay can be defined as,
“A form of essay writing which provides an analysis, interpretation, or evaluation of a text, book or literary work of another author”.
“A composition which elucidates a critique, review and an objective analysis of another work (book, play, painting, music, movie etc.)”
A critical essay can either be summary of the contents of the reviewed material or a personal opinion and analysis of the writer about the content The usual format of a critical essay is in the form of argumentative analysis and it is primarily targeted for academic audiences.
Critical Lens Essay
A critical lens essay can be defined as,
“A critical lens essay is a frequently used term in schools and on New York State Regents Examinations where the essay evaluates the validity of a quote along with its explanation by making use of standard literary techniques and devices.”
Format (Outline) of a Critical Essay
Abstract: Summary of the Writer’s Approach
- Main idea of the work.
- Brief analysis of thesis topic/thesis statement/hypothesis or the main concept.
- Important ideas and facts on which the thesis is based.
- Evaluation of the message which the work’s author has conveyed to his/her audience.
- A brief description of the main theme/concept/idea.
- Background analysis /information on the subject of thesis.
- Presentation of the thesis statement or main topic.
Body: Analysis and Evaluation
- Objective analysis of the facts, data, theory and the angle of approach used in the work under study.
- Evaluation of the logical consistency, imaginative techniques and the manner of presentation.
- Comparative analysis of the work under study with contemporary or standard works in the same genre.
- Evaluation of the scope of the main concept.
- Summary of the main points of evaluation discussed in the introduction and body paragraphs.
- Re-statement for the thesis topic/thesis statement/main concept.
- Personal viewpoint and objective analysis.
Various Techniques of Literary Criticism
While writing a critical essay, you will be required to use either of the following types of literary criticism techniques for evaluating the main concept, thesis topic or problem statement:
- Objective Analysis
- Traditional Criticism
- New Criticism
- Sociological Criticism
- Rhetorical Criticism
- Stylistic Criticism
- Metaphorical Criticism
- Psychological (Freudian) Criticism
- Moral Criticism
- Biographical Criticism
- Feminist Criticism
- Historical Criticism
- Marxist Criticism
- Mythological (Archetypal) Criticism
Developing the Structure of a Critical Essay
The structure of a critical essay essentially follows the following standard structural outline. For a more elaborative point of view, you can build up more elements depending on the requirement of your essay paper.
- Statement of Position
- Defense of Position
- statement of Alternate/Contemporary Viewpoints
- Analysis & Evaluation
Style & Grammar Guide for Critical Essay Writing
Writing Style & Transitional Words
The writing style for a critical essay is essentially objective and analytical. some of the phrases that can help you in formatting transitional sentences for your paragraph writing and sentence making are listed below:
after all, all in all, all things considered, briefly, by and large, in any case, in any event,
in short, in summary, in the final analysis,
Grammar & Punctuation
The voice for writing critical papers is passive voice with the a tone that stresses on factual presentation of data, facts and information.