A critical essay is an excellent way to share and discuss the literature you have read. A critical essay can analyze one piece of literature (characters, themes, points) or compare and contrast multiple literature pieces from the same author.
The word "criticize" for many is associated with condemnation, the identification of negative aspects. It may seem to you that writing a critical essay is about breaking all the author's arguments and showing how weak his work is. But in reality, this is not at all the case.
An article, a review, and an essay are literary criticism genres designed to evaluate and interpret works of art and life phenomena reflected in them. The nature of literary criticism changes over time.
At first, it was mainly a general assessment of the work, a recommendation to other readers.Then goals and objectives of criticism become more complex. The aesthetic, social, and moral significance of the work, which is considered an integral artistic phenomenon in the unity of form and content, becomes an important evaluation criterion. This essay has the same parts as for any other - introduction, body, and conclusion. Let's start a more detailed study.
Table Of Contents:
- What Does Critical Essay Mean?
- Aspects That Make an Essay "Critical"
- Main Features of a Critical Essay
- Major Purposes of a Critical Essay
- General Critical Essay Structure
- Tips on How to Create Correct a Critical Essay
- Best Critical Essay Topics From Experts
- Best Tips from Our Experts
What Does Critical Essay Mean?
To begin with, criticism implies an analysis, during which both negative and positive aspects of the phenomenon under consideration are revealed. A critical essay is a kind of essay that is necessary to analyze and evaluate any scientific work (dissertation, article, report) or fiction.
Students may be asked to write a critical essay to develop their critical thinking. In the work process, they will learn to identify contradictions in the work, find errors, inaccuracies, see the work's strengths and weaknesses, and check the authenticity of specific arguments.
You should not take the word “critical” because your task is to evaluate writers' from an objective perspective and not just point out the shortcomings. This essay is intended for high school students who are well-versed in literary work matters and understand what criteria to evaluate. Your essay can be associated with various characters, plots, ideas for a book, story, or article.
How Has Critical Essay Meaning Evolved?
Samuel Johnson first introduced the concept of the English "critical essay." He clearly defined the idea, which meant that in this essay, it is necessary to express your personal opinion, which includes both praise and criticism, shortcomings in various literary works. After him, Matthew Arnold gave the essential elements that should be in the composition. He argued that a good critical essay should have an objective perspective, without empathy or strong bias. So the concept of this type of essay evolved, and as a result, now discussion essays have a structure, which we described below.
Interestingly, the very word "criticism" will mean nothing more than "the art of disassembling and judging." And it was born at the moment when the very first work came out to the readers' judgment. At different times, the criticism tasks changed. Its status was notable for instability, but gradually the term "critical essay" became the foundation for fiction. It combined practice and theory, allowing a person to expand the horizons of his vision of this or that reality, created by the author.
Aspects That Make an Essay "Critical"
Criticism is an essential part of literature. We often face such a situation when we need to give our assessment of a particular artwork. Sometimes we are very subjective and believe that we have the right to judge other people's texts. But this is far from the case. It would help if you learned not only to criticize but to give an objective professional assessment. To make your essay look correct, you should study the following aspects:
- The polarity of your presentation. A critical article, reaction paper, needs you to show the shortcomings of the work and its apparent strengths. They are in every object. It all depends only on whether you are ready to see them.
- Objectivity. Emotions are useless here. You have the right to express your opinion, but it must be supported by sound arguments lined up in a logical sequence.
- Factuality. Everything should be based on real facts. No unfounded accusations and thoughts, even if you are sure of them. Support your views with scientific research, rely on knowledge.
- Latitude. View the work from different angles. Try to look deeper into the author's intention; put yourself in his place. Why did he write like that? What did he want to express but couldn't?
- Reflection. Assess your capabilities and abilities adequately. Are you entitled to harsh judgments or recommendations? Avoid being straightforward. Always leave room for free thought on one topic or another.
Main Features of a Critical Essay
A critical essay is one of the main genres of literary appreciation. The text provides a book review, book topics, ideological content, language, and style, indicates the meaning in several other works of the writer, etc. This type of essay can be characterized as a review of a work designed to impress the target audience.
The essay itself is small; the standard volume is 1-2 pages of A4 format, fictional text containing a review, analysis of something. If a student delves into the study of the author's work in general or significant work in the context of modern literature, this is a critical article.
In the document, the work is sorted out by letters - what the author said, what he wanted to say, what the readers thought, and what they might think, which made a mistake where or created a masterpiece. The main requirements are to follow the logic, not stoop to humiliation, argue your position, and make sure that there is no single mistake in the text - neither factual nor grammatical.
Major Purposes of a Critical Essay
A critical essay aims to convey the assessment of a fictional text to the audience, while it must be truthful. The audience of this essay is most often already familiar with the work and wants to hear the opinions of other people or, on the contrary, is going to read the book but does not know whether it is worth it. Readers pay attention to the merits and the elements, plots, and moments that make the book not very good. Therefore, your writing task is to correctly convey your message and convince the reader whether it is worth reading the book or not paying attention to it at all.
What You Should Evaluate
We bring to your attention what can be taken into account, evaluated, and analyzed:
- The overall impression of the book is solid, scattered, powerful, weak, pleasant.
- The plot - how straight, branchy, twisted, fascinating it is. How well it is connected, how logically it is brought together, are there any exciting moments?
- The narrative is dynamic, unhurried, drawn-out, driven. To what extent do the narrative dynamics correspond to the genre and tasks set in the book?
- Heroes - how detailed and reliably are they described, are their psychological portraits sufficiently accurate and natural, could they have done just that under the given circumstances? Whether these characters are attractive to the reader, whether they evoke empathy or disgust.
- Whether the book violates the laws of physics, chemistry, biology, and astronomy.
- The main idea of ââthe text - how ethical, smart, original is it? What does the book teach the reader, what does it want to tell him?
- Originality - how banal is the idea of ââwhere the author borrowed what, whom he quotes, parodies, paraphrases. If it seems that the book opens up a new genre or direction, we will certainly mention it.
- Social significance - all of a sudden, the text identifies useful moments, say, for patriotic education or national identity, describes complicated ethical moments and options for choice.
- Literary merit - for example, historical, ethnographic, or social value.
- Demand - is the topic raised relevantly, is it attractive to society, what audience is the book intended for?
- Did you like the book, the film, did you have any positive emotions, would you like to advise the work to someone?
It is not necessary to analyze all the points. You select those that are important to you at the moment.
General Critical Essay Structure
The essay should consist of an introduction, body, and conclusion. In any plan, this traditional structural principle is worth maintaining. Each compositional part of the paper should be designed; the text must be divided into paragraphs. By highlighting sections, you will more closely follow the logical sequence of the presentation. Such a text also wins purely visually: it is clear that there is a movement of thought in the material's presentation. Such a text is more straightforward for a teacher to read.
An essay can contain approximately the same number of paragraphs: introduction - 1-2 paragraphs; body - 3-4 paragraphs; conclusion - 1-2 paragraphs. The writing must fit your plan: the composition's clarity contributes to a convincing disclosure of the topic.
There are times when the educational institution's requirements indicate that a list of used literature must be added to the essay. This is necessary so that if you suddenly used quotations, some author's style in your document, then the teacher will see what methods of writing you used, what literature you studied. Students are often inclined to write a paper based on another author's examples. You should indicate in the bibliography about them because you may be accused of plagiarism due to this element's lack. Before writing the list, clarify all the design requirements.
When you have any difficulties with writing a document, then you can contact us for help. Professional writers will study your topic, conduct research, and arrange the document by the requirements. If you are in doubt, you can see an informative essay example, where you will see how writers work professionally.
Crucial for the successful writing of an essay is its beginning - the introduction. In this paragraph, you can show your erudition, position, etc. Of course, there is no universal introduction that can be used in an essay on any topic. But we do not recommend using banal expressions, all the more start work with them. Each topic requires its beginning: also, you need to take into account your knowledge and style features.
It is essential here to outline the problem, which will be further disclosed. In the introductory part, you need to form the questions, which you will give in the central part. Also, do not forget to show in what style you are writing an essay. In this case, it will be a critic genre.
The problem definition must be taken most seriously. Your entire composition and the teacher's assessment will depend on how correctly you do this. There are usually several problems in a text, but you only need to formulate one. Keywords and sentences will help you do this. Do not delay the introduction. It should be capacious and meaningful without water.
In this part of the essay, you have to demonstrate your knowledge of the text to the greatest extent, understanding its features, connections with literature, and culture in the time's social context. As a rule, the central part includes 3-4 points of the plan, 3-4 paragraphs, which were mentioned above, correspond to them.
In presenting the material, do not forget about the need to argue your positions with examples from the text; this is not necessarily a direct quotation, but just a few times that you write in your own words. The content of your essay is enriched by references to the evaluations of this work by critics. In the central part of the paper, you can say both your aesthetic impression of the given work and your assessment.
Just do not resort to overly emotional statements and categorical generalizations. Try to maintain research objectivity and correctness. You can show your erudition by comparing the work itself with other literature and artworks in the central part.
Avoid retelling the text and pay more attention to the art form issues, not forgetting literary terminology.
The conclusion is small but not at all a formal element of the composition. It is here that formulated conclusions must be expressed in a concise form. These should be specific conclusions from your work and not banal phrases about the world's significance of this writer's work, as is often the case. In conclusion, it is appropriate to talk about the nature of the reader's perception of the work and the new accents you saw.
The conclusion should be laconic, reveal the topic, and answer the questions posed during the essay's writing. It is also necessary to write an individual color, personal attitude to the problem, and assess.
There are different approaches to preparing the final part. Some students carefully re-read the finished work to select the essential information. Thorough proofreading allows writing the last part of the work and eliminating possible spelling, stylistic, or logical errors. Tips for writing a conclusion:
- Remind yourself of the objectives in the introduction. Decide which of them were solved and which were not.
- Highlight all the main points.
- Present the collected information in a summary form, but focus on the facts you learned from the work analysis.
- Mention whether the thesis was confirmed.
- Write sentences with a call to action. For example: "I recommend the book, and it is worth reading for those students who are interested in science fiction."
Tips on How to Create Correct a Critical Essay
A critical article, of course, should not be devoid of emotion. Writing should not create chaos. However, the emotional coloring of your paper plays an important role. Simultaneously, do not try to write stereotyped: "This is terrible, disgusting work, dry text, ugly images" and stuff like that. It would help if you described all your thoughts and feelings in as much detail as possible that this work aroused in you.
Pay attention to detail. So it will be apparent that you have grasped the essence of what has been written, tried to understand it, examine the work done. Be sure to highlight what you like. Let it be a few great metaphors or random thoughts. Let it be the brightness of the style or the extravagance of the story. But do not think that if the article is critical, then you need to scold.
On the contrary, if there is something worthy, be sure to indicate. And whatever is wrong, say it against this background. Create a conducive atmosphere to be heard.
When you talk about the author, focused on the strong points of the story, you can criticize. Tell us about what failed, think about what the writer lacked. Discover his idea, once again, drawing a parallel with your feelings. Be precise and clear. Try to show your location, show all your resourcefulness. Become a friend and like-minded person, not an arrogant author. Now, let's learn a few secrets about how to prepare for writing a paper.
Learn The Subject
If you need to write objective criticism for a book, story, poem, then you need to study the subject of research in detail before starting work. You can write this essay only if you are well versed on the topic. If you write what comes to mind, then your article will not be appreciated. If your task is to write a criticism about the film, then watch it several times to understand the essence of what the director was trying to convey to the viewer. Perhaps you will see the hidden meaning and be able to tell the reader about it. Then your discovery will be a valuable event for connoisseurs of cinema. When you study any subject of research, you should take notes:
- What is the idea, what is the movie or book about, the purpose of creation?
- What features are inherent in the research subject, what makes it impossible to apply to other works, or perhaps elements you have already met somewhere?
- What genre is the cinema, books? What value do they have in the modern world?
- Do you have questions while reading or viewing?
When you take notes, answer all the questions, preferably find
To confirm your words, it is not enough to have examples from a book or a movie; you must also add quotes from authoritative sources trusted by millions of people. These should be the thoughts and opinions of those related to the studied science genre. Thanks to additional sources of information, you can answer the questions you will compose for the essay. Stock up on as many resources as possible to write an imposing document.
Develop Your Thesis
It would help if you learned how to write a thesis correctly. With this element's help, the reader learns about some important things for him, described in the document. The thesis serves as a map by which the reader will understand how you show the importance of this topic and analyze the arguments you put forward. Use your vocabulary to show confidence and steadfastness. For a person to appreciate your thesis, you need to build sentences and phrases, especially.
You need to know how and where to place great thesis statements. These phrases are usually placed under the introduction or first paragraph. Don't write more than two sentences. It would help clarify what it is about, your position, and your thoughts on this topic.
Keep a rough draft in which to write down the thesis. When you write your thesis on a draft, it will help you develop some new ideas. You will be able to observe the logic and clarity of what is written. When creating a thesis, there are two versions of the development of events. According to some, in no case should you start writing a document without preparing a work plan. Others believe that it is imperative to walk in the fresh air to be inspired by ideas. Choose the one that is closest to you and start acting.
You can choose only a few convincing pieces of evidence for your essay. What if you have prepared a lot of evidence? Accordingly, it would help if you acted according to this plan:
- Go through all the evidence and choose the one that best supports your thesis.
- Select that evidence based on the opinion of reputable writers.
- Select evidence where many authors support your idea.
Include an Antithesis
Antithesis is the opposition of two words or phrases. The antithesis will not necessarily consist of antonyms - it can be images, words in a figurative sense, which in the poem creates the impression of opposite phenomena.
By the way, the antithesis is often confused with another stylistic figure called "oxymoron," which is also based on playing with the opposite. Their fundamental difference lies in the fact that there is an obvious confrontation of opposite concepts in the first case, and in the second, there is an attempt to combine them to obtain a unique phrase. Are you looking for examples? Please: "fire and water" is the antithesis, and "firewater" is an oxymoron.
It must be borne in mind that the antithesis can manifest itself in both explicit and latent forms. Direct antithesis is identified using the antonyms present. And the hidden is usually expressed not in one phrase but whole text fragments.
Write an Outline
Composing an informative essay or critical essay means that you need to break the text into paragraphs, highlighting the primary information in them, an idea that develops your thoughts. Each fragment is a micro text that can contain from two to five sentences. Accordingly, it would help if you had a plan not to lose each paragraph's main idea. Moreover, each next paragraph should logically complement each other.
In the plan, it is advisable to write detailed phrases, instead of short words, so you will not forget what you wanted to write. It isn't easy to define the main idea by one word, and experts advise making aspects with the thesis. But also do not confuse yourself with long phrases; write only the most important. For example, when you look at a phrase, you immediately understand what it is about, then it means that you have made a great plan.
But formulations in the form of questions are also possible, to which answers are given in the work. It is important to remember that the outline carries information about how your essay is structured specific details on each of its parts' content. The writing should be "viewed" through the plan.
Best Critical Essay Topics From Experts
We understand how difficult it is to decide on topics and have prepared persuasive essay ideas:
- Describe your favorite book and what artistic techniques the author used. Did he manage to achieve the desired effects with the help of them?
- How do you understand feminist ideologies in literary art?
- How do you think the life path and biography of the author affect the writing style?
- Describe the meaning of the minor characters in any book you like.
- What are the details and plots that make a drama series exciting and engaging?
- Describe the film that won the Oscar. Do you think the director shot great scenes?
- In your opinion, the poverty alleviation program has been well implemented or needs to be improved?
- Discuss the challenges of eating fast food, and what is the role of healthy food?
- Do you think that rubbish needs to be refined? Can this affect the economic situation in the country?
- Discuss how historical events are filmed. Are they realistic enough?
Best Tips from Our Experts
When you know everything about how to structure the text, what to avoid, how to start writing, we can talk about the secrets that our experts share with you:
- If possible, do not delay writing an essay; try to start the document earlier to have time to hand over the paper on time. Also, you will be able to avoid stress because it is better to write in a comfortable environment than to whip it up, to be in time for the night.
- Please write your text on a draft, then put it aside for a few days. Reread it and fix any errors found.
- Ask a friend, parents to read your document; they may have comments on the content. Our writers initially write a draft and only then improve the text.
- Work according to the scheme that suits you. For example, one student decides that work should start with a plan; another believes that he should take a walk in the air to find inspiration and write down ideas. Find out what actions will lead you to a result and take action.
- Choose your writing style that will be different from other writers. We recommend using only those words whose meanings are clear to you; otherwise, you may look stupid in front of the reader.
- Make sure that your quotes look appropriate and not too many. If some passage raises doubts, it is better to re-read it and only after that write it.
- Those essays that students write at the last moment. May be given for revision due to lack of style, logic, or due to the presence of mistakes. Your teacher has probably read many essays for all his time and quickly identified a document written in half an hour and a document you worked hard on.
Now we wish you good luck. You have all the tools to create a unique text.