How to Write a Critical Anaylsis Essay
A critical analysis is an essay that places judgment upon a subject, usually a piece of writing. A work is evaluated based upon a set of criteria that must be established to the reader early on, against which each piece of evidence is examined on its own. As for any essay, you will have to brainstorm ideas, and then write at least one draft you can revise and edit before completion. For the sake of simplicity, we will use a standard five-paragraph essay structure as our example.
The Introductory Paragraph
The goal here is twofold: Hook the reader and then state your thesis. The hook is whatever initially grabs the reader's attention. Generalizations, questions and anecdotes can be used effectively here, provided they either imply or support the thesis. A sentence or two should then transition from the hook toward the thesis statement, which should follow and close the paragraph.
The thesis statement, ideally, should be a single sentence that states or implies judgment of the work to be discussed and also lists the criteria by which it has been judged. The thesis needs to be more than a simple appraisal of morality or value; it should reflect a critical understanding of the work, offering fresh insight into the work. It also must give specific examples that support the judgment and illustrate the criteria used for evaluation.
In a five-paragraph essay the body spans three paragraphs, each delivering a significant point that helps to prove the thesis. Each point of evidence receives singular attention, and paragraph construction is critical. Use strong topic sentences, concise examples and logical transitions between points to keep the writing clear and organized. Your three points should increase in significance from first to third, building tension and interest. Remember to properly cite your evidence and any quotes or other second-hand information used in your argument.
The final paragraph recasts the thesis, making one last strike by rephrasing the evaluation in a way that ties the various components of the argument together, ultimately proving the thesis, and even casting a new light upon the work discussed. The conclusion should provide both a sense of closure and fresh insight that instigates new conversations.
Christopher Cascio is a memoirist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and literature from Southampton Arts at Stony Brook Southampton, and a Bachelor of Arts in English with an emphasis in the rhetoric of fiction from Pennsylvania State University. His literary work has appeared in "The Southampton Review," "Feathertale," "Kalliope" and "The Rose and Thorn Journal."