In literature classes, students receive different assignments. But a critique essay – the analysis and interpretation of a work of art – usually causes special difficulties.
For many, criticism is always a censure, exposure of negative sides. So it may seem to you that writing an essay in the form of a critique paper is reduced only to refuting all the author’s arguments and showing how weak the literary source in question is. But this is not the case: in a critique essay, you must evaluate the meaning of the text without making judgments about its content and quality.
Serious work on a critique paper involves identifying both positive and negative aspects of a literary work, searching for contradictions, verifying the authenticity of arguments, and, of course, putting forward your arguments. By following the tips in this article, you can write great essays and improve your critical thinking. For criteria for writing critique papers, have a peek here.
Tip 1 – Start with a central idea
The basis of your critique paper is a provable thesis – your point of view, which you will develop and defend. Indicate it in the essay so that your readers will immediately understand what will be discussed.
In addition, the introduction to the critique essay should provide a brief overview of the criticized work, indicating its main characters and the key conflict. But do not get carried away with consistent storytelling and character descriptions. It will distract from the main idea of your critique paper.
The thesis put forward should be clear and concise. It is necessary to support it with evidence from the text. A good thesis would sound like this: “Don Quixote is a parody of a knight because, in the tense atmosphere of Spain, his optimism is irrelevant.” And here is an example of a bad statement: “Don Quixote is another madman who imagines himself a knight.” The difference is obvious. Try to look deeper and always give reasons for your words.
Tip 2 – Fill the body of the critique paper with credible evidence
The main part of the critique essay should be devoted to substantiating the central idea. If you find it difficult, try thinking out loud, fixing your thoughts on a draft.
At this stage of the work, you can use the opinions of various literary critics, but do not forget that it is your point of view that is most important.
In a critique essay, cause and effect relationships should be correctly established. Therefore, you should only find information that is relevant to the problem covered. In order not to be mistaken, use the question: “Why did this happen?” For example, why does Don Quixote make others laugh? Because he is ridiculously dressed, rides a lame nag, fights windmills. At the same time, focus on building a symbolic system, describing the characters of the personages, using original literary techniques.
Assess the presence of the author’s arguments and conclude whether they correspond to the logic of the work. Then point out your judgments that the book inspired you to. Of course, the personal opinion also needs to be linked to the topic of the critique essay so that readers understand what you want to say. At the same time, try to think broadly, be open to alternative ideas.
When writing the main body, start each paragraph with a thematic sentence that directly relates to the thesis put forward. The rest of the sentences should support the thematic sentence.
Tip 3 – Summarize your arguments.
At the end of the critique paper, repeat the original thesis and its important points. But don’t repeat the key statement verbatim. Instead, change the wording to improve the reader’s experience.
Connect your critique essay idea to the real world. For example, point out how the work affects the lives of modern people, which ideas remain relevant today. So, in our example about Don Quixote, it is pertinent to note that even now, there are people whom we call “white crows.” They are like the main character in their desire to change the world and its laws, but they do not cause anything but ridicule from those around them.
Finish with an unforgettable detail that ties all the work together. It can be a fact, a quote from a text, or a question. The main thing is that it grabs the attention of readers and leaves them food for thought.