Critical Essay

Definition of critical essay, evolution of the critical essay, examples of critical essay in literature, example #1: jack and gill: a mock criticism (by joseph dennie).

“The personages being now seen, their situation is next to be discovered. Of this we are immediately informed in the subsequent line, when we are told, Jack and Gill Went up a hill. Here the imagery is distinct, yet the description concise. We instantly figure to ourselves the two persons traveling up an ascent, which we may accommodate to our own ideas of declivity, barrenness, rockiness, sandiness, etc. all which, as they exercise the imagination, are beauties of a high order. The reader will pardon my presumption, if I here attempt to broach a new principle which no critic, with whom I am acquainted, has ever mentioned. It is this, that poetic beauties may be divided into negative and positive, the former consisting of mere absence of fault, the latter in the presence of excellence; the first of an inferior order, but requiring considerable critical acumen to discover them, the latter of a higher rank, but obvious to the meanest capacity.”

This is an excerpt from the critical essay of Joseph Dennie. It is an interpretative type of essay in which Dennie has interpreted the structure and content of Jack and Jill .

Example #2: On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth (by Thomas De Quincey)

“But to return from this digression , my understanding could furnish no reason why the knocking at the gate in Macbeth should produce any effect, direct or reflected. In fact, my understanding said positively that it could not produce any effect. But I knew better; I felt that it did; and I waited and clung to the problem until further knowledge should enable me to solve it. At length, in 1812, Mr. Williams made his debut on the stage of Ratcliffe Highway, and executed those unparalleled murders which have procured for him such a brilliant and undying reputation. On which murders, by the way, I must observe, that in one respect they have had an ill effect, by making the connoisseur in murder very fastidious in his taste, and dissatisfied by anything that has been since done in that line.”

Example #3: A Sample Critical Essay on Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises (by Richard Nordquist)

“To keep Jake Barnes drunk, fed, clean, mobile, and distracted in The Sun Also Rises , Ernest Hemingway employs a large retinue of minor functionaries: maids, cab drivers, bartenders, porters, tailors, bootblacks, barbers, policemen, and one village idiot. But of all the retainers seen working quietly in the background of the novel , the most familiar figure by far is the waiter. In cafés from Paris to Madrid, from one sunrise to the next, over two dozen waiters deliver drinks and relay messages to Barnes and his compatriots. As frequently in attendance and as indistinguishable from one another as they are, these various waiters seem to merge into a single emblematic figure as the novel progresses. A detached observer of human vanity, this figure does more than serve food and drink: he serves to illuminate the character of Jake Barnes.”

Functions of a Critical Essay

A critical essay intends to convey specific meanings of a literary text to specific audiences. These specific audiences are knowledgeable people. They not only learn the merits and demerits of the literary texts, but also learn different shades and nuances of meanings. The major function of a literary essay is to convince people to read a literary text for reasons described.

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How To Write A Critical Analysis Essay With Examples

Declan Gessel

May 4, 2024

critical essay meaning and example

A Critical Analysis Essay is a form of academic writing that requires students to extract information and critically analyze a specific topic. The task may seem daunting, but with the right approach, it can become an exciting task. 

Critical Analysis Essays help students improve their analytical skills and foster principles of logic. In this article, we are going to discuss how to write an essay and break it down for you. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride!

Table Of Content

What is a critical analysis essay, why the subject of your critical analysis essay is important, 5 reading strategies for critical analysis essay, building the body of your analysis, 5 things to avoid when writing your critical analysis essay, write smarter critical analysis essay with jotbot — start writing for free today.

essay written on a laptop screen - Critical Analysis Essay

When you write a critical analysis essay, you move beyond recounting the subject's main points and delve into examining it with a discerning eye. The goal? To form your own insights about the subject, based on the evidence you gather. 

This involves dissecting and contemplating the author's arguments , techniques, and themes while also developing your own critical response. While forming your own conclusions may sound intimidating, it's a key aspect of fine-tuning your critical thinking skills and organizing your thoughts into a cohesive, argumentative response. 

Key Skills in the Craft

This process consists of two key elements: understanding the core components of the subject and forming your own critical response, both supported by evidence. The first part involves grasping the subject's main arguments, techniques, and themes. The second part entails taking that knowledge and constructing your analytical and evaluative response. 

Deconstructing the Subject

In other words, roll up your sleeves and get deep into the subject matter. Start by identifying the author's main point, deconstructing their arguments, examining the structure and techniques they use, and exploring the underlying themes and messages. By engaging with the subject on this level, you'll have a thorough understanding of it and be better prepared to develop your own response. 

The Power of Evidence

Remember that evidence is your secret weapon for crafting a convincing analysis. This means going beyond summarizing the content and instead using specific examples from the subject to support your own arguments and interpretations. Evidence isn't just about facts, either; it can also be used to address the effectiveness of the subject, highlighting both its strengths and weaknesses. 

The Art of Evaluation

Lastly, put your evaluation skills to work. Critically assess the subject's effectiveness, pinpointing its strengths and potential shortcomings. From there, you can offer your own interpretation, supported by evidence from the subject itself. This is where you put everything you've learned about the subject to the test, showcasing your analytical skills and proving your point.

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Let’s delve on the importance of understanding the Work you'll be analyzing:

Main Argument

When diving into a work, one must unravel the central point or message the author is conveying. All other analyses stem from this fundamental point. By identifying and comprehending the main argument, one can dissect the various elements that support it, revealing the author's stance or point of view.

Themes are the underlying concepts and messages explored in the subject matter. By venturing into the depths of themes, one can unravel the layers of meaning within the work. Understanding these underlying ideas not only enriches the analysis but also sheds light on the author's intentions and insights.

Structure & Techniques

Understanding how the work is built - be it a chronological story, persuasive arguments, or the use of figurative language - provides insight into the author's craft. Structure and techniques can influence the way the work is perceived, and by dissecting them, one can appreciate the intricacies of the author's style and the impact it has on the audience.

In critical analysis, understanding the context can add an extra layer of depth to the analysis. Considering the historical, social, or cultural context in which the work was created can provide valuable insights into the author's influences, intentions, and the reception of the work. While not always necessary, contextual analysis can elucidate aspects of the work that might otherwise go unnoticed.

To conduct a comprehensive critical analysis , understanding the work you'll be analyzing is the foundation on which all other interpretations rely. By identifying the main argument, themes, structure, techniques, and context, a nuanced and insightful analysis can be crafted. This step sets the stage for a thorough examination of the work, bringing to light the nuances and complexities that make critical analysis a valuable tool in literary and artistic exploration.

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1. Close Reading: Go Deeper Than Skimming

Close reading is a focused approach to reading where you don't just skim the text. Instead, you pay close attention to every word, sentence, and detail. By doing this, you can uncover hidden meanings, themes, and literary devices that you might miss if you were reading too quickly. I recommend underlining or annotating key passages, literary devices, or recurring ideas. This helps you remember these important details later on when you're writing your critical analysis essay.

2. Active Note-Taking to Capture Important Points

When reading a text for a critical analysis essay, it's important to take active notes that go beyond summarizing the plot or main points. Instead, try jotting down the author's arguments, interesting details, confusing sections, and potential evidence for your analysis. These notes will give you a solid foundation to build your essay upon and will help you keep track of all the important elements of the text.

3. Identify Recurring Ideas: Look for Patterns

In a critical analysis essay, it's crucial to recognize recurring ideas, themes, motifs, or symbols that might hold deeper meaning. By looking for patterns in the text, you can uncover hidden messages or themes that the author might be trying to convey. Ask yourself why these elements are used repeatedly and how they contribute to the overall message of the text. By identifying these patterns, you can craft a more nuanced analysis of the text.

4. Consider the Author's Purpose

Authorial intent is an essential concept to consider when writing a critical analysis essay. Think about the author's goals: are they trying to inform, persuade, entertain, or something else entirely? Understanding the author's purpose can help you interpret the text more accurately and can give you insight into the author's motivations for writing the text in the first place.

5.  Question and Analyze your Arguments

In a critical analysis essay, it's important to take a critical approach to the text. Question the author's ideas, analyze the effectiveness of their arguments, and consider different interpretations. By approaching the text with a critical eye, you can craft a more thorough and nuanced analysis that goes beyond a surface-level reading of the text.

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person writing checklist for Critical Analysis Essay

Let’s delve on the essentials of building the body of your analysis: 

Topic Sentence Breakdown: The Purpose of a Strong Topic Sentence

A powerful topic sentence in each paragraph of your critical analysis essay serves as a roadmap for your reader. It tells them the focus of the paragraph, introducing the main point you will explore and tying it back to your thesis. For instance, in an essay about the role of symbolism in "The Great Gatsby," a topic sentence might read, "Fitzgerald's use of the green light symbolizes Gatsby's unattainable dreams, highlighting the theme of the American Dream's illusion."

Evidence Integration: The Significance of Evidence from the Subject

To bolster your arguments, you need to use evidence from the subject you are analyzing. For example, in "To Kill a Mockingbird," when explaining Atticus Finch's moral compass, using a quote like, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view - until you climb into his skin and walk around in it," can back up your analysis. It proves that the character values empathy and understanding.

Textual Evidence: Integrating Quotes, Paraphrases, or Specific Details

When you quote or paraphrase text, ensure it directly relates to your analysis. For example, when discussing Sylvia Plath's use of imagery in "The Bell Jar," quote, "I saw my life branching out before me like the green fig tree in the story." This paints a vivid picture for readers and helps solidify your point about the protagonist's feelings of entrapment.

Visual Evidence: Analyzing Specific Elements in the Artwork

If you are analyzing a painting, you can use visual details like color, lines, or symbolism as evidence. For instance, if exploring Van Gogh's "Starry Night," you could delve into the calming effect of the swirls in the sky or the stark contrast between the bright stars and the dark village below. This visual evidence helps explain the painting's emotional impact on viewers.

Analysis & Explanation: The Importance of Going Beyond Evidence Presentation

When examining evidence, don't stop at merely presenting it. Analyze how it supports your thesis. For instance, when exploring the role of the conch in "Lord of the Flies," after showing how it represents order, explain how its loss signals the boys' descent into savagery. By unpacking the evidence's meaning, you help readers understand why it matters and how it connects to your overall argument.

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1. Avoiding Summary vs. Analysis Pitfalls

When crafting a critical analysis essay, it's crucial not to fall into the trap of merely summarizing the subject without offering your own critical analysis. A summary merely recaps the content, while an analysis breaks down and interprets the subject. If you overlook this vital distinction, your essay will lack the depth and insight that characterize a strong critical analysis. Ensure your critical analysis essay doesn't read like an extended book report.

2. Steering Clear of Weak Thesis Statements

A critical analysis essay lives and dies on the strength of its thesis statement, the central argument that guides your analysis. A weak or vague thesis statement will result in an unfocused essay devoid of direction, leaving readers unclear about your point of view. It's essential to craft a thesis statement that is specific, arguable, and concise, setting the tone for a thoughtful and illuminating analysis.

3. Using Evidence is Key

The use of evidence from the subject matter under analysis is instrumental in substantiating your critical claims. Without evidence to back up your assertions, your analysis will appear unsubstantiated and unconvincing. Be sure to provide detailed examples, quotes, or data from the text under scrutiny to support your analysis. Evidence adds credibility, depth, and weight to your critical analysis essay.

4. The Importance of Clear and Supported Analysis

A successful critical analysis essay goes beyond simply presenting evidence to analyzing its significance and connecting it to your central argument. If your essay lacks clear analysis, readers won't understand the relevance of the evidence you present. Go beyond description to interpret the evidence, explaining its implications and how it supports your thesis. Without this analysis, your essay will lack depth and will not persuade your audience.

5. Addressing Counter Arguments

In a critical analysis essay, it's vital to acknowledge and engage with potential counterarguments. Ignoring opposing viewpoints undermines the credibility of your essay, presenting a one-sided argument that lacks nuance. Addressing counter arguments demonstrates that you understand the complexity of the issue and can anticipate and respond to objections. 

By incorporating counterarguments, you strengthen your analysis and enhance the overall persuasiveness of your critical essay.

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Critical Essay

Barbara P

Critical Essay Writing - An Ultimate Guide

Published on: Sep 3, 2020

Last updated on: Jan 29, 2024

critical essay

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Critical Essay Outline -Step by Step Guide & Samples

Best Critical Essay Topics & Ideas to Choose from

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Are you tired of staring at a blank page, struggling to write a compelling critical essay?

In this comprehensive guide, you’ll get to learn all about critical essays. From steps to tips, this blog covers it all.

Plus, we’ve included some expertly written example essays and tips to ensure your critical essay lacks nothing. 

So, read on and learn!

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What Makes an Essay Critical?

A critical essay is not your typical run-of-the-mill essay. It goes beyond summarizing or describing a topic; instead, it dives deep into analysis, evaluation, and interpretation.

In a general essay, the focus is often on presenting information or sharing personal opinions. However, in a critical essay, the emphasis shifts toward examining and scrutinizing the subject matter. It involves a more in-depth exploration of the topic, breaking it down to uncover underlying meanings, implications, and flaws.

For instance, a general essay prompt might ask, "Discuss the benefits of technology in modern society." On the other hand, a critical essay prompt could challenge you with, "Analyze the ethical implications of technology's influence on personal privacy in modern society."

A critical essay goes beyond mere description or opinion-sharing, it demands interpretation. You become a storyteller, unraveling the hidden narratives within the topic. It's an opportunity to uncover the underlying motives and meanings and unravel the web of conflicting viewpoints.

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Characteristics of a Critical Essay

This type of essay particularly helps a student to learn how a provided subject is analyzed critically. This essay can be composed on a topic related to films, novels, poetry, video games, art, and many more. 

A good critical essay should have the following characteristics.

  • Central claim

Every outstanding critical essay revolves around a central claim, which is introduced right at the beginning. 

This claim is supported by a strong thesis statement that lays the foundation for the essay. As you progress, body paragraphs are dedicated to reinforcing the claim with compelling evidence and factual data. 

To further strengthen your argument, you may even acknowledge counterarguments and provide explanations.

A critical essay thrives on solid evidence. This evidence can take various forms, including dialogues, descriptions, or citations from secondary sources. 

Secondary sources often include scholarly works, articles, books, and other reputable references. 

By incorporating well-chosen evidence, you substantiate your central claim and show your knowledge of the subject matter. 

Once you have gathered relevant evidence, it's crucial to conduct a thorough analysis. 

Scrutinize the collected information to ensure its validity and relevance to support your claim. If you come across any weaknesses or shortcomings, replace them with more authentic and appropriate information. 

Remember, analysis is a vital aspect of a critical essay that should never be overlooked.

How to Write a Critical Essay?

Writing a critical essay is a technical thing to do, and a writer must have strong writing skills to write such an essay.

The following are the steps that help you in writing a critical essay. 

Let’s discuss them in detail. 

  • Examine Your Prompt/Topic 

Choose an interesting and captivating topic that will make your critical essay effective. 

Understanding the topic is crucial, so identify its strengths and weaknesses. Engage in critical reading to gather information and develop a solid understanding.

  • Conduct Research 

Once you've selected your topic, gather strong evidence and factual information to support your arguments. 

Research from reputable sources such as journals, books, and news articles. Stay focused during your research to avoid getting sidetracked. 

  • Create the Critical Essay Outline 

With your topic and relevant information in hand, create an outline for your essay. An outline provides structure and saves you time.  Typically, a critical essay includes three main sections:

  • Introduction
  • Body Paragraphs 

Here are the details of what each of the section covers in the essay:

Need help structuring your essay outline? Check out this guide on creating a critical essay outline !

4. Write the First Draft 

Start your critical essay with a concise summary of the main topic and its central claim. Analyze and evaluate the topic using supporting evidence. 

Conclude your essay by emphasizing the parts that support your argument. Maintain a formal writing style, use expressive language, and incorporate transitional sentences for coherence.

5. Proofread and Edit 

After completing the writing process, carefully revise your essay and rectify any minor mistakes. 

Proofreading is crucial for ensuring a high-quality essay. You can do it yourself or seek assistance from a friend. It's advisable to repeat the proofreading process multiple times for better results.

How to Write a Critical Essay

Critical Essay Examples

Examples make understanding things easy and more vivid. However, as discussed in the blog, a critical essay is not a typical type of essay and is also not easy to write. This is why looking at examples of the critical essay is important. 

Look at the following examples and see how a well-written critical essay is written. 

Critical Essay on Atlantis Theories

If you are a naive writer, the following example of a critical essay is perfect for your guidance. 

Critical Essay on Changing Gender Roles

Critical Essay about a Movie

Critical Essay on Jane Eyre

Critical Essay on Animal Farm

Critical Essay on Language Perception

Critical Essay on Oedipus Rex

Equality by Maya Angelou Critical Essay

Critical Essay Topics

One of the things that make an essay difficult for students is finding a good topic. For a critical essay, it is very important to have a good topic. 

Here we have made a shortlist of interesting topics that you might use and write an essay.  

  • Changing gender roles
  • Impact of technology
  • Homelessness
  • Drug abuse among teenagers
  • Multicultural societies
  • Islamophobia
  • First Nations of Canada
  • Connection of violent crimes with Genes
  • Wonders of the ancient world
  • How do you answer the question about wars in the U.S.?  
  • The pyramids of Giza
  • Colonization of America
  • Unemployment
  • Substitutes for fossil fuels

Thoroughly look into these topics and see which topic you find to be an interesting one for your critical essay.

Don’t see a suitable topic? Have a look at this extensive list of critical essay topics to choose from!

Critical Essay Writing Tips

Writing a critical essay requires very careful analysis and the construction of an effective argument.

If you are a naive writer or writing a critical essay for the first time, the following tips will help you write an effective critical essay. 

  • Be an Active Reader 

To write a good critical essay, the writer must be well-focused. The thing that keeps a reader focused is the availability of authentic information. And the best way to collect authentic information is to practice active reading strategies. 

This strategy will help you to identify specific details in the text that will make strong evidence to support your main argument. Reading is essential, especially if you aim to write a critical essay.

  • Read Examples

No matter how experienced a writer you are, examples will help you write an essay more effectively. 

In case you are writing a critical essay for the first time, it is going to be a challenging task for you. This is why before you hop on to the writing process, look into some critical essay examples online. 

Carefully read through the essay and pay attention to the structuring and the writing strategy of the essay. 

  • Avoid Using the Summarization 

Critical essays usually consist of an analysis and your personal opinion and interpretation of the text. It is not merely about the summary of the text in a general context. 

This is why be careful while writing and focus more on writing about your personal analysis regarding the argument rather than just writing summaries.

Learn more tips by viewing this video:

Now you've gained valuable insights into the art of writing a critical essay. So, it's time for you to put that knowledge to use and embark on your own critical writing adventure. You can also try our AI essay writer to get plagiarism-free content within a few minutes. 

However, if you still feel a little lost, it is best to hire professionals!

Our critical essay writing service is the perfect solution for you. You can rely on experienced professionals who will work closely with you to deliver a well-researched, well-structured critical essay.

At , our " write my college essay " service aims to provide all our students with high-quality and impressive assignments. 

In case you are running out of time, or want to save your drowning grades, hit us up right now. Our customer service is available 24/7 to facilitate you and help you get well-written essays right on time. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

What should you not do in a critical essay.

Here are some important points that you don’t include in a critical essay. 

  • Not focus on yourself. 
  • Do not mention the work’s title. 
  • Do not assume that the reader knows everything. 

How long is a critical analysis essay?

It is between 1-4 pages in length. 

Barbara P (Literature, Marketing)

Barbara is a highly educated and qualified author with a Ph.D. in public health from an Ivy League university. She has spent a significant amount of time working in the medical field, conducting a thorough study on a variety of health issues. Her work has been published in several major publications.

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critical essay meaning and example

Critical Essay: The Complete Guide. Essay Topics, Examples and Outlines

Whether you specialize in literature or just write an essay for a class, knowing how to write a critical essay will give you an advantage throughout your studies at a university and in your professional career. Writing critical essays allows you to develop critical thinking skills, including attentive reading, technical analysis, academic writing skills, searching for reference books, and editing. Mastering these skills will help you conduct a scientific conversation and allow you to communicate and think more productively.

What is a Critical Essay?

A critical essay is an analysis of any piece of text. It can be a book, a movie, an article or even a painting. The main point of this type of an essay is to interpret text or position it in a wider context. For instance, if you write a critical analysis of a book, you may analyze the tone of its text and find out how it influences the overall meaning of the book. If you analyze a movie, you might concentrate on a symbol that you see over and over again. Nevertheless, you have to include an argumentative thesis about the text and have a lot of evidence sources, obviously textual, to support your statements.

How to write a Critical Essay? Step-by-Step Guide

  • Find out the topic as early as possible to plan your research.
  • Find the information you need in a wide variety of sources, including journal articles, books, encyclopedias, and news. Gather more information than you plan to actually refer to when writing a paper, but do not collect too much, it can distract you from the main thing, and you will eventually include it in your essay simply because you found it. Do not use Wikipedia and do not copy other people’s comments; no matter from which website you take them, plagiarism will be discovered.
  • Look through your sources to separate interesting information from irrelevant material. Interesting research can be found in books, literary guides, in published critical articles on your particular topic. And vice versa, do not investigate things that do not relate to your topic, what I mean is, do not engage in the study of witches, if the topic of your paper is a monarchy.
  • Carefully reread the relevant materials and evaluate them critically. Highlight, underline or otherwise mark the necessary information in your personal articles and books. Use colored stickers to draw your attention to important details in library books. Make a brief summary of each source after reading it. Pay attention to important details and highlight the main point of view for further use.
  • Formulate the thesis by reviewing your notes and research. You can write a more general thesis or ask an important question that your paper will answer.
  • Write a preliminary introduction, knowing that you can edit or even rewrite it later.
  • Develop an approximate plan based on your notes and studies.

Identify two or three main sections of the body of your essay. These sections should consist of your most important arguments. Use your notes and research to fill these sections with details. You can copy and paste the most important details or arguments into your plan.

  • Identify the relationships between sections of your essay and briefly describe them on the margins of your plan.
  • Use this connection to write an approximate conclusion.
  • Set your paper aside for a few days before rereading the draft.
  • Leave enough time to make a thorough review of all material that will clarify any illogical reasonings or arguments.
  • Complete your essay by carefully checking the final version of the printed version. Use your imagination and make the introduction interesting for readers. Write a clear thesis statement and use up-to-date sources, with a lot of useful information.

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Critical Essay Outline

Writing a good critical essay requires a deep analysis of a given topic, and the ability to form clear arguments in order to draw meaningful conclusions. It is important to be aware of the various elements that must be taken into consideration when ordering an essay in order to produce a well-structured, balanced and compelling piece of work. Doing so will help you understand the material better, think more critically, and come up with a more insightful analysis of the topic. Additionally, it will also help you to identify any gaps in the existing literature that can be addressed in your own research.

As with any other essay, the critical analysis consists of the introduction, body, and conclusion. The outline that you will see below is just a sample for you to understand what it can look like. Once you are comfortable, you are free to change it, add more details or arrange it differently to make it more effective. If you are really unsure what your essay is supposed to look like, you can also contact your teacher.


The introduction has three main functions. First of all, you have to introduce the reader to the topic of your paper, what are you going to analyze here but briefly? Then, describe how are you going to address the topic of your paper. And finally, grab the reader’s attention, make them want to stay here, and read the rest of your paper.


This is going to be the largest part of your essay. Here you have to write about something you said you are going to write about in the intro. In other words, support your thesis statement. You have to make a General Statement, then add some quotes to expand it or prove it. After that you have to explain how the quote relates to the thesis, here you have to ask yourself “so how does it relate to my thesis”. And do not forget about Transitions which are connecting paragraphs.

To write a paper in a relevant way, students need to add new information to their research and assess the significance of each argument. Critical essays are meant to be insightful and thought-provoking, so they should provide enough evidence and analysis to support the argument and connect it to the thesis statement. Moreover, students should pay attention to the structure of the essay and make sure they write a paper that is logically organized and easy to understand.

In other words, the conclusion is restating of your thesis. If you have written a strong and clear introduction, the conclusion will not be a problem at all.

So, you have to Restate your Thesis. But do not just repeat what you said before, put it differently. Basically, you said that you are about to prove to us something and now you have to show us that you did. And make a good ending. Make it memorable. Your reader has to have a feeling that the point has been proven.


  • Attention-catcher
  • Briefly say what you are going to talk about
  • Thesis statement

Body paragraphs

  • Topic Sentence (piece of evidence that supports your opinion)
  • Supporting Evidence and Details
  • Concluding Sentence/Transition
  • Restate the thesis statement in different words
  • Summarize the main key pieces of evidence
  • Final closing sentence

Critical Essay Topics

Good critical essay topics.

  • Describe the way irony was used in your favorite classical book
  • Feminist ideologies in a piece of literature
  • Analyse how the background of the author affects his writing.
  • Describe the secondary characters in your favorite book
  • What makes a good and captivating drama series?
  • Choose a movie/series that recently won a best picture award
  • Provide one alternative to anti-poverty programs today and discuss
  • What are the problems of eating healthy? Discuss
  • What are the economic benefits of recycling? Discuss what makes it effective in your context
  • Discuss how historical figures is portrayed in movies

Critical Essay Tips

  • Try to start in advance, if possible. You will write a better essay and will not experience stress if you start writing earlier than the last night.
  • Finish the draft a few days earlier to leave time for checking it.
  • Ask a friend or a family member to check and comment on your essay. Professional writers write a few drafts of their work, and you, most likely, will have to do the same.
  • Work according to your own needs. For example, some people need a plan, while others believe that a formal plan kills inspiration. Find out what is best for you, and act accordingly.
  • Write in your own style. It is better to correctly use words that you know, than abuse words that you do not know, in an attempt to sound smarter.
  • Make sure that the quotes are given as accurately as possible, including inverted commas, statistics, and theoretical concepts. If in doubt, it’s better to be wrong in quoting than to be accused of not being able to conduct your research, which can lead to accusations of plagiarism.
  • Essays written at the last minute, suffer from a lack of logic and poor grammar. Remember that your teacher has read hundreds, if not thousands of student papers, and can easily understand that you wrote an essay at the last minute.

I know that you might still be lost in all these long explanations but bear with me. Here are some useful links you might like to review at Edusson :

  • Essay Topic Generator. Do not know how to name your essay? Then this link is just for you. Everything is simple, enter the keywords for your essay and select the category and you’ve got yourself a great title.
  • Essay Examples . I know that sometimes you just can’t start writing until you see how it is all supposed to look like. So, here you go – essay examples. Be sure not to rewrite the content, though.
  • Essay Checker . One of the most important parts of writing an essay is checking it once it’s done. You might write a great essay in terms of content, but if you have grammar mistakes or your answers are not relating to the questions, say goodbye to your good grade.
  • Essay Editing Service . Just to make sure you have not missed anything, use this service. Let a professional do their work.

Writing a good definition essay can be a challenging task. Students often need to pay for papers to be written for such assignments, and it is not always easy to find a reliable source for them. Fortunately, Edusson can provide quality papers and ensure that students get the best results. By using this custom essay writing service, students can be sure that their papers will meet the requirements of their professor and be of the highest quality.

So, that is it. I hope your skills will get even better now. Good luck!

Related posts:

  • Narrative Essay: Useful Guidelines for Writing
  • Research Paper Writing Help Guide
  • How to Write a Critical Thinking Essay: Effective Tips
  • How to Structure and Write an Effective Critique Paper

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Critical Essay Writing

Cathy A.

Critical Essay - A Step by Step Guide & Examples

11 min read

critical essay writing

People also read

A Comprehensive List of 260+ Inspiring Critical Essay Topics

Critical Essay Outline - Writing Guide With Examples

Many students find it tough to write a good critical essay because it's different from other essays. Understanding the deeper meanings in literature and creating a strong essay can be tricky.

This confusion makes it hard for students to analyze and explain literary works effectively. They struggle to create essays that show a strong understanding of the topic.

But don't worry! This guide will help. It gives step-by-step instructions, examples, and tips to make writing a great critical essay easier. By learning the key parts and looking at examples, students can master the skill of writing these essays.

Arrow Down

  • 1. Critical Essay Definition
  • 2. Techniques in Literary Critical Essays
  • 3. How to Write a Critical Essay?
  • 4. Critical Essay Examples
  • 5. Critical Essay Topics
  • 6. Tips For Writing a Critical Essay

Critical Essay Definition

A critical is a form of analytical essay that analyzes, evaluates, and interprets a piece of literature, movie, book, play, etc. 

The writer signifies the meaning of the text by claiming the themes. The claims are then supported by facts using primary and secondary sources of information.

What Makes An Essay Critical?

People often confuse this type of essay with an argumentative essay. It is because they both deal with claims and provide evidence on the subject matter. 

An argumentative essay uses evidence to persuade the reader. On the other hand, a critical analysis essay discusses the themes, analyzes, and interprets them for its audience. 

Here are the key characteristics of a critical essay:

  • Looking Beyond the Surface: In a critical essay, it's not just about summarizing. It goes deeper, looking into the hidden meanings and themes of the text.
  • Sharing Opinions with Evidence: It's not only about what you think. You need to back up your ideas with proof from the text or other sources.
  • Examining from Different Angles: A critical essay doesn't just focus on one side. It looks at different viewpoints and examines things from various perspectives.
  • Finding Strengths and Weaknesses: It's about discussing what's good and what's not so good in the text or artwork. This helps in forming a balanced opinion.
  • Staying Objective: Instead of being emotional, it stays fair and objective, using facts and examples to support arguments.
  • Creating a Strong Argument: A critical essay builds a strong argument by analyzing the content and forming a clear opinion that's well-supported.
  • Analyzing the 'Why' and 'How': It's not just about what happens in the text but why it happens and how it influences the overall meaning.

Techniques in Literary Critical Essays

Analyzing literature involves a set of techniques that form the backbone of literary criticism. Let's delve into these techniques, providing a comprehensive understanding before exploring illustrative examples:

Formalism in literary criticism directs attention to the inherent structure, style, and linguistic elements within a text. It is concerned with the way a work is crafted, examining how literary devices contribute to its overall impact.

Example: In Emily Brontë's "Wuthering Heights," a formalist analysis might emphasize the novel's intricate narrative structure and the use of Gothic elements.

Psychoanalytic Criticism

Psychoanalytic Criticism delves into the psychological motivations and subconscious elements of characters and authors. It often draws on psychoanalytic theories, such as those developed by Sigmund Freud, to explore the deeper layers of the human psyche reflected in literature.

Example: In "Orlando," Virginia Woolf employs psychoanalytic elements to symbolically explore identity and gender fluidity. The protagonist's centuries-spanning transformation reflects Woolf's subconscious struggles, using fantasy as a lens to navigate psychological complexities.

Feminist Criticism

Feminist Criticism evaluates how gender roles, stereotypes, and power dynamics are portrayed in literature. It seeks to uncover and challenge representations that may perpetuate gender inequalities or reinforce stereotypes.

Example: Applying feminist criticism to Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" involves scrutinizing the representation of women's mental health and societal expectations.

Marxist Criticism

Marxist Criticism focuses on economic and social aspects, exploring how literature reflects and critiques class structures. It examines how power dynamics, societal hierarchies, and economic systems are portrayed in literary works.

Example: Analyzing George Orwell's "Animal Farm" through a Marxist lens involves examining its allegorical representation of societal class struggles.

Cultural Criticism

Cultural Criticism considers the cultural context and societal influences shaping the creation and reception of literature. It examines how cultural norms, values, and historical contexts impact the meaning and interpretation of a work.

Example: Cultural criticism of Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart" may delve into the impact of colonialism on African identity.

Postcolonial Criticism

Postcolonial Criticism examines the representation of colonial and postcolonial experiences in literature. It explores how authors engage with and respond to the legacy of colonialism, addressing issues of identity, cultural hybridity, and power.

Example: A postcolonial analysis of Salman Rushdie's "Midnight's Children" may explore themes of identity and cultural hybridity.

Understanding these techniques provides a comprehensive toolkit for navigating the diverse landscape of literary criticism.

How to Write a Critical Essay?

Crafting a critical essay involves a step-by-step process that every student can follow to create a compelling piece of analysis.

Step 1: Explore the Subject in Depth

Start by diving into the primary subject of the work. When critically reading the original text, focus on identifying key elements:

  • Main themes: Discover the central ideas explored in the work.
  • Different features: Examine the distinctive components and specific details in the story.
  • Style: Observe the techniques and writing style  used to persuade the audience.
  • Strengths and weaknesses: Evaluate notable aspects and potential shortcomings.

Step 2: Conduct Research

To support your insights, conduct thorough research using credible sources. 

Take detailed notes as you read, highlighting key points and interesting quotes. Also make sure you’re paying attention to the specific points that directly support and strengthen your analysis of the work. 

Step 3: Create an Outline

After you have gathered the sources and information, organize what you have in an outline. This will serve as a roadmap for your writing process, ensuring a structured essay.

Here is a standard critical essay outline:

[Engaging sentence to captivate the reader's attention]
[Brief context about the subject or work being analyzed]
[Clearly state your main argument or evaluation]

[Summarize the main aspects of the work]
[Describe the methods or techniques employed by the creator]
[Concise overview of the work's main ideas or narrative structure]

[Analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the work]
[Break down the work into specific components for detailed evaluation]
[Support your analysis with evidence from the work]

[Critically assess the effectiveness and impact of the work]
[Discuss the author's intentions and how well they were conveyed]
[Highlight any flaws, inconsistencies, or limitations in the work]

[Incorporate additional evidence from external sources]
[Ensure proper citation and referencing of external sources]

[Anticipate potential counterarguments or opposing viewpoints]
[Offer a thoughtful response or rebuttal]

[Recap key points discussed in the essay]
[Reiterate the thesis statement in light of your analysis]
[Highlight the broader implications or significance of your critique]
[End with a thought-provoking statement or a call to further reflection]

Make sure to structure and organize your critical essay with this in-depth guide on creating a critical essay outline !

Step 4: Develop Your Thesis Statement

Create a strong thesis statement encapsulating your stance on the subject. This statement will guide the content in the body sections.

A good thesis keeps your essay clear and organized, making sure all your points fit together. To make a strong thesis, first, be clear about what main idea you want to talk about. Avoid being vague and clearly state your key arguments and analysis. 

Here's what a typical thesis statement for a critical essay looks like:

"In [Title/Author/Work], [Your Main Claim] because [Brief Overview of Reasons/Key Points] . Through a focused analysis of [Specific Aspects or Elements] , this essay aims to [Purpose of the Critical Examination] ."

Step 5: Decide on Supporting Material

While reading the text, select compelling pieces of evidence that strongly support your thesis statement. Ask yourself:

  • Which information is recognized by authorities in the subject?
  • Which information is supported by other authors?
  • Which information best defines and supports the thesis statement?

Step 6: Include an Opposing Argument

Present an opposing argument that challenges your thesis statement. This step requires you critically read your own analysis and find counterarguments so you can refute them.

This not only makes your discussion richer but also makes your own argument stronger by addressing different opinions. 

Step 7:  Critical Essay Introduction

Begin your critical essay with an introduction that clearly suggests the reader what they should expect from the rest of the essay. Here are the essential elements of an introduction paragraph:

  • Hook: Start with a compelling opening line that captivates your reader's interest.
  • Background Information: Provide essential context to ensure your readers grasp the subject matter. Add brief context of the story that contributes to a better understanding.
  • Thesis Statement: Conclude with a clear thesis statement, summarizing the core argument of your critical essay. This serves as a roadmap, guiding the reader through the main focus of your analysis.

Step 8: Critical Essay Body Paragraphs

The body presents arguments and supporting evidence. Each paragraph starts with a topic sentence, addressing a specific idea. Use transitional words to guide the reader seamlessly through your analysis.

Here’s the standard format for a critical essay body paragraph:

  • Topic Sentence: Introduces the central idea of the paragraph, acting as a roadmap for the reader.
  • Analysis: Objectively examines data, facts, theories, and approaches used in the work.
  • Evaluation: Assesses the work based on earlier claims and evidence, establishing logical consistency.
  • Relate Back to Topic Sentence: Reinforces how the analyzed details connect to the main idea introduced at the beginning of the paragraph.
  • Transition: Creates a seamless transition from one body paragraph to the next.

Step 9: Critical Essay Conclusion

Summarize your key points in the conclusion. Reiterate the validity of your thesis statement, the main point of your essay. 

Finally, offer an objective analysis in your conclusion. Look at the broader picture and discuss the larger implications or significance of your critique. Consider how your analysis fits into the larger context and what it contributes to the understanding of the subject.

Step 10: Proofread and Edit

Allocate time for meticulous revision. Scrutinize your essay for errors. Rectify all mistakes to ensure a polished academic piece.

Following these steps will empower you to dissect a work critically and present your insights persuasively.

Critical Essay Examples

Writing a critical essay about any theme requires you take on different approaches. Here are some examples of critical essays about literary works and movies exploring different themes:

Critical Essay About A Movie

Equality By Maya Angelou Critical Essay

Higher English Critical Essay

Analysis Critical Essay Example

Critical Essay on Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

Critical Essay On Tess Of The d'Urbervilles

Critical Essay Topics

A strong critical essay topic is both interesting and relevant, encouraging in-depth analysis and unique perspectives.

A good critical essay topic tackles current issues, questions established ideas, and has enough existing literature for thorough research. Here are some critical analysis topic:

  • The Representation of Diversity in Modern Literature
  • Impact of Social Media on Character Relationships in Novels
  • Challenging Stereotypes: Gender Portrayal in Contemporary Fiction
  • Exploring Economic Disparities in Urban Novels
  • Postcolonial Themes in Global Literature
  • Mental Health Narratives: Realism vs. Romanticism
  • Ecocriticism: Nature's Role in Classic Literature
  • Unveiling Power Struggles in Family Dynamics in Literary Works
  • Satire and Political Commentary in Modern Fiction
  • Quest for Identity: Coming-of-Age Novels in the 21st Century

Need more topic ideas? Check out these interesting and unique critical essay topics and get inspired!

Tips For Writing a Critical Essay

Become a skilled critical essay writer by following these practical tips:

  • Dig deep into your topic. Understand themes, characters, and literary elements thoroughly.
  • Think about different opinions to make your argument stronger and show you understand the whole picture.
  • Get information from reliable places like books, academic journals, and experts to make your essay more trustworthy.
  • Make a straightforward and strong statement that sums up your main point.
  • Support your ideas with solid proof from the text or other sources. Use quotes, examples, and references wisely.
  • Keep a neutral and academic tone. Avoid sharing too many personal opinions and focus on analyzing the facts.
  • Arrange your essay logically with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Make sure your ideas flow well.
  • Go beyond just summarizing. Think deeply about the strengths, weaknesses, and overall impact of the work.
  • Read through your essay multiple times to fix mistakes and make sure it's clear. A well-edited essay shows you care about the details.

You can use these tips to make your critical essays more insightful and well-written. Now that you have this helpful guide, you can start working on your critical essay. 

If it seems too much, no worries. Our essay writing website is here to help. 

Our experienced writers can handle critical essays on any topic, making it easier for you. Just reach out, and we've got your back throughout your essay journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many paragraphs is a critical essay.

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Keep in mind that every sentence should communicate the point. Every paragraph must support your thesis statement either by offering a claim or presenting an argument, and these are followed up with evidence for success! Most critical essays will have three to six paragraphs unless otherwise specified on examinations so make sure you follow them closely if applicable.

Can critical essays be in the first person?

The critical essay is an informative and persuasive work that stresses the importance of your argument. You need to support any claims or observations with evidence, so in order for it to be most effective, you should avoid using first-person pronouns like I/me when writing this type of paper.

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How to Write a Critical Essay

Last Updated: April 8, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Megan Morgan, PhD . Megan Morgan is a Graduate Program Academic Advisor in the School of Public & International Affairs at the University of Georgia. She earned her PhD in English from the University of Georgia in 2015. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,163,896 times.

The goal of a critical essay is to analyze a book, film, article, painting, or event and support your argument with relevant details. When writing a paper like this, you will have to come up with an interpretation of your own and then use facts or evidence from the work or other sources to prove that your interpretation is acceptable. A critical essay on a book, for example, might focus on the tone and how that influences the meaning of the book overall and would use quotations from the book to support the thesis. This type of paper requires careful planning and writing, but is often a creative way to engage with a subject that you are interested in and can be very rewarding!

Preparing to Write a Critical Essay

Step 1 Make sure that you understand the assignment.

  • Get to know the text inside and out by reading and rereading it. If you have been asked to write about a visual text like a film or piece of art, watch the film multiple times or view the painting from various angles and distances.

Step 3 Take notes as you read your text.

  • What is the text about?
  • What are the main ideas?
  • What is puzzling about the text?
  • What is the purpose of this text?
  • Does the text accomplish its purpose? If not, why not? Is so, how so? [3] X Research source Don't: summarize the plot — you should already be familiar with it. Do: jot down thoughts that may guide your paper: Does he mean __? Does this connect to __?

Step 4 Review your notes to identify patterns and problems.

  • Your solution to the problem should help you to develop a focus for your essay, but keep in mind that you do not need to have a solid argument about your text at this point. As you continue to think about the text, you will move closer to a focus and a thesis for your critical analysis essay. Don't: read the author's mind: Mary Shelley intended Frankenstein's monster to be more likable because... Do: phrase it as your own interpretation: Frankenstein's monster is more sympathetic than his creator, leading the reader to question who the true monster really is.

Conducting Research

Step 1 Find appropriate secondary sources if required.

  • Books, articles from scholarly journals, magazine articles, newspaper articles, and trustworthy websites are some sources that you might consider using.
  • Use your library’s databases rather than a general internet search. University libraries subscribe to many databases. These databases provide you with free access to articles and other resources that you cannot usually gain access to by using a search engine.

Step 2 Evaluate your sources to determine their credibility.

  • The author and his or her credentials. Choose sources that include an author’s name and that provide credentials for that author. The credentials should indicate something about why this person is qualified to speak as an authority on the subject. For example, an article about a medical condition will be more trustworthy if the author is a medical doctor. If you find a source where no author is listed or the author does not have any credentials, then this source may not be trustworthy. [5] X Research source
  • Citations. Think about whether or not this author has adequately researched the topic. Check the author’s bibliography or works cited page. If the author has provided few or no sources, then this source may not be trustworthy. [6] X Research source
  • Bias. Think about whether or not this author has presented an objective, well-reasoned account of the topic. How often does the tone indicate a strong preference for one side of the argument? How often does the argument dismiss or disregard the opposition’s concerns or valid arguments? If these are regular occurrences in the source, then it may not be a good choice. [7] X Research source (Note, however, that literary criticism often presents a very strong preference for one reading; this is not usually considered "bias" because the field of literary study is inherently subjective.) Don't: dismiss an author for favoring one point of view. Do: engage critically with their argument and make use of well-supported claims.
  • Publication date. Think about whether or not this source presents the most up to date information on the subject. Noting the publication date is especially important for scientific subjects, since new technologies and techniques have made some earlier findings irrelevant. [8] X Research source
  • Information provided in the source. If you are still questioning the trustworthiness of this source, cross check some of the information provided against a trustworthy source. If the information that this author presents contradicts one of your trustworthy sources, then it might not be a good source to use in your paper. [9] X Research source

Step 3 Read your research.

  • Clearly indicate when you have quoted a source word for word by putting it into quotation marks and including information about the source such as the author’s name, article or book title, and page number. Don't: highlight a phrase just because it sounds significant or meaningful. Do: highlight phrases that support or undermine your arguments.

Writing Your Essay

Step 1 Develop your tentative thesis.

  • Make sure your thesis provides enough detail. In other words, avoid simply saying that something is "good" or "effective" and say what specifically makes it "good" or "effective." [12] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source
  • Place your thesis statement at the end of your first paragraph unless your instructor tells you to place it elsewhere. The end of the first paragraph is the traditional place to provide your thesis in an academic essay.
  • For example, here is a multi-sentence thesis statement about the effectiveness and purpose of the movie Mad Max: Fury Road : "Many action films follow the same traditional pattern: a male action hero (usually white and attractive) follows his gut and barks orders at others, who must follow him or die. Mad Max: Fury Road is effective because it turns this pattern on its head. Instead of following the expected progression, the movie offers an action movie with multiple heroes, many of whom are women, thereby effectively challenging patriarchal standards in the Hollywood summer blockbuster." Don't: include obvious facts ( Mad Max was directed by George Miller ) or subjective opinions ( Mad Max is the greatest movie of 2015 ). [13] X Trustworthy Source University of North Carolina Writing Center UNC's on-campus and online instructional service that provides assistance to students, faculty, and others during the writing process Go to source Do: present an argument that you can back up with evidence.

Step 2 Develop a rough...

  • You may want to use a formal outline structure that uses Roman numerals, Arabic numerals, and letters. Or, you may want to use an informal "mind-map" type of outline, which allows you to gather your ideas before you have a complete idea of how they progress.

Step 3 Begin your essay with an engaging sentence that gets right into your topic.

  • Other good techniques to open an essay include using a specific, evocative detail that links to your larger idea, asking a question that your essay will answer, or providing a compelling statistic.

Step 4 Provide background information to help guide your readers.

  • If you are writing about a book, provide the name of the work, the author, and a brief summary of the plot.
  • If you are writing about a film, provide a brief synopsis.
  • If you are writing about a painting or other still image, provide a brief description for your readers.
  • Keep in mind that your background information in the first paragraph should lead up to your thesis statement. Explain everything the reader needs to know to understand what your topic is about, then narrow it down until you reach the topic itself.

Step 5 Use your body paragraphs to discuss specific components of your text.

  • Provide a claim at the beginning of the paragraph.
  • Support your claim with at least one example from your primary source(s).
  • Support your claim with at least one example from your secondary sources.

Step 6 Develop a conclusion for your essay.

  • Summarize and review your main ideas about the text.
  • Explain how the topic affects the reader.
  • Explain how your narrow topic applies to a broader theme or observation.
  • Call the reader to action or further exploration on the topic.
  • Present new questions that your essay introduced. Don't: repeat the same points you made earlier in the essay. Do: refer back to earlier points and connect them into a single argument.

Revising Your Essay

Step 1 Set aside your paper for a few days before revising your draft.

  • It is important to begin writing a paper far enough ahead of time to allow yourself a few days or even a week to revise before it is due. If you do not allow yourself this extra time, you will be more prone to making simple mistakes and your grade may suffer as a result. [16] X Research source

Step 2 Give yourself sufficient time to do a substantive revision that clarifies any confusing logic or arguments.

  • What is your main point? How might you clarify your main point?
  • Who is your audience? Have you considered their needs and expectations?
  • What is your purpose? Have you accomplished your purpose with this paper?
  • How effective is your evidence? How might your strengthen your evidence?
  • Does every part of your paper relate back to your thesis? How might you enhance these connections?
  • Is anything confusing about your language or organization? How might your clarify your language or organization?
  • Have you made any errors with grammar, punctuation, or spelling? How can you correct these errors?
  • What might someone who disagrees with you say about your paper? How can you address these opposing arguments in your paper? [17] X Research source

Step 3 Complete your paper by carefully proofreading a printed version of your final draft.

  • If you are submitting your paper online or through email, check with your teacher or professor to find out what format s/he prefers. If you have used any textual formatting in your paper, you may wish to save it as a PDF file to preserve your formatting.

Sample Essays

critical essay meaning and example

Community Q&A

Community Answer

  • Ask a friend, family member or other acquaintance to proofread and make constructive comments on your paper. Professional writers go through several drafts of their work and you should expect to do the same. Thanks Helpful 9 Not Helpful 0
  • It is often easier to write a rough introduction and proceed with the rest of the paper before returning to revise the introduction. If you're feeling lost on how to introduce your paper, write a placeholder introduction. Thanks Helpful 8 Not Helpful 1
  • Write in your own voice. It is better to correctly use the words you know than to misuse the words you do not know in an attempt to sound scholarly. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 1

critical essay meaning and example

  • Make sure to cite all of your research including quotations, statistics and theoretical concepts as accurately as possible. When in doubt, err on the side of citing more rather than less, since failing to cite your research can result in a charge of plagiarism. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 2
  • Papers written at the last minute suffer from logic gaps and poor grammar. Remember that your teacher has read hundreds, if not thousands of student papers, and as such, can tell when you've written a paper at the last minute. Thanks Helpful 6 Not Helpful 2

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About This Article

Megan Morgan, PhD

To write a critical essay, develop a thesis that expresses your essay's main focus and states an arguable claim. Next, write an introduction that gives a basic overview of your paper and introduces your thesis. Then, create paragraphs that discuss your specific ideas, focusing on one main idea per paragraph. Be sure to start each paragraph with a claim and use examples from primary and secondary sources to support that claim. Finally, create a conclusion that summarizes your main points. For tips on outlining and revising your paper, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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How to write a critical analysis essay

Published September 27, 2020. Updated May 30, 2022.

Critical Analysis Essay Definition

A critical analysis essay is an in-depth analysis of a book, poem, painting, film, or any other work.

Overview of Critical Analysis Essay

A critical analysis is different from other essays because it evaluates the effectiveness of the work. While writing this essay, you must try to persuade your readers that your analysis of the work is valid and supported. A critical analysis essay is an important exercise because it allows you to refine your critical thinking skills. In order to analyze the work at hand, you must first read it carefully. For a film or painting, enough time should be taken to absorb the subject at hand for all it’s worth. After critically examining the work, an outline should be written for the critical analysis essay. Once the outline is written, take a step back and analyze the subject before beginning the actual essay.

Once you have determined the effectiveness of the author, create a list of reasons why you think the author’s methods were effective, or why you think they were not. Test your reasoning before moving on to the next step. Once you have finalized your list of reasons, turn each one into a separate paragraph. Each of these paragraphs will explore that specific aspect of your argument in detail. You need to provide evidence for your reasoning. You can do this by referring to the text with quotes, paraphrased summaries, or any other type of evidence you think is necessary. Sum up the main points of your analysis and provide your final judgment on the author’s effectiveness. The conclusion is also an ideal place to discuss any potential implications of your argument.

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How is a critical analysis essay different compared to other essays?

A critical analysis is distinct from other essays because it evaluates the effectiveness of the work. While writing this essay, you must try to persuade your readers that your analysis of the work is valid and supported. You will do this by basing your argument on facts, evidence, and logical reasoning. A critical analysis is certainly not a simple summary.

Why is a critical analysis essay important?

A critical analysis essay is an important exercise because it allows you to hone your critical thinking skills. As you write this essay, you must evaluate the subject on a deep level. You need to really think about what the subject of your analysis is trying to argue or achieve.

Students who write critical analysis essays are required to put forth a point of view and support their arguments with evidence. Teachers assign these essays to test their pupils’ critical analysis abilities.

Planning Out Your Critical Analysis Essay

Study the topic of your analysis.

In order to analyze the work at hand, you must first read it carefully. The same logic applies to a film or painting — take the time to absorb the subject at hand for all it’s worth. Consider visual and other works the same way that you would a written text.

Take detailed notes — keeping track of your ideas is absolutely critical at this stage. Keep an eye out for any controversial ideas or strong opinions put forth by the author, and jot down your thoughts on a notepad or laptop.

As you read the work and take notes, start to think about:

  • What the author is trying to achieve or argue. This is the author’s thesis statement.
  • What is their writing or other work attempting to say about a particular issue?

Depending on the type of work or the overall approach of the author, their thesis statement may be easier or harder to determine. For example, it’s easier for some students to find a thesis statement in an academic piece of writing compared to a movie, poem, or literary work of fiction.

Once you have determined the thesis:

  • Identify the author’s main ideas.
  • Search for ideas that support their thesis statement.
  • Look for the strategies and methods the author uses to make their point.

Write an outline

Once you have finished critically examining the work, it’s time to write an outline for your critical analysis essay. Creating an outline will help you keep your writing organized. The general structure of your critical analysis essay should look like this:


Think about the text before writing.

Once you’ve written your outline, take a step back and analyze the subject before beginning the actual essay.

Reflect on the analysis topic and thesis. Think about:

  • What does the author’s thesis mean to you?
  • How does their argument affect you?
  • What kinds of thoughts or feelings does it evoke in you?
  • Are the concepts well defined?
  • What evidence is used, if any?
  • Does the work argue something?

In addition, take the time to think about the author (or artist, filmmaker, etc.) and ask these questions:

  • Could the author’s background have impacted their opinion/thesis?
  • Do they have an inherent bias?
  • Is their argument “fair” based on the support they provide?

Remember, you’re writing a critical analysis — so don’t be afraid to critique the work! The “critical” in this essay does not have a negative connotation — it does not always mean “to criticize” like you would someone for doing something wrong. The meaning in the context of this essay is more closely related to critical thinking.

Writing your critical analysis essay

The introduction is a brief overview of what you’ll be analyzing in your critical analysis essay. In order to cover all of the necessary information in your introduction, make sure to mention the following:

  • Publication information
  • Topic and purpose
  • Thesis statement
  • How you reacted to the work

Generally speaking, you should end your introduction with your thesis statement. Spend the first portion of the introduction describing the author’s argument. Then spend the latter portion explaining whether or not you think the author succeeded in proving their point. Mentioning your thesis statement at the end of the introduction sets the stage for your analysis and critique.

The next section you’ll need to write is the summary. This is a very quick, surface-level overview of the work, so don’t get too carried away. Try to stick to one paragraph.

Remember, the purpose of this essay is to analyze the author’s argument, not to summarize every little aspect of the work. The summary is the only place in the essay where you’re allowed to sum up the work, as the rest of the essay should be purely devoted to your analysis.

The analysis section represents the main body of your critical analysis essay. Thanks to your earlier research and analysis, you should have a number of points to support your thesis. Refer back to your notes for more insights and ideas.

The thesis itself is pretty straightforward: You’re either arguing that the author made an effective argument, or you’re arguing that they failed to make an effective argument.

On the other hand, the process of actually determining the effectiveness of the author’s argument is complex. In order to determine whether or not the author’s work was effective, you must first clearly define and determine its purpose.

There are three main purposes:

  • To persuade
  • To entertain

If the purpose was to inform:

  • Was the message communicated in a clear and concise manner?
  • Did you feel educated?
  • Was the information relevant, accurate, and well organized?
  • Why or why not? (For all the questions)

If the purpose of the work was to persuade the reader:

  • Did the author succeed in changing your point of view?
  • What tactics did the author use to accomplish this?
  • Did they focus on using reason/logic as a means of persuasion?
  • Did they support their argument with facts?
  • Were these tactics effective?

If the purpose was to entertain:

  • Did the author succeed in their aim? Why or why not?
  • How did they use emotions to provoke a response in the reader?
  • Were their methods complex, nuanced, and satisfying to the reader?
  • How were you affected?
  • What kind of emotional response did you have?

The purpose of the work is not the same as the author’s thesis. They may have succeeded in entertaining the reader while still failing to effectively make their argument. To determine whether or not the author achieved their purpose, consider the following:

  • The author’s organizational skills
  • The intended audience
  • The writer’s assumptions about the audience
  • Use of language
  • Use of imagery

Once you have determined the effectiveness of the author (depending on the purpose of their work), it’s time to defend your stance. This is when you need to use your critical analysis skills.

First, create a list of reasons why you think the author’s methods were effective, or why you think they were not. Test your reasoning before moving on to the next step. Do these reasons actually stand up to scrutiny?

Once you’ve finalized your list of reasons, turn each one into a separate paragraph. Each of these paragraphs will explore that specific aspect of your argument in detail.

Remember, you can’t simply state your opinions. You need to provide evidence for your reasoning. You can do this by referring to the text with quotes, paraphrased summaries, or any other type of evidence you think is necessary.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a list of points to cover, you can refer to this relatively “standard” outline of an analysis section. Each of these topics represents a different body paragraph:

  • Organization
  • Effectiveness
  • Fairness/bias
  • Appeal to a specific audience
  • How the topic was treated

Within each of these sections, discuss whether the author succeeded or failed in supporting their thesis in the context of that specific subject. For example, did the author’s poor organizational skills hinder their ability to persuade the reader? Did the author succeed in reaching out to a specific audience in order to entertain them based on their unique qualities and predispositions?

Before you turn in that paper, don’t forget to cite your sources in APA format , MLA format , or a style of your choice.

Sum up the main points of your analysis and provide your final judgment on the author’s effectiveness. Don’t repeat yourself. If you must, reword previous arguments made in the analysis section. The conclusion is also an ideal place to discuss any potential implications of your argument.

Here’s a general outline of how you should structure your conclusion:

  • Explain whether or not the author was effective in a few short points
  • Explain why the author was or wasn’t effective in 2-3 sentences

Example critical analysis essay

Additional tips for writing a critical analysis essay.

  • Don’t say “I think” or “in my opinion.” Place the emphasis on the subject, not yourself
  • Remember to back up your points with evidence (quotes from the text)
  • Don’t assume that your opinion is inherently factual
  • Use formal yet persuasive writing
  • Don’t be afraid to express a strong opinion
  • Don’t include a lengthy summary
  • Mention the topic’s relevance in the modern world if possible
  • Mention opposing opinions and counter them
  • If you have a mostly negative view of the author’s effectiveness, start with your positive points
  • If you have a mostly positive view of the author’s effectiveness, start with your negative points
  • Carefully revise and edit your essay — ideally with a second set of eyes

Published August 19, 2020.

By Andy Block. Andy received his B.A. in English from the University of South Carolina and his M.A. in comparative literature from the University of New Mexico. After teaching ESL in Asia and Europe as well as public school in New York City, Andy taught writing at a community college for more than a decade before transitioning to a new career in EdTech. He is currently hard at work on a creative non-fiction book and enjoys freelance writing.

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  • A Research Guide
  • Writing Guide
  • Essay Writing

How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay

  • What is a critical essay
  • Critical essay structure
  • How to start a critical essay

Types of critical essays

Step-by-step critical essay writing guide.

  • Critical essay formatting tips
  • Critical essay examples

What is a critical essay?

  • To offer an objective vision of the original author.
  • To provide a complete analysis of the consistency offered by the original author.
  • To thoroughly evaluate original work and discuss the capability to maintain and support primary arguments and concepts.
  • To critically analyze in an essay by presenting strengths and weaknesses discovered in an article, a movie, or an academic journal entry.
  • To criticize the original author’s work by providing actual examples and explanations.

Critical essay structure and outline rules


How to start a critical essay?

  • Take notes about information related to the author and include it in your introduction paragraph.
  • Determine the author’s opinion and take on the subject by analyzing available data.
  • Seek out examples of evidence as to whether the author proves why it is the right way of thinking.
  • Create a strong thesis statement representing 50% of the author’s opinion and 50% of your vision.
  • Determine both the strong and weak sides of the author’s style, grammar, accuracy, and structure. Use evaluation and analysis.
  • Sociological critique.
  • Sociocultural analysis.
  • Reader-response criticism.
  • Gender-based critical writing.
  • Mythological critique.
  • Biographical writing.
  • History writing analysis.
  • Psychoanalytical criticism.
  • Formalist criticism and analysis.

Step 1: Know what is expected!

Step 2: take your time to analyze the source material, step 3: taking notes technique, step 4: primary challenges and working in patterns, step 5: author’s solutions, step 6: editing and proofreading, important critical essay formatting tips.

  • Keep up with the specified writing style for your citations and the written content.
  • Provide basic biography information about the author.
  • Include only 1-3 citations per page.
  • Provide information in “introduction – quote – analysis” template format.
  • Your tone must be formal and analytical unless specified otherwise.
  • The bias matters must be clarified with your academic advisor before writing.
  • When seeking out the weak points for your critical analysis essay, explain why you think so with a piece of evidence that may include the author’s limitation or evidence taken from an external source.

Helpful critical essay examples

  • Critical Reading and Analysis by the University of Queensland. 
  • Critical Analysis Template by Thompson Rivers University. 
  • Critical Essay Examples by EduBirdie (Our academic writing partner). 
  • Critical Essay Samples by Students by James Cook University. 

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Critical Analysis in Composition

Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms

  • An Introduction to Punctuation
  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

In composition , critical analysis is a careful examination and evaluation of a text , image, or other work or performance.

Performing a critical analysis does not necessarily involve finding fault with a work. On the contrary, a thoughtful critical analysis may help us understand the interaction of the particular elements that contribute to a work's power and effectiveness. For this reason, critical analysis is a central component of academic training; the skill of critical analysis is most often thought of in the context of analyzing a work of art or literature, but the same techniques are useful to build an understanding of texts and resources in any discipline.

In this context, the word "critical" carries a different connotation than in vernacular, everyday speech. "Critical" here does not simply mean pointing out a work's flaws or arguing why it is objectionable by some standard. Instead, it points towards a close reading of that work to gather meaning, as well as to evaluate its merits. The evaluation is not the sole point of critical analysis, which is where it differs from the colloquial meaning of "criticize."

Examples of Critical Essays

  • "Jack and Gill: A Mock Criticism" by Joseph Dennie
  • "Miss Brill's Fragile Fantasy": A Critical Essay About Katherine Mansfield's Short Story "Miss Brill" and "Poor, Pitiful Miss Brill"
  • "On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth " by Thomas De Quincey
  • A Rhetorical Analysis of Claude McKay's "Africa"
  • A Rhetorical Analysis of E B. White's Essay "The Ring of Time"
  • A Rhetorical Analysis of U2's "Sunday Bloody Sunday"
  • "Saloonio: A Study in Shakespearean Criticism" by Stephen Leacock
  • Writing About Fiction: A Critical Essay on Hemingway's Novel The Sun Also Rises

Quotes About Critical Analysis

  • " [C]ritical analysis involves breaking down an idea or a statement, such as a claim , and subjecting it to critical thinking in order to test its validity." (Eric Henderson, The Active Reader: Strategies for Academic Reading and Writing . Oxford University Press, 2007)​
  • "To write an effective critical analysis, you need to understand the difference between analysis and summary . . . . [A] critical analysis looks beyond the surface of a text—it does far more than summarize a work. A critical analysis isn't simply dashing off a few words about the work in general." ( Why Write?: A Guide to BYU Honors Intensive Writing . Brigham Young University, 2006)
  • "Although the main purpose of a critical analysis is not to persuade , you do have the responsibility of organizing a discussion that convinces readers that your analysis is astute." (Robert Frew et al., Survival: A Sequential Program for College Writing . Peek, 1985)

Critical Thinking and Research

"[I]n response to the challenge that a lack of time precludes good, critical analysis , we say that good, critical analysis saves time. How? By helping you be more efficient in terms of the information you gather. Starting from the premise that no practitioner can claim to collect all the available information, there must always be a degree of selection that takes place. By thinking analytically from the outset, you will be in a better position to 'know' which information to collect, which information is likely to be more or less significant and to be clearer about what questions you are seeking to answer." (David Wilkins and Godfred Boahen, Critical Analysis Skills For Social Workers . McGraw-Hill, 2013)

How to Read Text Critically

 "Being critical in academic enquiry means: - adopting an attitude of skepticism or reasoned doubt towards your own and others' knowledge in the field of enquiry . . . - habitually questioning the quality of your own and others' specific claims to knowledge about the field and the means by which these claims were generated; - scrutinizing claims to see how far they are convincing . . .; - respecting others as people at all times. Challenging others' work is acceptable, but challenging their worth as people is not; - being open-minded , willing to be convinced if scrutiny removes your doubts, or to remain unconvinced if it does not; - being constructive by putting your attitude of skepticism and your open-mindedness to work in attempting to achieve a worthwhile goal." (Mike Wallace and Louise Poulson, "Becoming a Critical Consumer of the Literature." Learning to Read Critically in Teaching and Learning , ed. by Louise Poulson and Mike Wallace. SAGE, 2004)

Critically Analyzing Persuasive Ads

"[I]n my first-year composition class, I teach a four-week advertisement analysis project as a way to not only heighten students' awareness of the advertisements they encounter and create on a daily basis but also to encourage students to actively engage in a discussion about critical analysis by examining rhetorical appeals in persuasive contexts. In other words, I ask students to pay closer attention to a part of the pop culture in which they live. " . . . Taken as a whole, my ad analysis project calls for several writing opportunities in which students write essays , responses, reflections, and peer assessments . In the four weeks, we spend a great deal of time discussing the images and texts that make up advertisements, and through writing about them, students are able to heighten their awareness of the cultural 'norms' and stereotypes which are represented and reproduced in this type of communication ." (Allison Smith, Trixie Smith, and Rebecca Bobbitt, Teaching in the Pop Culture Zone: Using Popular Culture in the Composition Classroom . Wadsworth Cengage, 2009)

Critically Analyzing Video Games

 "When dealing with a game's significance, one could analyze the themes of the game be they social, cultural, or even political messages. Most current reviews seem to focus on a game's success: why it is successful, how successful it will be, etc. Although this is an important aspect of what defines the game, it is not critical analysis . Furthermore, the reviewer should dedicate some to time to speaking about what the game has to contribute to its genre (Is it doing something new? Does it present the player with unusual choices? Can it set a new standard for what games of this type should include?)." (Mark Mullen, "On Second Thought . . ." Rhetoric/Composition/Play Through Video Games: Reshaping Theory and Practice , ed. by Richard Colby, Matthew S.S. Johnson, and Rebekah Shultz Colby. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013)

Critical Thinking and Visuals

 "The current critical turn in rhetoric and composition studies underscores the role of the visual, especially the image artifact, in agency. For instance, in Just Advocacy? a collection of essays focusing on the representation of women and children in international advocacy efforts, coeditors Wendy S. Hesford and Wendy Kozol open their introduction with a critical analysis of a documentary based on a picture: the photograph of an unknown Afghan girl taken by Steve McCurry and gracing the cover of National Geographic in 1985. Through an examination of the ideology of the photo's appeal as well as the 'politics of pity' circulating through the documentary, Hesford and Kozol emphasize the power of individual images to shape perceptions, beliefs, actions, and agency." (Kristie S. Fleckenstein, Vision, Rhetoric, and Social Action in the Composition Classroom . Southern Illinois University Press, 2010)

Related Concepts

  • Analysis  and  Critical Essay
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  • Close Reading
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  • Evaluation Essay
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  • Rhetorical Analysis Definition and Examples
  • Quotes About Close Reading
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  • What Is a Critique in Composition?
  • Definition and Examples of Evaluation Essays
  • Definition and Examples of Analysis in Composition
  • Understanding the Use of Language Through Discourse Analysis
  • What Is a Written Summary?
  • Critical Thinking in Reading and Composition
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Home — Essay Types — Critical Analysis Essay

Critical Analysis Essay Examples

Brief description of critical essay topics.

A critical essay is a type of academic writing that evaluates and interprets a literary work, piece of art, or any other medium. It analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the subject, providing a thorough examination of its content, meaning, and significance in a critical manner. Critical essays are essential for developing analytical and critical thinking skills. When choosing critical essay topics, it's important to select subjects that allow for in-depth analysis and meaningful interpretation.

Importance of Writing Critical Essays

Choosing a good topic for critical essays.

  • Select a subject that sparks your interest and curiosity. Critical analysis essays thrive when the writer is genuinely interested in the topic, as it fosters enthusiasm and engagement throughout the writing process.
  • Choose a topic that has a significant impact on its respective field or society. Opting for subjects with real-world relevance or cultural significance adds depth and relevance to the analysis, making the essay more compelling and impactful.

Popular Critical Analysis Essay Topics

  • The portrayal of women in Shakespeare's plays
  • The use of symbolism in "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • The representation of power in George Orwell's "1984"
  • Exploring the themes of isolation in Emily Dickinson's poetry
  • Analyzing the role of fate in Sophocles' "Oedipus Rex"
  • The impact of the French Revolution on modern politics
  • The role of propaganda in shaping historical events
  • The significance of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States
  • Evaluating the effects of colonialism on indigenous cultures
  • Examining the causes of World War I from multiple perspectives
  • Analyzing the use of color in Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night"
  • The influence of surrealism in the works of Salvador Dali
  • Examining the feminist perspectives in contemporary art
  • Interpreting the symbolism in Renaissance paintings
  • Critically evaluating the impact of street art on urban culture
  • Critically evaluating the policies of a current political leader
  • The role of media in shaping public opinion on political issues
  • The impact of globalization on international relations
  • Examining the effectiveness of diplomatic negotiations in resolving conflicts
  • Analyzing the concept of democracy in modern society

Social Issues

  • The ethical implications of genetic engineering and cloning
  • Analyzing the effects of social media on mental health
  • The controversy surrounding immigration policies and their impact on society
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of affirmative action programs
  • Exploring the intersection of race, class, and gender in contemporary society

Also, don't forget to review critical essay examples to understand how to structure your analysis and develop your arguments effectively. Critical analysis essay examples can provide valuable insights into the critical thinking process and help you refine your writing skills. By exploring a variety of critical essay topics and examining different approaches to analysis, you can enhance your understanding of the subject matter and strengthen your ability to engage critically with complex ideas.

A critical essay is a type of academic writing that analyzes, interprets, and evaluates a text. It can be a book, a film, an article, a painting, or any other form of artistic expression. The key characteristics of a critical analysis essay include a clear argument, well-researched evidence, and a balanced analysis. The goal of this type of essay is to provide a thorough examination of the chosen subject, highlighting both its strengths and weaknesses. Critical analysis essay examples are often used in literature and arts courses, but they can also be found in other disciplines such as sociology, philosophy, and history.

When writing a critical essay, it is important to present a strong and well-supported argument. This means that the writer should carefully choose a topic and develop a clear thesis statement. The essay should then be structured in a logical and coherent manner, with each paragraph focusing on a different aspect of the subject. Additionally, the writer should use evidence from the text to support their argument, and provide critical analysis of the material. This may involve examining the author’s use of language, the themes present in the work, or the historical and cultural context in which it was produced.

Overall, a critical essay is a rigorous and analytical piece of writing that requires careful planning and research. It is a valuable skill to master, as it encourages the writer to think critically and engage with the material in a deep and meaningful way. By following these tips, writers can ensure that their critical essays are well-structured, well-supported, and provide a comprehensive analysis of the chosen subject.

How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay

Writing a critical essay requires a thoughtful approach to analyzing and evaluating a subject or topic. Here are some writing tips to help you craft a successful critical essay:

  • Understand the Subject: Before you begin writing, make sure you thoroughly understand the subject you’re critiquing. This could be a book, a film, an article, or any other piece of work. Take notes as you engage with the material, paying attention to key themes, characters, and arguments.
  • Develop a Clear Thesis: Your thesis statement should be concise and clear, expressing your main argument or critique of the subject. It should provide a roadmap for your essay, outlining the points you will address in your analysis.
  • Provide Evidence: Critical essays rely on evidence to support your claims and critiques. This evidence can come from the work itself or external sources such as scholarly articles, interviews, or historical context. Be sure to cite your sources properly.
  • Engage with Counter Arguments: A strong critical essay acknowledges opposing viewpoints and engages with them. This demonstrates that you’ve considered multiple perspectives and strengthens your own argument. Refute counter arguments logically and respectfully.
  • Organize Effectively: Structure your essay logically, typically with an introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each paragraph should focus on a specific point or aspect of your critique. Use clear topic sentences and transitions to guide your reader through your analysis.

Remember to revise and proofread your essay thoroughly to ensure clarity, coherence, and correctness in your writing.

Remember that critical essays require you to engage deeply with the subject matter, provide well-reasoned arguments, and support your claims with evidence. By following these tips, you can write a strong and effective critical essay.

Critical Essays and Analytical Essays: Key Differences

Critical essays and analytical essays are both types of academic writing that involve examining and evaluating a subject, but they differ in their primary objectives and approaches:

Critical Essays

  • Objective: The primary objective of a critical essay is to offer a critical assessment or judgment of a specific work, such as a book, film, play, or piece of art. It aims to evaluate the quality, significance, and impact of the work.
  • Subject Focus: Critical essays often focus on a single work or a specific aspect of it. They analyze the work’s strengths, weaknesses, themes, characters, and overall effectiveness.
  • Perspective: Critical essays may include the writer’s subjective opinions, but they should also provide a balanced and well-supported critique based on evidence and analysis.
  • Emphasis: While critical essays can incorporate analysis, they prioritize critique and judgment. They may explore the work’s cultural, historical, or social context but with the main aim of evaluating it critically.

Analytical Essays

  • Objective: Analytical essays aim to examine a subject in depth and provide a comprehensive understanding of it. They do not necessarily involve judgment or critique but focus on presenting insights and explanations.
  • Subject Focus: Analytical essays can cover a wide range of subjects, including literary works, scientific phenomena, historical events, or philosophical concepts. They often explore broader themes or ideas.
  • Perspective: Analytical essays maintain a more objective and impartial tone. They require a thorough analysis of the subject, relying on evidence and logical reasoning rather than personal opinions.
  • Emphasis: The emphasis in analytical essays is on breaking down the subject into its components, examining its structure, and explaining how it works or why it matters. They often explore the “how” and “why” of a subject.

In summary, critical essays prioritize the evaluation and judgment of a specific work , while analytical essays focus on a broader understanding of a subject without necessarily passing judgment. Both types of essays require careful analysis and evidence, but they have distinct objectives and approaches.

Example of a Critical Analysis Essay by Parts


“In the introduction to a critical essay analyzing F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” the writer might start with a quote from the novel that sets the tone for the essay. The introduction should provide background information on the novel and its author, as well as introduce the main argument of the essay. For example, the introduction could discuss the recurring theme of the American Dream in the novel and how it is portrayed through the characters and setting. The introduction should end with a clear thesis statement that outlines the writer’s main argument about the portrayal of the American Dream in “The Great Gatsby.””

Body Paragraphs:

“The body paragraphs of the essay could focus on specific aspects of the novel, such as the characters, symbolism, and themes. For example, one body paragraph could analyze the character of Jay Gatsby and how his pursuit of the American Dream is portrayed. The paragraph would start with a topic sentence that introduces the main idea, followed by evidence from the novel, such as Gatsby’s extravagant parties and his obsession with Daisy Buchanan. The writer would then provide analysis that connects the evidence to the larger argument about the portrayal of the American Dream in the novel. Each body paragraph would follow a similar structure, focusing on a specific aspect of the novel and providing evidence and analysis to support the main argument.”


“ In the conclusion, the writer would summarize the main points of the essay, restate the thesis statement, and emphasize the significance of the analysis. For example, the conclusion could reflect on the disillusionment of the characters in the novel and how it reflects the failure of the American Dream. The writer could leave the reader with a final thought or reflection on the impact of the novel’s portrayal of the American Dream and its relevance to contemporary society. The conclusion should tie back to the main argument and leave the reader with a lasting impression of the analysis.”

Important Critical A nalysis Essay Examples

You should analyze examples of well-structured critical essays to illustrate the components of a strong critical essay, such as an introduction with a clear thesis statement, well-developed body paragraphs, and a conclusion that ties back to the main argument. These examples of a critical analysis essay can serve as a guide to understanding how to effectively structure their own critical essay.

High School Critical Analysis Essay Examples

These examples are tailored to the level of high school students and may focus on literary works commonly studied in high school English classes, such as “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “The Catcher in the Rye.” The essays should demonstrate a clear understanding of the text, with well-structured arguments and evidence to support the analysis. These examples can serve as a model for high school students to learn how to write critical essays and develop their analytical skills.

College Critical Analysis Essay Examples

These examples are aimed at college-level students and may delve into more complex literary works or academic topics. The essays should demonstrate higher-level critical thinking and analysis, with a focus on developing a sophisticated argument and using scholarly sources to support the claims. These examples can help college students learn how to take their critical writing to the next level and engage with more challenging material.

University Critical Analysis Essay Examples

These critical analysis essay examples are geared toward university-level students and may encompass a wide range of literary, cultural, or academic topics. The essays should demonstrate advanced critical thinking, research, and analysis, with a focus on contributing to the existing body of knowledge in the field.

By providing examples at different educational levels, the writer can cater to a diverse audience and offer relevant models for students at various stages of their academic journey. Each set of examples can help students understand the expectations and standards for critical writing at their particular educational level, and serve as a guide for developing their own critical essays.

Summary: Critical Analysis Essays Writing

In conclusion, critical essay writing is a valuable skill that students can develop at different educational levels. By understanding the key components of a critical essay, such as the introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs, and conclusion, students can effectively structure their arguments and support their analysis with evidence. Furthermore, providing examples at various educational levels allows students to learn how to tailor their critical writing to meet the expectations of their specific academic level.

It is important to emphasize the significance of critical writing techniques in fostering analytical thinking, research skills, and the ability to engage with complex ideas. Encouraging further exploration of critical writing techniques can help students refine their critical thinking skills and develop a deeper understanding of the texts, topics, and issues they encounter in their academic studies.

By honing their critical writing skills, students can become more effective communicators, researchers, and scholars, enabling them to contribute meaningfully to academic discourse and the broader conversations within their chosen fields of study.

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What is a Critical essay?

A Critical essay is a type of academic writing that evaluates, interprets, and analyzes a text or a work of art. It involves a thoughtful and detailed analysis of the subject matter, often incorporating evidence and examples to support the writer's argument. Check our critical analysis essay examples to get an idea of what elements are crucial for critical writing.

How to write a Critical Analysis essay?

When writing a Critical essay, it's important to carefully read and understand the text or artwork being analyzed. Take notes, identify key themes and elements, and develop a clear thesis statement to guide your analysis. Be sure to support your arguments with evidence and examples. See our example of a critical analysis essay to see how the author analyzes each claim.

How to start a Critical Analysis essay?

To begin a critical analysis essay, start by thoroughly understanding the text or subject you're analyzing, then formulate a clear thesis statement that expresses your interpretation or evaluation of the material.

How is a Critical essay different from other essay types?

Unlike other types of essays, a Critical essay requires the writer to present a balanced and objective analysis of the subject matter. It is not simply a summary or a review, but rather a deep examination of the strengths and weaknesses of the text or artwork being discussed.

What type of language should be used in a Critical Analysis essay?

In a critical analysis essay, formal and academic language is typically used. This includes precise vocabulary, clear and concise sentences, and an objective tone devoid of personal bias or emotion. Additionally, the language should be analytical and evaluative, focusing on examining the strengths and weaknesses of the subject matter.

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critical essay meaning and example

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Step-by-step guide on how to write a highly impressive and effective critical lens essay to earn top grades.

How to write a critical lens essay

Unleashing the true essence of literature, a critical lens essay delves deep into the realm of literary analysis, exploring the layers beneath the surface. By employing a critical lens, readers embark on a journey towards deciphering a text’s hidden messages, constructing an analytical perspective that transcends the conventional meaning. Embarking on such a venture requires a skillful blend of literary prowess and brainstorming techniques. With this handy guide, you’ll find a treasure trove of strategies and insights to navigate the intricate web of analysis, unlocking the true potential of your critical lens essay.

Excellence in crafting a critical lens essay lies in the art of interpretation and analysis. By adopting a unique lens through which to view a text, readers expose themselves to an array of interpretations and perspectives. Armed with this newfound insight, the essayist can dissect the intricate web of symbols, themes, and literary devices strewn across the pages, intertwining them to form a cohesive analysis. Captivating the reader with a compelling argument and thoughtful analysis underscores the importance of employing meticulous thought when embarking on this intellectual pursuit.

Approaching the construction of a critical lens essay should be akin to delicately weaving together a tapestry of ideas and concepts. An essay of this nature demands a panoramic view of the text, exploring not only the surface-level narrative but also the hidden meanings and salient themes lurking within. Examining the characters, their motivations, and the author’s underlying message allows the essayist to challenge preconceived notions and offer fresh insights. As you embark upon this engaging journey, remember that every word you pen contributes to the intricate mosaic of ideas that is your unique interpretation.

Approaching a Crucial Perspective Composition

Approaching a Crucial Perspective Composition

When it comes to tackling a significant perspective essay, a thoughtful and strategic approach can make all the difference. This type of essay requires you to analyze and interpret a specific quote, known as the critical lens, by considering different perspectives and providing your own insight. To excel in this task, it is essential to understand the nuances of the critical lens and develop a structured approach to effectively convey your thoughts and analysis.

To begin with, familiarize yourself with the critical lens you will be working with. Take time to carefully deconstruct the lens and understand its underlying message. Identify the two literary works that can be used to support or reject the lens. This will form the foundation of your essay and influence your subsequent analysis.

Once you have a firm grasp on the critical lens and the literary works that will be incorporated, it is crucial to develop a clear thesis statement. The thesis statement should succinctly state your perspective on the lens and how it can be interpreted through the chosen literary works. This statement will guide the direction of your essay and provide structure for your arguments.

As you progress into the body paragraphs, make sure to fully analyze each literary work in relation to the critical lens. Remember to include specific examples and quotes from the texts to support your analysis. In addition to explaining how the texts align with or challenge the lens, consider the broader implications of these connections. Explore the underlying themes, messages, and character motivations that are relevant to the lens.

Lastly, conclude your essay by summarizing your arguments and reiterating your thesis statement. Leave the reader with a final thought that encompasses the overall significance of the critical lens and the literary works. Ensure that your conclusion reinforces the message you conveyed throughout the essay and leaves a lasting impression.

By approaching a crucial perspective essay with a well-defined plan and a deep understanding of the critical lens and the literary works, you can effectively analyze and interpret the given quote. Be sure to take the time to develop a strong argument, support it with pertinent evidence, and present your ideas in a clear and concise manner. With a strategic approach, you can craft a compelling essay that showcases your critical thinking skills and understanding of the texts at hand.

The Significance of Comprehending the Quotation

One of the crucial aspects of writing a critical lens essay lies in understanding the significance of the chosen quote. The quote serves as the foundation of the essay, shaping the overall analysis and interpretations that follow. By comprehending the quote, a writer can effectively develop a well-structured essay that showcases their ability to critically analyze and evaluate various literary works and perspectives.

When approaching a critical lens essay, it is essential to carefully examine the quote and break it down into its core elements. This involves deciphering the underlying meaning, identifying key terms, and considering the context in which it was originally written. By gaining a thorough understanding of the quote, a writer is equipped to explore its implications within the framework of the literature being analyzed.

Additionally, comprehending the quote allows writers to establish a clear focus for their essay. It enables them to define the central idea or theme that will guide their analysis and shape their argument. By understanding the quote, writers can develop a coherent and logical structure that supports their interpretation and evaluation of the chosen literary works.

Furthermore, understanding the quote helps writers to establish credibility and authority in their essay. By demonstrating a deep understanding of the quote and its relation to the literature, writers can present a well-informed analysis that engages readers and garners their trust. This is particularly important in critical lens essays, as the writer is required to provide a thoughtful and balanced evaluation of the literary works in question.

In conclusion, the importance of understanding the quote in a critical lens essay cannot be overstated. It forms the foundation of the essay, guiding the analysis and interpretations that follow. By comprehending the quote, writers can effectively develop a well-structured essay that showcases their ability to critically analyze and evaluate various literary works and perspectives.

Choosing the appropriate literature to support your analysis

One of the crucial aspects of writing a critical lens essay is selecting the right texts to support your analysis. The literature you choose should align with the quote, allowing you to explore the various perspectives and ideas present in the texts. By carefully considering the content and themes, you can effectively incorporate textual evidence to develop a strong argument.

When selecting the literature, it is vital to choose works that have a diverse range of ideas and perspectives. This will allow you to present a well-rounded analysis and demonstrate your understanding of different viewpoints. Consider choosing texts that provide contrasting opinions or present distinct themes, as this will make your argument more nuanced and compelling.

Additionally, it is important to choose texts that have a depth of meaning. Look for works that provoke thoughtful analysis and can be interpreted in various ways. Texts with complex characters, intricate plots, and rich symbolism often provide ample material for critical analysis. By selecting texts with depth and complexity, you will have more material to support your analysis and demonstrate your ability to engage with complex ideas.

Furthermore, consider the literary techniques used in the texts. Pay attention to the language, imagery, symbolism, and narrative structure employed by the authors. These techniques can enhance your analysis and provide evidence for your interpretations. Choose texts that utilize literary devices effectively and align with the quote, as this will help you construct a persuasive argument.

In conclusion, choosing the right texts is crucial for a successful critical lens essay. By selecting literature with diverse perspectives, depth of meaning, and effective literary techniques, you can support your analysis and develop a strong argument. Carefully consider the themes, ideas, and content of the texts, ensuring they align with the quote and allow for a comprehensive exploration of different viewpoints. With the right selection of literature, you will be able to critically analyze the quote and provide a well-supported argument.

Analyzing the literary devices and techniques

In this section, we will explore the different literary devices and techniques used in writing and how they contribute to the overall meaning and impact of a text. By understanding and analyzing these devices, readers can gain a deeper insight into the themes and ideas presented by the author.

One common literary device is symbolism, which involves the use of symbols to represent deeper meanings or ideas. Symbols can be objects, characters, or even actions that carry a symbolic significance. By analyzing the symbolism in a text, readers can uncover hidden meanings and themes that may not be immediately apparent.

Another important technique is foreshadowing, which is the use of clues or hints to suggest future events or outcomes. By carefully examining the foreshadowing in a text, readers can anticipate and understand the unfolding of the story, as well as the motivations and actions of the characters.

One of the most powerful literary devices is imagery, which involves the use of descriptive language to create vivid mental images in the reader’s mind. By analyzing the use of imagery, readers can engage with the text on a sensory level, experiencing the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures described by the author.

Another technique that authors employ is irony, which involves a contrast between what is expected or intended and what actually occurs. By recognizing and analyzing the use of irony in a text, readers can gain insight into the author’s point of view and the themes of the work.

These are just a few examples of the many literary devices and techniques that authors use to convey their ideas and messages. By analyzing these devices, readers can deepen their understanding and appreciation of a text, and develop their own interpretations and insights.

Creating a strong and coherent argument

Creating a strong and coherent argument

In order to write a compelling and persuasive critical lens essay, it is crucial to create a strong and coherent argument. This means presenting a clear and logical line of reasoning that supports your interpretation of the quote and the texts you have chosen to analyze. A strong argument is one that is well-supported by evidence, well-reasoned, and effectively conveys your main ideas.

One key element in creating a strong argument is providing evidence to support your claims. This can include quotations from the text, examples from real life or other works of literature, and any other relevant information that helps to validate your point of view. The more evidence you provide, the more convincing your argument will be.

Another important aspect of creating a strong argument is logical reasoning. This means organizing your thoughts in a clear and structured manner, making sure that each point flows logically from the previous one. It is also important to anticipate and address counterarguments or opposing viewpoints, showing that you have thoroughly considered different perspectives and have a strong response to them.

In addition to presenting a coherent argument, it is essential to convey your main ideas effectively. This involves using clear and concise language, avoiding unnecessary jargon or complex terminology that may confuse your reader. It also means using rhetorical devices such as repetition, parallelism, and analogy to enhance the persuasiveness of your argument.

Finally, a strong and coherent argument requires a strong and confident tone. This means expressing your ideas with conviction and authority, while also acknowledging any limitations or weaknesses in your argument. It is important to strike a balance between confidence and humility, demonstrating that you have fully thought through your argument and are open to constructive criticism or alternative interpretations.

In summary, creating a strong and coherent argument is crucial in writing a successful critical lens essay. By providing evidence, employing logical reasoning, conveying your main ideas effectively, and adopting a confident tone, you can persuade your reader to accept your interpretation of the quote and the texts you are analyzing.

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Critical Essay

John K.

Critical Essay - An Ultimate Guide For Students

Published on: Jan 6, 2023

Last updated on: May 26, 2023

Critical Essay

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A critical essay is a type of essay writing assignment that expects you to examine another person’s work, critically analyze it, and present your own idea.

In order to come up with effective critical writing, you must have knowledge of source material and the basic principles of writing this type of essay.

In this article, we will discuss what is a critical essay in detail and how to write one for an A+ grade.

Follow the guide and understand the key information for writing an impressive critical analysis essay.

Critical Essay Definition

A critical essay is a form of academic writing in which a writer evaluates and analyzes a text. It can be a book, article, or movie, etc.

In this type of writing, the main objective is not to convince your audience but to create an informative analysis.

You have to come up with your interpretation and prove with facts or evidence from other sources of work.

Teachers assign this type of assignment to challenge the critical analyzing ability of students. They want to get a well-written paper with clear arguments and reliable references to support the claim.

Characteristics of a Critical Essay

All critical essays, despite the subject matter, share the following characteristics.

  • Critical essays contain a central point that is usually expressed at the start of the essay.
  • It includes facts and evidential information to support your thesis statement.
  • All critical essays offer a brief and concise conclusion. It summarizes the main argument and emphasizes the most important points of the essay.

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How to Write a Critical Essay?

Here is a step-by-step guide that you need to go through for writing an excellent critical analysis essay.

Find and Examine a Source

Find the information you need to include in your essay to support the central claim. Books, journals, articles, encyclopedias, and news are the most common sources of information that you can use.

Start critical reading and gather the relevant information and refer to it when writing your essay.

Make Notes of Your Thoughts and Ideas

Now identify the main problem to be discussed in your essay. After the central claim, find the evidence for demonstrating that claim.

Brainstorm ideas and think about how it can relate to what you are analyzing. Think about the associated ideas and write it all on paper and figure out which ideas need further research.

Compose a Thesis Statement

All critical essays must have a one-sentence thesis statement at the end of the introductory paragraph.

The thesis statement should be composed based on the information that you gather from different sources.

When composing a thesis statement, answer the question, ‘What point are you trying to prove?’. If you are still not sure, read some interesting  thesis statement examples  and know-how to come up with a strong point.

Create an Outline

Don’t think about writing an essay without creating its outline first. An outline will help you save your time and organize your ideas more effectively. Here you need to structure all the points so the writing process is easier for you.

Write Your Essay

Once you are done with the outline, start the writing process. Begin your essay with an interesting introduction that ends with the central claim of your essay. After that, analyze and evaluate it with facts and evidence in the body paragraphs. And end it with the key points of the claim in conclusion.

Edit and Proofread

After writing your essay, leave it for a few days if the deadline is not soon. Then review your essay to find and correct mistakes. You may do it yourself or ask your friend or family member to do it for you.

Make the changes until you feel like the essay is perfect and without any mistakes. You can also hire an  essay writer  for professional editing and proofreading services.

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Critical Essay Outline

The critical analysis essay outline also follows a 5 paragraph structure format. It includes an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.


The introduction of the essay should describe the topic and provide some background information of the work in a few sentences. It should end with a strong  thesis statement  that will help the reader determine what the essay is focusing on.

Body Paragraphs

In this section, you need to cover all the ideas that have been outlined. Answer the question that you have mentioned in the introduction. Explain the significance of the work with facts, examples, and quotes. Keep in mind that your main aim is to analyze and inform your readers so pay attention to how the original work is presented.

Wrap up your essay by restating the main point of view of your essay. Summarize the main argument and emphasize the key points of the essay.

Critical Essay Format

Here is the most commonly used format that you can use for creating a detailed  critical essay outline  and organize your ideas.

1. Introduction

  • Introduce the topic
  • Provide some background information
  • Thesis statement

2. Body Paragraphs

  • A summary of the whole work
  • Cover your ideas and answer the main question
  • Analyze and evaluate

3. Conclusion

  • Restate the thesis statement
  • Summarize the key pieces of evidence
  • The work’s overall importance

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Critical Essay Topics

Here are some interesting  critical essay topics  for college students. Feel free to choose any topic and start the research process.

  • The impact of violent video games on young children
  • What are the negative effects of modern technology?
  • Pros and cons of standardized tests
  • Analyze the three types of decision making
  • What is the impact of human-nature relationships on health?
  • Analyze the economic development of the UK since 1950
  • Critically examine the novel ‘Jane Eyre’.
  • How are humans related to nature?
  • What is the role of modern art in our society?
  • What is the ideology of feminism?
  • The most important elements in Chinese religious culture
  • The future of the oil industry

Critical Essay Examples

Before you start writing your essay, get inspired with some interesting critical analysis essay examples.

Critical Essay About the Leadership of Duterte PDF

The Great Gatsby Critical Essay Example PDF

Critical Essay on my Papa’s Waltz PDF

Critical Essay of Aristotle on Tragedy PDF

These examples will definitely help you learn how to write a good critical essay no matter if you are a beginner writer.

You may also see our  free essays  and understand the basic principles of writing academic essays.

Critical Essay Writing Tips

Below are some expert tips to remember when writing a critical essay.

  • In critical essays, your personal opinion plays an important role but avoid writing it if you don't have enough evidence to support it.
  • Critically analyzing a piece of work does not mean you need to bring out the negative aspects of it. You are evaluating another person’s work, you need to be informative and that means the claims you made need to be backed up by credible evidence.
  • Your critical essay should inform your audience of something new. Whether it is a new idea or new lesson or a new perspective.
  • Do you know what type of language should be used in a critical analysis essay? Your tone and language in a critical analysis essay should be objective throughout. Although you can use a humorous tone if you are not writing on a serious topic.

Critical essay writing is not an easy task especially if you are writing about a topic which you don’t know anything about.

The task becomes even more difficult if you do not have enough time to research and the deadline is approaching soon. You can handle this by delegating your task to professional essay writers at .

All you have to do is place your  order  with your initial requirements and get your critical essay done on time.

John K. (Research)

John K. is a professional writer and author with many publications to his name. He has a Ph.D. in the field of management sciences, making him an expert on the subject matter. John is highly sought after for his insights and knowledge, and he regularly delivers keynote speeches and conducts workshops on various topics related to writing and publishing. He is also a regular contributor to various online publications.

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How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay: Examples & Guide

A critical analysis essay is an academic paper that requires a thorough examination of theoretical concepts and ideas. It includes a comparison of facts, differentiation between evidence and argument, and identification of biases.

Crafting a good paper can be a daunting experience, but it will be much easier if you have the right approach. In this guide by our custom writing team, you will find:

  • Different types of critical analysis;
  • Best ways to structure your essay;
  • Two excellent critical analysis essay examples.
  • 📝 Critical Analysis Definition
  • ✍️ Writing Guide
  • ✅ Critical Analysis Types
  • 📑 Examples & Tips

📝 What Is a Critical Analysis?

Criticism is the process of appraising things such as works of art and literature. It comes from the word meaning “able to make judgments”. A critical analysis essay is often referred to as a critical thinking essay, critical response paper, critical evaluation essay, and summary and response essay.

When we hear the word “criticism,” we often associate it with negative judgments. However, to criticize doesn’t necessarily mean to find faults. Even though criticism involves active disagreement, it strives to understand the meaning further and evaluate its efficiency. We call it constructive criticism .

In other words, critical analysis is an evaluation of a piece of work that promotes its better understanding . Have a look at this comparison and see what critical analysis is and what it isn’t:

Critical analysis is:Critical analysis is not:

Aside from art and literature, critical analysis is often used in theoretical research, nursing, and social work. In any of these areas, you have an opportunity to exercise your critical faculties.

Analysis in Writing: Definition & Examples

Analysis is a step you take before writing any paper. It’s aimed at evaluating and interpreting the sources. To do it, you break them down and study them in detail. You can learn more from this article on critical analysis by Southeastern Louisiana University .

In the following table, we’ve compiled several forms of analysis in writing and illustrated each type with a topic example:

Type of AnalysisExplanationTopic example
Rhetorical Analysis The purpose of this analysis type is to discover how a text persuades its readers. It can help you develop an ability to detect manipulations. Techniques that Sir Ken Robinson to emotionally appeal to the viewer in his TED talk
Process Analysis This form of analysis divides a business, social, or political process into several steps. There are two distinct types of process analysis: How to purify water using carbon filtering.
Causal Analysis This type of analysis focuses on the events that already happened and may try to predict what will happen in the future. Counter-arguments are a crucial part of the causal analysis. Causes and effects of internet addiction among younger generations.
Critical analysis This type of analysis aims to evaluate a work and to promote its better understanding. The role of Zen Buddhism in JD Salinger’s .

What Is the Difference between Summary and Analysis?

Students often confuse analysis with summary and get a lower grade as a result. Here is how two notions differ. A summary is a brief restatement of the text’s main points that involves paraphrasing. An analysis is a detailed examination of the evidence that uncovers something new.

Check out this comparison to understand the difference better:


✍️ How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay

Now, we will show you the steps to writing a critical analysis with examples to guide you through this process. Keep in mind that the purpose of your critical analysis paper is to help readers understand a subject to a full extent.

The picture shows the 2 stages of critical analysis.

Critical analysis consists of two stages: critical reading and critical writing. Read on to learn more about them.

Critical Reading Examples & Definition

Critical reading a technique that involves discovering and evaluating the text’s meaning and incorporating it into what you already know. It’s the first stage of critical analysis.

According to Cleveland State University, critical reading occurs after you’ve skimmed the research material and decided where to focus your efforts. While you are reading, use the following techniques to stay on track:

  • Determine the central claim and identify how it is argued;
  • Look for the large patterns that give purpose, order, and meaning to arguments;
  • Contextualize the text within an original historical, political, or religious context;
  • Distinguish the kinds of reasoning and methodology the text employs;
  • Examine the evidence;
  • Recognize manipulations.

When it comes to recognizing manipulations, authors use three persuasive appeals to convince their readers of something: ethos , pathos , and logos .

Ethos, or the appeal to ethics, refers to the author’s effort to convince you of their credibility through appropriate language. It refers to the author’s reputation and the reader’s trust.
Pathos, or the appeal to feelings, refers to the effort to persuade a reader by making them feel a particular emotion. It is achieved through language, tone of voice, use of anecdotes, and metaphors.
Logos, or the appeal to rationality, is persuasion through logic and reason. Storytelling, historical facts, recorded evidence, and exceptional arguments are the authors’ tools to convince you.

Now, let’s apply the critical reading techniques to an actual text:

The death estimates during the US invasions of Tokyo were exaggerated by a factor of ten to twenty. The wartime casualty estimates were based on inaccurate assumptions. The data was not updated to exclude the civilians’ deaths and justify the strategic decision to drop off an atomic bomb.

  • What is the text saying?  US bombs killed up to two million people.
  • What is the text doing?  The death estimates were exaggerated to downplay the casualties and emphasize the importance of dropping the atomic bomb.

When you are able to recognize these persuasive modes in your reading, you can master them in writing.

What Is Critical Writing: Definition & Techniques

Critical writing is a process of commenting on another piece of work using several writing strategies. It is the second stage of critical analysis.

Want to know how to write critically? Have a look at the following tips:

  • Take a critical stance: recognize that every text comes from a perspective and is subject to interpretation.
  • Pay close attention: look not only for the facts but also for explanations.
  • Think big picture : put your sources in context with the time it was written.
  • Bring yourself in: consider the connections between several texts and add your own perspective.

When it comes to the critical writing, certain strategies can be beneficial. Yet, others are better to avoid. We’ve compiled the most important dos and don’ts in the table below:

✔️ Dos❌ Don’ts
. The more thorough you are with your primary and additional sources, the stronger your argument will be. . Credible sources and strong arguments will help you to prove your point. . The way you communicate your point and structure your paper will determine how confident your writing sounds. . Present the reader not only with facts and quotes but also with in-depth research and thorough analysis. . The only essay part where you can take advantage of descriptive writing is the summary. . Question your sources and always back up your arguments. . Instead of drawing attention to yourself, focus on the strengths or weaknesses of the piece you are analyzing. . Always use proper citation style and have works cited page at the end of your paper. . Instead, re-read it out loud. Look for mistakes and missing information.

Want to learn more? Check out our article on critical writing .

Critical Analysis Essay Topics: How to Choose

Now that you’ve learned about critical analysis, there is a big question to answer: how do you choose the topic for your essay? It might require using a specific strategy to make the right choice.

Many students find it helpful to have a list of critical thinking questions to answer while brainstorming. We’ve prepared them for you:

  • Theme : How well does the author approach the central theme? Are the arguments strong enough?
  • Organization : Is this piece of work well-structured and easy to follow?
  • Audience : Who is the audience? Are there any manipulations the author is using to persuade the reader?
  • Tone : Is there a specific tone used by the author throughout their work? How does it affect the reader?
  • Bias and informational gaps : Does the author look at their work from several angles? Are there any contradicting arguments or missing information?
  • Word choice : Does the author invent new words? Is the vocabulary serious or silly, casual or technical? How does it affect the overall writing?
  • Logos : Does the author use logic to prove their point?
  • Ethos : Does the author have any proof of their credibility? Do they claim to be an expert? In what ways is the reader’s trust gained?
  • Pathos : Does the author use emotion to connect with the reader? Does the writing appeal to common beliefs and values?

Answering these questions will help you with deciding on critical thinking essay topics. If you want some additional inspiration, feel free to use our topic generator .

Critical Analysis Template

After carefully analyzing all of your sources, you can start writing your first draft using our critical analysis template. Use this outline to structure your essay and to ensure your arguments are related to your thesis.

The picture shows the main parts of a critical analysis essay.

How to Start a Critical Analysis Essay

To create an outstanding opening paragraph, you may want to start it with a hook. It can be a quote from your source or a rhetorical question. Be sure to make it catchy so that it will grab your reader’s attention.

After you’re done with the hook, write the following:

  • the work’s title and some background information,
  • an outline of the main ideas from your sources,
  • your thesis statement.

Here are two introduction examples for your inspiration:

What happens when there is a considerable wage gap between the upper and middle classes? The unsurprising reality forces poor people to use credit cards to pay off their debt. Credit card industries collect interest from those who can’t pay off their debt right away.

A romantic novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is about overcoming social stereotypes in the name of love. Its main character, Elizabeth Bennet, has to fight against her discrimination against wealthy men like Mr. Darcy to find love and be happy.

Critical Analysis Essay: Thesis

A thesis statement is what you are aiming to prove. Ideally, it should be the first thing you write because every other part of your critical analysis paper will be connected to it.

To create a strong thesis statement, you want to start with a broader idea of what you would like to critique. Then, you narrow it down. Choose a debatable thesis so you can back it up with evidence from your sources and anchor your entire paper around it.

The examples below will help you write your essay’s thesis:

People in positions of power are less likely to recognize the social injustice than marginalized groups of the civilian population.

In a 1989 American superhero film Batman, Tim Burton subverts the concept of heroism by refraining Batman from murder and making him morally ambiguous.

Critical Analysis Essays: Summary and Response

The body paragraphs of a critical essay consist of your source’s summary and a response with arguments.

The picture shows the 2 stages of analyzing sources for a critical essay.

A summary should present specific facts from your source to help your reader understand your arguments better. You can use these sentence starters to structure a summary:

  • The book is about…
  • The theme of the article is…
  • The author argues that…
  • The author concludes…
  • The main character is…
  • The main points are…

The main plot of Elizabeth Bennet’s plan to save her family from poverty intersects with stereotypes that romantic love and marriage don’t go together. She does not accept a marriage proposal from Mr. Darcy because she does not want to be walking proof that women marry for money. The rejected proposal leads Darcy to open up and change Elizabeth’s perception of him.

A response should present your main arguments that support your thesis statement. Each argument is a sub-thesis that connects to your central thesis. It’s crucial to discuss each point in detail and prove it with strong evidence.

Your arguments should be:

  • clear, informative, and persuasive;
  • well-researched and backed up with solid evidence;
  • connected to your thesis.

At first, Elizabeth Bennet sees Mr. Darcy only as a powerful man with wealth and high social status. For her, he represents a marriage of convenience that she is so desperately trying to fight against. After Mr. Darcy attempts to separate Jane and Bingley, Elizabeth gets proof for her ideas about powerful men who do everything in their power to destroy a loving relationship for a better financial suit.

Critical Essay Outline: Conclusion

The final stage of essay writing is to ensure you have proven your arguments. The goal of your conclusion is to remind the reader of your thesis and the essay’s main points. You may also want to leave them with some final statements for consideration.

Keep in mind that the concluding paragraph is not a place to introduce new evidence. Instead, you can do the following:

  • Restate your thesis;
  • Summarize your main ideas;
  • Talk about the work’s overall performance or outcome;
  • Identify potential opportunities for further research or investigation.

Elizabeth Bennet struggles with the societal association of marriage with financial stability. Eventually, she marries a rich man, Mr. Darcy, but she marries him for love rather than his money and social status. Her pride and prejudice towards him were destroyed by his acts of kindness and true love. Their relationship had a rough start, but both of them could get their happy ending by breaking out of old beliefs and habits.

✅ Types of Critical Analysis

Choosing the correct type of analysis will help you stay on track with your research objectives. It will give you the anchor to develop your essay around in a systematic manner.

Critical analysis can be categorized into 4 main types:

  • Literary analysis gives a critical evaluation of a literary text.
  • Article analysis reflects upon arguments presented in an article.
  • Media analysis essay interprets messages conveyed through visual media, music, or radio.
  • Cultural analysis interprets cultural phenomena and practices.

Literary Analysis: Definition & Characteristics

Literary analysis is an argument that expresses one’s critical evaluation of a poem, novel, short story, or play. A critique of literature has the same characteristics as other types of critical essays. The difference is the kind of information you can include in this type of essay.

Here’s how to analyze literature:

You will find more interesting info in our article on literary analysis essays .

How to Write an Analysis of an Article

Critical analysis of an article aims to analyze the writing strategies and techniques an author uses to develop their argument. The process is a little different than persuading the reader to accept a particular point of view. Here is a sample outline:

Critical Film Analysis: Types & How to Write

Film analysis goes beyond the plot structure and includes composition elements such as camera work, lighting, costume choices, etc. After watching the film at least twice, you can select what type of film analysis you will be performing. Check out the types and see what they’re about:

  • Semiotic analysis involves interpretation of signs and symbols within a film.
  • Narrative analysis examines the story the film seeks to tell.
  • Historical analysis is an examination of a film’s relationship to a cultural or historical context.
  • Mise-en-scène analysis is an analysis of compositional elements used in a scene or a single shot.

Once you’ve chosen a topic, use this outline to guide you through the writing process:

You can learn more from our article on film analysis .

How to Write a Cultural Analysis Essay

Critical analysis essay refers to your comment upon one specific cultural aspect that works or doesn’t work in a society. After you’ve chosen a topic for your cultural analysis paper, you can start drafting your outline. Here is how the structure of this kind of paper differs from others:

Critical Analysis Essay Topics

  • Critical analysis of qualitative research article.
  • Rhetorical analysis of articles on qualitative studies in healthcare.
  • American Exodus by James N. Gregory: Rhetorical Analysis. 
  • Critical analysis of religion and faith .
  • Analyze the sonnet My Mistress’ Eyes by W. Shakespeare .
  • Critical essay on issues of cognitive neuroscience.
  • A Doll House as an example of feminist literature: rhetorical analysis.
  • Conduct a comparative critical analysis of Judaism and Christianity.
  • Rhetorical analysis of an Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf .  
  • Semantic meaning of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath .
  • Critical evaluation of Seligman articles.
  • Analyze psychological literature based on A Clean, Well-Lighted Place by E. Hemingway.
  • Rhetorical analysis of literary devices and expressive means in A Good Man Is Hard to Find .
  • Analyze the characteristic features of drama using the example of Death of a Salesman .
  • Critical analysis of the most popular business strategies .
  • Discuss the problem of childhood obesity in Active Living by Van Kann.
  • Analyze IT strategies and planning.  
  • Critical analysis of a controversial art using the example of Home by Yann Arthus-Bertrand.
  • Emotional impact of comedy films.
  • Rhetorical analysis of Sophocles’ Antigone as an example of Greek drama.
  • Influence of Socrate’s philosophy on the ancient Greek playwrights.  
  • Critical analysis of Sophocles’ plays.
  • Different sets of values in Everyday Use by A. Walker .
  • Analysis of corporate crimes using the example of Lehman Brothers’ scandal.
  • Critical analysis of a scientific article based on Nursing Pain Management .
  • Different interpretations of A Good Man Is Hard to Find by Flannery O’Connor.
  • Critical analysis of Longinus’ idea of sublime .
  • The importance of a teacher’s role in Freedom Writers .
  • Critical analysis of the efficiency of CBT.
  • Rhetorical analysis of an article on a proactive care program.
  • The concept of emotional intelligence: critical analysis.  
  • Evaluate implementation of Windsome’s risk management strategy to enhance the company’s response to stress.
  • The importance of symbolism in Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s .  
  • Critical analysis of Thomas Paine’s pamphlets.
  • Rhetorical techniques used in Hamlet by W. Shakespeare .
  • In-depth analysis of the modern world’s social issues in The Handmaid’s Tale .
  • Social messages in Robinson’s and Kincaid’s stories.  
  • Analysis of rhetorical strategies used in Dwellings by Linda Hogan.
  • Critical analysis of issues elucidated in A Loss for Words by J. Thurman.  
  • Discuss the problems of alienation and perception in The Things They Carried .

📑 Critical Analysis Essay Examples & Bonus Tips

The following writing tips will help you understand how to apply your critical thinking skills in practice and write an excellent critical essay on your own.

Critical Essay Format & Free Samples

Looking for some tips on how to format your paper? This section reflects the latest guidelines for citing your sources with the latest APA 7th and MLA 9th publication manuals.

APA formatMLA format
Not required.
Sources in alphabetical order. Sources in alphabetical order.

Before you dive into writing your critical analysis paper, get inspired with some compelling essay examples. The first is a film analysis example. You can download the PDF file below:

The Birds  by Alfred Hitchcock is a thriller that derives its suspense from the violence which stands on the borderline with divine retribution. The birds of the film are the symbol of the said violence and primary actors that contribute to the semiotic revelations of the film.

The following critical analysis essay is concerned with a literary work. You can download it below:

Feminism has been influential in various aspects of society for many decades. With the beginning of women’s emancipation, humanity has progressed not only in political and social life but also in science, culture, and literary studies. A feminist standpoint in literature research points to the limited portrayal of the characters in literary works, which showed the world mainly from a patriarchal perspective.

Here’s the list of critical analysis essay examples. You can check them out to get a better understanding of critical analysis and to gain some inspiration.

  • Managing Business Risks: A Critical Analysis
  • Nursing Skills for Palliative Care: A Critical Analysis
  • Critical Analysis of Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research
  • Nighthawks by Edward Hopper: Critical Analysis
  • Roosevelt and Obama: Critical Analysis of Two Speeches
  • “The Love of My Life” by T. C. Boyle Critical Analysis
  • Nursing Education-Practice Gap: Critical Analysis
  • Affordable Care Act: A Critical Analysis
  • Mother Tongue by Amy Tan: Critical Analysis

Bonus Tips: Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the process of conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information. It is about careful reasoning directed to a goal. The main components of this process include observing, wondering, imagining, experimenting, judging, and deciding.

This type of thinking is instrumental in conducting a critical analysis. To succeed at it, you need to be attentive, confident, and open-minded. Below are some questions that you can ask yourself while thinking critically:

  • Why are you being told this?
  • What are you not being told?
  • Who is telling you this?
  • How reliable is this information?
  • Are there any manipulations involved?
  • How else can you analyze the same material?

Critical thinking is a skill that develops with time and effort. However, you may encounter barriers that can prevent you from making accurate judgments. The following tips will help you overcome them:

  • Step back from your personal feelings and biases
  • Look for different ways to examine the data
  • Check your sources for reliability
  • Do your best to detect manipulations in arguments
  • Always conceptualize what you are reading
  • Challenge your worldview

Want to learn more? Feel free to check out our article on critical thinking essays .

Now you know everything necessary to write a perfect critical analysis essay. Feel free to share this article or leave a comment!

Further reading

  • How to Write a Critique Paper: Tips + Critique Essay Examples
  • How to Write an Art Critique: Examples & Strategies
  • How to Write an Analysis Essay: Examples + Writing Guide
  • How to Write a Book Review: Format, Outline, & Example
  • How to Write a Rhetorical Analysis Essay: Outline, Steps, & Examples

❓ Critical Analysis Essay FAQs

When analyzing any literary text, it is essential to evaluate the work and use the theme to support your opinion. The response’s goal is to show the reader what the selection of the source and the theme means to you personally.

The purpose of a response to a literature essay is to inform your reader about something interesting and insightful you found in a literary work. It may focus on the characters, plot, or theme of the story.

In a critical essay, choose the formal language and avoid using “I” statements. Focus on the piece you are analyzing, its strengths, and weaknesses. Using the first-person singular will take away the reader’s attention from your argument to you.

A critical source is a source that interprets, analyzes, critiques, and adds to the discussion of the primary source. It is then integrated into critical writing. The best critical sources can be found through library catalogs and scholarly databases.

🔍 References

  • Critical Analysis: University of Wollongong
  • Some Suggestions on Critically Evaluating Your Reading in History: Carleton College
  • Criticism and Critical Analysis: Kansas State University
  • Resources for Writers: Analytical Writing: Drew University
  • Critical Thinking and Writing: University of Kent
  • Writing Critical Essays about Literature: Gallaudet University
  • Film Analysis: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Cultural Critique: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
  • Writing a Critical or Rhetorical Analysis: Bellevue College
  • Writing Critical Analysis Papers: University of Washington
  • Critical Analysis Template: Thompson Rivers University
  • Writing Effective Summary and Response Essays: Colorado State University
  • Rhetorical/Critical Analysis: Houston Community College
  • Writing Critical Reviews: Queen’s University
  • General APA Guidelines: Purdue University
  • Using MLA Format:
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  • What Is Critical Thinking? | Definition & Examples

What Is Critical Thinking? | Definition & Examples

Published on May 30, 2022 by Eoghan Ryan . Revised on May 31, 2023.

Critical thinking is the ability to effectively analyze information and form a judgment .

To think critically, you must be aware of your own biases and assumptions when encountering information, and apply consistent standards when evaluating sources .

Critical thinking skills help you to:

  • Identify credible sources
  • Evaluate and respond to arguments
  • Assess alternative viewpoints
  • Test hypotheses against relevant criteria

Table of contents

Why is critical thinking important, critical thinking examples, how to think critically, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about critical thinking.

Critical thinking is important for making judgments about sources of information and forming your own arguments. It emphasizes a rational, objective, and self-aware approach that can help you to identify credible sources and strengthen your conclusions.

Critical thinking is important in all disciplines and throughout all stages of the research process . The types of evidence used in the sciences and in the humanities may differ, but critical thinking skills are relevant to both.

In academic writing , critical thinking can help you to determine whether a source:

  • Is free from research bias
  • Provides evidence to support its research findings
  • Considers alternative viewpoints

Outside of academia, critical thinking goes hand in hand with information literacy to help you form opinions rationally and engage independently and critically with popular media.

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Critical thinking can help you to identify reliable sources of information that you can cite in your research paper . It can also guide your own research methods and inform your own arguments.

Outside of academia, critical thinking can help you to be aware of both your own and others’ biases and assumptions.

Academic examples

However, when you compare the findings of the study with other current research, you determine that the results seem improbable. You analyze the paper again, consulting the sources it cites.

You notice that the research was funded by the pharmaceutical company that created the treatment. Because of this, you view its results skeptically and determine that more independent research is necessary to confirm or refute them. Example: Poor critical thinking in an academic context You’re researching a paper on the impact wireless technology has had on developing countries that previously did not have large-scale communications infrastructure. You read an article that seems to confirm your hypothesis: the impact is mainly positive. Rather than evaluating the research methodology, you accept the findings uncritically.

Nonacademic examples

However, you decide to compare this review article with consumer reviews on a different site. You find that these reviews are not as positive. Some customers have had problems installing the alarm, and some have noted that it activates for no apparent reason.

You revisit the original review article. You notice that the words “sponsored content” appear in small print under the article title. Based on this, you conclude that the review is advertising and is therefore not an unbiased source. Example: Poor critical thinking in a nonacademic context You support a candidate in an upcoming election. You visit an online news site affiliated with their political party and read an article that criticizes their opponent. The article claims that the opponent is inexperienced in politics. You accept this without evidence, because it fits your preconceptions about the opponent.

There is no single way to think critically. How you engage with information will depend on the type of source you’re using and the information you need.

However, you can engage with sources in a systematic and critical way by asking certain questions when you encounter information. Like the CRAAP test , these questions focus on the currency , relevance , authority , accuracy , and purpose of a source of information.

When encountering information, ask:

  • Who is the author? Are they an expert in their field?
  • What do they say? Is their argument clear? Can you summarize it?
  • When did they say this? Is the source current?
  • Where is the information published? Is it an academic article? Is it peer-reviewed ?
  • Why did the author publish it? What is their motivation?
  • How do they make their argument? Is it backed up by evidence? Does it rely on opinion, speculation, or appeals to emotion ? Do they address alternative arguments?

Critical thinking also involves being aware of your own biases, not only those of others. When you make an argument or draw your own conclusions, you can ask similar questions about your own writing:

  • Am I only considering evidence that supports my preconceptions?
  • Is my argument expressed clearly and backed up with credible sources?
  • Would I be convinced by this argument coming from someone else?

If you want to know more about ChatGPT, AI tools , citation , and plagiarism , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.

  • ChatGPT vs human editor
  • ChatGPT citations
  • Is ChatGPT trustworthy?
  • Using ChatGPT for your studies
  • What is ChatGPT?
  • Chicago style
  • Paraphrasing


  • Types of plagiarism
  • Self-plagiarism
  • Avoiding plagiarism
  • Academic integrity
  • Consequences of plagiarism
  • Common knowledge

Critical thinking refers to the ability to evaluate information and to be aware of biases or assumptions, including your own.

Like information literacy , it involves evaluating arguments, identifying and solving problems in an objective and systematic way, and clearly communicating your ideas.

Critical thinking skills include the ability to:

You can assess information and arguments critically by asking certain questions about the source. You can use the CRAAP test , focusing on the currency , relevance , authority , accuracy , and purpose of a source of information.

Ask questions such as:

  • Who is the author? Are they an expert?
  • How do they make their argument? Is it backed up by evidence?

A credible source should pass the CRAAP test  and follow these guidelines:

  • The information should be up to date and current.
  • The author and publication should be a trusted authority on the subject you are researching.
  • The sources the author cited should be easy to find, clear, and unbiased.
  • For a web source, the URL and layout should signify that it is trustworthy.

Information literacy refers to a broad range of skills, including the ability to find, evaluate, and use sources of information effectively.

Being information literate means that you:

  • Know how to find credible sources
  • Use relevant sources to inform your research
  • Understand what constitutes plagiarism
  • Know how to cite your sources correctly

Confirmation bias is the tendency to search, interpret, and recall information in a way that aligns with our pre-existing values, opinions, or beliefs. It refers to the ability to recollect information best when it amplifies what we already believe. Relatedly, we tend to forget information that contradicts our opinions.

Although selective recall is a component of confirmation bias, it should not be confused with recall bias.

On the other hand, recall bias refers to the differences in the ability between study participants to recall past events when self-reporting is used. This difference in accuracy or completeness of recollection is not related to beliefs or opinions. Rather, recall bias relates to other factors, such as the length of the recall period, age, and the characteristics of the disease under investigation.

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Being critical is at the heart of academic writing, but what is it and how can you incorporate it into your work?

What is criticality?

What is critical thinking.

Have you ever received feedback in a piece of work saying 'be more critical' or 'not enough critical analysis' but found yourself scratching your head, wondering what that means? Dive into this bitesize workshop to discover what it is and how to do it:

Critical Thinking: What it is and how to do it (bitesize workshop)[YouTube]

University-level work requires both descriptive and critical elements. But what's the difference?


Being descriptive shows what you know about a topic and provides the evidence to support your arguments. It uses simpler processes like  remembering , understanding and applying . You might summarise previous research, explain concepts or describe processes.

Being critical pulls evidence together to build your arguments; what does it all mean together? It uses more complex processes: analysing ,  evaluating and creating . You might make comparisons, consider reasons and implications, justify choices or consider strengths and weaknesses.

Bloom's Taxonomy  is a useful tool to consider descriptive and critical processes:

Bloom's Taxonomy [YouTube]  |  Bloom's Taxonomy [Google Doc]

Find out more about critical thinking:

Being critical

What is critical writing?

Academic writing requires criticality; it's not enough to just describe or summarise evidence, you also need to analyse and evaluate information and use it to build your own arguments. This is where you show your own thoughts based on the evidence available, so critical writing is really important for higher grades.

Explore the key features of critical writing and see it in practice in some examples:

Introduction to critical writing [Google Slides]

While we need criticality in our writing, it's definitely possible to go further than needed. We’re aiming for that Goldilocks ‘just right’ point between not critical enough and too critical. Find out more:

Google Doc

Critical reading

Criticality isn't just for writing, it is also important to read critically. Reading critically helps you:

  • evaluative whether sources are suitable for your assignments.
  • know what you're looking for when reading.
  • find the information you need quickly.

Critical reading [Interactive tutorial]  |  Critical reading [Google Doc]

Find out more on our dedicated guides:

Being Critical

Using evidence critically

Academic writing integrates evidence from sources to create your own critical arguments.

We're not looking for a list of summaries of individual sources; ideally, the important evidence should be integrated into a cohesive whole.  What does the evidence mean altogether?  Of course, a critical argument also needs some critical analysis of this evidence.  What does it all mean in terms of your argument?

Find out more about using evidence to build critical arguments in our guide to working with evidence:

critical essay meaning and example

Critical language

Critical writing is going to require critical language. Different terms will give different nuance to your argument. Others will just keep things interesting! In the document below we go through some examples to help you out:

Assignment titles: critical or descriptive?

Assignment titles contain various words that show where you need to be descriptive and where you need to be critical. Explore some of the most common instructional words: 

Descriptive instructional words

define : give the precise meaning

examine : look at carefully; consider different aspects

explain : clearly describe how a process works, why a decision was made, or give other information needed to understand the topic

illustrate : explain and describe using examples

outline : give an overview of the key information, leaving out minor details

Critical instructional words

analyse : break down the information into parts, consider how parts work together

discuss : explain a topic, make comparisons, consider strengths & weaknesses, give reasons, consider implications

evaluate : assess something's worth, value or suitability for a purpose - this often leads to making a choice afterwards

justify : show the reasoning behind a choice, argument or standpoint

synthesise : bring together evidence and information to create a cohesive whole, integrate ideas or issues

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critical essay meaning and example

What Is a Critical Analysis Essay: Definition

critical essay meaning and example

Have you ever had to read a book or watch a movie for school and then write an essay about it? Well, a critical analysis essay is a type of essay where you do just that! So, when wondering what is a critical analysis essay, know that it's a fancy way of saying that you're going to take a closer look at something and analyze it.

So, let's say you're assigned to read a novel for your literature class. A critical analysis essay would require you to examine the characters, plot, themes, and writing style of the book. You would need to evaluate its strengths and weaknesses and provide your own thoughts and opinions on the text.

Similarly, if you're tasked with writing a critical analysis essay on a scientific article, you would need to analyze the methodology, results, and conclusions presented in the article and evaluate its significance and potential impact on the field.

The key to a successful critical analysis essay is to approach the subject matter with an open mind and a willingness to engage with it on a deeper level. By doing so, you can gain a greater appreciation and understanding of the subject matter and develop your own informed opinions and perspectives. Considering this, we bet you want to learn how to write critical analysis essay easily and efficiently, so keep on reading to find out more!

Meanwhile, if you'd rather have your own sample critical analysis essay crafted by professionals from our custom writings , contact us to buy essays online .

How to Write a Critical Analysis

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Critical Analysis Essay Topics by Category

If you're looking for an interesting and thought-provoking topic for your critical analysis essay, you've come to the right place! Critical analysis essays can cover many subjects and topics, with endless possibilities. To help you get started, we've compiled a list of critical analysis essay topics by category. We've got you covered whether you're interested in literature, science, social issues, or something else. So, grab a notebook and pen, and get ready to dive deep into your chosen topic. In the following sections, we will provide you with various good critical analysis paper topics to choose from, each with its unique angle and approach.

Critical Analysis Essay Topics on Mass Media

From television and radio to social media and advertising, mass media is everywhere, shaping our perceptions of the world around us. As a result, it's no surprise that critical analysis essays on mass media are a popular choice for students and scholars alike. To help you get started, here are ten critical essay example topics on mass media:

  • The Influence of Viral Memes on Pop Culture: An In-Depth Analysis.
  • The Portrayal of Mental Health in Television: Examining Stigmatization and Advocacy.
  • The Power of Satirical News Shows: Analyzing the Impact of Political Commentary.
  • Mass Media and Consumer Behavior: Investigating Advertising and Persuasion Techniques.
  • The Ethics of Deepfake Technology: Implications for Trust and Authenticity in Media.
  • Media Framing and Public Perception: A Critical Analysis of News Coverage.
  • The Role of Social Media in Shaping Political Discourse and Activism.
  • Fake News in the Digital Age: Identifying Disinformation and Its Effects.
  • The Representation of Gender and Diversity in Hollywood Films: A Critical Examination.
  • Media Ownership and Its Impact on Journalism and News Reporting: A Comprehensive Study.

Critical Analysis Essay Topics on Sports

Sports are a ubiquitous aspect of our culture, and they have the power to unite and inspire people from all walks of life. Whether you're an athlete, a fan, or just someone who appreciates the beauty of competition, there's no denying the significance of sports in our society. If you're looking for an engaging and thought-provoking topic for your critical analysis essay, sports offer a wealth of possibilities:

  • The Role of Sports in Diplomacy: Examining International Relations Through Athletic Events.
  • Sports and Identity: How Athletic Success Shapes National and Cultural Pride.
  • The Business of Sports: Analyzing the Economics and Commercialization of Athletics.
  • Athlete Activism: Exploring the Impact of Athletes' Social and Political Engagement.
  • Sports Fandom and Online Communities: The Impact of Social Media on Fan Engagement.
  • The Representation of Athletes in the Media: Gender, Race, and Stereotypes.
  • The Psychology of Sports: Exploring Mental Toughness, Motivation, and Peak Performance.
  • The Evolution of Sports Equipment and Technology: From Innovation to Regulation.
  • The Legacy of Sports Legends: Analyzing Their Impact Beyond Athletic Achievement.
  • Sports and Social Change: How Athletic Movements Shape Societal Attitudes and Policies.

Critical Analysis Essay Topics on Literature and Arts

Literature and arts can inspire, challenge, and transform our perceptions of the world around us. From classic novels to contemporary art, the realm of literature and arts offers many possibilities for critical analysis essays. Here are ten original critic essay example topics on literature and arts:

  • The Use of Symbolism in Contemporary Poetry: Analyzing Hidden Meanings and Significance.
  • The Intersection of Art and Identity: How Self-Expression Shapes Artists' Works.
  • The Role of Nonlinear Narrative in Postmodern Novels: Techniques and Interpretation.
  • The Influence of Jazz on African American Literature: A Comparative Study.
  • The Complexity of Visual Storytelling: Graphic Novels and Their Narrative Power.
  • The Art of Literary Translation: Challenges, Impact, and Interpretation.
  • The Evolution of Music Videos: From Promotional Tools to a Unique Art Form.
  • The Literary Techniques of Magical Realism: Exploring Reality and Fantasy.
  • The Impact of Visual Arts in Advertising: Analyzing the Connection Between Art and Commerce.
  • Art in Times of Crisis: How Artists Respond to Societal and Political Challenges.

Critical Analysis Essay Topics on Culture

Culture is a dynamic and multifaceted aspect of our society, encompassing everything from language and religion to art and music. As a result, there are countless possibilities for critical analysis essays on culture. Whether you're interested in exploring the complexities of globalization or delving into the nuances of cultural identity, there's a wealth of topics to choose from:

  • The Influence of K-Pop on Global Youth Culture: A Comparative Study.
  • Cultural Significance of Street Art in Urban Spaces: Beyond Vandalism.
  • The Role of Mythology in Shaping Indigenous Cultures and Belief Systems.
  • Nollywood: Analyzing the Cultural Impact of Nigerian Cinema on the African Diaspora.
  • The Language of Hip-Hop Lyrics: A Semiotic Analysis of Cultural Expression.
  • Digital Nomads and Cultural Adaptation: Examining the Subculture of Remote Work.
  • The Cultural Significance of Tattooing Among Indigenous Tribes in Oceania.
  • The Art of Culinary Fusion: Analyzing Cross-Cultural Food Trends and Innovation.
  • The Impact of Cultural Festivals on Local Identity and Economy.
  • The Influence of Internet Memes on Language and Cultural Evolution.

How to Write a Critical Analysis: Easy Steps

When wondering how to write a critical analysis essay, remember that it can be a challenging but rewarding process. Crafting a critical analysis example requires a careful and thoughtful examination of a text or artwork to assess its strengths and weaknesses and broader implications. The key to success is to approach the task in a systematic and organized manner, breaking it down into two distinct steps: critical reading and critical writing. Here are some tips for each step of the process to help you write a critical essay.

Step 1: Critical Reading

Here are some tips for critical reading that can help you with your critical analysis paper:

  • Read actively : Don't just read the text passively, but actively engage with it by highlighting or underlining important points, taking notes, and asking questions.
  • Identify the author's main argument: Figure out what the author is trying to say and what evidence they use to support their argument.
  • Evaluate the evidence: Determine whether the evidence is reliable, relevant, and sufficient to support the author's argument.
  • Analyze the author's tone and style: Consider the author's tone and style and how it affects the reader's interpretation of the text.
  • Identify assumptions: Identify any underlying assumptions the author makes and consider whether they are valid or questionable.
  • Consider alternative perspectives: Consider alternative perspectives or interpretations of the text and consider how they might affect the author's argument.
  • Assess the author's credibility : Evaluate the author's credibility by considering their expertise, biases, and motivations.
  • Consider the context: Consider the historical, social, cultural, and political context in which the text was written and how it affects its meaning.
  • Pay attention to language: Pay attention to the author's language, including metaphors, symbolism, and other literary devices.
  • Synthesize your analysis: Use your analysis of the text to develop a well-supported argument in your critical analysis essay.

Step 2: Critical Analysis Writing

Here are some tips for critical analysis writing, with examples:

How to Write a Critical Analysis

  • Start with a strong thesis statement: A strong critical analysis thesis is the foundation of any critical analysis essay. It should clearly state your argument or interpretation of the text. You can also consult us on how to write a thesis statement . Meanwhile, here is a clear example:
  • Weak thesis statement: 'The author of this article is wrong.'
  • Strong thesis statement: 'In this article, the author's argument fails to consider the socio-economic factors that contributed to the issue, rendering their analysis incomplete.'
  • Use evidence to support your argument: Use evidence from the text to support your thesis statement, and make sure to explain how the evidence supports your argument. For example:
  • Weak argument: 'The author of this article is biased.'
  • Strong argument: 'The author's use of emotional language and selective evidence suggests a bias towards one particular viewpoint, as they fail to consider counterarguments and present a balanced analysis.'
  • Analyze the evidence : Analyze the evidence you use by considering its relevance, reliability, and sufficiency. For example:
  • Weak analysis: 'The author mentions statistics in their argument.'
  • Strong analysis: 'The author uses statistics to support their argument, but it is important to note that these statistics are outdated and do not take into account recent developments in the field.'
  • Use quotes and paraphrases effectively: Use quotes and paraphrases to support your argument and properly cite your sources. For example:
  • Weak use of quotes: 'The author said, 'This is important.'
  • Strong use of quotes: 'As the author points out, 'This issue is of utmost importance in shaping our understanding of the problem' (p. 25).'
  • Use clear and concise language: Use clear and concise language to make your argument easy to understand, and avoid jargon or overly complicated language. For example:
  • Weak language: 'The author's rhetorical devices obfuscate the issue.'
  • Strong language: 'The author's use of rhetorical devices such as metaphor and hyperbole obscures the key issues at play.'
  • Address counterarguments: Address potential counterarguments to your argument and explain why your interpretation is more convincing. For example:
  • Weak argument: 'The author is wrong because they did not consider X.'
  • Strong argument: 'While the author's analysis is thorough, it overlooks the role of X in shaping the issue. However, by considering this factor, a more nuanced understanding of the problem emerges.'
  • Consider the audience: Consider your audience during your writing process. Your language and tone should be appropriate for your audience and should reflect the level of knowledge they have about the topic. For example:
  • Weak language: 'As any knowledgeable reader can see, the author's argument is flawed.'
  • Strong language: 'Through a critical analysis of the author's argument, it becomes clear that there are gaps in their analysis that require further consideration.'

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Creating a Detailed Critical Analysis Essay Outline

Creating a detailed outline is essential when writing a critical analysis essay. It helps you organize your thoughts and arguments, ensuring your essay flows logically and coherently. Here is a detailed critical analysis outline from our dissertation writers :

I. Introduction

A. Background information about the text and its author

B. Brief summary of the text

C. Thesis statement that clearly states your argument

II. Analysis of the Text

A. Overview of the text's main themes and ideas

B. Examination of the author's writing style and techniques

C. Analysis of the text's structure and organization

III. Evaluation of the Text

A. Evaluation of the author's argument and evidence

B. Analysis of the author's use of language and rhetorical strategies

C. Assessment of the text's effectiveness and relevance to the topic

IV. Discussion of the Context

A. Exploration of the historical, cultural, and social context of the text

B. Examination of the text's influence on its audience and society

C. Analysis of the text's significance and relevance to the present day

V. Counter Arguments and Responses

A. Identification of potential counterarguments to your argument

B. Refutation of counterarguments and defense of your position

C. Acknowledgement of the limitations and weaknesses of your argument

VI. Conclusion

A. Recap of your argument and main points

B. Evaluation of the text's significance and relevance

C. Final thoughts and recommendations for further research or analysis.

This outline can be adjusted to fit the specific requirements of your essay. Still, it should give you a solid foundation for creating a detailed and well-organized critical analysis essay.

Useful Techniques Used in Literary Criticism

There are several techniques used in literary criticism to analyze and evaluate a work of literature. Here are some of the most common techniques:

How to Write a Critical Analysis

  • Close reading: This technique involves carefully analyzing a text to identify its literary devices, themes, and meanings.
  • Historical and cultural context: This technique involves examining the historical and cultural context of a work of literature to understand the social, political, and cultural influences that shaped it.
  • Structural analysis: This technique involves analyzing the structure of a text, including its plot, characters, and narrative techniques, to identify patterns and themes.
  • Formalism: This technique focuses on the literary elements of a text, such as its language, imagery, and symbolism, to analyze its meaning and significance.
  • Psychological analysis: This technique examines the psychological and emotional aspects of a text, including the motivations and desires of its characters, to understand the deeper meanings and themes.
  • Feminist and gender analysis: This technique focuses on the representation of gender and sexuality in a text, including how gender roles and stereotypes are reinforced or challenged.
  • Marxist and social analysis: This technique examines the social and economic structures portrayed in a text, including issues of class, power, and inequality.

By using these and other techniques, literary critics can offer insightful and nuanced analyses of works of literature, helping readers to understand and appreciate the complexity and richness of the texts.

Sample Critical Analysis Essay

Now that you know how to write a critical analysis, take a look at the critical analysis essay sample provided by our research paper writers and better understand this kind of paper!

Final Words

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If you need help with any of the STEPS ABOVE

Feel free to use EssayPro Outline Help

What Type Of Language Should Be Used In A Critical Analysis Essay?

How to write a critical analysis essay, what is a critical analysis essay.

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critical essay meaning and example

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How to Write a 5 Paragraph Essay

Understanding the Articles of Confederation: Definition and Historical Significance

This essay about the Articles of Confederation discusses America’s initial constitutional framework and its role in unifying the thirteen original states into a loose confederation. It examines the creation, structure, and limitations of the Articles, highlighting issues such as financial instability, lack of central authority, and the need for a stronger federal government, which eventually led to the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. The essay underscores the transitional nature of the Articles and their significance in American political development.

How it works

It decorated a value era, that accepted governments personnel and central delegations limit costauds prevailing, reaction despite authority line, that they recently swung British centralized.


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Understanding the Articles of Confederation: Definition and Historical Significance. (2024, Jun 28). Retrieved from

"Understanding the Articles of Confederation: Definition and Historical Significance." , 28 Jun 2024, (2024). Understanding the Articles of Confederation: Definition and Historical Significance . [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 1 Jul. 2024]

"Understanding the Articles of Confederation: Definition and Historical Significance.", Jun 28, 2024. Accessed July 1, 2024.

"Understanding the Articles of Confederation: Definition and Historical Significance," , 28-Jun-2024. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 1-Jul-2024] (2024). Understanding the Articles of Confederation: Definition and Historical Significance . [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 1-Jul-2024]

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Spring 2025 Semester

Undergraduate courses.

Composition courses that offer many sections (ENGL 101, 201, 277 and 379) are not listed on this schedule unless they are tailored to specific thematic content or particularly appropriate for specific programs and majors.

  • 100-200 level

ENGL 201.ST2 Composition II: The Mind/Body Connection

Dr. sharon smith.

In this online section of English 201, students will use research and writing to learn more about problems that are important to them and articulate ways to address those problems. The course will focus specifically on issues related to the body, the mind, and the relationship between them. The topics we will discuss during the course will include the correlation between social media and body image; the psychological effects of self-objectification; and the unique mental and physical challenges faced by college students today, including food insecurity and stress.

English 201 S06 and S11: Composition II with an emphasis in Environmental Writing

S06: MWF at 10–10:50 a.m. in Yeager Hall Addition 231

S11: MWF at 12–12:50 p.m. in Crothers Engineering Hall 217

Gwen Horsley

English 201 will help students develop skills to write effectively for other university courses, careers, and themselves. This course will provide opportunities to further develop research skills, to write vividly, and to share their own stories and ideas. Specifically, in this class, students will (1) focus on the relationships between world environments, land, animals and humankind; (2) read various essays by environmental, conservational, and regional authors; and (3) produce student writings. Students will improve their writing skills by reading essays and applying techniques they witness in others’ work and those learned in class. This class is also a course in logical and creative thought. Students will write about humankind’s place in the world and our influence on the land and animals, places that hold special meaning to them or have influenced their lives, and stories of their own families and their places and passions in the world. Students will practice writing in an informed and persuasive manner, in language that engages and enlivens readers by using vivid verbs and avoiding unnecessary passives, nominalizations, and expletive constructions.

Students will prepare writing assignments based on readings and discussions of essays included in Literature and the Environment and other sources. They will use The St. Martin’s Handbook to review grammar, punctuation, mechanics, and usage as needed.

Required Text: Literature and the Environment: A Reader On Nature and Culture. 2nd ed., edited by Lorraine Anderson, Scott Slovic, and John P. O’Grady.

LING 203.S01 English Grammar

TuTh 12:30-1:45 p.m.

Dr. Nathan Serfling

The South Dakota State University 2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog describes LING 203 as consisting of “[i]nstruction in the theory and practice of traditional grammar including the study of parts of speech, parsing, and practical problems in usage.”

“Grammar” is a mercurial term, though. Typically, we think of it to mean “correct” sentence structure, and, indeed, that is one of its meanings. But Merriam-Webster reminds us “grammar” also refers to “the principles or rules of an art, science, or technique,” taking it beyond the confines of syntactic structures. Grammar also evolves in practice through application (and social, historical, economic changes, among others). Furthermore, grammar evolves as a concept as scholars and educators in the various fields of English studies debate the definition and nature of grammar, including how well its explicit instruction improves students’ writing. In this course, we will use the differing sensibilities, definitions, and fluctuations regarding grammar to guide our work. We will examine the parts of speech, address syntactic structures and functions, and parse and diagram sentences. We will also explore definitions of and debates about grammar. All of this will occur in units about the rules and structures of grammar; the application of grammar rhetorically and stylistically; and the debates surrounding various aspects of grammar, including, but not limited to, its instruction.

ENGL 210 Introduction to Literature

Jodi andrews.

Readings in fiction, drama and poetry to acquaint students with literature and aesthetic form. Prerequisites: ENGL 101. Notes: Course meets SGR #4 or IGR #3.

ENGL 222 British Literature II

TuTh 9:30-10:45 a.m.

This course serves as a chronological survey of the second half of British literature. Students will read a variety of texts from the Romantic period, the Victorian period, and the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, placing these texts within their historical and literary contexts and identifying the major characteristics of the literary periods and movements that produced them.

ENGL 240.ST1 Juvenile Literature

Randi l. anderson.

A survey of the history of literature written for children and adolescents, and a consideration of the various types of juvenile literature.

ENGL 240.ST1 Juvenile Literature: 5-12 Grade

In English 240 students will develop the skills to interpret and evaluate various genres of literature for juvenile readers. This particular section will focus on various works of literature at approximately the 5th-12th grade level.

Readings for this course include works such as Night, Brown Girl Dreaming, All American Boys, Esperanza Rising, Anne Frank’s Diary: A Graphic Adaptation, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, The Hobbit, Little Women, and Lord of the Flies . These readings will be paired with chapters from Reading Children’s Literature: A Critical Introduction to help develop understanding of various genres, themes, and concepts that are both related to juvenile literature, and also present in our readings.

In addition to exploring various genres of writing (poetry, non-fiction, fantasy, historical, non-fiction, graphic novels, etc.) this course will also allow students to engage in a discussion of larger themes present in these works such as censorship, race, rebellion and dissent, power and oppression, gender, knowledge, and the power of language and the written word. Students’ understanding of these works and concepts will be developed through readings, discussion posts, quizzes and exams.

ENGL 240.ST2 Juvenile Literature Elementary-5th Grade

April myrick.

A survey of the history of literature written for children and adolescents, and a consideration of the various genres of juvenile literature. Text selection will focus on the themes of imagination and breaking boundaries.

ENGL 242.S01 American Literature II

TuTh 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

Dr. Paul Baggett

This course surveys a range of U.S. literatures from about 1865 to the present, writings that treat the end of slavery and the development of a segregated America, increasingly urbanized and industrialized U.S. landscapes, waves of immigration, and the fulfilled promise of “America” as imperial nation. The class will explore the diversity of identities represented during that time, and the problems/potentials writers imagined in response to the century’s changes—especially literature’s critical power in a time of nation-building. Required texts for the course are The Norton Anthology of American Literature: 1865 to the Present and Toni Morrison’s A Mercy.

WMST 247.S01: Introduction to Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies

As an introduction to Women, Gender and Sexuality studies, this course considers the experiences of women and provides an overview of the history of feminist thought and activism, particularly within the United States. Students will also consider the concepts of gender and sexuality more broadly to encompass a diversity of gender identifications and sexualities and will explore the degree to which mainstream feminism has—and has not—accommodated this diversity. The course will focus in particular on the ways in which gender and sexuality intersect with race, class, ethnicity, and disability. Topics and concepts covered will include: movements for women’s and LGBTQ+ rights; gender, sexuality and the body; intersectionality; rape culture; domestic and gender violence; reproductive rights; Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW); and more.

ENGL 283.S01 Introduction to Creative Writing

MWF 1-1:50 p.m.

Prof. Steven Wingate

Students will explore the various forms of creative writing (fiction, nonfiction and poetry) not one at a time in a survey format—as if there were decisive walls of separation between then—but as intensely related genres that share much of their creative DNA. Through close reading and work on personal texts, students will address the decisions that writers in any genre must face on voice, rhetorical position, relationship to audience, etc. Students will produce and revise portfolios of original creative work developed from prompts and research. This course fulfills the same SGR #2 requirements ENGL 201; note that the course will involve creative research projects. Successful completion of ENGL 101 (including by test or dual credit) is a prerequisite.

English 284: Introduction to Criticism

This course introduces students to selected traditions of literary and cultural theory and to some of the key issues that animate discussion among literary scholars today. These include questions about the production of cultural value, about ideology and hegemony, about the patriarchal and colonial bases of Western culture, and about the status of the cultural object, of the cultural critic, and of cultural theory itself.

To address these and other questions, we will survey the history of literary theory and criticism (a history spanning 2500 years) by focusing upon a number of key periods and -isms: Greek and Roman Classicism, The Middle Ages and Renaissance, The Enlightenment, Romanticism, Realism, Formalism, Historicism, Political Criticism (Marxism, Post-Colonialism, Feminism, et al.), and Psychological Criticism. We also will “test” various theories we discuss by examining how well they account for and help us to understand various works of poetry and fiction.

  • 300-400 level

ENGL 330.S01 Shakespeare

TuTh 8-9:15 a.m.

Dr. Michael S. Nagy

This course will focus on William Shakespeare’s poetic and dramatic works and on the cultural and social contexts in which he wrote them. In this way, we will gain a greater appreciation of the fact that literature does not exist in a vacuum, for it both reflects and influences contemporary and subsequent cultures. Text: The Riverside Shakespeare: Complete Works. Ed. Evans, G. Blakemore and J. J. M. Tobin. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.

ENGL 363 Science Fiction

MWF 11-11:50 a.m.

This course explores one of the most significant literary genres of the past century in fiction and in film. We will focus in particular on the relationship between science fiction works and technological and social developments, with considerable attention paid to the role of artificial intelligence in the human imagination. Why does science fiction seem to predict the future? What do readers and writers of the genre hope to find in it? Through readings and viewings of original work, as well as selected criticism in the field, we will address these and other questions. Our reading and viewing selections will include such artists as Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Stanley Kubrick and Phillip K. Dick. Students will also have ample opportunity to introduce the rest of the class to their own favorite science fiction works.

ENGL 383.S01 Creative Writing I

MWF 2-2:50 p.m.

Amber Jensen

Creative Writing I encourages students to strengthen poetry, creative nonfiction, and/or fiction writing skills through sustained focus on creative projects throughout the course (for example, collections of shorter works focused on a particular form/style/theme, longer prose pieces, hybrid works, etc.). Students will engage in small- and large-group writing workshops as well as individual conferences with the instructor throughout the course to develop a portfolio of creative work. The class allows students to explore multiple genres through the processes of writing and revising their own creative texts and through writing workshop, emphasizing the application of craft concepts across genre, but also allows students to choose one genre of emphasis, which they will explore through analysis of self-select texts, which they will use to deepen their understanding of the genre and to contextualize their own creative work.

ENGL 475.S01 Creative Nonfiction

Mondays 3-5:50 p.m.

In this course, students will explore the expansive and exciting genre of creative nonfiction, including a variety of forms such as personal essay, braided essay, flash nonfiction, hermit crab essays, profiles and more. Through rhetorical reading, discussion, and workshop, students will engage published works, their own writing process, and peer work as they expand their understanding of the possibilities presented in this genre and the craft elements that can be used to shape readers’ experience of a text. Students will compile a portfolio of polished work that demonstrates their engagement with course concepts and the writing process.

ENGL 485.S01 Writing Center Tutoring

MW 8:30-9:45 a.m.

Since their beginnings in the 1920s and 30s, writing centers have come to serve numerous functions: as hubs for writing across the curriculum initiatives, sites to develop and deliver workshops, and resource centers for faculty as well as students, among other functions. But the primary function of writing centers has necessarily and rightfully remained the tutoring of student writers. This course will immerse you in that function in two parts. During the first four weeks, you will explore writing center praxis—that is, the dialogic interplay of theory and practice related to writing center work. This part of the course will orient you to writing center history, key theoretical tenets and practical aspects of writing center tutoring. Once we have developed and practiced this foundation, you will begin work in the writing center as a tutor, responsible for assisting a wide variety of student clients with numerous writing tasks. Through this work, you will learn to actively engage with student clients in the revision of a text, respond to different student needs and abilities, work with a variety of writing tasks and rhetorical situations and develop a richer sense of writing as a complex and negotiated social process.

ENGL 492.S01 The Vietnam War in Literature and Film

Tuesdays 3-5:50 p.m.

Dr. Jason McEntee

In 1975, the United States officially included its involvement in the Vietnam War, thus marking 2025 as the 50th anniversary of the conclusion (in name only) of one of the most chaotic, confusing, and complex periods in American history. In this course, we will consider how literature and film attempt to chronicle the Vietnam War and, perhaps more important, its aftermath. I have designed this course for those looking to extend their understanding of literature and film to include the ideas of art, experience, commercial products, and cultural documents. Learning how to interpret literature and movies remains the highest priority of the course, including, for movies, the study of such things as genre, mise-en-scene (camera movement, lighting, etc.), editing, sound and so forth.

We will read Dispatches , A Rumor of War , The Things They Carried , A Piece of My Heart , and Bloods , among others. Some of the movies that we will screen are: Apocalypse Now (the original version), Full Metal Jacket , Platoon , Coming Home , Born on the Fourth of July , Dead Presidents , and Hearts and Minds . Because we must do so, we will also look at some of the more fascinatingly outrageous yet culturally significant fantasies about the war, such as The Green Berets and Rambo: First Blood, Part II .

ENGL 492.S02 Classical Mythology

TuTh 3:30-4:45 p.m.

Drs. Michael S. Nagy and Graham Wrightson

Modern society’s fascination with mythology manifests itself in the continued success of novels, films and television programs about mythological or quasi-mythological characters such as Hercules, the Fisher King, and Gandalf the Grey, all of whom are celebrated for their perseverance or their daring deeds in the face of adversity. This preoccupation with mythological figures necessarily extends back to the cultures which first propagated these myths in early folk tales and poems about such figures as Oðin, King Arthur, Rhiannon, Gilgamesh, and Odysseus, to name just a few. English 492, a reading-intensive course cross-listed with History 492, primarily aims to expose students to the rich tradition of mythological literature written in languages as varied as French, Gaelic, Welsh, Old Icelandic, Greek, and Sumerian; to explore the historical, social, political, religious, and literary contexts in which these works flourished (if indeed they did); and to grapple with the deceptively simple question of what makes these myths continue to resonate with modern audiences. Likely topics and themes of this course will include: Theories of myth; Mythological Beginnings: Creation myths and the fall of man; Male and Female Gods in Myth; Foundation myths; Nature Myths; The Heroic Personality; the mythological portrayal of (evil/disruptive) women in myth; and Monsters in myth.

Likely Texts:

  • Dalley, Stephanie, trans. Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, the Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others. Oxford World’s Classics, 2009
  • Faulkes, Anthony, trans. Edda. Everyman, 1995
  • Gregory, Lady Augusta. Cuchulain of Muirthemne: The Story of the Men of the Red Branch of Ulster. Forgotten Books, 2007
  • Jones, Gwyn, Thomas Jones, and Mair Jones. The Mabinogion. Everyman Paperback Classics, 1993
  • Larrington, Carolyne, trans. The Poetic Edda . Oxford World’s Classics, 2009
  • Matarasso, Pauline M., trans. The Quest of the Holy Grail. Penguin Classics, 1969
  • Apollodorus, Hesiod’s Theogony
  • Hesiod’s Works and Days
  • Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Homeric Hymns
  • Virgil’s Aeneid
  • Iliad, Odyssey
  • Apollonius of Rhodes Argonautica
  • Ovid’s Heroides
  • Greek tragedies: Orestaia, Oedipus trilogy, Trojan Women, Medea, Hippoolytus, Frogs, Seneca's Thyestes, Dyskolos, Amphitryon
  • Clash of the Titans, Hercules, Jason and the Argonauts, Troy (and recent miniseries), Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

ENGL 492.ST1 Science Writing

Erica summerfield.

This course aims to teach the fundamentals of effective scientific writing and presentation. The course examines opportunities for covering science, the skills required to produce clear and understandable text about technical subjects, and important ethical and practical constraints that govern the reporting of scientific information. Students will learn to present technical and scientific issues to various audiences. Particular emphasis will be placed on conveying the significance of research, outlining the aims, and discussing the results for scientific papers and grant proposals. Students will learn to write effectively, concisely, and clearly while preparing a media post, fact sheet, and scientific manuscript or grant.

Graduate Courses

Engl 575.s01 creative nonfiction.

In this course, students will explore the expansive and exciting genre of creative nonfiction, including a variety of forms such as personal essay, braided essay, flash nonfiction, hermit crab essays, profiles, and more. Through rhetorical reading, discussion, and workshop, students will engage published works, their own writing process, and peer work as they expand their understanding of the possibilities presented in this genre and the craft elements that can be used to shape readers’ experience of a text. Students will compile a portfolio of polished work that demonstrates their engagement with course concepts and the writing process.

ENGL 592.S01: The Vietnam War in Literature and Film

Engl 704.s01 introduction to graduate studies.

Thursdays 3-5:50 p.m.

Introduction to Graduate Studies is required of all first-year graduate students. The primary purpose of this course is to introduce students to modern and contemporary literary theory and its applications. Students will write short response papers and will engage at least one theoretical approach in their own fifteen- to twenty-page scholarly research project. In addition, this course will further introduce students to the M.A. program in English at South Dakota State University and provide insight into issues related to the profession of English studies.

ENGL 792.ST1 Grant Writing

This online course will familiarize students with the language, rhetorical situation, and components of writing grant proposals. Students will explore various funding sources, learn to read an RFP, and develop an understanding of different professional contexts and the rhetorical and structural elements that suit those distinct contexts. Students will write a sample proposal throughout the course and offer feedback to their peers, who may be writing in different contexts, which will enhance their understanding of the varied applications of course content. Through their work in the course, students will gain confidence in their ability to find, apply for, and receive grant funding to support their communities and organizations.


  1. Your Guide to Writing a Critical Essay on Trust My Paper

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  2. How to Write a Critical Essay [Ultimate Guide]

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  3. How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay: Examples & Critical Writing Guide

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  6. Critical Essay

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  1. How to write and develop critical essays

  2. 'What is Criticism?' by Roland Barthes, Notes and Summary, MA English SEM 2, Poststructuralism, UGC

  3. Different types of Essays.The Essay, Forms of Prose.Forms of English Literature.🇮🇳👍

  4. Essay

  5. Writing a Critical Essay with Prof Acram Taji (AM)

  6. Essay meaning with 5 examples


  1. Critical Essay

    Definition of Critical Essay. Contrary to the literal name of "critical," this type of essay is not only an interpretation, but also an evaluation of a literary piece. It is written for a specific audience, who are academically mature enough to understand the points raised in such essays.A literary essay could revolve around major motifs, themes, literary devices and terms, directions ...

  2. How to Write a Critical Essay

    A critical essay is a form of academic writing that analyzes, interprets, and/or evaluates a text. In a critical essay, an author makes a claim about how particular ideas or themes are conveyed in a text, then supports that claim with evidence from primary and/or secondary sources. In casual conversation, we often associate the word "critical ...

  3. What Is a Critical Analysis Essay? Simple Guide With Examples

    A critical analysis essay requires you to analyze a subject and determine its meaning, backing it with evidence and ideas of your own. We've got examples to help you write one.

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    The critical analysis process has two key components, each of which is equally important. The first is the reading process. The purpose of a critical analysis assignment is to demonstrate an understanding of your subject matter. This means you carefully read, watch, or otherwise study your source text. The second part is the writing process itself.

  5. How To Write A Critical Analysis Essay With Examples

    3. Identify Recurring Ideas: Look for Patterns. In a critical analysis essay, it's crucial to recognize recurring ideas, themes, motifs, or symbols that might hold deeper meaning. By looking for patterns in the text, you can uncover hidden messages or themes that the author might be trying to convey.

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    Critical Essay Examples. Examples make understanding things easy and more vivid. However, as discussed in the blog, a critical essay is not a typical type of essay and is also not easy to write. This is why looking at examples of the critical essay is important. Look at the following examples and see how a well-written critical essay is written.

  7. Critical Essay: The Complete Guide. Essay Topics, Examples and Outlines

    A critical essay is an analysis of any piece of text. It can be a book, a movie, an article or even a painting. The main point of this type of an essay is to interpret text or position it in a wider context. For instance, if you write a critical analysis of a book, you may analyze the tone of its text and find out how it influences the overall ...

  8. How to Craft a Critical Essay

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  9. How to Write a Critical Essay (with Pictures)

    A critical essay on a book, for example, might focus on the tone and how that influences the meaning of the book overall and would use quotations from the book to support the thesis. This type of paper requires careful planning and writing, but is often a creative way to engage with a subject that you are interested in and can be very rewarding!

  10. How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay

    After critically examining the work, an outline should be written for the critical analysis essay. Once the outline is written, take a step back and analyze the subject before beginning the actual essay. Once you have determined the effectiveness of the author, create a list of reasons why you think the author's methods were effective, or why ...

  11. How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay

    Writing a critical essay may sound challenging, but it is much easier than creative or reflective writing because you only have to work with definite content. It is outlined clearly in a definition. A critical essay represents academic writing where you analyze, interpret, and evaluate specific content to find weak and strong points.

  12. PDF Purpose

    A critical essay involves evaluating information, theories or situations and is an important way of analysing information, posing questions and challenging information. The critical essay is an important academic tool that allows your knowledge to develop, because rather than being a personal opinion, the critical essay requires an in-

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    Researching, mind mapping and making notes will help sort and prioritise your ideas. If you are writing a critical essay, planning will help you decide which parts of the text to focus on and what ...

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    Share Cite. A critical essay combines a text (whether literary or otherwise academic) and your analysis of that text with expert opinion and contextual background. The aim of the critical essay is ...

  15. PDF Analysis/ CRITICAL ESSAY

    CRITICAL ESSAY Characteristics of a Critical Essay The purpose is to analyze and evaluate a work (a book, a theory, a plan of action) (Note: Analysis means to break down and study the parts. Evaluate means to assess strengths and weaknesses). Writer's position is supported with detailed evidence documented by quotes and paraphrases

  16. Definition and Examples of Critical Analyses

    Examples of Critical Essays. "Jack and Gill: A Mock Criticism" by Joseph Dennie. "Miss Brill's Fragile Fantasy": A Critical Essay About Katherine Mansfield's Short Story "Miss Brill" and "Poor, Pitiful Miss Brill". "On the Knocking at the Gate in Macbeth" by Thomas De Quincey. A Rhetorical Analysis of Claude McKay's "Africa".

  17. Free Critical Analysis Essay Examples. Best Topics, Titles

    Writing a critical essay requires a thoughtful approach to analyzing and evaluating a subject or topic. Here are some writing tips to help you craft a successful critical essay: Understand the Subject: Before you begin writing, make sure you thoroughly understand the subject you're critiquing. This could be a book, a film, an article, or any other piece of work.

  18. Guide to Writing a Critical Lens Essay

    One of the crucial aspects of writing a critical lens essay is selecting the right texts to support your analysis. The literature you choose should align with the quote, allowing you to explore the various perspectives and ideas present in the texts. By carefully considering the content and themes, you can effectively incorporate textual ...

  19. What is a Critical Essay

    Critical Essay Definition. A critical essay is a form of academic writing in which a writer evaluates and analyzes a text. It can be a book, article, or movie, etc. In this type of writing, the main objective is not to convince your audience but to create an informative analysis. You have to come up with your interpretation and prove with facts ...

  20. How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay: Examples & Guide

    Critical analysis of an article aims to analyze the writing strategies and techniques an author uses to develop their argument. The process is a little different than persuading the reader to accept a particular point of view. Here is a sample outline: Introduction. Introduce the author and the work under analysis.

  21. What Is Critical Thinking?

    Critical thinking is the ability to effectively analyze information and form a judgment. To think critically, you must be aware of your own biases and assumptions when encountering information, and apply consistent standards when evaluating sources. Critical thinking skills help you to: Identify credible sources. Evaluate and respond to arguments.

  22. Academic writing: a practical guide

    define: give the precise meaning. examine: look at carefully; consider different aspects. explain: clearly describe how a process works, why a decision was made, or give other information needed to understand the topic. illustrate: explain and describe using examples. outline: give an overview of the key information, leaving out minor details

  23. Student essay: Critical thinking class should be open to more teens

    "A big part of being an academic scholar is just [learning] how you converse with your classmates, how you draft ideas with each other," said Conor Frizelle, a second-year IB diploma student.

  24. The Night of Broken Glass: a Simple Definition of Kristallnacht

    Essay Example: In the annals of history, certain events stand out for their sheer impact and the chilling message they convey. Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass, is one such event that casts a long, dark shadow over the 20th century. Occurring on the night of November 9-10, 1938, this

  25. What Is a Critical Analysis Essay: Definition

    Step 2: Critical Analysis Writing. Here are some tips for critical analysis writing, with examples: Start with a strong thesis statement: A strong critical analysis thesis is the foundation of any critical analysis essay. It should clearly state your argument or interpretation of the text.

  26. Understanding the Articles of Confederation: Definition and Historical

    Essay Example: Objects confederation, constitutional A-one charpente American, mark a critical phase in an early national display. Drafted between revolutionary war, these articles managed young nation from 1781 at first 1789, when they were replaced by U.S. Constitution. Understanding the articles

  27. LIVE

    WATCH | We hear from the seven political leaders gathering over the next two days to negotiate an agreement to provide voters with a clear alternative...

  28. Spring 2025 Semester

    Students will improve their writing skills by reading essays and applying techniques they witness in others' work and those learned in class. ... Women, and Lord of the Flies. These readings will be paired with chapters from Reading Children's Literature: A Critical Introduction to help develop understanding of various genres, themes, and ...