Critical Essay Writing


Introduction - Give background or perhaps an illustrative example to show the significance of the subject or the nature of the controversy. Consider stating the conclusion of your argument here as the thesis of your essay.


Refutation - Give a brief statement of a refutation of the opposing view(s) to make your reader aware that you have considered but rejected it (them) for good reasons. This refutation may be more appropriately placed last, just before your conclusion, or even interspersed at effective locations throughout the essay. You must choose the best location.


Presentation of your argument - Throughout the body of your essay you should build your case one point at a time, perhaps devoting one paragraph to the defense of each of your premises, or setting forth your evidence in separate, meaningful categories.


Conclusion - After all your evidence has been presented and/or your premises defended, pull your whole argument together in the last paragraph by showing how the evidence you have presented provides sufficient grounds for accepting your conclusion. You may also add here some conventional device to finish your essay, such as a prediction, a new example, a reference to the example with which you began (now seen in a new light) etc.


Critical Essay


The word "critical" has positive as well as negative meanings. You can write a critical essay that agrees entirely with the reading. The word "critical" describes your attitude when you read the article. This attitude is best described as "detached evaluation," meaning that you weigh the coherence of the reading, the completeness of its data, and so on, before you accept or reject it.


A critical essay or review begins with an analysis or exposition of the reading, article-by-article, book by book. Each analysis should include the following points:


1. A summary of the author\'s point of view, including


a brief statement of the author\'s main idea (i.e., thesis or theme)


an outline of the important "facts" and lines of reasoning the author used to support the main idea


a summary of the author\'s explicit or implied values


a presentation of the author\'s conclusion or suggestions for action


2. An evaluation of the author\'s work, including


an assessment of the "facts" presented on the basis of correctness, relevance, and whether or not pertinent facts were omitted


an evaluation or judgment of the logical consistency of the author\'s argument


an appraisal of the author\'s values in terms of how you feel or by an accepted standard


Once the analysis is completed, check your work! Ask yourself, "Have I read all the relevant (or assigned) material?" "Do I have complete citations?" If not, complete the work! The following steps are how this is done.


Now you can start to write the first draft of your expository essay/literature review. Outline the conflicting arguments, if any; this will be part of the body of your expository essay/literature review.


Ask yourself, "Are there other possible positions on this matter?" If so, briefly outline them. Decide on your own position (it may agree with one of the competing arguments) and state explicitly the reason(s) why you hold that position by outlining the consistent facts and showing the relative insignificance of contrary facts. Coherently state your position by integrating your evaluations of the works you read. This becomes your conclusions section.


Briefly state your position, state why the problem you are working on is important, and indicate the important questions that need to be answered; this is your "Introduction." Push quickly through this draft--don\'t worry about spelling, don\'t search for exactly the right word, don\'t hassle yourself with grammar, don\'t worry overmuch about sequence--that\'s why this is called a "rough draft." Deal with these during your revisions. The point of a rough draft is to get your ideas on paper. Once they are there, you can deal with the superficial (though very important) problems.


Consider this while writing:



o The critical essay is informative; it emphasizes the literary work being studied rather than the feelings and opinions of the person writing about the literary work; in this kind of writing, all claims made about the work need to be backed up with evidence.


o The difference between feelings and facts is simple--it does not matter what you believe about a book or