Critical Essay: Key Characteristics

Critical essays fall into a category of academic writing. Essays of this kind interpret, analyze, and evaluate a certain text. When you write a critical essay, your main goal is to make a claim about how various ideas are portrayed in the source, supporting this claim with evidence from this text or other sources. We are used to seeing the world “critical” as something negative but, in fact, it just means analysis and evaluation. Critical essays are aimed to evaluate the significance and meaning of the text, instead of making a judgment. Well, let’s go see what the best writing experts have to say at blog.

What Makes Essays Critical?

Imagine talking to your friend about the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. You may notice that Charlie was lucky to find that Golden Ticket, while your friend may reply that letting kids into the chocolate factory was Willy Wonka’s mistake. Such a conversation is based on the movie but it has nothing to do with the approach used when writing a critical essay. The reason is that this conversation doesn’t analyze the movie and the way the director conveyed its main themes.

A critical essay about this movie would be based on a clear thesis. For example, you might write that the director uses characters to address such issues as mortality and money. Charlie, a good and kind boy is contrasted against immoral children from wealthy families. Such a thesis makes a claim about the movie, addresses the director’s perspective, and the way the director illustrates the main themes. In addition, this thesis is both disputable and supportable.

Key Characteristics of a Critical Essay

Critical essays are used in many disciplines and may focus on different subjects, including poetry, films, visual novels, video games, etc. Although there may be completely different subjects, all critical essays have something in common.

  1. Central claim. Every critical essay should have a central claim, which is usually expressed at the very beginning, in a form of a thesis statement. Every paragraph of the body section should provide evidence in order to support this thesis statement. Quite often, critical essays also include counterarguments in order to dispute them and so support the thesis statement.
  2. Evidence. Your thesis statement should be supported by evidence. Most often, essays include textual evidence. You may use such pieces of evidence as certain dialogues or descriptions from the text, as well as examples of the word choice and structure. You may also use secondary sources in order to demonstrate that some experts support your main argument.
  3. Conclusion. Once you’ve supported your claim with evidence, it’s time to draw conclusions. The conclusion of the essay should summarise your main arguments and restate your thesis statement.

Writing Tips

A critical essay should be based on strong analysis and solid arguments. If you’re having hard times writing your critical essay, we hope that our tips will help you.

  1. Practice active reading. Active reading can help you stay focused and memorize information that will be useful when building your arguments or supporting your thesis statement with evidence. This is a crucial skill for every student, especially when writing a critical essay on literature.
  2. Read sample essays. Many students don’t know what a proper critical essay should look like. Fortunately, there are many examples of good critical essays on the internet. You can check dozens of the already published critical essay in order to understand what structure is the best. You may also get some ideas about a writing style. Just don’t try to paraphrase someone else’s work because it’s a common form of plagiarism.
  3. Don’t write a summary. Your critical essay should provide your points and analyze the text instead of summarising it. If you realize that your essay has lengthy descriptions of characters or just summarizes the plot instead of analyzing it, you’re certainly doing it wrong. If you have to provide a brief summary to support your argument, make sure that it’s as short as possible and is directly related to your point.

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