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Writing a critical essay doesn't necessarily mean you need to criticize something; it's rather your feedback on an article/book you have read or a movie you have seen.
Critical Essay: No, It's Not About Just Criticizing!
Many students mistakenly think that critical essay writing is a task where they need to criticize a given subject (novel, poem, piece of art etc). In the meantime, criticizing the subject is not entirely the purpose of this essay type. As a matter of fact, you can write a critical essay that entirely supports and praises the subject of analysis. But this is not the purpose of this essay either – the true goal of the critical essay is objective analysis of the subject and exposure of its strong and weak sides.
What is a Critical Essay?
A critical essay is a kind of writing that requires its author to explore the strong and weak sides within a given subject. This type of essay retains all the formal features of a classical 5 paragraph essay and consists of an introduction, several body paragraphs and a conclusion. The introduction should contain a thesis statement as well as catch the readers’ attention and provide some background on the problem. Body paragraphs expand ideas expressed in the introduction and provide more information to the reader on the writer’s stance. Finally, conclusion reiterates all the main ideas and shows how the introduction and the body paragraphs relate to the main topic of the essay. For a more detailed explanation of an essay structure, please see this article.
Why the 'Critical Essay' is Called 'Critical'??
Critical essay has received its name because it requires its author to apply and demonstrate critical analysis while writing on a given topic. Critical analysis means that the author needs not only to make a claim, but also to back it up with a judgment from a reputable source or, better, scientific research. Putting it differently, the essay is not highlighting criticism, but rather emphasizing critical thinking and critical analysis in the paper.
Critical essay writing is one of the important prerequisites for writing research papers. These two kinds of assignments are highly similar because both require research and preparation. Both of them need to be objective and back up all claims with arguments from reliable sources. Furthermore, research papers require that a theory should be analyzed from all aspects, including strengths and weaknesses (which is exactly the purpose of the critical essay). Therefore critical essay writing can be viewed as ‘training grounds’ for writing bigger project like research papers and dissertations. The most critical differences in them are scope and sphere. Most typically, critical essays consist of 5 paragraphs, while a typical research paper often gets over 2 pages in length (10+ paragraphs). Another aspect to consider is that a critical essay is generally written on subjects like art, music, literature, while a research paper is written on a ‘hard-core’ research subject and requires scholastic approach to writing, including language and formatting.
What is the Difference Between a Critical Essay and an Argumentative Essay?
Both critical and argumentative essays are all about finding arguments to support a claim. Both of them take the basic essay format and structure. Both of them are objective and require linking to reputable sources to look more convincing. The core difference between these essay types is that they have difference objectives: the critical essay is expected to expose strengths and weaknesses of a paper, while the argumentative essay is meant to convince the opposition. Their core differences stem from their different purposes: critical essay highlights both sides of a problem (philosophically speaking, it uses the dialectic analysis), as it is meant to reveal the subject in its complexity; while the argumentative essay is looking for just ‘positive’ arguments, i.e. those that are meant to persuade the opposition.
Language and Tone
Critical analysis essay requires the author to remain impartial and objective in the paper. The reader is not expected to see any of the personal beliefs of the author; if the author wants to make a claim, he or she is expected to make a reference to a reputable source. With the tone of the critical essay being objective, the use of first person pronouns (I, we, you etc) is discouraged, if not prohibited. Objective nature and tone of the critical essay can change depending on the audience (depending on the case, it can get lighter or even humorous).
While writing a critical essay, it is best to use the "claims and evidence" approach. The author should be specific about the points that are being made about a novel, play, poem or essay. Again, all claims need to be backed up with facts that your audience finds credible and appropriate.
Always refer to the original requirements. If they have not been explicated, ask your instructor to provide more details on them. Make sure you fully understand the purpose of this assignment and the set requirements. It’s always a better idea to ask questions before starting the actual writing. This part is critical to the overall project success, so please do not ignore the initial instructions. This stage is called pre-writing, and can be compared to laying the foundation of a building. If it’s solid, the entire building will be strong and will last forever; if it’s shaky and unstable, it will ruin the entire undertaking. Once everything has been set and confirmed, proceed to the actual writing. Begin with the first draft and start a research in the background. Results of this research will then strengthen your argument and will make your critical essay effective. Once the backbone of your essay has been established, you can work on the wording. Ensure your essay flows and uses the language that is understandable to your target audience. In the end, run a spell checker to get rid of the typos and grammar mistakes. Finally, come back to read your paper again in a little while. If you like the final version and think you have expressed the ideas you were intending to express originally, - you are ready to submit your paper!
Privatewriting.com – Expert in Critical Essay Writing
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