Critical Essay Masterclass Higher and Int 2 Ian Yule The structure of the Critical Essay Some basic rules Setting out your answer Introductions Topic sentences / coherence How to use quotations Conclusions Proof Reading Some basic rules - Expression The Critical Essay is a not just a test of your knowledge of poems / plays etc … it is also a test of your ability to write. Spelling, grammar and punctuation will be accurate. Language will be controlled and fluent and you will use critical terminology (such as metaphor, oxymoron, structure .. In your analysis.) It is also a test of your ability to write critically – to organise a case and provide the evidence to support it. Where can you find lists(s) of critical terminology in the exam? Basic Rules to keep your examiner sweet Number your essay in the margin. Score out any plans after you have finished your essay. Start new essays on new pages. Put titles inside inside inverted commas “” Put quotations inside inverted commas “” Make sure that proper names, titles, first words in sentences have Capital Letters Basic Rules – Keeping it formal This essay is a formal piece of writing. Avoid all informalities Do NOT use abbreviations Do NOT use contractions: is not, does not, can not, not isn’t, don’t, can’t Write numbers out as words e.g. there are five verses in the poem, not there are 5 verses in the poem And then most importantly … Basic rules – answer the question! Use a highlighter pen to highlight the key words in the question. Choose a novel which is influenced by the presence of a powerful or overbearing character. Show how the novelist creates this impression of the character and discuss to what extent you felt you could sympathise with him or her Possible highlighted words Choose a novel which is influenced by the presence of a powerful or overbearing character. Show how the novelist creates this impression of the character and discuss to what extent you felt you could sympathise with him or her. Highlighted words In the course of writing your essay try and use the words (vocabulary) you have highlighted. Remember to highlight words from both sentences and to answer the whole question – a common fault is to ignore the language of the second sentence. This will help you to build up relevance Setting out your answer (1) In the 45 minutes you are given 5 are for planning/checking and 40 are for writing TAKE TIME TO PLAN Write down your heading in the centre of the page Build around it 3 or 4 relevant points, brief memory triggers of suitable quotations Setting out your answer (2) Try and form a line of thought through your essay. A critical essay is not a list of what you know, nor is a splat or a spew … Use linking words or phrases that will give your essay a sense of structure or cohesion Linking words At the start … Furthermore … A further idea However … Therefore … On the other hand … Clearly … In conclusion … Finally … Introductions: What’s wrong with this? A novel which I have read in class which was influenced by an overbearing character was the cone gatherers by Robert Jenkins. Although the essay is looking for your opinion you should avoid introducing yourself in your answer. That is, avoid “I”. The title is not in inverted commas nor does it have capital letters. The author’s name is Robin Jenkins. Introductions: What’s wrong with this? I am going to write about “The Cone Gatherers” and I am going to show how the writer makes the character of Duror overbearing. In this essay I will show how he does this through using contrast, key incidents and metaphor. Useless introduction – what else is this but writing? You going to sing it? Three references to “I” Why mention “in this essay” – where else you going to do it? On the toilet wall? Introduction: What’s right with this? In “The Cone Gatherers” Robin Jenkins creates the impression that John Duror is an overbearing character by contrasting him with the character of Calum McPhie, through an extended metaphor and key incidents such as the deer drive. Title in inverted commas and capital letters Author correctly named in capital letters Relevance established by using the vocabulary in the question Critical terminology A plan is evident – now prove it! Topic sentences (coherence) Use your plan to create topic sentences. As far as possible use your highlighted vocabulary in these topic sentences Look out for opportunities to use evaluative words and to use critical terminology (analysis). The first way that Jenkins effectively creates the overbearing presence of Duror is through the use of contrast. The overbearing presence is furthered by Jenkins’ use of a turning point incident, an event which also changes the reader’s sympathies towards Duror. Jenkins also brings out Duror’s overbearing presence through the use of a metaphor which is skilfully extended throughout the novel. Coherence is established through words such as “first” “furthered” and “also.” Note that each topic sentence is very relevant to the question. Quotations (NOT QUOTES!) You should weave in as many relevant quotations as you can, either by quoting them exactly or by referring to the text. Try and have one or two supporting quotations for each point you make. Take time to analyse any significant techniques, or words. Build your quotations into the structure of your sentence/paragraph using quotation marks correctly. Quotations (a bad example) The persona is shocked by the attack on her by the German soldiers. A quote which shows this is “my bowels opened in a ragged gape of fear.” The word gape shows that she was gaping at the soldier. The word “ragged” shows how rough the attack was. Quotations (A good example) Carol Ann Duffy describes the persona’s rape in violent terms: “My bowels opened in a ragged gape of fear.” Here she uses inversion, “gagged rape” becomes “ragged gape” to draw attention to the violence and unpleasantless. The word “gape” suggests that the personal was shocked and startled by the attack on her. Conclusions It is important to the structure of the essay that there is a conclusion. You will be marked down if you do not conclude. No new points should be raised in the conclusion. Remember – your conclusion is your final opportunity to remind the examiner of your essay – you want to conclude effectively. The language of conclusion In conclusion Finally Thus Clearly, it can be seen that … Conclusions – an OK one In conclusion Jenkins has successfully created an overbearing character in John Duror. Duror literally casts a shadow over all the characters in the story spoiling their lives in many ways. In particular the use of the extended metaphor helps the reader to see that this evil had roots which creates some sympathy for Duror. However by the end of the novel all sympathy is gone. Conclusions – a better one Clearly, it can be seen that the character of Duror casts a shadow throughout the novel. His overbearing presence, created through the use of contrast, key incident and metaphor is especially evident in the way that he treats the Cone Gatherers. Even though the metaphor of the “tree” makes it clear that Duror’s evil nature had roots, his murder of Calum effectively causes the reader to lose all sympathy for the character. The reader is glad when Duror kills himself thus bringing his overbearing presence to an end. What to do when finished Re read your essay (proof read) check for basics: capital letters, inverted commas. Pay special attention to the first and last paragraphs. Look at your highlighted vocabulary list, have you used most / all of the words? Look for topic sentences / linking words If these are all in place then relax and good luck!