Writing the Critical Essay

Writing the Critical Essay
• This paragraph should include the author, title,
plot summary and purpose.
• Avoid saying “I am going to look at …” This way
of introducing purpose lacks sophistication and
as a Higher pupil you are trying to show that
you are capable of crafting a stylish essay.
• FOR EXAMPLE- In his novel ‘The Cone
Gatherers’, Robin Jenkins explores the theme
of conflict and its effect on man successfully
through his use of character, plot and setting.
• This sentence clearly states what you are
looking at – theme of conflict. It also states
the how you are going do this – examining
character, plot and setting.
Main body of the essay
• These paragraphs should focus on the aspects
you have chosen to examine in relation to the
text. To show their relevance to the topic you
must link them to the purpose so that it is
clear what point you are making. This should be
done in the topic sentence.
• FOR EXAMPLE – Through the character of
Duror, Jenkins has successfully conveyed the
theme of conflict.
• This sentence refers directly to the purpose
of essay and states what the subject of this
paragraph is – how character is used to convey
• Once you have introduced your point you must go on
to give an example of how this techniques is
effectively used by the author.
• FOR EXAMPLE – Duror is a complicated character
who is not only in conflict with himself but also with
the cone gatherers. He is further affected by the
fact that he is unable to participate in the current
conflict, World War Two. Jenkins portrays Duror as
a deeply troubled character through out the novel
and the reader is shown how this conflict threatens
to overwhelm him.
• This comment explains what point you are making and
leads you to the textual evidence that you include to
back up this statement.
• Quote. This is the easy part! You must find
a quote that you think successfully proves
your comment.
• FOR EXAMPLE – ‘ the doctor would hear the
beat of a strong heart … not the snarling of
the tiger, nor the roaring of storm through
the tree of doom now high and ripe in him,’
• This clearly shows the conflict within Duror.
You just have to now explain how it does this.
• Analysis. This is the part where you have to comment on what
the quote says to you. You must comment on the effect of the
language and images/tone created.
• FOR EXAMPLE – Jenkins creates a very effective image
of Duror’s troubled mind through the use of ‘tiger’,
‘roaring’ and ‘storm’. These words suggest danger and
destruction. The comparison between his mind and a wild
animal demonstrates the lack of control he has over his
emotions. This impression of destruction and danger is
further conveyed through the use of ‘doom’. This is
associated with death or another such dreadful fate and
so shows us that he feels as if he is destined to be
overtaken by this sense of conflict and is powerless to
• Tada! This is what I mean by analysis. It is simply your
attempt to show the meaning behind the quote and how it
relates to what you are saying.
• Evaluation. This is the final part of your
paragraph. This part should focus on how
well you think this technique has been
used. This is the final part of the
• FOR EXAMPLE – The use of such dramatic
word choice creates a disturbing image in
the reader’s mind and effectively conveys
the overwhelming sense of conflict within
this character.
• There you are. This clearly sums up your
point and shows that you think that this
technique has been used successfully.
If you follow these steps for
each paragraph you will fulfil
the marking criteria.