Writing the Critical Essay Introduction • 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 theme. • 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 resist. • 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 paragraph. • 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.