The Critical Essay

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The Critical Essay
Structure
How will my essay be structured?
1. Introduction
2. Main Body- usually four or five paragraphs.
3. Conclusion
We are Learning...
How to write an effective
introduction.
Try to use this method:
1. Give the name of the text, the name of the
author and mention words from Part One of the
essay question.
2: Briefly summarise what the text is about (adapt
according to the essay question).
3: Mention what you will be writing about in your
essay and refer to Part Two of the essay question.
Try to refer to the theme(s).
Example 1
Text: “The Crucible”
Essay Question:
Choose a play in which a central character is heroic
yet vulnerable.
Show how the dramatist makes you aware of both
qualities and discuss how they affect your
response to the character’s fate in the play as a
whole.
A play in which a central character is heroic yet
vulnerable is “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller. The
play is set during the Salem witch-trials in the late
17th century and centres around John Proctor, a man
whose adultery leads him to make decisions on his
quest for redemption which illustrate both his heroic
and vulnerable qualities as a man. This essay will
discuss the dramatic techniques used by Miller, such
as character, setting and turning point to depict the
heroism and vulnerability of Proctor as he strives to
gain redemption and forgiveness for his sins, while
also trying to maintain his reputation as a good
Christian. I will also explain how Proctor’s fate in the
play is a direct result of this duality in his character.
Example 2
Text: “The Crucible”
Essay Question:
Choose a play in which a central character behaves
in an obsessive manner.
Describe the nature of the character’s obsessive
behaviour and discuss the influence this
behaviour has on your understanding of the
character in the play as a whole.
A play in which a central character behaves in an
obsessive manner is “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller.
The play is set in the strictly theocratic society of
Salem during the witch-trials in the late 17th century,
and centres around John Proctor and his obsession
with regaining the self-respect and goodness he lost
by betraying his wife and family through adultery.
This essay will discuss the dramatic techniques used
by Miller to depict Proctor’s obsessive quest for
redemption, such as character, setting and turning
point and I will show how Proctor’s obsession
enables me to understand the decisions he makes
that ultimately lead to his death.
We are Learning...
How to write paragraphs using P.Q.E
The main body of your essay is where you develop
your essay and go into detail with your
Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation.
All the paragraphs in the main body of your essay
must be written using P.Q.E.
This will help to ensure that your paragraphs have a
good structure, and your essay is well organised.
Point
Quote
Explain
Quote Again
Explain Again
Point (topic sentence)
You write one sentence and you do 3 things:
• Make a point about the text which indicates what you
will be focusing on in your paragraph.
• Refer to the essay question (try to paraphrase).
• Refer to the theme of the text (directly or indirectly).
Quote
Write one sentence:
• Provide a quote from the text that supports
your Point (remember your inverted commas!)
• Put your quote in context (so that it can be
clearly understood).
(Remember: you usually do this twice in each
paragraph)
Explain
Write 2 or 3 detailed sentences:
• Explain what your quote shows.
• Analyse and evaluate the techniques that have been used.
• Refer to the essay question.
• Refer to the theme(s) of the text (directly or indirectly)
(Remember: you usually do this twice in each paragraph)
Example 1
Text: “The Crucible”
Essay Question:
Choose a play in which a central character behaves
in an obsessive manner.
Describe the nature of the character’s obsessive
behaviour and discuss the influence this
behaviour has on your understanding of the
character in the play as a whole.
From the opening Act of the play, Miller’s use of characterisation
and key scene makes the audience immediately aware of John
Proctor’s obsession with redeeming himself for his sins. In the
overture, we are told in the stage directions that Proctor “has
come to regard himself as a kind of fraud”. Thus, we discover
that he cannot forgive himself for committing adultery: he sees
himself as a hypocrite and a sinner, and he has lost his selfrespect and his honour as a husband, father and Christian. This
self-loathing is clearly what motivates his obsession with
redemption. Later in Act One, Proctor rejects Abigail’s advances
and he tells her “I’ll cut off my hand before I ever reach for you
again...we never touched, Abby”. In this key scene, Proctor
shows that he is not willing to jeopardise his marriage or his
reputation by resuming his affair with Abigail: he is full of guilt
and shame about what he has done and by refusing Abigail he
takes a very important step in trying to redeem himself for his
indiscretions. Thus, in Act One we can see that Proctor is
obsessively trying to redeem himself and restore the honesty
and integrity he lost by committing adultery with Abigail
Williams.
We are learning...
How to write an effective conclusion
Your concluding paragraph should include the
following, in any order:
• Use the words in the question to make a
statement of conclusion.
• Sum up your main arguments.
• Refer to the theme(s) and techniques you have
discussed.
Example
Text: “The Crucible
Essay question:
Choose a play in which a central character is heroic yet
vulnerable.
Show how the dramatist makes you aware of both
qualities and discuss how they affect your response
to the character’s fate in the play as a whole.
Throughout the course of the play, John Proctor is faced
with a number of decisions that allow us to see both
the heroic and vulnerable aspects of his personality. By
rejecting Abigail Williams, by refusing Danforth’s offer
to spare his wife, by confessing to his affair with
Abigail, and by ripping up his confession, Proctor
displays evidence that he is seeking redemption for his
sins, and that he is trying to regain his integrity and
self-respect. Miller is able to show us Proctor’s path
towards redemption by using techniques such as
characterisation, setting, theme and turning point. In
doing so, the reader is able to recognise that Proctor’s
fate, although tragic and upsetting, is ultimately a
necessary step that Proctor must take in order to
become a truly good man.
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