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How to Write a Critical Analysis

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Critical Analysis

A critical analysis of an article, a book, essay writing or another work is aimed to evaluate its effectiveness and to analyze it, making an argument. Books and articles are not the only subjects, sometimes you may be asked to write a critical analysis of a movie, a painting, or any other work of art. You need to analyze an author’s rhetorical methods and the overall effectiveness of the piece.

Critical Reading

First of all, it’s not enough to just read the source. You need to analyze it while reading, and we suggest starting with the author’s thesis. If you’re writing about an academic article, it may be easy to understand what its thesis statement is, however, you will need to determine it in case of any other subject, including movies, pictures, or fiction stories. Everything has its main theme and the main idea that the author was trying to express. Think about the context of the work and solutions that the author offers to any problems.

To analyze the structure of the work, identify its main ideas. For example, in academic essay, main ideas are usually written in first sentences of each paragraph. When working with paintings and works of fiction, ask yourself what the author uses to explain his or her thoughts.

Sometimes you may find some terms or other specific materials that are unfamiliar to you. In this case, use encyclopedias and dictionaries to find the necessary definition. However, keep in mind that deep research is usually not necessary. If the whole work is based on some concept that you know nothing about, we suggest looking for other articles that describe it. This will also allow you to better understand the general context of the main work.

Once you’ve clearly understood what this work is about and what are its key points, describe it in your own words. The point is that you must make an outline for your critical analysis, and this approach also allows you to summarize the material. You will need both these things when writing a final version of your analysis.

On this stage, you must also identify appeals used by the author. This will simplify your work a lot, as used appeals say much about the target audience, the purpose of the piece, and the author’s writing methods. There are three types of appeals:

  • Pathos is aimed at readers’ emotions. A sad drama that brings you to tears and an entertaining article can both benefit from the use of pathos.
  • Logos is a completely different kind of appeal, as it uses logic to show readers why something is correct or not.
  • Ethos is all about credibility and trust. In this case, the author claims that you must believe his or her words because they are professionals, or because other people consider them good at this issue.

Write Your Analysis

First of all, decide which areas are worth analyzing. Take a look at notes you’ve been taking when reading, and focus on observations that appeared to be most significant. You may evaluate the effectiveness of the author’s appeals (pathos, logos, and ethos). You can also analyze the strongest sides of the piece you’re writing about.

Sometimes your critical analysis may benefit from evaluating the author’s overall ability to make a point. Examine how good is his or her research, how coherent is the entire work, and how the overall structure serves the author’s purpose. You need to write every point as a separate paragraph, no matter what exactly you decide to write about. In case your ideas are very complex, you can write more than one paragraph for each point.

Make sure there is a balance between the positive and negative. If you have more positive arguments than negative, start with negative ones, and then focus on positive things, and vice versa. If you have both arguments for and against, you can mix them together. In this case, we also suggest starting from positive aspects. Identify all controversies that you found in this work and explain why it’s relevant.

Organize the Review

Introduce the considered work, including important details and bibliographical information. State the author’s thesis and purpose, and explain the context of the work. Write your own thesis, including both positive and negative points. The introduction must take up to 10% of your paper.

Summarize the work, providing examples. Make sure you’re brief so the summary takes up to one-third of the body section. After this, write your critical analysis, addressing each idea in a separate paragraph. The central part of your paper must make up 80% of the whole paper.

Conclude your critical analysis, restating your thesis and making suggestions on the possible improvement of ideas, research, and appeals.

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