English homework help. Critical Analysis Guidelines
The purpose for writing a critical analysis is to evaluate someone’s work (book, essay,
movie, paining, play, etc…) in order to increase the reader’s understanding of it. A critical
analysis is subjective writing because it expresses the writer’s opinion and evaluation of the
work. Analysis means to break down and study the parts. Writing a critical paper requires
two steps: critical reading and critical writing.
-Identify the author’s thesis/purpose
-Outline the work or write a description of it
-Summarize the work
-Determine the purpose of the work and evaluate the means by which the author has
accomplished this purpose:
-To inform with factual material?
(Has the material been presented clearly, accurately, with order and
-To persuade with appeal to reason or emotion?
(Is there evidence, logical reasoning, contrary evidence?)
-To entertain (affecting emotion?)
(How are the emotions affected? Does it make the reader laugh, cry, get
angry? Why and how does it affect the reader this way?)
Consider the following questions:
1. How is the material organized?
2. Who is the intended audience?
3. What are the writer’s assumptions about the audience?
4. What kind of language and imagery does the author use?
SAMPLE OUTLINE FOR CRITICAL ANALYSIS ESSAY
I. Background information on author and essay to help readers understand the nature of the
A. Title and author
B. Publication Information
C. Statement of Topic/Purpose
II. Thesis Statement indicating the writer’s (YOUR) main reaction to the work.
III. Summary/Description of the work
IV. Interpretation and Evaluation
d. Treatment of Topic
e. Appeal to a Particular Audience
Tips to remember when writing:
-Avoid using first person. Do not introduce your ideas by stating “I think,” or “In my
opinion.” Keep the focus on the subject of your analysis, not on yourself. Identifying your
opinions weakens them. For example: instead of writing “I thought the piece was a good
example of…” use “the piece was a good example of…” YOU are the author. The reader
already knows and assumes that is your opinion.
-Always introduce the work. Do not assume your reader knows what you are writing
about; therefore does not need to know the title and the author*. Assume your reader
knows nothing about the piece you are writing about.
(*Never use author’s first name only; chances are you are not on a first-name basis with
the author and even if you were, this is a formal essay and first names are considered
“casual”. Use first and last when introducing the author, then use last name only for the
-Is there controversy surrounding the subject? The author?
-Overall value of the piece?
-Strength and Weaknesses of the piece?
-Support your thesis with detailed evidence from the text. Do not forget to document
quotes and paraphrases. Acknowledge your sources.