How to Write a Critical Analysis

Have you ever read an article and thought to yourself: “I disagree with this writer; I think they are biased”? Perhaps you’ve even gone as far as offering your own opinion in the comments section. If you’ve done this, good job! You have performed a critical analysis; you’ve analyzed the author’s work and offered your own opinion in response.

Writing a critical analysis requires lots of essential reading, as authors always use rhetorical techniques to gain your trust. In this article from our essay writing service, we will define critical analysis, list some topics and provide a critical analysis essay example to give you a better idea of your expected result. We will also present a robust step-by-step process of how to write a critical analysis.

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What Is a Critical Analysis Essay?

A critical analysis essay requires its writers to write a critical evaluation of an argument. Topics can range from analyzing a modern or historical event, film, book, types of music, and complicated social and political issues. It is a form of evaluation and observation with subjective elements. Critical analysis helps one to better understand a subject and it allows one to examine different controversial points of view. 

The main purpose of a critical analysis essay is to tell a reader about a subject, and to explain its purpose and meaning. You will also need to present your personal point of view and critically analyze the subject. 

Since critical analysis is very subjective, it is important to avoid some common mistakes. First and foremost, keep your tone formal and academic. Stay away from familiarities and slang. Second, critical analysis is mainly your own opinion on a matter that can be supported by the work of others. Do not base your entire essay on works of other scholars. If you do use supporting evidence from other sources, make sure that you reference it to avoid plagiarism. Next, make sure you focus on the analysis of the subject, rather than on the description of it. In critical analysis essays the point of interest is your opinion about the matter, not the matter itself. Lastly, make sure you follow a good structure and make sure that you have enough sufficient evidence. Double-check the logical sequence of your arguments to ensure that you present them to your reader correctly.

Steps to perform critical analysis
Steps to perform critical analysis

It is very easy to confuse a descriptive essay with a critical analysis essay. A descriptive essay simply states what the subject is, or when and how an event happened. On the other hand, a critical analysis essay explains the significance of that subject and your personal viewpoint on the matter. It digs deep into a subject and shows the complexity of it. Instead of simply describing, a critical analysis essay evaluates the issue in different contexts and points of view. Reasoning and argument are the best approaches to differentiate a critical analysis essay from a descriptive one.

How to Write a Critical Analysis — The Video Guide

Let’s take a look at some common critical analysis essay topics to give you an idea of just how broad this essay format is.

25 Critical Analysis Essay Topics

Living in an era of social and political unrest certainly has its benefits. Students often pick controversial statements, articles, or events, because they lend themselves easily to critical analysis. Finding a topic for critical essay in this day and age shouldn’t be hard.

Here are a few things to consider when deciding on a topic:

  • Make sure the topic lends itself easily to critical analysis. Famous literature and controversial articles would be excellent choices.
  • Find a topic which is widely discussed. Different opinions can help you think outside the box and create a strong argument.
  • Try to keep it narrow. Some topics can be complicated, and it may take books to explore them fully.
  • Talk to your professors for ideas. They will happily point you in the right direction.

If you read books, consider taking the work of your favorite author. Famous books like Alice in Wonderland have been analyzed and interpreted in many different ways; there should be plenty of source material you could use for reference.

Here are some of the critical analysis essay topics you can use:

Culture Critical Thinking Topics

  • Pick a sport that famously had a drug abuse history. Summarize and assess the situation and how it affected the competition.
  • College football plays a vital role in American Universities. How does it change the community, the spirit, and the economics of the college?
  • Gain a deeper understanding of homelessness in your city. Why is it a problem and which resources can the city use to help?
  • Anti-drug campaigns often cause more problems than solutions. Take a look at a similar campaign and analyze its effectiveness.
  • Take a look at how women are portrayed in a particular medium today. For example the medium of Cinema. Has sexism that polluted 50’s Hollywood been wholly removed from movies?

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Mass Media Topics

  • Take a film. What is the message, and how does the director convey it?
  • Analyze a graphic novel. What is the message/passage, and how does it push the possibilities of the visual novel medium?
  • Observe the remake of a classic motion picture. What has changed?
  • Examine the influence of a popular TV series on youth.
  • Take Facebook. What was the initial idea? Has it grown consistently with the internet and how people use it?

Critical Evaluation Topics on History

  • Compare Ancient Greece to today. Are the practices, teachings, and rituals of the Ancient Greeks still relevant?
  • Colonization of America was a brutal time in history. Looking back at it, could we have done it without killing the indigenous people of America?
  • Ancient Egypt. Tackle the controversies surrounding the pyramids of Giza. Was it slaves or aliens who built them?
  • World War II. Some say that it was a necessary tragedy that shaped the modern world. Present and analyze this controversial opinion.
  • Ancient Rome borrowed heavily from Ancient Greek and Egyptian culture and art. However, when Mussolini came around, he wanted to preserve the classic Italian aesthetic of Ancient Rome. Analyze the irony of the ultra-right Fascist movement in light of these facts.

Culture Critical Thinking Topics in Literature

  • Analyze Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and its impact on racism in America.
  • Take a dystopian novel like 1984 or Brave New World and compare it to society today.
  • J.R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is a profoundly subversive series in its genre. How does Martin achieve this, in comparison to Lord of the Rings?
  • Analyze Orwell’s Animal Farm and compare it to the real history of the Soviet Union.
  • Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is purposely wrongly named as the actual protagonist is Brutus. Analyze how this relates to the plot and theme of the play.

Culture Critical Thinking Topics in Sports

  • Money ruined sports. Analyze the argument to establish whether it’s true or false.
  • Analyze the effect of betting on the sporting community.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo is known to be a bit of an actor on the field. Analyze the validity of this claim.
  • Should cybersports be considered sports?
  • Some say that FIFA releases the same game every year, exploiting the sports gaming community. Challenge the validity of this claim.

We hope that you have found an interesting topic you could use for reference. Let’s get right into the writing process.

How to Write a Critical Analysis

First of all, read all the sources you will use to support your opinions carefully. Most likely, you already have a solid opinion on the matter of your critical analysis essay, however, look at the problem from multiple perspectives to be more objective and open-minded. When reading other people’s works on the subject, identify their thesis and carefully include it as supporting evidence for your main argument.

Presenting other people’s opinions shows you as a considerate writer. Carefully think about your response and reaction to the subject matter of your essay. Make sure your opinions are not offensive to anyone who might read your essay and make sure that you take the different backgrounds and experiences people might have into consideration.

Next, draft your essay. Start by including an overview of your subject and its key points, and draw your reader toward your thesis statement. Each of your body paragraphs has to have a new point for your analysis. The point of each paragraph has to be fair; avoid extreme bias and any irregular needs to prove your arguments effectively.

Lastly, your conclusion has to reiterate each point you have made and restate your overall opinion. Without further ado, let’s learn how to write a critical analysis essay step by step.

Step 1: Critical Reading

The initial step to critical analysis to read carefully and thoroughly, identifying the author’s thesis. Most of your information will come from reading different sources and understanding different takes and opinions on the same issue. You must pay attention to details, recognize the author’s’ rhetorical devices, biases, and assumptions.

Remember always to write down vocabulary words and define terms that you don’t understand.

Whenever reading a source, always look out for:

  • The author’s intended audience. Good writers write in a specific way to appeal to a particular audience; ex. Playful language appeals to kids, statistics appeal to business people.
  • The author’s means of persuasion (language and rhetoric.) Good writers won’t directly say that Burger King is unhealthy, they will present BK’s sick list of ingredients and let the reader make this assumption.
  • The general structure of the writing and how it supports the author’s statements. A blog post about the importance of punctuation, like commas, may illustrate, how, many people, annoyingly, overuse, commas, just, like, this.
Things to which you should pay attention when reading sources
Things you should pay attention to when reading sources

As a critical reader, it is your job to pinpoint the author’s motives and dissect the text for meaning. Understanding how the author tries to achieve their purposes and gain your trust is the whole point of critical reading.

Step 2: Critical Analysis Writing

The first thing to remember is that your job is not to de-legitimize this author’s work. Your post is to serve the reader by exploring the work with them, opening up aspects that were ignored or neglected. It is your duty to help the world understand the subject to the fullest extent.

Summarize

The first thing to do is provide a summary of your source (event, article, work of art, etc.). This is done to demonstrate that you have fully understood what you’re talking about. Summaries should not contain your argument or show any bias towards the source you’re about to discuss.

If the source is a text (as it will most likely be), address the following aspects:

  • How has the author organized the text?
  • Identify the intended audience and why the author has targeted them.
  • Identify the author’s assumptions about the intended audience.
  • List and explain the rhetorical devices, language, and imagery that the author uses in the text.

Write a Thesis

After you have summarized the work, it is time to write a thesis statement. In a critical analysis essay, the thesis statement is usually your reaction to the source that you have analyzed. As noted before, your opinion is subjective; expect it to be challenged in the future. However, if you can articulate your personal opinion carefully and thoroughly, the reader will trust you.

The best way to make your message clear and consistent is to create an analysis essay outline.

Creating a Critical Analysis Essay Outline

An outline helps to put your arguments in order. Creating a good overview will help you write a critical analysis essay fast and be consistent with your message. Most instructors will provide a sample of a critical analysis essay outline to help you write a well-organized analysis paper. Before writing a critical analysis essay, make sure you have an outline which organizes your thoughts into a coherent critical essay structure.

Here is a sample critical essay outline you may use for reference:

  1. Background Information: Give the reader some context; help them understand the nature of the work.
    • Information:
      • Title
      • Author
      • Publication information
      • Statement of topic and purpose
    • Thesis statement: After giving the reader some context, provide your reaction to the work in a thesis statement.
  2. Summary: Demonstrate your understanding of the source, as described in the Summary section above.
  3. Critical Analysis (Interpretation and Evaluation): Here is where you finally present your analysis of the work based on your reading and critical evaluation.
    • Talk about how the source is organized;
    • Discuss the style and rhetoric of the source;
    • How Effective was the source and the message;
    • How was the topic treated; was the writer biased or did he do it justice?
    • Discuss how the source appealed to its target audience

Conclude the essay with a traditional essay conclusion by restating the thesis and offering some final thoughts. Summarize your reactions and outtakes from your analysis.

If you need help with any of the steps above, feel free to use EssayPro Outline Help

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Techniques Used in Literary Critiques

  • An Objective Analysis — Evaluation based only on facts; without using feeling or emotion in the study.
  • Traditional Critique — Critique based on a collective agreement of sources that literate and educated people should know.
  • New Critique — Critique that is concentrated on just the text itself. Areas of irony, metaphor, ambiguity, and paradox are under close evaluation.
  • Marxist Criticism — Analogy through class conflicts and identification, coming to conclusions of a political or social nature. Marxist criticism has had a profound effect on the understanding of literature.
  • Metaphorical Critique — Close attention to metaphors to form a deeper understanding of the work and its author.
  • New Historicism — The study of literature based on its historical value.
  • Psychological Critique — Freudian critique, where the author’s unconscious wishes, just like dreams, can be evaluated as a pathway to their mind.
  • Sociological Criticism — Mainly focuses on how the literature represents social functions but also where the work fits into society in general.
  • Moral or Ethical Criticism — Judging the work or literary piece by the morals learned from the text.

Top Tips to Save You Time

Come back to the draft later. After completing the first draft, put it to one side then review it after a few days. A clear mind is always an advantage in proofreading your work.

Explain everything. Do not assume the reader knows a particular detail or fact. Describe technical terms and abbreviations fully.

The introduction and the thesis statement can be produced later. This way, you can know precisely what background you need to give your readers.

The second pair of eyes can help. Let a family friend or professional colleague review your work to get a second opinion.

Develop your style of writing. Do not write in the style of someone else but try to get comfortable with your style. It can take a while and possibly more than one essay. Once mastered it will be much more rewarding and save you time in the long run.

Do not be scared of an issue. When describing something make sure you are being specific and do not give vague or timid explanations. It will annoy readers.

No rhetorical questions. The body of the arguments should only contain points based on findings and factual statements.

Plan the time well. It is common not to have enough time to read through all the literature. Make a plan for how much you can learn in a day, and stick to it.

Now that we have discussed all of the writing techniques and components of a critical analysis essay, let’s look at an example that showcases the practical uses of all of these rules.

Critical Analysis Example

Below are some good examples that can also show you how to write a critical analysis paper. They are structured and organized according to the rules and directions we went over in our article.

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