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How to write a critical essay higher

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How to write a critical essay higher

  1. 1. How to Write a Critical Essay
  2. 2. What To Do First• Read the question CAREFULLY!• Underline the key parts of the question.• Write this question down and decide which lines you would underline. You should explain your reasons.Choose a novel or short story which features arelationship between two characters which isconfrontational or corrosive.Describe how the relationship is portrayed and discussto what extent the nature of the relationship influencesyour understanding of the text as a whole.
  3. 3. Now create Topic Sentences that will allow you to answer the questionin stages. You do this by thinking of as many points that relate to thequestion as you can. These points should then be made intostatements that may incorporate a technique the writer uses. Here aresome examples:• Kesey‟s use of characterisation allows the reader to clearly see why Nurse Ratched and McMurphy don‟t like each other.• There are several key scenes that show the confrontation between the protagonists.• The relationship between The Big Nurse and McMurphy helps the reader to understand one of the novels key themes; Power vs. Freedom• It is only at the end of the novel that the reader fully understands the true nature of McMurphy and Nurse Ratched‟s relationship and its effect on the outcome.Let‟s try this task in groups using a different question.
  4. 4. IntroductionYou should always have the following inyour introduction:• The author• Title of text• Summary of what the texts is about• Mention specific techniques used to create a specific affect/feeling that is mentioned in the question.
  5. 5. Example Introduction:A novel in which a confrontational relationship between twocharacters is featured is Ken Kesey‟s “One Flew Over theCuckoo‟s Nest” which takes place in a mental hospital inOregon, USA. The conflict between the protagonists, R.P.McMurphy and Nurse Ratched, arises from thefundamental and unavoidable fact that they believe in andrepresent opposing moral views. Kesey, who drew from hisown experiences of psychedelic drugs and working as anurse aide, has conflict at the center of his characterdevelopment. In turn this highlights the novel‟s mainthemes which attack society‟s ideas of madness, freedomand power.
  6. 6. Each Paragraph Must Have A StructureEach paragraph must:• Have A Structure• Start with a topic sentence• Contain information about the text that is relevant to your topic sentence.• Explain the section of the text that is relevant (this means that the reader will better understand why you have chosen your quote)• Quote to back up your point (use quotations that show the author‟s techniques)• Explain the quotation, commenting on the techniques the author has used if relevant.
  7. 7. Example Paragraph Green = point/statement Purple = evidence Red = evaluationR.P. McMurphy‟s exuberant entrance is a signal to the reader that he is unlike any of theother patients and that he might be a problem for Nurse Ratched. His “brassy voice” andunchecked laugh that rings out “free and loud” is in direct contrast to Nurse Ratched whois instead portrayed as “precise, automatic” in her gestures. After McMurphy introduceshimself to the ward and makes his presence known Kesey begins to show us the natureof their relationship:“Mr. McMurry, I‟m sorry to interrupt you and Mr. Bromden, but you do understand:everyone…must follow the rules.”Nurse Ratched‟s words, at first glance, seem harmless, calm and even friendlyconsidering McMurphy‟s brash behaviour. Closer scrutiny reveals that she has thoughtvery carefully about what she wants to say and that her words are quietly malevolent.She deliberately and continuously calls McMurphy “McMurry” in order to undermine himand show that she doesn‟t care enough about him to remember his name correctly. Shealso uses a patronising tone, reflected in her apology, “I‟m sorry to interrupt you.” Sheutilises this tone with all of her patients and hopes to control McMurphy with it too. Thetrue message behind her words is revealed when the word “everyone” is stressed.Kesey‟s subtle use of ellipses punctuates her message with a pause; McMurphy mustfollow her rules without exception. As they both size “each other up” the reader seesclearly that they are opposites. Nurse Ratched believes in control and restraint andMcMurphy believes in freedom and expression.
  8. 8. Your Conclusion does the following:• Leaves the reader in no doubt that you have answered the question;• Starts with a closing sentence like „In conclusion…‟ „Finally…‟ „It is clear after close analysis that…‟ „There is no doubt that the author…‟• Goes on to re-use the words of the question e.g. „In conclusion, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, has a crucial turning point for the characters George and Lennie and in turn this has a devastating impact on the outcome of the novel.• State again each of your topic sentences;• Describe how the poem has changed your view or left you with a particular feeling – BE POSITIVE
  9. 9. Example ConclusionThere can be no doubt that Ken Kesey‟s detailed, honest and scathingcharacterisation of Nurse Ratched and R.P. McMurphy is a criticism ofsociety‟s treatment of mental illness during the 1950s. Nurse Ratched‟sdesire for order seeks to manipulate her patients and staff in order togain complete power. As the novel unfolds we begin to understand thatshe is simply the human face for society. She is part of the system thatultimately seeks to control everyone. McMurphy‟s unlikely Christ-likecharacter represents salvation and freedom. Their relationship isconfrontational from the beginning because they recognise the powerthey each have. Kesey‟s final message is a warning to us all aboutbeing complacent and passive in our lives. He wants to show us thatwe need to have courage to live our lives in spite of how difficult thingsmay become.

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