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How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay

How to Write a Critical Analysis Essay

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 essay requires lots of critical reading, as authors always use rhetorical techniques to gain your trust.

In this article, we will list some carefully selected topics and provide examples 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 essay.

If you have any questions, you may always contact EssayPro for extra help.


Table Of Contents

What Is a Critical Analysis Essay?

A critical analysis essay is a critical evaluation of an argument, an event (modern or historical), any work within its medium (film, books, music), social and political issues, and beyond.

Generally speaking, critical analysis helps us understand things better.

It is a subjective form of observation and evaluation, expressing your personal opinions and reactions.

For example, music critics like Robert Christgau or Anthony Fantano are examples of professionals who do critical analysis for a living. They explore every layer of meaning (or lack of it) that artists put into their music and offer a final subjective opinion.

Steps to perform critical analysis

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 Cool 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 analysis 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 top critical analysis essay topics that we have found:

Culture Critical Thinking Topics

  1. Pick a sport that famously had a drug abuse history. Summarize and assess the situation, and how it affected the sport.
  2. College football plays a vital role in American Universities. How does it affect the community, the spirit, and the economics of the college?
  3. Gain a deeper understanding of homelessness in your city. Why is it a problem and which resources can the city use to help?
  4. Anti-drug campaigns often cause more problems than solutions. Take a look at a similar campaign and analyze its effectiveness.
  5. 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?

Mass Media Topics

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

Critical Evaluation Topics on History

  1. Compare Ancient Greece to today. Are the practices, teachings, and rituals of the Ancient Greeks still relevant?
  2. 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?
  3. Ancient Egypt. Tackle the controversies surrounding the pyramids of Giza. Was it slaves or aliens who built them?
  4. World War II. Some say that it was a necessary tragedy that shaped the modern world. Present and analyze this controversial opinion.
  5. 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

  1. Analyze Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn and its impact on racism in America.
  2. Take a dystopian novel like 1984 or Brave New World and compare it to society today.
  3. 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?
  4. Analyze Orwell’s Animal Farm and compare it to the real history of the Soviet Union.
  5. 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

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

Some of our best essay writers composed this list. We hope that you have found an interesting topic you could use for reference!

Writing Process

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.

Things to which you should pay attention when reading sources

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; ex. Good writers won’t directly say that Burger King is unhealthy, they will present BK’s unhealthy 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.)

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 Writing

The first thing to remember is that your job is not to de-legitimize this author’s work. Your job 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 brief summary of your source (event, 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.

A critical analysis essay 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 by creating an essay outline.

Creating a Critical Analysis Essay Outline

An outline helps put your arguments in order. Creating a good overview will help you write the essay fast and be consistent with your message.

Most instructors will provide a sample outline to help you write a well-organized critical analysis.

Before writing an academic paper, 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.

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.

A 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.

Examples

You could go on and search for critical analysis examples if you were not given one in class. These examples should answer some of your questions.
Here is a critical analysis essay introduction example from one of our top writers:

“You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because the reality is finally better than your dreams.” These words by Dr. Seuss describe this eternal feeling the best. Love is an emotion which all people have a concept of. At the same time, the majority of people may insist they have experienced the feeling of true love despite the accepted definition of this chemical reaction. Does pure love exist? How can an average citizen of any country identify this contradictory feeling best of all? This paper examines the concept of love based on Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116.”

critical analysis essay example

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