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Writing the Critical Lens Essay

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1 Writing the Critical Lens Essay
New York State English Regents Exam: Session II, Part B (Task 4)

2 Your Critical Lens: “If the literature we are reading doesn't wake us, why then do we read it? A literary work must be an ice-axe to break the sea frozen inside us.” - Franz Kafka (adapted)

3 Critical Lens—Your Guidelines
Provide a valid interpretation of the quote Clearly establish criteria for analysis Indicate whether you agree or disagree Choose one work to support your opinion AVOID PLOT SUMMARY Use Direct and Indirect Characterization for analysis Organize your ideas clearly Specify the title, authors and details Follow the conventions of English

4 Introduction Introduce and state the quote
Interpret the quote fully and in your own words—what does this quote mean? Show agreement or disagreement (no need to use the word I…avoid all personal pronouns) State thesis or stance (you will use all support to prove this statement)

5 Introduction (actual)
Franz Kafka once stated, “If the literature we are reading doesn't wake us, why then do we read it? A literary work must be an ice-axe to break the sea frozen inside us.” Kafka’s quote suggests that what we read should lead to some insight or new ideas about the world around us. Kafka is right. The purpose of literature is to lead the reader to some new understanding of the world. One piece of literature that awakens the reader is the poem Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins. The poem uses images and symbolism to awaken the reader to the power and impact of poetry. Meanwhile, the novel Monster, by Walter Dean Myers, uses indirect characterization and internal conflict to awaken reader to the problems in society

6 Body Paragraphs (X’s 2) Include a topic sentence to introduce the text and author Transition and include your literary element (may be multiple sentences) Connect back to the lens (may be multiple sentences) Concluding sentence.

7 Body Paragraph Part 1 (actual)
Introduction to Poetry, By Billy Collins is really two poems in one. On the surface the poem is about a teacher teaching his students to understand poetry. He uses the image of a mouse being dropped into the poem to try to feel its way out. He also uses the image of listening to a poem as if you were listening to the activity within a beehive. Finally, he uses the image of a student water skiing across the surface of the poem. These images awaken the reader to the power of poetic language. The images cause the reader to understand just how effective words can be in describing a normal, everyday activity like students do everyday in school when they analyze poetry.

8 Body Paragraph Part 2 (actual)
Introduction To Poetry has another meaning hidden beneath the surface. The poem seems to be about a teacher trying to teach a poem to his English class. All the students want to do is tie the poem to a chair and beat it until it confesses its meaning. This is symbolic of the reader trying to understand Introduction to Poetry. Just like the students in the poem, the reader seems to only care about getting to the meaning of the poem. In fact, we (like the students) may even miss the beauty of the images because we are so obsessed with finding some truth in the poem. The students trying to understand the poem symbolize the reader trying to understand the poem. In this way the frozen sea inside of us is broken and we begin to understand that finding meaning inside of a poem may not be as important as experiencing the beauty of poetry.

9 Body Paragraph 2 (That’s you!)
For the assignment on Thursday, all you have to do is type the completed essay. I gave you your Intro, Body 1, and the Conclusion. All you have to do is add your own Body Paragraph 2 (and complete the conclusion). I suggest you use Monster… but feel free to use another piece of literature.

10 Conclusion Re-state an interpretation of the quote Show agreement
Briefly review main points made Tie main ideas back to the lens and your thesis

11 Conclusion (actual) The best literature breaks up the frozen sea inside of the reader. It causes the reader to think and ask questions. It interests the reader and can draw him into a different world. Collins’ Introduction to Poetry is such an important poem because it draws us in with seemingly simple images, yet a close analysis shows us that the poem is actually a symbol for what we as readers do when analyzing poetry. For that reason the poem awakens us to the true power of language. Monster also awakens the reader due to… (this is where you add your concluding thoughts)

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