Intermediate 2/ Higher Critical Essay Prelim Support Notes
Assessment Requirements Write 2 critical essays from different genre Drama, Prose, Poetry, media 25 marks each
Purpose A critical essay is designed to test your ability to respond thoughtfully to a literacy text. The examiner looks for three things: To know you have understood the writer’s purpose (U) If you can comment effectively on the writer’s use of literary techniques (A) Genuine personal response to text (E)
Important tips Do not re-tell the story Do not use the word ‘quote’ Do not write ‘in this essay’ Do not use comma splice(comma instead of full stop) Do answer the question
The Question There are two parts to the question -the first identifies the focus of your answer and the second tell you exactly what you are to do. Part 1- Choose a poem which deals with a strong emotion such as love, hate or anger. Part 2- Explain what the emotion is and show how the poet used the techniques of poetry to convey her feelings on the strong emotion.
The question You may refer to relevant features including: characterisation, setting, key incident(s), climax/ turning point, structure, narrative, theme, conflict, ideas, description, symbolism, imagery, tone, rhythm etc
The Introduction Title and author Re-phrase question Mention which features you intend to include You may write a sentence about key incidents in text
Introduction example A poem in which the speaker’s personality is gradually revealed is ‘Before you were Mine’ by Carol Ann Duffy. The poem is a dramatic monologue about the lifestyle the poet’s mother led before she was born. With close reference to imagery and tone, this will explore how the speaker’s personality is gradually revealed and indicate how, through content and language, aspects of the character gradually emerge.
Main body Should have 3-5 paragraphs(remember PEE) Each paragraph should have a point evidence-quotation to back up point an explanation of how the quotation backs up the point, and answers the question
Paragraph Structure Statement/point- what is the topic sentence/ point you are making within the paragraph? Evidence/ Quote- what is the evidence you are going to back up your point with Analysis- detailed explanation of the quote linked to the point and to the question= sympathy with character.
Analysis Do not use ‘this shows’ Try substituting the latter for the following: This revealsThis displays This indicatesThis demonstrates This highlightsThis conveys This deploysThis implies This illustratesThis proves This presentsThis explains
Linking Paragraphs Paragraphs should be linked together. Some useful transitional words and phrases that can be deployed include; In additionFurthermore ThereforeRarely As a resultOccasionally NeverthelessOften MoreoverCommenting on
Quotations Quotations should flow into your sentence or become part of it via the use of a comma for example: The author reveals sympathy towards Lennie by using a direct comparison with a ‘child’. OR Repetition of the title, Before you were Mine’ reveals that the child thinks that what she says goes, which indicates her selfishness.
Quotations Quotations that do not flow into your sentence should be introduced using a colon. E.g. There is a strong contrast between the girl in the photo and the mother she turned out to be. As a teenager she is seen as a rebel: ‘Your ma stands at the close with a hiding for the late one.’ The poet seems to admire this in her mother...
Evaluation Say what you thought about the text Do not review it or give it a recommendation Use personal reflection/ response to comment upon how well you feel the writer has conveyed or explored a particular theme or viewpoint. The key point in making an evaluation is to justify what you are saying by reference to the text.
Conclusion Re-introduce topic/ refer back to the question Sum up your opinion of the text or what you have learned in a personal reflective comment without using ‘I’. In conclusion, Tolkien effectively uses the characters of Frodo and Gollum to explore the themes of good and evil throughout ‘The Lord of the Rings’, highlighting that neither one, nor the other, is totally ‘good’ or ‘evil’. This is accomplished through his effective use of word choice and imagery which emphasises the differences between the two characters physical appearance, personality and motivation.