Critique Essay: Example and Tips

The ability to critically analyze is very important for a person. In practice, this skill with timely use saves time and warns rash acts that can only aggravate the situation, helps to unravel the tangle of causes and consequences. However, critical analysis is a rather capacious concept. It is useful not only for detectives, but is also applied, perhaps, in all areas of human life. Writing critique essay is a usual task in high school, university and college. In this article, we will tell about its features and principles of work, and together we will try to figure out how to write critique essay.

What is critique?

The concept of “critical analysis” appeared much later than its practice itself. Even the ancient philosophers Aristotle, Socrates used these principles in his writings and research. A common classical definition of critical analysis can be called an assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of certain provisions, conclusions and ideas based on their correlation with their own ideas or other theories and teachings that have proved their significance and effectiveness.

In critique essay, interpreting the analyzed material requires an honest and unbiased approach. Therefore, the main criteria here are objectivity and comprehensive consideration.

Goal of critical analysis

What is critical analysis for? Each study (scientific or practical) has specific tasks. In this case, to analyze critically means to check these problems for the quality of the solution, and, using evidence, to confirm or refute the correctness of one’s own or someone else’s hypothesis.

From a personal point of view, critical analysis helps develop critical thinking, contributes to the formation of its own reasoned opinion, enhances cognitive activity, broadens the mind. Its foundations are often laid back in the school period and are being developed in universities. That is why it is so crucial to write critique essays in the right way.


The method of critical analysis implies a way to achieve the goal. It can be deductive and inductive. In the first case, the analysis of the situation develops from the general to the particular. That is, first the researcher puts forward a hypothesis, or axiom. Then, from a general statement, the course of thought is directed to a corollary, or theorem. This is a private link. The simplest example of such a method would be the following:

  • Man is mortal.
  • Fred is a man.
  • Conclusion: Fred is mortal.

In opposition to deduction, an inductive method has been created. Here, critical analysis develops, on the contrary, from the particular to the general. The path to the conclusion is not built with the help of logic, but rather through certain psychological, mathematical, or factual representations. There are complete and incomplete induction types.

In the first version, the analysis is aimed at proving an assertion for the minimum number of particulars that exhaust all probabilities. Another option is to monitor individual cases, the consequences and reduces them to a general conclusion (hypothesis, reason), which requires evidence. Cause and effect are the main elements on which critical analysis is based. An example of the inductive method can be seen in a series of C. Doyle’s detective stories about Sherlock Holmes. Although the author himself mistakenly calls the method of detective deduction:

  • Man N has poison.
  • Man N is confused in the testimony.
  • Man N has no alibi at the time of the crime.
  • Consequently, man N is the killer.

The founder of pragmatism, C.S. Pierce, considered the third type of reasoning as a method of critical analysis — abduction. In other words, this is the cognitive acceptance of hypotheses used to discover theoretical laws. At first, all concepts are abstract, not confirmed by experience. The path to the conclusion goes through a system of assumptions (hypotheses), checked by logical conclusions:

  • The premise: People are mortal.
  • Conclusion: John is mortal.
  • Hence, John is a man (missing link).

Structure and types

The structure of critical analysis used in writing of critique essay is a clear algorithm of actions, as a rule, determined by logical connections:

  • First, the researcher needs to get acquainted with the phenomena, the idea, the position, the book, the movie, etc. From this material it is necessary to release the main idea.
  • It is possible to decompose the situation into several key points and look at the material as separate elements.
  • For each item you need to create your own vision, opinion, etc.
  • At the next stage, it is necessary to confirm your own interpretation, to summarize the above theses.

Important point! To prove your hypotheses, it is possible and even necessary to use external sources: examples, analogies, conceptual apparatus, quotations, documents. All this will only confirm the objectivity and comprehensiveness of the study.

The materials themselves, situations or phenomena for which a critical analysis is created play an essential role in building conclusions. Its types can affect the scientific, social, political, practical sphere and the sphere of art.

Critique essay in literature

Text-oriented critical essay can be called literary-critical analysis. The difference with discourse is only in the arrangement of key elements. The first (described above) type of emphasis is on the formal side of the text, and the second – on the substantive.

Literature critical analysis is organized according to the classical algorithm. The key points for interpretation in it are: the plot, the place and time of the action, the characters, the theme, the idea and the personal point of view. From this position there are three levels of research:

  • Thematic repertoire (content side).
  • Cognitive (image mode, narration, genre).
  • Linguistic (linguistic means by which the cognitive aspect is created).

In the critical essay, author should observe a hierarchy. The first and third levels are explicit categories (embodied materially). As for the cognitive level, it is determined by the two previous ones. Of course, each of the tiers may represent a separate study. However, a detailed examination between them established a strong relationship, the elements of each level will be present in the next.

The need for this type of critical analysis in the essay, in addition to the personal formation and mastering of the skills of critical thinking, lies in the social need to distinguish aesthetically valuable works in the mediocre flow.

Important point! Literary-critical analysis is not a retelling of a literary text, but an analysis of its substantive components and a possible correlation with reality. This is not a rating of “like” or “dislike.” For all types of analysis, the critical path must pass the mandatory stage of justification, evidence of any assumptions and hypotheses associated with the material of the study.

Informational critique essay

This type of critical analysis is used to evaluate news, products and services (in marketing) when writing critical essay. It can be aimed at determining the quality, as well as the effectiveness of the income and expenses of an enterprise, associated with changes in the parameters of advertising.

What is this assessment for? A critical analysis of information in the case of marketing is aimed at saturating the market with high-quality goods, expanding and deepening the range. With regard to news (society, politics, etc.), it helps to check the quality of information regarding facts, time and place and interpret it in its own point of view on events. This requires reliable sources that will give the arguments of the hypothesis. The purpose of this type of analysis can be the forecast of events. In this case, the hypothesis is formed through psychological, social, cultural characteristics-components.

Research analysis critique essay

Critical analysis of the research is inherent in the scientific field of human activity. For the formation of an individual reasoned opinion about a particular problem, the correct formulation of tasks and their solution is necessary. This is what this type of analysis does. Research involves a range of activities and in many ways echoes the critical discourse.

So, at the preparatory stage, the material is collected, the study of authoritative sources, the formation of the concept (construction) of the direction of thought development and filtering of important information elements. It must be remembered that the purpose of such work through critical analysis is to obtain new knowledge, and not a generalization of existing truths.

The critical essay of the research has the following structure (or plan):

  • target;
  • problems and major issues;
  • facts and information;
  • interpretation and conclusions;
  • concept, theory, ideas;
  • hypotheses;
  • consequences;
  • own opinion, point of view.

For a scientific article, the rules of analysis may be different. Here, the source itself is often assessed, the credibility of the author’s arguments, the identification of inconsistencies, contradictions, or violations of logic are evaluated.

Principles of writing critique essay

The principles of critical essay largely depend on its type. Even at the dawn of the history of this type of study of objects and materials, an intuitive principle (or “internal illumination”) was used. This is an abstract approach, consisting in the discovery of new theoretical, empirical laws, the substantiation of new phenomena, problems and concepts of reality. The disadvantage of this principle of analysis is unconvincing, the possibility of options, the lack of confirmation of the assumptions.

In a critical analysis of discourse, a socially oriented principle is often used. The purpose of it, as a rule, is the phenomena and transformations taking place in society. These include immigration, racial discrimination, national genocide, extremism. The object of the research is, of course, thematic texts and their influence on social thinking. Also, this approach to the study helps to find and portray the true picture and bring it to society, in order to avoid reader confusion in undemocratic discourses.

For the same kind of critical analysis, the cognitive-oriented principle is also applicable. It was widely used by Van Dyck and is based on the psychological characteristics of the construction and presentation of material (texts, discourses). This principle is widely used in the critics of news (media). In addition, the attention of the analyst should be directed to the narrative (consistent, interrelated) assessment of events, sign systems of verbal communication (metaphors, collective symbols).

The principle of historicism is most often used in scientific and literary studies. It is based on the study of the development of a certain phenomenon or object in space and time. However, this is a rather abstract characteristic. In practice, this happens a little deeper and more global. For example, the genre or method (literary concept) is taken as the basis – this is the purpose of the research. Then there is a collection of materials relating to the topic (cognitive components). At the third stage, you can begin to study and filter information. The main point here is the chronology, the evolution of the phenomenon in a certain time period. Only after such an assessment one can proceed to conclusions, hypotheses and predictions.

The principle of key concepts is one of the earliest in critical analysis. Most often it is found in art criticism (works of Aristotle, Lessing). Conventionally, it can be designated a scale of measurements and comparisons. Creating a system of concepts helps literally decompose text into structural components, trace their interaction and interrelation, and also reveal the meaning of one component for another. As a rule, this principle is obligatory, but secondary, as any research relies on the conceptual apparatus, regardless of the purpose of its application.

During any critical analysis, there may be different principles for dealing with the problem. Sometimes there is a synthesis of two or more. In this case, one is dominant, while others are auxiliary. Thus, the historical principle is often combined with the principle of key concepts, and the intuitive is reinforced by cognitive-oriented, etc.


The concept in critical analysis essay is the study and assessment of the main idea, the author’s system of views on the problem. Norman Fairklaf in his book Language and Power mentions the concept of synthetic personalization. Its example can be political texts, in which authors often refer directly to the people through the pronouns of the second person. The main task, which sets itself a critical analysis of the concept, is to determine the degree of impact of such techniques, their effectiveness in changing social thinking. Regardless of the type of material, the author’s concept is always considered as a way of communication with the reader, viewer or customer.

Critique essay example. Critical assessment of Emily Dickinson’s Lyrics


Not only military but also romantic poetry as a whole, formerly cramped by prosaic genres experienced a period of flourishing. The romantics united under the banner of poetry did not constitute any group, many of them did not know anything about each other and lived in different cities and towns of the USA. It is noteworthy, however, that all of them (minus those born on Long Island and in New York, respectively, the W. Whitman and the prose writer “defrocked” by G. Melville) were natives of New England or the southern states.

New England and the South were the last strongholds of romanticism. The romantic tradition here has always been particularly rich and influential, and its long-term preservation was facilitated by the fact that after the Civil War both regions lost their dominant role in the political and spiritual life of the country. The restructuring of American society in a capitalist way was especially painful for them, as it faced the resistance of the oldest forms of civilization in America — the strong influence of puritanism (in New England) and European culture (in the South). Adherence to the romanticism of the poets of these regions is explained by the fact that there is still a problem that corresponds to the romantic vision of the world.

In terms of this conversation, it is particularly interesting to develop the new English romantic lyricism, whose roots lie in the tradition of spiritual quest of Puritan poetry of A. Bradstreet and E. Taylor. The work of Emily Elizabeth Dickinson (1830–1886) serves as an example of the innovative development and rethinking of this tradition and at the same time vivid evidence of the late high rise of American romanticism.

Main body

Emily Dickinson is one of the most mysterious figures in the history of world literature, both humanly and creatively. Her creative fate is extraordinary: all her life, even her closest neighbors had no idea that she wrote poetry. For a long time, relatives who lived with her in the same house — her mother, father, brother Austin, and sister Lavinia — did not know about it. During the life of Dickinson in print appeared only eight of her poems – and all without a signature. Her first collection, posthumously published in 1890, almost did not attract attention.

Glory began in the 20th century. In 1955, a complete collection of poems by E. Dickinson appeared, which consisted of three volumes and included more than 1,700 poems, and a year later – a three-volume collection of letters – a kind of “poet’s prose.”

The literature on Dickinson now includes dozens of monographs, and yet the controversy continues. Emily Dickinson happened was ahead of her time. In the 19th century, her verse, too original, individual, unlike anyone, obviously could not be understood. When people understood them, they recognized that she was an inspired poet, deeper than anyone before her, who had penetrated into untrodden spheres of the spirit and paved the way for poetry of the 20th century.

The daughter of a lawyer, Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts and spent her entire life here. For the last twenty-five years, she has never left the house and, to the great indignation of her relatives, she even stopped attending church meetings. At the same time, Emily Dickinson was a deeply religious woman.

Dickinson voluntarily doomed herself to all the growing loneliness. It was not her only oddity: she always dressed up in white at any time of the year, never signed her letters, and never married. All this gave rise to speculation and stories. In Amherst, she became something like a local “eccentric”. What was she really like? “Small, like a wren bird, with eyes of the color of cherries, which the guests leave at the bottom of the glasses,” – this is how she described herself. “A woman with a light walk, a quiet childish voice and a quick mind,” – so her contemporaries perceived her. “She had a capricious intellect and the broadest spiritual inquiries,” say critics of the 20th century.

Dickinson was neither a nun, nor a mystic, nor was she just an eccentric person. All of her “oddities” were the reasons in her personal, intimate life, and in that spiritual situation that America and New England experienced at that time. Actually, all the reasons boiled down to one, the name of which is romanticism. Romanticism as a protest against the lack of spirituality and the lowland of the life around it, with all its wars, the struggle for position in society, for influence and literary recognition.

The protest was her refusal to print. She did not want to mess with the pure banner of poetry relations with booksellers, did not want to please her literary tastes to “smooth out” her poems in order to publish them: “Let my poems remain barefoot,” she said. E. Dickinson was a romantic and rebel by nature, although her rebellion had a special quality and was manifested in the stoic rejection of what she considered alien to herself.

Behind laconic phrases, there are dramatic circumstances of her fate: the untimely death of youthful affection – Benjamin Newton, and then the love of her whole life – Reverend Charles Wordsworth, a mature, married person, love consisting of complete separation, mutual and absolutely hopeless, because both were people with high moral principles. American lyrics owe this feeling at least a few masterpieces.

As in the poems of her direct predecessors – the Puritan poets of New England of the 17th — 18th centuries, the Bible occupies an exceptional place in the lyrics of E. Dickinson. Researchers who took to highlight the “Biblical” poems of the poetess, found that it is almost the entire body of her work; even texts that do not mention events and characters from the Bible somehow come into contact with it.

A huge number of poems by E. Dickinson are directly based on Scripture. She constantly has a conversation with God in them: she discusses individual episodes of the history of the people of Israel, the characters of heroes, kings and prophets, while demonstrating not at all the puritanical independence of judgments. So, for example, she “seems unfair, as they did to Moses,” who were given to see the Promised Land, but was not allowed to enter there. God is Father for her, loving, but sometimes too strict, she is not always the submissive daughter, who seeks to figure everything out on her own and get to the very essence.

Other themes of Emily Dickinson’s poems are eternal themes of poetry: nature, love, life, death, immortality. The distinctive features of her lyrics are the peculiarity of the interpretation, which consists in the organic interaction of everyday and philosophical plans; dominant place, which is the question of immortality; as well as an unusual form of expression in the literature of the 19th century.

All the basic poetic notions of Emily Dickinson acquire their original, religious and philosophical meaning. At the same time, these concepts for her are not an abstraction, but something completely real and concrete. In her poems, as a rule, very short, devoted to everyday life phenomena (morning, clover flower, well in the garden), a second, philosophical plan is necessarily present. Therefore, any small detail of everyday life acquires a special sound under the author’s pen.

In her works, Emily Dickinson expressed the type of consciousness that has developed under the influence of the Puritan spiritual culture. The marked features of her poetry go back to this source. However, New England Puritanism is transformed here by a romantic worldview.

But Dickinson is a poet of surprise. It is characterized by sharp drops from the ecstatic ecstasy of life – into the abyss of despair. Such is the lyrics of Emily Dickinson, a phenomenon that is both contradictory and whole in its own way. It is significant that, for all the breadth of spiritual interests, the nature of the issues that worried the poetess is virtually unchanged. In her case, one doesn’t have to talk about the evolution of creativity: it is a growing deepening of the motives outlined in her very first texts, evidence of the ever-deepening life of the spirit.


Emily Dickinson’s pioneering and original verse seemed to her contemporaries either “too elusive”, or “formless” in general. Eight poems were published during her lifetime. Lyrics by E. Dickinson is really devoid of euphony and smoothness, so appreciated by the readers of her time. This is the poetry of dissonance, the author of which has not experienced the polishing and standardizing influence of any “circle” or “school” and therefore has retained the originality of style, clarity, precision and sharpness of thought.

Her poetic technique is only Emily Dickinson’s. What is its specificity? First of all, it is characterized by laconicism, which dictates the omission of unions, truncated rhymes, truncated sentences. The uniqueness also affects the system of punctuation invented by the poetess – in the wide use of dashes emphasizing rhythm, and capital letters highlighting keywords and emphasizing meaning. This form is generated not by the inability to write smoothly (Dickinson has quite traditional poems) and not by the desire to stand out (she wrote exclusively for herself and for God), but by the desire to single out the very grain of thought – without husk, without a shiny shell. This is also a kind of rebellion against the then fashionable verbal “curls.”

The form of Dickinson’s poems is natural for her and is determined by thought. Moreover, her incomplete rhymes, style irregularities, convulsive rhythm drops, the very roughness of her poetry is now perceived as a metaphor for the surrounding life and is becoming more and more relevant. Actually, Emily Dickinson’s time came only in the 1950s – 1970s, when philosophical lyricism filled with complex spiritual and moral collisions became one of the most important trends in American poetry, and when the author’s innovative and free style ceased to be shocked at the hearing compatriots.