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Published: Friday 25th of January 2013

How To Write a Critique Essay Guide

If you are in an institution of higher learning, then it is probable that you’ve come across a critique essay. We know how intimidating it could be especially if you don’t have the know-how of writing the essay. But that is not a cause for worry. We have been through the same system, thus, you got to believe us. Writing a critique essay is not an uphill task. In fact, you will later realize that it is more of giving a critical analysis of a certain subject. If you take a good approach, you are bound to write it smoothly. You’ll even look back and laugh off the period you panicked at the thought of writing a critical essay. Before we give you the tips and guidelines to a perfect critique essay, let’s start off by examining the history surrounding it.

Background and History

Critique essays date back to the Renaissance period. The arts had become more prominent and they became critical of the mainstream church. Dramatic works had continued to offer some strong criticism to the church. The trend was soon noticed by the church and which quickly labeled them as anti-Christian. However, some hardliners such as Jean Baptiste Moliere continued with their stance. It was not until he wrote the Tartuffe that tables turned. The Tartuffe was also known as the ‘hypocrite’. On it, Moliere went full throttle with his criticism of the Church. The priests thought that enough was enough. It was so grave that the King couldn’t protect him from the aftermath of the comedy. But this was just the start. Later on, critiques continued to manifest themselves over time in various fields. Immanuel Kant came up with a critique as regards theory. He was a German Philosopher who openly criticized the logic behind specific judgments that were made ‘in taste.’ He challenged their viability and their efficacy. He was a proponent of the aesthetic theory which was largely known as the Critique of Judgment. Many other critiques surfaced in pursuance of the critical underpinnings of the aesthetic theory.

The Modern Face of Critiques

At this point, we know that you’re worried about how to write the critique essay. But we don’t want to rush over and leave out the important aspects. To start, we should define what a critique essay is. If your intention is to copy someone’s creative work, then you’ve got a long way to go. A critique in the simplest light is a thorough analysis. It doesn’t necessarily have to bear a negative connotation. An analysis could simply be an undertaking to understand a phenomenon. It is purely that. After you’ve gained an understanding of the phenomenon, an evaluation should follow. In another light, a critical essay could be an objective evaluation of an author’s critical response on a certain issue. Thus, they could be written in a positive or negative tone, variant on the context of the work.

Essential Tips for Writing a Critique Essay

We have compiled a list of essential tips that you’d have to take into consideration when writing a critique:
  1. A critical analysis is often written to criticize works of literature such as essay, poems, narratives, etc. In contemporary time, works of art and film are also of interest to writers. These include movies and painting masterpieces.
  2. Individual opinions can also provide great content for a critical essay. Incorporate them and craft your own judgments. You stand out to give an epic critique since you will be able to articulate yourself well.
  3. Ensure that you provide an argument that is backed by sound reasoning. Make your arguments compelling and convincing. Give supporting evidence for every point that you assert.
  4. Don’t takes sides. Be impartial. Even if you hold strong beliefs about something or some school of thought, ensure that you give an impartial analysis of the subject. Take a neutral stance when analyzing all arguments and present them with no bias.

Steps to Critical Writing

  • Describe the key elements and subjects Critical essays that analyze the works and texts of other people are considered as descriptive. They usually focus on set features of the work or text. Thereafter, a compare and contrast analysis is done with reference to one of the classic works in the genre or sector.
  • Evaluate the Skills and Techniques An evaluation is normally done to match the expected value versus the actual value of the text or work at hand. Comment on whether it met your expectations or if it was rather a waste of time.
  • Interpret the Content and Meaning A form of critical essay is an interpretive essay. It gives your readers answers that are based on the meaning of the subject at hand. Thus, this means that you would have to understand and grasp the content in order to draw the meaning. You can do this by reading, observing and watching. Thereafter, develop an argument that reflects this interpretation.

Always Link the Critique to Your Thesis

It should never veer off the limits of your thesis statement. If you have some weakness in this, seek some help from your instructor or peers. You can even choose a different topic for your analysis if it proves difficult to link your analysis to your thesis statement.

Have a Sense of Decorum

We know that at times, we may analyze some topics and subjects that are distasteful. They may be unappealing, boring or diametrically opposed to your beliefs. However, remember that your objective is to provide an unbiased analysis. Be polite and choose words that bring the audience to a sophisticated view.

The Do’s and the Don’ts

Your critique should leave no stone unturned when analyzing some work or text. Whatever you have been assigned to examine, be it a form of artwork, a film, a book, or an article, strive to put your best foot forward. Address the following when writing your critique:

The Do’s

Is the topic well fitting? Has the author gathered sufficient evidence to back his/her claims? Which techniques have been used to bring out the primary message in the critique? Was the author successful in the use of these techniques? Does the style used by the author adequately cover the central subject?

The Don’ts

Don’t dwell too much on the author’s topic. Remember that this is your time to shine. It is your essay and thus, your central ideas should be key. The ideas fronted by the author should be secondary. The premise of the paper is for you to analyze how the author has presented his/her subject. Even if it’s your paper, don’t express your personal opinion all through. You ought to entertain as many ideas as possible for you to have an objective paper. Remember your own opinion should only provide a critical analysis. Thus, there ought to be other opinions expressed for you to criticize them. Don’t also get marred by bias. Don’t fabricate ideas or present untrue information. We know that your main mandate is to present a criticism, but this criticism should be accurate, factual and consistent. Don’t get carried away by the fact that you have to give an opposing view to the extent of giving false evidence. Whatever suits you, a positive or negative criticism that’s factual is welcomed. Desist from crafting inadmissible evidence as your criticism.

Writing the Critique Essay

At this point, we know that you’re ready to get to the real writing of the critique. At the very basic, critiques are just like any write-ups that you would write in your English class. Instructors may choose to give you the topic. Others may choose to give the thesis, while others will leave everything to you to decide. Whatever the case, we know that you can tackle it. The various instances where a critique can be tested include:
  • Article critiques
  • Literature critiques
  • Journal critiques
  • Research paper critiques
  • Movie/film critiques
  • Play critiques
  • Quantitative research critiques, or any other form of critique
In all the above instances, the same rules apply. So don’t get frightened when the topic is not the usual English class topics. The guidelines discussed below will help you write the best critique.

Preparation to Write a Critique

Ensure that you’ve read the literature given be it a book, play, etc. If it is a film, take some time to watch it fully. Don’t fret, if you don’t get the plot in the first consideration. You can even read or watch them a second time if you need to clarify on some points that were presented. Study the material well and even take some notes. Note the areas that you would like to dwell on in your critique. You can use the old school way of putting bookmarks, sticky notes or just make a mental note.

Parts of a Critique Essay

As earlier mentioned, all critiques take the same approach. They also ascribe to a general format regardless of topic. Take note that instructors will be keen to identify if this structure is present.
  • The Summary. As the name suggests, it should give a detailed but brief overview of the author’s argument. Observe brevity but make sure to give a summary that is rich and informative.
  • Interpretations and Analysis. In this section, you should present the primary objective of the author. Identify the goals that he/she wanted to achieve and comment on whether they were achieved in the material to be analyzed. With sufficient evidence, argue your case out as to whether the author gave convincing evidence. But desist from putting your personal bias in the interpretation.
  • Evaluation and Response. Your readers will be high with anticipation at this juncture. Their minds would be geared to what you have to say. Thus, you should endeavor to give the best response possible. The response that is given should adhere to high standards of professionalism. However, don’t lose your critical touch. Be creative and find a balance between engaging your readers and giving stark critical responses. Avoid all sorts of vulgar and strong language. Don’t shy away from going against the tide if you have evidence to back it. If the author slacked, be sure to mention it with sound reasons.

Format of the Critique Paper

Let’s briefly consider the format of winning critical essay. All should have an introduction. This is where the rubber meets the road. Your introduction acts as a launch your critique. It sets the stage for your analysis and thus it should be well crafted. The following tips can aid you to come up with an effective introduction:
  • Give a brief outline of the central points of the author's work. Follow it up with the ulterior meanings of the author’s piece.
  • Give your general statement that airs your opinion on the work at hand. This will serve as your thesis statement. In most cases, writers use captivating and controversial statements. You can use them too. This way, your readers get hooked and engaged from the very beginning.
  • The critique serves to reveal the underpinnings of the work that’s being analyzed. However, don’t include every piece of information that you get. Some may pass as basic and unnecessary.
  • For example, if you’re analyzing Aristotle’s sample work, you don’t have to quote every single work that he has done. Just stick to what falls in the context of your critical essay. Sometimes the reader may feel bombarded with unnecessary information and lose interest in your work.
After introducing your critical essay, the next task is to write the body paragraphs. These are also known as the supporting paragraphs. They house the central points of discussion. All your facts, evidence, and ideas are provided here. They all serve the purpose of proving and supporting your thesis statement. The tips considered below may be of help in writing the body paragraphs:
  • Each paragraph should address at least one point. Each should develop a concept that is provided in the author’s works. The supporting sentences should then give the criticism of the concept in question. They could either support or disapprove the concept being analyzed. What’s important is to give stark evidence for all your claims.
  • It is best to write in the third person. This way, you can develop your points well. The chronology of the essay will also be enhanced. In the end, the reader is bound to get an objective analysis which is done at arm’s length.
  • Ensure that you indulge your readers as to whether the author presented his/her case well. Identify the goals that the author was trying to achieve and subject them to a critical analysis.
  • Comment on whether these goals were achieved and whether points were well articulated.
  • Draw the line between facts and opinions. Facts are normally backed by evidence and proof. Opinions are simply expressions of our individual thoughts. While arguing your points make this distinction. You shouldn’t present opinions and back them with other opinions whereas you shouldn’t present facts and back them with opinions.
  • Take into cognizance that your main mandate is to give the reader an understanding of the author’s work from your own perspective. Thus, clearly express yourself. Be specific in your approach.

The Conclusion

After submitting your assertions, evidence, and perspectives in the body paragraphs, you can now comfortably end your essay. The conclusion should also be written with tact. Remember that this is where you are signing off and thus you ought to do it in style. The conclusion serves to give the reader the key take homes of your critical essay. It serves to reaffirm your position. Thus, you ought to craft it carefully. Generally, the conclusion should summarize the entire critical essay in a few lines. Therefore, be picky as to what you will write. Start by reasserting your main points. Leave no room for doubt it the mind if the reader as to where you stand. The guidelines below can help you write a good conclusion:
  • Give a summary of the analysis that was presented in the body paragraphs.
  • Summarize the main evidence provided in the analysis.
  • Give some recommendations as to how the critiqued work can be enhanced.
Finally, you have the necessary tools and tips to write your critique essay. We hope that you will adhere to them and apply them to your writing. With that, let’s give a sample critical essay example. We will examine the work of Charlotte Perkins Gilman, The Yellow Wallpaper.

Critical Essay Example

The Yellow Wallpaper is the first literary piece that comes to mind when controversial feminist literature is mentioned. The book is written in the first person by one Charlotte Perkins. We guess that this was deliberately done to enhance the narrative being presented. The book is a short story that is full of meaning. The author gives a detailed presentation of the problems that the 19th century women faced as far as mental and physical health is concerned. The plot of the story is rather mysterious and the story is largely in the form of diary entries. Even so, the realism that is embodied is profound. As the plot uncovers, the reader is left at crossroads. At no point can the reader claim to know if the story is indeed a reflection of reality or just an expression of the thoughts of the protagonist. In a sense, the description that’s given by the author represents a mix of the actual situation on the ground and the author’s fears. The author subtly intended to bring a feminist story that has a bit of thrill. However, in the end, the thrill proves to outweigh the feminist story. Even so, the piece is a classic. It vividly describes the stereotypes that were prevalent in the 19th century. It is indeed a good read.


We’ve taken a tour into the history of critique essays, looked at how to go about writing one and provided an actual sample. This guide is your one stop shop for all things critique essays. We hope that by the time you’re done reading our critique essay example, you got a feel for what is required. Writing critiques can be exciting. You only need to read more critique examples and you’ll see this for yourself!