How to write a critical analysis essay


While writing a critical analysis essay, you are expected to take a subject and make a critical assessment of it. This subject can be a historical event, an artistic work such as a book, movie, song, social problem, or even a political issue.

Any topic that can create conflict or has the potential of triggering different reactions can be the subject of a critical analysis essay.

The reason we write these types of essays is to examine different points of view on a controversial subject. If you need to write a critical analysis essay, there are some common mistakes to avoid.

Step 1: Common mistakes

You first need to improve your argumentation skills. Most college papers require creating and defending your arguments, which is quite common in argumentative essays.

Now that we know what critical analysis is and what to avoid, we can continue with the other steps of the writing process.

Step 2: Choose a subject and research

If your subject is pre-assigned by your teacher or instructor, you can pass this step. If not, there are a few tips you should consider when choosing your topic.

Keeping these tips in mind, choose yourself a subject that you are interested in. For this guide, let’s choose the subject “Kate Chopin’s ‘The Story of an Hour’ as a work of women’s liberation.” (sample essay)

Whether your subject is a book, a movie, or a cultural phenomenon, examining it once is not enough for writing a critical analysis essay.

For example, suppose you are analyzing a book. You need to read scholarly articles in addition to the actual book. While reading, your main aim is to detect the author’s thesis statement. There are three main points to consider when you are reading the text.

The tone and language of the essay (US or UK English) can be a clue for you. For example, if the author uses advanced vocabulary and technical theories, the text is intended for knowledgeable audiences.

By reading into the persuasion methods such as language and rhetoric, you can understand the messages the author intends to give in the text.

By examining the text’s structure, you can recognize the main points the author wants to emphasize.

Through these points, you can make an excellent critical reading on your subject. As always, make sure to use credible sources (in APA or MLA) to base your essay!

Step 4: Build your thesis

After the reading part is done, you can start writing your essay. If possible, give yourself some time to reflect upon your readings to organize your thoughts on the subject.

Your thesis statement should summarize the claim you want to make in your essay, and it should indicate a particular idea. You should avoid using words and phrases that predicate uncertainty, such as arguably, possibly, or conceivably.

“Kate Chopin’s 1894 short story ‘The Story of an Hour’ is an excellent example of a women’s liberation story which expresses the oppression women face in a male-dominated society magnificently.”

Now we know how to write a great thesis statement, let’s see how to create an outline.

Step 5: Create an outline

As with all essays, once you build your thesis statement, creating an outline will help you organize your thoughts and be coherent in your writing process.

Unless specified otherwise, your essay should follow the traditional essay structure. This means it should have an introduction, supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion.


Step 6: Introduction

The introduction paragraph is one of the most critical parts of your essay because it sets the structure for the rest of your paper. You can see the example introduction and then see a checklist below.

“The Story of an Hour” is a short story by Kate Chopin published on April 19, 1894. Opening sentence: Define and introduce the work or subject to the readers. In the story, Chopin recounts the one-hour relief a woman feels when she learns that her husband is dead. Through this work, Chopin portrays the oppression women feel under the marriage institution. Explanation: Give the overall idea of the work or issue at hand. Therefore, this short story is an excellent example of a women’s liberation story which expresses the oppression women face in a male-dominated society magnificently. Thesis statement: Present the main point of your critical analysis essay.

If you can check all these points, then congrats. You’ve got yourself a well-written introduction paragraph.

Step 7: The summary paragraphs

To make a critical analysis of a subject, you first need to summarize it effectively. Especially if your subject is a literary work or a movie. Therefore, making a summary of the work in your first supporting paragraph would be a smart choice.

Below, you’ll see an example of a summary paragraph for critical analysis. Carefully examine it and then see the checklist for the summary paragraphs.

In “The Story of an Hour,” the protagonist Louise Mallard hears the news of her husband passing away in a railroad accident. Instead of feeling sorrow, she feels a sense of relief that is evident from her actions during the one hour in which she thinks he is dead. However, after one hour, when she sees her husband back home, her feelings turn to sorrow. After all, her husband was not dead. Detail of the work: Summarize the events in the work. There is a reversed structure of feeling in the protagonist’s psychological state. During the hour in which her husband is thought to be dead, the setting is cheerful, while the setting afterward is mournful. Interpretation: Evaluate the work and interpret its structure, story etc.

Make sure your summary paragraphs are in line with the both points. If so, we can get to the analysis paragraphs.

Step 8: The analysis paragraphs

This section is also essential for your academic essay since the whole build-up was for you to state your own opinions and analyses. In these paragraphs, there are several factors you should be looking out for.
First, let us give a properly prepared example, and then you can check out the things to look for in an analysis paragraph.

Kate Chopin does a great job portraying the oppression the domestic life and the marriage institution have on women. Opinion: Start the analysis by presenting your personal view of the work. In a particularly short word count, she successfully makes the reader feel many different feelings, making us understand how a woman who is stuck in the domestic sphere feels. During the part where Louise Mallard opens her windows and looks at the birds and the beautiful weather we can clearly see how she has embraced a new perspective in life even in a relatively short amount of time. Explanation: Refer to the original text in order to explain the work in detail. Make sure to remind the reader about certain events in the work.

Check your analysis paragraph based on these questions, and then we can finally get to the conclusion.

Step 9: Conclusion

You are almost finished! Now that you have expressed your opinions in several well-written paragraphs, you can compose your final thoughts in your conclusion paragraph.

First, see an example of a good conclusion paragraph. Then you can follow the checklist to write one by yourself!

After all, we can clearly see that Kate Chopin has shown her remarkable writing skills in this story. Without making any direct comments about the state of women during her era, she paints a picture of domestic life in her readers’ minds and inevitably raises some questions. Restatement: Make sure to present your thesis statement once more in the conclusion. Even in a short story of this sort, she successfully makes people realize the hardships women have to face in their daily lives. Anyone who wants to read an impactful critical work on the domestic sphere women is stuck in should read this short story. Because Kate Chopin has done a fantastic job in transmitting her thoughts into fiction with this remarkable work. Concluding sentence: Include your own thoughts on the issue or work in the concludin sentence. Make sure to state the impacts of your subject.

Now that you have finished your essay, give yourself a couple of days to let the thoughts rest in your head. Then, come back to the essay and make the necessary changes after proofreading.

Frequently Asked Questions

A proper critical analysis essay starts with an introduction that defines the work or issue on the hand and includes a thesis statement.

When writing a critical analysis essay, you should follow the general academic essay writing process but with simple twists. These differences include the separate summary and analysis paragraphs.

A critical analysis should include the definition of the work at hand, the writer’s personal thoughts, an evaluation of the work, and of course, a thesis statement.

Anything you can critically assess can be a subject to a critical analysis. These may be historical events, literary works, movies, books etc. An example of this would be “Kate Chopin’s ‘The Story of an Hour’ as a work of women’s liberation.”

Thank you for reading. If you need further information, feel free to have a look at our essay samples or contact us at live chat.

Ibrahim Akturk
Ibrahim Akturk
Content editor at Tamara Research. Translation major, huge coffee and baking nerd. Addicted to good music and great articles.

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