Critical Analysis

In a critical analysis, you examine and assess a work from a number of points of view. Requirements often vary by instructor or company, but you should always include the following.

  • Enough background information to familiarize your reader with the piece you’re analyzing (including the name of the author or artist)
  • A description of the way the piece was written
  • The general thesis behind the piece or a synopsis of the work

The following list of questions may be helpful when composing a critical analysis.

What biographical data about the author or artist is important? What are the purpose, tone, and format of the piece? How can the work be interpreted?

Is there any information in the work that’s inaccurate or incomplete?

In what ways was the piece successful, and how did the author or artist achieve that success?

In what ways did the author or artist fail?

What could the author or artist have done to be more successful?

Are there historical, psychological, geographical, gender, racial, cultural, or religious considerations that have an impact on the work?

If you’re writing a critical analysis of a literary work, you need to consider points such as theme, symbolism, imagery, figurative language, setting, and characterization. Remember to avoid using the first-person point of view in a critical analysis unless your teacher, editor, or employer has specified that you may. In most instances, your personal like or dislike of a work would not be considered a suitable subject.

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