In some stage of high school or even college, we may be assigned with writing a critical lens essay. As suggested by its name, such essays demand good reading, writing and analytical skills in a controlled literary environment:
So, what exactly is a critical lens essay?
While it might sound confusing at first, we have provided explanations and details in a critical lens essay. This article will also cover the step-by-step guide of how to write a critical lens essay. Critical essays offer a perspective on a specific subject which generally includes art or quotes. When writing a critical lens essay, a student is provided with a quote or piece of art to be analysed. The analysis should be based on literary sources like books and arguments to support or oppose the notion. You must understand that this is not similar to an analytical or comparative essay. Critical lens essays help to measure the analytical skills of a student. It is done by examining how well the student can deconstruct the argument and its validity and the appropriateness of the literary devices in literary terms. Therefore, how the student structures the essay will either make or break it. It is often more than just analysing the interpretation of the given quote.
This section will help you understand the importance of such assignments. Though every institution will provide varied instructions, these general tips will surely help you out when you are working on your essay.
Exploring the various themes and the elements of well-known masterpieces with a contextual lens is the ultimate goal of writing a critical lens essay. The student or the author should successfully defend the quote or text’s central claim that is being explored in the essay. It can be achieved by linking specific events mentioned in the text that match the initial argument and fitting them into respective categories.
These assignments aim to test and improve the reading and analytical skills of a student. It makes critical lens essays to be an advanced form of analysis. The ultimate goal of such essays is to provide relevant arguments regarding your position on the quote with the help of several examples from literary sources that support the logic behind your stance. Such assignments generally analyse quotes from famous texts from a particular piece of art or culture. Analysing non-theoretical pieces is also possible as long as a theoretical approach is being adopted. Critical lens essays are quite philosophical and can lead to several discoveries relating to the work that is being analysed and within oneself. The author’s expectation while doing a critical lens analysis will depend on the complexity of the assigned text. Several vital aspects are needed to be covered that include symbolism, similes, metaphors, and various historical themes that characterise the use of figurative language. Effective evaluation and identification of the main idea reflect your understanding; however, you should not be afraid of exploring lesser-known standpoints as these can prove to be quite interesting for the lecturer since they are already bored of reading the same interpretation multiple times.
In essence, a student will need to assess a quote and judge its substantiality based on the given circumstance. Though it might seem quite simple at first, it can be quite difficult to analyse someone else’s point of view with supporting arguments cohesively. It also allows the instructor to test the student’s literary knowledge and write quality essays on several topics exploring literary elements and tools. This task gives the student complete freedom to explore their creativity as they can express their stance and thoughts on the matter while implementing critical thinking to explain the interpretation to the readers. While many students try to validate many opinionated points to leave a deep impression on the reader, many consider it a cliché. However, in many cases, it is best to give an honest opinion instead of arguing and defending something that you do not necessarily believe in. Remember, when you are arguing about something you believe in, it leaves room for improvements since it interests you. Do not be afraid to include less known opinions since it leaves room for exploration of the controversy.
A quote is only a tool that allows the author to explore the underlying theme with a sharper focus that they choose to highlight. Several paths can help in analysing and interpreting the text.
The format of a critical lens essay:
Unless specified otherwise, a critical lens essay follows the requirements of academic writing. If your institution has prescribed no specific structure, stick to the basic structure of introduction, body and conclusion. The critical analysis should be developed in the body section in the case of a critical lens essay. Use the introduction section to introduce the quote to the readers and include a hook sentence to encourage the readers to read on. Finalise all the ideas that you introduced in the essay in the conclusion section. Be mindful of the word count and the references. The correct format of a critical lens essay requires the underlining and capitalisation of the book titles. The essay should be written objectively without reflecting on the author’s personal opinions. Clear and verifiable evidence should be introduced to support any claim. The author should also avoid using any personal pronoun and instead address using words like readers, audience etc.
Critical lens essay quotes:
If you are looking for quotes that will become the base of your essay, here are a few critical essay quotes that can be used.
How to write a critical lens essay?
Teachers and professors quite favour critical lens essays since they can effectively demonstrate the students’ critical thinking abilities while also reflecting on the depth of their understanding of the topic. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to write a critical lens essay:
Tips on writing a critical lens essay:
Primarily, a critical lens essay analyses and explores literary works based on quotations. In the majority of the cases, the specific quotes would be provided by the instructor. But in some cases, students are asked to choose the second literary source from a list of different selections. In this case, students will need a good grip and understanding of the initial quote to develop compelling arguments to support it. Let us take the example of ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’ by Garcia Marquez and ‘House of Spirits’ by Isabel Allende. Though it is safe to say that both of these literary pieces are not related perfectly, however, both the pieces have a similar time setting and focuses on the theme of turmoil in South America which are often known to depict a similar situation where the protagonists and the antagonists highlight important symbolisms among locals. When you can successfully arrange these elements, the audience would be able to participate actively and learn the facts about the topic they are presented with.
It is good to draft rough ideas separately to have a clear and structured outline of a paragraph. It provides a great boost to the organisational efforts of the author by allowing proper and logical structuring of the themes and the elements. This gives a cursive flow to your critical lens essay, making it much attractive for the reader. It also helps the audience understand the concepts very easily when they read the essay. The introduction section should be reflected in the body sections to avoid any confusion among the readers. Your analysis should make it clear to the readers whether you support the writer’s quote or not, with all the supporting elements of the body paragraph thoroughly explored concisely.
The outline of a critical lens essay:
Before you start worrying about the outline of a critical lens essay, you first need to understand its basic structure and what it looks like since most of the essays follow a similar structure apart from a few minute changes here and there.
Introduction: Similar to any other type of paragraph, the introduction is used to analyse the literary context. The essay’s author will also use this section to state the quote that is to be analysed, otherwise also known as the critical lens statement. The quote should be stated word to word, including any quotation marks to grab the reader’s attention. The introduction will also contain the background of the author. In the case of anonymous authors, it is necessary to include the quotes as they might be taboo, which makes the author hide their identity.
Body paragraphs: The body paragraphs are usually where the analysis of the quote takes place. Essay writers should provide their personal interpretation of the quote and declare if they support the notion or not. Among several other things, the author should be able to analyse the purpose of the quote in the context of its particular era. This section should be able to perfectly convey the logic behind the specific standpoint with the help of well-structured sentences. The writer should also mention the author and title of the literary sources intended to be used, including the literary elements that connect to the quote and a detailed analysis of this connection to highlight and align with the respective literary sources.
The body section should be divided among four or more paragraphs, which should be further subdivided into respective sections depending on the number of literary elements the writer wishes to explore. The body section introduces the thesis statement coupled with the detailed analysis of the literary pieces chosen in the previous paragraph. It is very important that the writer effectively uses intricate examples from the literary sources to highlight his/her understanding of the quote. It helps the readers have the same thought process and connection when they analyse the quote’s context and themes.
Start each paragraph of the body section with a topic sentence that can draw the readers’ attention, which is, after all, its primary purpose. The readers should be able to find comprehensive information on the subject which covers all aspects in detail. It is not a good idea to introduce new information to the readers in the conclusion and gives out the impression that the author was not able to adequately accommodate it in the body section.
Conclusion: This is the final section of the critical lens essay. The main goal of this section is to summarise all the main points of the analysis in a comprehensive manner. The author should also restate the quote and its author in this section. Quotation marks should be used to mark the quote. It is a very important section of the essay since it shows the author’s level of understanding of the topic’s key aspects. However, remember not to introduce any new idea or concept in this section which is a very common issue. Nevertheless, the conclusion section is used to identify whether the writer agrees or not with the quote. Try to summarise your arguments from the previous sections into concise sentences.
Example of a critical lens essay:
Understanding how to write a critical lens essay can be a bit difficult to write only by following written guidelines. Therefore, here is an example of a critical lens essay for your reference:
Life is much more than just the time a person spends on this planet. It is an amalgamation of emotions, experiences, and challenges that define individuals and fill their lives with meaning and purpose. Abraham Lincoln once said, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” This statement holds quite true. Humans are born on this planet with a purpose and a goal behind their existence which they have an entire lifetime to discover. Thich Nhat and Mark Twain proves the validity of this idea,
Human life is complicated at every level. The body first reaches its full potential and then slowly starts to decline. This is an inescapable part of human life, one that everyone is familiar with. On a spiritual level, human life is more than just birth and death, and every individual inspires a unique story through their interesting and eventful life. Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So, throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails.” It is usually the bold decisions that fill life with meaning and memories. Living your life is much more than just going with the flow. It is about introspection and realisation of the world and your ability to coexist with it. As Thich Nhat once famously said, “Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.” It is evident with many people living their daily monotony stuck at a dead-end job that they don’t even like to survive and exist, making life an unpleasant routine. However, life can become much more if you decide to live on your terms and enjoy every second of your life. Risks and challenges often make for the most memorable experiences that enrich your lives, and it is what matters in the very end that you let your true self take over.
Therefore, we need to fill each second of our lives with kindness and empathy. Living also means making tough decisions and taking bold actions to aid your struggle for self-realisation and development. The spark in life is only seen when you follow your dreams and discover the depth of who you are.
Much like an academic essay, a critical lens essay consists of an introduction, body sections and the conclusion, apart from a few minor changes..
A critical lens essay consists of one introductory paragraph, four to five paragraphs in the body section and one paragraph for the conclusion section.
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