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Higher English 2011/12. Critical Essay Workshop Tuesday 30 August. Critical Essay. A critical essay is marked out of 25. 25 – Outstanding 21/23 – Very Sound 17/19 – Comfortable 13/15 – Just Succeeds 11/9 – Fails 7/5 – Serious Shortcomings. Question Types.

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higher english 2011 12

Higher English 2011/12

Critical Essay Workshop

Tuesday 30 August

critical essay
Critical Essay

A critical essay is marked out of 25.

25 – Outstanding

21/23 – Very Sound

17/19 – Comfortable

13/15 – Just Succeeds

11/9 – Fails

7/5 – Serious Shortcomings

question types
Question Types

You can answer a question in one of the following sections:

  • Prose
  • Poetry
  • Drama

You must answers two questions, both from different sections.

understanding the question
Understanding the Question

The most important thing to do is make sure you understand the question. You can write the best essay in the world but if it does not answer the question then you fail.

The box above the questions tell you what you should do to answer the question in general before the actual question gets specific.

the box
The Box

Answers to questions on prose fiction should address relevantly the central concern(s)/theme(s) of the text(s) and be supported by reference to appropriate techniques of prose fiction such as: characterisation, setting, key incident(s), narrative technique, symbolism, structure, climax, plot, atmosphere, dialogue, imagery ...

This is the text from “THE BOX”. This tells you how to answer every question in the prose section. It lays out the different techniques that you should mention. You will never be able to reference them all but you should try and include as many of them as possible.

The easiest to write about have been put into bold. By constantly referring to these techniques, you should avoid simply re-telling the story which results in FAILURE.

the question
The Question

Choose a novel or short story which features a relationship between two characters which is confrontational or corrosive.

Describe how the relationship is portrayed and discuss to what extent the nature of the relationship influences your understanding of the text as a whole.

This is a prose critical essay question.

To answer this question you must do the following:

  • Describe how the confrontational/corrosive relationship is portrayed.
  • Explain how the relationship increases your understanding of the text
  • Use the techniques from “The Box” in your analysis
  • DO NOT re-tell the story.
answer the question
Answer the Question

Below is a prose question. How would you answer it?

Choose a novel or short story which deals with true love, unrequited love or love betrayed.

Discuss the writer’s exploration of the theme and show to what extent it conveys a powerful message about the nature of love.

structure your answer
Structure Your Answer

When you are writing a critical essay you should follow the following structure. This should help you avoid re-telling the story.

Introduction

Use the wording of the question to frame your introduction by using the key words. You should also explain how you are going to answer the question.

Choose a novel or short story which deals with true love, unrequited love or love betrayed.

Discuss the writer’s exploration of the theme and show to what extent it conveys a powerful message about the nature of love.

structure your answer1
Structure Your Answer

The main body of your essay should follow this structure:

  • Point
  • Evidence
  • Analysis
  • Reference back to the question
example question
Example Question

Choose a novel which has a character who is not taken seriously or respected which turns out to have tragic consequences.

point
Point

This is where you make a point that is relevant to the question.

Example

Piggy is a character that is ignored because he is fat and because he speaks in a manner that the other characters believe is common despite the fact that he speaks a lot of sense.

evidence
Evidence

This is where you provide evidence to back up your POINT. The easiest way to do this is with a quote.

Example

“Piggy, for all his ludicrous body, had brains.”

analysis
Analysis

This is where you get your marks. Markers love good analysis which shows a real insight into the text. You should analyse your point in detail.

Example

Golding is being heavy on irony when he makes it clear that Piggy is someone who could help the boys escape the island but he is ignored due to his appearance. This already begins to show the darkness that exists in the other boys as they are letting human prejudice and cruelty cloud their judgement and in doing so, damage their chances of escaping from the island.

reference back to the question
Reference back to the question

This is a very simple part but it stops you from wandering off course and writing things that are not relevant to the question. After every section, refer back to the wording of the question.

Example

This clearly shows that Piggy has been disrespected for unfair reasons and this all contributes to the novel’s tragic conclusion.

structure your answer2
Structure Your Answer

Conclusion

You should use your conclusion to sum up your main argument and to refer back to the question. Just like the introduction, you should use the wording of the question to frame your conclusion. This brings your essay circular back to the question.

mini essay task
Mini Essay Task

Below is a mini essay question. You will not be able to write in enough depth for a full critical essay but it gives you an opportunity to try out the essay structure. Remember to use “The Box”.

The opening chapters of Lord of the Flies introduces us to characters who exhibit dark tendencies. Describe these characters and explain how they contribute to your understanding of the novel’s thematic concerns.

Due Tuesday September 6th.