S5 English Critical Essay
Good Morning S5! • In today’s lesson we will... • Recap the structure of a critical essay. • Look at some exemplars. • Practice essay writing techniques.
What is a critical essay? • A personal response to a piece of literature. • An essay in which you judge certain aspects of the text – being critical does not mean negative. • An essay in which you must come to a conclusion about how effective the writer has been. • Your comment on how worthwhile the text is overall.
Assessment • Understanding Do you understand the key aspects of text? Can you identify significant details? Can you comment on theme? 2) Analysis Show how style, structure and language contribute to meaning and effect of text. Quote to support. 3) Evaluation What do you think about what the writer is saying? How effective are the quotations you have analysed? 4) Expression Have you a clear line of thought? Have you used critical terminology? Have you checked your sentence structure, punctuation, paragraphing and word choice?
Texts • The texts you study are of a good quality. • They tell us something about life, human beings and the world we live in. • They tell us something about the human condition. • Your task is to reveal to the marker your understanding of the writer’s message/thematic concern, and your reaction to it.
Plan! • It is NEVER enough to simply retell the story of what happens in the book. • You MUST respond to the question set and refer to it throughout your essay. • In your plan, create a working title based on the detail of the task – take the words from the question and refocus them. • For example...
Plan! • Question: Choose a novel or short story in which you feel great sympathy for, or intense dislike of one of the characters. Briefly outline the situation in which the character finds himself and show by what means you are made to feel sympathy or dislike. How Orwell, in Animal Farm, successfully makes me feel great dislike for Napoleon through his use of characterisation, theme and plot.
PLOT irony Execution of animals who do not obey CHARACTER How Orwell, in Animal Farm, successfully makes me feel great dislike for Napoleon through his use of characterisation, theme and plot. Betrays Boxer Napoleon and Stalin Breaks all commandments Napoleon and Snowball Napoleon and Squealer Walks on hind legs Russian Revolution THEME allegory How power corrupts satire Power of language
Introduction • Name of text and author. • Direct reference to the KEY WORDS in the question. • Focus on the question straight away. • Outline arguments to be presented in the rest of the essay. • For example...
Introduction Introduce text and author • ‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell is an allegory based on events that happened during and after the Russian Revolution of 1917. A socialist with strong views, Orwell uses farmyard animals and their actions to describe the cruelties and hypocrisy of the Soviet party in Communist Russia in the 1940s. • Certain animals are based directly on Communist leaders, most notably Napoleon as Josef Stalin. Orwell effectively presents us with a character for whom we feel intense dislike and as the novel progresses and Napoleon’s behaviour deteriorates, the reader is appalled and disgusted by his actions. • By examining Orwell’s masterful use of character, theme and plot, I aim to show how the situation in which Napoleon finds himself in leads me to passionately dislike him. Direct reference to key words of questions Outline line of thought in the rest of essay
Main Body • Each paragraph needs to relate back to the KEY WORDS of question. • Follow a structure such as S - Statement E - Evidence E - Explanation C - Comment • Or choose your own.
Main Body - Evaluation • It is not enough just to analyse – you must also evaluate – indicate how well a technique/aspect of text. • Give your opinion. • Use the kind of vocabulary that shows you are assessing/weighing up/evaluating how effective a technique is. • Avoid vague words such as ‘good’. • Do not repeat yourself.
Main Body - Evaluation • Use EVALUATIVE words such as... • effective clever • competent thoughtful • illuminating judicious • moving striking • skilled accurate • powerful impressive • meaningful perceptive • talented significant • memorable insightful
Main Body – write in the present tense! Paragraph 1 Napoleon’s rise to power - rations - self importance - executions Paragraph 2 Napoleon’s betrayal of Boxer - loyalty - manipulation - lack of intelligence
Main Body – present tense! Paragraph 3 Napoleon and the commandments - beer/trade - Squealer/propaganda - power of language Paragraph 4 Napoleon in the final chapter - shocking finale - betrayal of Animalism - Future for farm/society
Conclusion • Sum up • Evaluate • Refer back to question • Give your opinion • Comment on Orwell
Napoleon’s betrayal of Boxer STATEMENT As the novel progresses, Napoleon’s behaviour gets increasingly more shocking, leading the reader’s dislike for him intensify. One of his most appalling actions is to send Boxer to the glue factory after a fall means the horse is no longer capable of physical work. EVIDENCE This incident is made all the more horrifying by the fact that Boxer, the pigs most loyal servant, is led to believe he is going to hospital in order to receive the best possible medical care for his injured hoof. Only Benjamin is aware enough to realise what is happening. “You fools! Can’t you read what is says?”
Napoleon’s betrayal of Boxer EXPLANATION and COMMENT Representing those people throughout the Russian Revolution who were aware of what was happening but chose not to speak out, at this point in the novel, Benjamin finally alerts the other animals to what Napoleon has planned. Orwell cleverly achieves a number of points here. Firstly, our opinion of Napoleon as an unlikeable character is confirmed as we note the ruthlessness of his treatment of Boxer. Throughout the novel, Boxer is portrayed as a kind and loyal figure. His cruel and undeserved demise comes as a shock to the reader who has been both admiring his compassionate nature whilst also becoming increasingly alarmed at his naïve devotion to the pigs who mistreat him. Secondly, Orwell effectively shows the danger that a lack of education can result in and in doing so, portrays Napoleon as a character that the reader must despise.