The first step toward seeing one’s object as it really is, is to know one’s own impression as it really is, to discriminate it, to realize its distinguishing features. (Walter Pater, British art critic)
Your personal, academic, and professional lives often require you to use analytical and critical skills. As art critic Walter Pater believes, when you see an object as it really is, know your impressions, discriminate, and realize distinguishing features, you engage in the act of critical analysis. Whether responding to an editorial in a newspaper you read at home, critiquing a book in a history class, or analyzing a problem at work and critiquing possible solutions, you use skills of criticism and analysis.
“To analyze” means to break down into parts. “To criticize” means to evaluate, review, or determine the worth or value of something. The critical analysis therefore, breaks down a subject into parts (or “distinguishing features”) and comments on the effectiveness of those parts. It can reveal how and how well an author accomplishes his or her purposes. And because you are supporting your critical/analytical assertion with your reasoning and evidence, the critical analysis is an argumentative essay.
You probably find yourselves reading critical analysis essays on a variety of subjects. Reviews of movies, books, dramatic productions, restaurants, compact disks, concerts, and websites are examples of analytical criticisms we encounter in daily reading. These reviews are written by professional reviewers who offer “expert” or “informed” critiques in newspapers, magazines, and websites.
In your English classes, you are likely to analyze and critique a book (or maybe just a chapter), short story, novel, poem, drama, or essay. You might find yourself commenting on the effectiveness of a writer’s purpose, content, organization, or style (specific matters concerning sentence structure, diction, and tone). Rather than...