Critical Lens Essay
The Critical Lens Essay is very similar to the Critical Essay, in that both require the student-writer to critique a work of art, such as literature, an individual, an organization, or public policy. These essays generally are comprised of five or more paragraphs, and they defend a Thesis statement (which the argument being made).
However, the Critical Lens Essay is different than the standard Critical Essay because the student-writer discusses two works of literature from the perspective of the statement that is provided to them – one that is either provided for them or one they have chosen.
The statement marks the scope of the essay, hence the inclusion of “Lens” in Critical Lens Essay.
To accomplish this, the student-writer provides a valid interpretation of the statement, disagrees or agrees with it as they have interpreted it, and supports their opinion using specific references to appropriate literary elements from the literature. These include but are not limited to: characterization, the various means an author uses to describe and develop characters; conflict, a confrontation or struggle between opposing forces; figurative language, descriptions that associate or compare distinct things – similes, metaphors, personification, hyperbole, etc.; symbolism, anything that stands for or represents something else; and theme, the central message revealed through a literary work. This process often involves an implementation of research to defend certain assertions in the work.
The Critical Lens Essay will most likely be assigned in an English, Literature or Writing course; however, other courses, even outside of the Liberal Arts, may assign students write an essay of this sort.
The Path to a Great Critical Lens Essay
1) IDENTIFY, MAKES SENSE OF STATEMENT, OR “LENS” OF THE ESSAY
If a student is not provided a statement by their professor, they are to choose a statement they understand in full and can talk about at length. The rest of the essay depends on this statement and what sense the student-writer makes of it, as well as how they defend it, so understanding the statement is the most crucial step to producing a winning Critical Lens Essay.
2) CHOOSE AT LEAST TWO PIECES OF LITERATURE FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF THE STATEMENT
In explaining how they see the meaning of their chosen or provided statement, the focus, or “lens,” of their essay, the student-writer is essentially making an argument. As is the case with writing most college essays in which an argument is made, an asserted Thesis Statement has to be supported and defended. In the case of the Critical Lens Essay, the literature essentially becomes the evidence that the student-writer uses to make their argument valid.
3) MAKE AN OUTLINE
Next, the student-writer should create an elaborate outline, which will serve as a guide as they begin the writing process of their essay. It should indicate the function of each paragraph – The Intro paragraph: to begin the essay in a general, focused way, then delivering a Thesis Statement, the argument being asserted. The three Body paragraphs: to defend the Thesis Statement with evidence; in this case, the two pieces of literature.
4) WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT
Using the outline as a guide, the student-writer must then write out their first draft of the essay. They must speak in a confident, competent tone. They are making an argument for something, a skill they will undoubtedly use in their careers in the real world.
5) PROOFREAD, EDIT AND SUBMIT FOR GRADE
After their first draft is complete, the student-writer must reread their essay carefully to make sure they have not overlooked mindless grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, and other careless mistakes, before submitting it to their professor.
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