Critical Essay Questions Int 2

Presentation on theme: "Int 2 Critical Essays. Purpose of the Critical Essay A DISCURSIVE essay on a text Presenting an ARGUMENT – clear line of thought which is linked throughout."— Presentation transcript:

1 Int 2 Critical Essays

2 Purpose of the Critical Essay A DISCURSIVE essay on a text Presenting an ARGUMENT – clear line of thought which is linked throughout and is fully developed. You are the EXPERT on the text. Assertive stance which your genuine personal response/interpretation of the text Must have a CLEAR FOCUS and fully address the task – not everything you know or can remember about the text.

3 Features of a Critical Essay Don’t forget that you are presenting an ARGUMENT so you will use the same techniques as in discursive writing: - Introduction which clearly introduces line of argument. - Clearly and fully explained points. - Justification using evidence (textual evidence such as quotations) and explanation. - Clear structure which helps develop argument – topic sentences, sub-conclusions, linking, transitional markers. - Conclusion which sums up argument.

4 Assessment of a Critical Essay The assessment criteria is divided into 4 main areas: UNDERSTANDING ANALYSIS EVALUATION EXPRESSION

5 UNDERSTANDING Display an UNDERSTANDING of WHAT the text is about. THIS INCLUDES: WHAT happens in the text (Storyline, Key Plot Events) WHAT the text is about (THEMES and Writer’s PURPOSE – what are they saying about the themes, what are the messages to the reader about the Human Condition) Your Understanding of the texts is vital because if you don’t fully understand the text then you cannot go on and analyse and evaluate effectively.

6 ANALYSIS Identify and ANALYSE HOW the writer achieves certain effects and their overall PURPOSE. THIS INCLUDES: Identifying TECHNIQUES the writer uses and explaining their effects. Selecting key quotations and textual evidence and explaining why they are importance in the text – what is their effect, what do they show?

7 EVALUATION EVALUATE HOW EFFECTIVE the techniques used by the writer help them to achieve their intended effect and overall purpose. THIS INCLUDES: Assessing the effectiveness of the techniques and the text as a whole and giving a genuine personal response. Using evaluative language: successfully, clearly, cleverly, is effective in… Even though you must give a personal response, remember that it is a formal essay so you should not write ‘I think…’

8 EXPRESSION Your EXPRESSION must be clear, accurate and of an acceptable standard for Intermediate 2. THIS INCLUDES: Your writing must be technically accurate: sentencing, paragraphing, punctuation and grammar. Your expression should be formal and varied and you should use technical language where necessary. You must take responsibility for any areas of weakness and try to address these by asking for advice or resources to help you. Also, learn and commit to memory the spellings of technical terms and the names of writers/texts.

9 The Critical Essay Task In the exam, you will have to independently select two tasks which are suitable for the texts you have studied throughout the year. Therefore, it is extremely important that you understand how the tasks are made up and what they are asking you to do. KEY POINTS Know what TYPE each of your texts are: DRAMA, PROSE (Fiction or Non-fiction), POETRY or MEDIA Make sure you fully understand the question and what it asks you to do. You MUST, MUST, MUST make sure everything in your essay is relevant to the task – DO NOT lose sight of the task!

10 The Two Parts to the Task Choose a poem in which an incident or character or an experience is vividly described. Briefly state what the poem is about and go on to show how the techniques used make the description vivid. In your answer you must refer to the text and to at least two of: word-choice, imagery, mood, structure, characterisation or any other appropriate feature. This part ONLY helps you select the text you are going to write about. Type of text Open question, text can fit any of these Choose appropriate text This part tells you what your essay must do/cover. This is the bit you must refer to at all times in your essay. Show your understanding The Analysis The focus of the task. Also, why is it vivid? This bit gives you a little more direction and reminds you of techniques to look at. It now appears in a box above the tasks.

11 The Critical Essay Structure INTRODUCTION The function of the introduction is to clearly introduce the topic of the essay and set up the line of argument. KEY COMPONENTS: Title of the text Type of text Author/Poet/Dramatist’s Name Introduce focus of essay (the line of argument) – do this by referring to the task Outline key points of argument – areas the essay will cover

12 Lead into Argument Depending on the style of task, you may wish to give a little detail about the text in order to lead into your main analysis – The State what the poem is about part of task. This should not be a full blown plot summary but should clearly concerned with the main focus of the task and argument. DO NOT retell the story at any point in your essay, only explain parts of the plot that are essential to the point you are making about the writer’s technique. (avoid storytelling without any clear point of analysis)

13 Main Argument You should ALWAYS clearly plan out the aspects of the text that you are going to deal with in the main argument before you start writing. Your argument needs to be clear, logical and well thought through. Consider: What is relevant to the task The key points you want to make in each section Which quotations or textual evidence are you going to use to illustrate your points. The appropriate order of the points/paragraphs How you are going to link the points/paragraphs together.

14 Basic Structure of Paragraphs Topic Sentence – introduces topic of paragraph. Should be clearly focussed on argument and task 1 st Point for analysis – Make a statement asserting your understanding of text and technique. Textual Evidence – illustrate point made by referring to text (quotation) Analysis – Full and thorough explanation of effect achieved and purpose of technique’s effect. Repeat process for all other points on same topic Sub-Conclusion – Bringing together all points from paragraph in order to re-focus on argument/task and link into next paragraph.

15 Conclusion The conclusion should bring the essay to a close and sum- up the argument in an assertive, clear and concise way. The conclusion is very similar to the introduction in some ways: Re-state Title, Type and author of text Clear reference to the task Re-assert argument with particular focus on task and overall purpose of the text (Evaluative stance) There should be NO new points of analysis or any quotations in the conclusion

Here are the critical essay questions taken from the Intermediate 2 past papers from the last few years. This will hopefully make essay practice a little bit easier as they are all collected in one place.

Remember: when writing your introduction identify all the parts of the question where you can put in your own information about your chosen text. i.e. a question reading

Choose a scene or sequence from a film or TV drama which provides a climax to the action. Briefly describe the events leading up to the climax, and then explain how the techniques used by the film or programme makers create a heightened sense of importance in this scene or sequence.

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Constantine directed by Francis Lawrence has a climatic sequence in which the lead character, Constantine, chooses to sacrifice himself in order to save the heroine, Angela. Prior to this Constantine had been attempting to reset the balance between good and evil on earth.  Lawrence has used various techniques in this climatic scene to create a heightened sense of the importance of Constantine’s actions at this point.

Remember: for your main paragraphs it is important to structure your essay properly. Try and stick to the PEEL system. In the first sentence state your main point or supporting argument. In the next sentence support this with some evidence from the text. Explain this evidence to the reader by making clear exactly how your evidence supports the point you have just made. Finally, link this back to the main argument.

POETRY QUESTIONS

1. Choose a poem which could be considered as having a powerful message. Show how the poet effectively conveys this message through his or her use of poetic techniques.

2. Choose a poem in which the poet creates a particular mood or atmosphere. Show how the poet creates this mood or atmosphere by his or her choice of subject matter and use of poetic techniques.

3. Choose a poem which portrays an interesting character. Show how the poet uses poetic techniques to make the character interesting.

4. Choose a poem which deals with an important issue such as war, crime, poverty or racism. Explain how the poet deepens your understanding of the issue by the choice of content and the skilful use of poetic techniques.

5. Choose a poem which describes an animal or a place or an event in an effective way. Briefly state what is being described and go on to show how the techniques used in the poem make the description effective.

6. Choose a poem written in a specific form such as ballad, sonnet, elegy, monologue, ode . . . Explain how the distinctive features of this form contribute to your appreciation of the text.

7. Choose a poem which describes a person’s experience. Explain how the poetic techniques used to describe the experience make the poem more interesting.

8. Choose a poem which arouses strong emotion in you. Describe how you feel about the poem, and explain how the poet leads you to feel this way.

9. Choose a poem in which the poet creates a particular mood or atmosphere. Show how the poet creates this mood or atmosphere by his or her choice of subject matter and use of poetic techniques.

10. Choose a poem which describes a place or an incident. Briefly state where or what is being described, and go on to explain how the techniques used in the poem make the description memorable.

11.Choose a poem which takes a particular form, such as sonnet, ode, ballad, elegy, monologue … Explain how the distinctive features of this form contribute to your appreciation of the poem.

12. Choose a poem which has an ending which you found surprising or interesting or satisfying or inspiring. Consider the whole poem, and by reference to the poet’s use of content and poetic techniques explain why you think the ending is particularly effective.

MEDIA QUESTIONS

1. Choose a film or TV drama* which deals with issues which mainly affect young people. Explain how the film or TV drama* deals with such issues, stating whether or not you find the portrayal of these issues realistic.

2. Choose a scene or sequence from a film which provides a climax to the action. Briefly describe the events leading up to the climax, and then explain how the techniques used by the film makers create a heightened sense of importance in this scene or sequence.

3.  Choose a film which you think is typical of its genre, for example: action, romance, comedy, horror . . . Explain how the film makers have used the features of the genre to create a successful film.

4. Choose a film or TV drama* which has a character who could be described as a hero or as a villain. Explain how the character is introduced and then developed throughout the film.

5. Choose a film or TV drama* in which setting is an important feature. Explain how the setting is established and go on to show how the setting contributes to the effectiveness of the film or TV drama as a whole.

6. Choose a scene or sequence from a film or TV drama* in which an atmosphere of mystery, or horror, or suspense is created. Describe what happens in the scene or sequence, explaining how the techniques used by the film or programme makers create this atmosphere.

7. Choose a film or TV drama* in which the main character is an individual for whom we feel sympathy. Show how media techniques are used to portray the character in such a way that we feel sympathy.

8. Choose a scene or sequence from a film or TV drama* which is particularly dramatic. Describe what happens in the scene or sequence, explaining how the film or programme makers effectively use techniques to create drama.

9. Choose a film or TV drama* in which there is a character who poses a threat to the main character. Show how media techniques are used to portray the character in such a way that the audience reacts against him/her and sees the threat which he/she poses.

10.Choose a film or TV drama* where conflict between characters is central to the plot. Explain the reasons for the conflict and show how media techniques intensify audience involvement at particular scenes.

11. Choose a film which is an example of a specific genre such as horror, romance, action or comedy. Explain how the film makers have used the features of the genre to create a successful film.

12. Choose a film or TV drama* which highlights a particular moral or political or social or environmental issue. Identify the issue and show how media techniques are used to persuade us to adopt a particular view or to explore the issue more fully.

PROSE QUESTIONS

1. Choose a novel which gives you an insight into an aspect of human nature or behaviour. State what the aspect is, and show how the characters’ actions and relationships lead you to a deeper understanding of human nature or behaviour.

2. Choose a novel with an ending which you find satisfactory. By looking at the novel or short story as a whole, explain why you find the ending satisfactory in bringing to a conclusion the main concerns of the text.

3. Choose a prose work in which setting is an important feature. Explain how the writer creates the setting, and then go on to show how this feature contributes to your understanding of the text as a whole.

4. Choose a novel in which you feel there is an incident of great importance to the story as a whole. Describe the incident and go on to show its importance to the development of the characters and the central concerns of the text.

5. Choose a novel which has a character who affects you emotionally. Describe how you feel about the character, and show how the writer leads you to feel this way.

6. Choose a prose work in which the writer uses a memorable style/voice/narrative technique. Explain in detail how features of the writing style/voice/narrative technique contribute to the effectiveness of the text.

7. Choose a novel where there is an incident which is a turning point crucial to the fate of the main character. Briefly describe what happens at this point and go on to explain why this is crucial to the fate of a main character.

8. Choose a novel in which setting in place and/or time is an important feature. Briefly describe the setting(s) and explain the importance of this feature to the story.

9. Choose a novel or a short story or a non-fiction text or group of texts which deals with an important human issue (such as the abuse of power, conflict between good and evil, loss of freedom or hatred between individuals or groups). Show how the author reveals the issue through the portrayal of people and events throughout the text, and show how your understanding of the issue has deepened.

10. Choose a novel in which there is conflict between two characters. Examine the nature of the conflict and explain to what extent it is resolved.

11. Choose a novel with a message which is still relevant today. Show how the author’s portrayal of events and character(s) highlight the author’s message.

12. Choose a novel which made a strong impact on you. Explain how the writer’s use of language creates this impact.

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