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Critical Lens Essay

An essay in which you will analyze one or two works of literature in terms of how they do/do not illustrate the ideas in a given statement.  
 

Critical Lens Essay Outline

Essay must include references to TWO works

A)  Begin by restating the critical lens quotation: According to…


B)  Next, restate the critical lens quotation in your own words: This means that…


C)  State whether you agree or disagree with the critical lens: The critical lens is valid/invalid because…


D)  Next, write your TAG and thesis (make sure you reflect the meaning of the critical lens): 
This is supported in the novel…


E)  BODY PARAGRAPH # 1:
Topic sentence should reflect critical lens:

Supporting details/situations (minimum of 3 examples – use more for maximum grade)
NOTE: Use references to literary elements such as plot, characterization, setting, etc.


* Clincher: Therefore – In essence – Thus – In effect ___________________________________ 

E)  BODY PARAGRAPH # 2: Topic sentence should reflect critical lens and a transition:
                   (Transition: connecting ideas that clearly and smoothly point out a logical order of your ideas) 

Supporting details/situations (minimum of 3 examples – use more for maximum grade)
NOTE: Use references to literary elements such as plot, characterization, setting, etc.


* Clincher: Therefore – In essence – Thus – In effect ___________________________________ 


CONCLUSION: The conclusion should include the following:

1) Restate your position in regard to the critical lens:


2) Summarize your main points:

3) Effectively close the essay with a clincher that refers to the authors, works, and main ideas



The following is an example of a critical lens essay, which gained a high score on the NYS Regents Exam

Note: This is an actual essay, which contains flaws.

Critical Lens: “Literature opens a dark window on the soul, revealing more about what is bad in human nature than what is good.”  (NOTE: no author is mentioned)

     A) “Literature opens a dark window on the soul, revealing more about what is bad in human nature than what is good.” B) This statement suggests that literature shows more about the bad aspects of people than the good. C) This critical lens is invalid because literature shows good and bad sides of human nature about equally, both in terms of people’s personal qualities and in terms of their actions. D) To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee, and Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck, are two books that illustrate this balance of good and bad.
     E) The characters of To Kill a Mockingbird represent a wide  range of human nature. 1) For Example, Atticus Finch is a character with very positive qualities. He is a model of courage and integrity, someone willing to a take a stand for what he believes in. 2) By contrast, Bob Ewell is evil and violent. He has many of the worst qualities of human nature. * Furthermore, most of the other people of Maycomb, Alabama, where the story takes place, show attitudes of bigotry, prejudice, and racism.
     (Transition) The plot of To Kill a Mockingbird similarly shows both good and bad through people’s actions. 3) On the negative side, people cruelly and unjustly accuse Tom Robinson of rape because he is black. 4) Bob Ewell curses Atticus and spits in his face. However, many positive events occur, too. 5) For instance, Atticus risks his own safety to confront a lynch mob outside the jail. And the neighbor, Boo Radley, comes out of hiding to save Atticus’s children when Bob Ewell attacks them. * Such heroic actions suggest the basic decency of human nature. 
    (Transition)  The characters of Of Mice and Men also show people’s good traits as well as their bad. In the relationship between George and Lennie, there are positive qualities of human nature, such as friendship, loyalty, and trust. But Curley, a mean troublemaker, shows just how unpleasant people can be.
     The plot of Of Mice and Men shows how good or bad people can be in their actions. George protects Lennie and takes care of him.  At the end, George has to shoot his friend to save him from a worst fate. Meanwhile, Curley is a bully. It’s he who wants to shoot Lennie down after Lennie accidentally kills Curley’s wife. It’s interesting that George shoots Lennie out of friendship, while Curley wanted to shoot him for revenge. These two motives in themselves suggest the range of human nature.
     Books such as To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men show the interaction between positive and negative aspects of human nature. Rather than emphasize the bad, they present a more or less balanced view of people’s good and bad qualities and actions.
    
Common Transitions
 
For Comparison And Contrast Order:
although, another difference, both, but, however, in contrast, instead, likewise, in the same way, similarly, nevertheless, on the contrary, on the other hand,  whereas, yet

Chronological Order:
after, afterward, before, earlier, eventually, finally, first, formerly, last, meanwhile, next, now, previously, soon, then, ultimately, until, while

Spatial Order:
above, across, ahead, away, behind, below, beneath, beyond, in front of, in the center, in the distance, near, next to, on the right, outside, to the left

Order of Importance:
also, finally, first, for one reason, furthermore, more, moreover, one, perhaps the greatest reason, second, first of all, for example, most important, next, third

Other Logical Orders:
accordingly, additionally, along with, and, as a result, consequently, for example, for instance, in addition, indeed, in fact, mainly, namely, therefore, thus

In the following paragraph, you can see how transitions (in bold) help to link ideas smoothly and logically.

     Only hardy nature lovers should attempt stream fishing, because what makes the streams wild and beautiful makes the fishing difficult. First of all, fishers usually have to tramp through woods and dense thickets, humming with mosquitoes, to reach isolated streams. Then, to find quiet holes where fish are, they must wade across slick stones and logs, where it is easy to fall. Moreover, when they cast, overhanging trees along the stream can snag their lines. Or if the bait happens plop into a deep pool, submerged logs and underwater ledges may grab the hooks. Consequently, fishers may spend hours wrestling with the surrounding branches and rocks. Finally, after all their efforts, their lines may jerk and a sparkling fish may thrash around and get away, as the equipment had become damaged by the underwater debris.  



source: www.ccsd.edu/South/DeLucia/Z-Z-FORM-CRIT.doc
 

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