Writing a critical essay is an excellent way to share and discuss the literature you have read. A critical essay can analyze one piece of literature (characters, themes, conspiracy items) or compare and contrast multiple pieces of literature from the same author.

Write an introduction that includes a strong thesis statement. Your introductory paragraph should introduce a piece of literature that you will discuss for the rest of the essay. Suppose your audience has not read the work. Give a brief overview of the work, including the main characters and the conflict. Provide an argument or topic to which you will refer. Your thesis statement should state your position on the topic.

A good thesis can be supported by evidence from the text. The weak thesis is a matter of taste, which can not be proved with examples from the text. An example of a good thesis, “Lorraine Hansberry’s ‘Raisin in the Sun’ game demonstrates how Walter’s pursuit of money endangers his family and ultimately leads to his downfall.” A weak thesis would be, “‘Raisin in the sun’ is a good game.”

Maintain your position. The body of your critical essay should be filled with evidence from a text that supports your thesis statement. Include passages from the text that prove your argument. Be sure to use quotations and cite the page number where evidence is found. The body of your essay should be at least three paragraphs and use at least three examples from the text. For “Raisins in the Sun,” you might discuss how Walter’s decision to give Willy money to invest instead of putting her in a bank was fed by greed and his misconception that he knew what was best for his family.

Complete your essay. Your opinion should summarize your position and reiterate your thesis. Repeat the essential points and tie your main ideas. Leave the reader with something to reflect on. A reasonable conclusion for an essay on “The Raisin in the Sun” might be, “Although Walter’s actions nearly destroyed his family, he was able to find forgiveness and ransom, and he came to understand the true meaning of wealth.”