Sample Critical Essays For Students

Is Tess in ‘Tess of the d'Urbervilles' portrayed as being responsible for her own demise? [pdf 40 KB]

Yours is a beautifully clear essay. You write very well, and your prose is delightful to read. You've also done your research and it shows. There is a remarkable lack of vagary about society or feminism in your piece, and you've picked canny quotes from your secondary sources that elucidate and situate your arguments.

You've also located some wonderfully specific quotations from your primary source to support your argument that Hardy's narrator sympathises with Tess. Some of your close readings are wonderfully astute, as when you point out that Tess implores Angel, rather than commanding him. Slightly less persuasive is your assertion that Tess is the victim of Alec's eyes; I suspect you might have found better quotations, descriptions, or incidents denouncing Alec's gaze.

You are clearly very good at pursuing and proving an argument. I encourage you to be a bit more experimental in your next essay; perhaps choose a less straightforward topic and see where it takes you.

Please see penciled notes throughout on shortening sentences and watching for comma splices (please look this term up in a style manual if it is unfamiliar).

Part of becoming a successful critical reader is being able to translate the thoughts you had whilst reading into your writing.  Below are some written examples of the observations a critical reader may make whilst commenting on various issues in text.

NOTE:  The critical analysis component of each example below is highlighted in blue.

Further examples of critical writing can be found on the UniLearning Website.

Overgeneralisations and assumptions

Researchers often make simplifying assumptions when tackling a complex problem. While the results might provide some insight, these answers will also likely have some limitations.

Example:

Methodological limitations

Researchers may simplify the conditions under which an experiment occurs, compared to the real world, in order to be able to more easily investigate what is going on.

Example:

Objectivity of research

Some research may be biased in its structure.

Example:

Limitations due to sample group

Limitations can arise due to participant numbers. Example:

Limitations can also arise if there is a limited range of participants.

Example:

Limits to applicability

There can be concerns with studies’ applicability, for a number of reasons.

Results not replicated

One such reason could be that the study results have not been replicated in any other study.  If results have not been replicated, it indicates that the results are suggestive, rather than conclusive.

Example:

Long term effects unknown

There would be limits to applicability if long term effects have not been tested.

Example:

Omissions

It is important to look for things that have not been discussed within studies to ascertain whether this would limit the applicability of the results.

Example:

 

Correlation vs. causation

It is important to be aware that just because one variable is correlated with another, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one variable is the cause of another.

Example:

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