What Is a Critical Lens Essay
A critical lens essay is a type of essay where student's ability to think critically and express their ideas in the written form is estimated. Generally, it requires three major skills: reading, critical thinking, and writing. Careful preparation for essay writing is no less important than writing itself.
ESSAY WRITING TIPS AND TRICKS
This type of essay (see all types of essay) is often used during written examinations when the assignment is given in the form of a statement or a phrase, and students are asked to relate it to one or two pieces of literature.
Critical Lens Essay Structure
Critical Lens essay generally follows a fixed essay format. In the essay, a student has to discuss two literature pieces and 3 literary terms. In addition, a student needs to know capitalization rules and write them correctly. All titles are capitalized. Book titles are underlined and short stories are put in quotes. Generally, an essay consists of the following elements:
The first sentence introduces the quote itself. Next sentence one should give the student's interpretation of the quote to show how the student understands its meaning. Next, outline whether you agree or disagree with this quote, mention the books you are going to talk about in your essay and explain how your quote relates to them. Remember to spell, capitalize and punctuate all titles correctly.
It is advisable not to use personal pronouns like: “I, you, we, me, my”; in contrast, it is better to substitute them with third person pronouns or alternative words like ‘they’, ‘readers’, ‘people’ etc.
Three Body Paragraphs
Paragraph 1. In the first body paragraph, restate the quote in your interpretation.
Paragraph 2. In the second body paragraph, mention the titles of the first literature piece you are going to analyze and briefly mention how it relates to the selected quote.
Paragraph 3. In the third body paragraph, speak about the second literary piece and explain how you think it relates to the quote you have selected.
In order to back up your quote, you will need to use specific examples from each novel. Another thing: don't forget to connect the book back to the interpretation of your quote.
Your conclusion sums up the main thoughts of the essay. It is strongly recommended not to repeat your introduction verbatim. Don’t forget to end your essay with the quote that opened it.
CRITICAL ESSAY FROM A TO Z
Steps on How to Write a Critical Lens Essay
STEP 1. Read the quote attentively.
STEP 2. Try to rewrite the quote in your own words.
STEP 3. Analyze the quote.
STEP 4. Decide whether you agree or disagree.
STEP 5. Name the two literary pieces that support your position.
STEP 6. Think of a short summary of the two texts and express how they support/don’t support the quote.
STEP 7. Try to use literary elements into your argument, but don't overdo it. Use it in the introduction and the first body paragraph.
STEP 8. In the first paragraph, focus on the book you have read and explain how the text supports your understanding of the quote.
STEP 9. If one paragraph appears to be too long, you may break it up into two smaller ones.
STEP 10. In the second paragraph, you should use the same order but now write about the other text.
STEP 11. Make a short summary of what you've written – that’s your conclusion.
STEP 12. Restate your thesis and explain how the texts you selected to support it.
Necessary Literary Elements
Keeping the structure in mind, you should not forget to use the following literary elements:
- Figurative Language: use the simile, metaphor, alliteration, personification and hyperbole correctly.
- Flashback: be able to describe the past event at present.
- Foreshadowing: use name hints or clues that suggest some events that may happen next.
- Plot: follow the correct sequence of events which took place in the literary piece.
- The point of view: give your own point of view.
- Setting: show your knowledge of the time and place of the action in literary work.
- Theme: show your understanding of the central idea of the literary work.
- Tone: use your specific attitude towards the audience or subject.
Be able to add to your interpretation of the quote the details from the books you read. If you follow all the tips you will create an intelligent critical lens essay and will easily convince the reader that you are aware of your topic to the smallest detail. The main thing you need to keep in mind while creating your critical lens essay is to persuade readers to accept your viewpoint. Place an order and our professional academic writers will help you find the right reasoning to do that!
by Emily Hogin
One of the most common prompts I see at the Writing Center is the “lens essay.” A lens essay brings two texts in dialogue with one another in a very particular way. It asks you to use Text B – the lens – to illuminate something you didn’t already know about Text A.
How Not to Argue a Lens Essay
A lens essay is not a list of differences and similarities between two texts. The following are some (exaggerated) examples of a bad argument for a lens essay I’ve come across at the Writing Center:
Even though one is philosophy and the other is a novel, both Text A and Text B talk about the imagination.
This first thesis statement notes a similarity between the two texts that will likely be obvious to readers of the text. It doesn’t use one text to illuminate anything about the other.
While both Text A and Text B argue that human nature is unchangeable, Text A asserts that humans are inherently good and Text B asserts that humans are inherently bad.
This thesis makes a claim about each text but doesn’t say anything about them in relation to each other.
Text A, a poem, does a better job of communicating the emotional struggles of living with HIV than Text B, a statistical report, because a poem allows readers to identify emotionally with other people while statistics are more abstract and cold.
This third thesis statement does make an argument that connects both texts, but again fails to use one text to tell us something we don’t already know about the other text.
Here is an illustration of what an effective lens essay will look like:
In my experience, a successful lens essay implies a certain kind of thought-process that has at least four parts:
(1) I read Text A
(2) I read Text B (my lens)
(3) I re-read Text A and noticed something I didn’t notice before
(4) That something turns out to carry consequences for my overall reading of Text A (thesis/argument)
(And if you really want to wow your reader, you’d add a final part:)
(5) Applying Text B (my lens) in this way also reveals something significant about Text B
When I say significance or consequences, I don’t mean that it has to alter the meaning of a text radically; it can be something small but important. For example, you might find that one element is a lot more important (or a lot less important) to the overall text than you had previously thought.
As an example, here is an excerpt from the introduction to my last lens essay:
The concept of the imagination is ambiguous throughout Venus in Furs: at times, the imagination appears as passive as a battleground that external forces fight to occupy and control; at other times, the imagination appears to drive the action as if it is another character. Any theory of sexuality that seeks to explain Venus in Furs thus must be able to explain the ambiguity over the imagination. Foucault’s theory of the inescapable knowledge-power of sexuality comes close to being able to explain Sacher-Masoch’s ambiguous concept of the imagination, but applying Foucault in this way highlights Foucault’s own difficulty situating the imagination within his theory.
You can see my lens essay thought-process in just these three sentences:
(1) I read Venus in Furs (Text A) and noticed that the imagination is ambiguous
(2) I read Foucault (Text B, my lens) (3) to better understand the imagination in Venus in Furs
(4) Foucault helped explain why an ambiguous imagination is an appropriate way to look at sexuality
but (5) applying Foucault to the imagination tells me that Foucault’s own theory is challenged when he has to account for the imagination.
Once you have an argument for a lens essay, you will have to structure your paper in a way that allows this lens essay thought-process to come across. This means that each of your topic sentences should refer back to this thought-process. Even if you need a paragraph that discusses one of the texts primarily, your topic sentence should justify why you’re doing that. Your complicated and interesting thesis will likely require you to move back and forth between Text A and Text B (your lens).
Of course, your argument will depend on your assignment, but I’ve found this four-part approach successful in a number of courses where the assignment asked me to bring two texts in dialogue with one another.