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Step-By-Step Guide to Writing a Critical Analysis Essay


A critical analysis essay interprets a piece of work in literary language. This type of essay analyses a work of art and highlights its strong and weak points. It judges the precision of the fine points in a literary work and an overall evaluation of its execution. It focuses on a creative work, so you must have the understanding of the medium that you are going to translate into your words.

A critical analysis paper is a common academic paper required for a course in art and literature. To accomplish a winning essay, you must know these steps:

Step#1: Analysis


Your research for a critical analysis paper will consist of information on the topic (work), its author and other critical aspects of the subject. The research should pursue the answer of the four important questions: what, when, why and how.

Note taking is a key task for this essay. As you are performing an analysis of the work, you do not want to miss any important detail.

For example: If you are writing an analysis of a novel, you need to make notes of its story, synopsis, characters, dialogues and execution.

Step#2: Outline

It is important to make an outline of your analysis before you put it in the writing form. Your outline should organise the major points of your analysis in a raw form. An outline should mention the major themes of a work along with your remarks.
Theme: Jealousy
The Plot of Lego
The vengeance of Othello
Roderigo rivalry for Othello

Step#3: Writing

Finally, you will write out the points of your notes in writing form. This is the crucial phase of your essay where you will reflect on the work in critical language. You will discuss the prominent themes and define how well they are infused in the work.

For example: If you are critiquing the William Shakespeare's classic Othello, you can shed light on its characterisation and how each character justified the role. Similarly, you can give your comments about the accuracy of the dialogues and how well they fit into the situation.


  • Remember that it is a personal reflection of a work, so there is no room for references or quotes from other reviews.
  • It is a commentary on a work and should be based on facts. Keep in mind that objectivity is the key for success in this type of essay.
  • For a literary analysis, you must understand the use of metaphors and similes or you will end up with a mediocre review that lacks the purpose.

Critical Analysis Essay Topic Examples

  • Homeschooling
  • The great Gatsby
  • American Gothic (artwork)
  • To Kill a Mockingbird
  • Thatcher law
  • Child abuse
  • The Crucible
  • Harry Potter
  • Global warming
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