How to Write a Critical Lens Essay

How to Write a Critical Lens Essay

At some point in time throughout high school and even college or university, we might find ourselves being asked to write about some critical lens essay quotes. Such assignments, as the name suggests, offer students the opportunity to utilize their analytical, reading, and writing skills in a controlled literary environment.

What is a Critical Lens Essay ?

We understand that it sounds confusing at the start, but we are here to help you and explain in detail how to write a critical lens essay step by step. This type of essay offers a critical opinion or perspective on a particular piece of material, which is presented in the form of a quote or piece of art. The student or author is tasked with the literary work of analyzing a quote from a different source, and utilizing two literary sources, preferably books, to either support or oppose the quote. The writer does not necessarily need to be in support of the quote. It is imperative that the author understands that this is not just an average comparative or analytical essay. In this scenario, the essay writer and his or her analytical skills are measured through the final essay, by examining the value of the literary terms used in deconstructing the argument, their validity within the text as well as the appropriateness of the chosen literary devices. As such, the manner in which the student structures and outlays his or her critical lens essay example will either make or break the masterpiece. The task at hand in this scenario is often a lot more than just interpreting the given quote.

rules of writing critical lens essay visualization

Goals of a Critical Lens Essay

This section is designed to give you an understanding of why such assignments might be given to you and what is ultimately expected of you as an end product. We understand that each lecturer may alter these tips that we are about to give you, but we believe that it is best to consult all possible tips when working on a critical lens essay.

The main goal of a critical lens analysis is for students to explore a variety of literary themes and elements when reading a well-known piece of work while utilizing a contextual lens so to speak. Essentially, students should be able to defend a central claim derived from the quote or text they are exploring. This is done by linking particular moments or events in the texts that fit the respective categories of the lens and match your initial argument.

Practical Applications of such Assignments

These types of exercises aim at improving students reading skills and also practice their analytical skills via the lens that is considered to be quite an advanced and compelling form of analysis. Ultimately the end goal of any assignment in this sphere is to create a cohesive argument regarding one's position about a quote with the use of concrete examples from a multitude literary sources as to support why this standpoint is logical to you.
The essay normally employs a theoretical quote or text as a lens through which a writer examines a particular piece of culture or art. However, it is possible to employ a non-theoretical piece as a lens as long as this is done in a theoretical manner. It is quite philosophical in nature and can lead to interesting discoveries not just about the works being examined but also one's self. Nonetheless, a writer’s expectations of a critical lens analysis may differ according to the complexity of the assigned text. Vital aspects to be included in most types of assignments will look to cover: the use of figurative language characterized by metaphors, similes, alliteration, symbolisms and various historical themes. Identifying and evaluating them effectively shows an understanding of the main idea behind your respective assignment, but do not be shy to explore unpopular standpoints as those could more often provide a much more interesting read for your lecturer than the same interpretation they have already read hundreds of times.

How Do I Approach This Type of Assignment?

Essentially, the student is being asked to assess the quote and then deliver judgment on whether it is substantial or not within the given circumstances. Although this may sound like a very simple task, the complexity exists in the ability to explain and express one’s point of view in a cohesive academic manner with supporting arguments. The literary knowledge of the student is also tested in this process, allowing the instructor to determine their ability to write a quality essay that explores a variety of literary tools and elements. The task can also allow the writer to be as creative as possible since one is given the opportunity to express his or her thoughts on the matter and apply critical thinking when explaining one's interpretation to the readers. Many students choose to try and validate very opinionated points of view in these type of essays in an effort to leave a lasting impression on the reader, which some say is cliche but we have found that an honest opinion is always far more valued than trying to argue for something that you do not necessarily believe in. It is important to remember that when arguing for something you believe in it leaves more room for improvement since it interests you. Do not hesitate to present an unpopular point of view simply because it is not that well known or appreciated, on the contrary, that leaves you with more room to explore the controversy behind this particular point of view.

Some of the best advice we have come across is trying to envision such exercises as looking through the lens of a camera or a pair of glasses. A quote is merely a tool allowing us to bring in a sharper focus on the themes that the writer chose to highlight and explore with us. Such assessments offer various paths to interpret, analyze, and dive deeper into the text.

Tips and Tricks that are Easy To Remember

  • The essay writer is required to use two literary sources to portray the underlying themes denoted by the quote. In essence, the essay makes use of quotations to analyze and explore works of literature. Generally, the contrasting quotes are given by the instructors. However, we have also encountered cases where the student was required to select the second literary source out of a list of different selections each offering different themes and comparisons. In such cases, it is best to have a firm grip and understanding of the initial quote of the assignment thus giving you the option to create the most compelling argument possible. For example, many choose to compare Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Chronicle of a Death Foretold with Isabel Allende’s House of the Spirits. One cannot say that the two books are perfectly related, but due to their time settings and specific South American civil turmoil themes they often depict similar situations in which the protagonists and antagonists highlight important symbolisms in the lives of the locals. Successfully arranging all these elements in your critical lens essay template will allow the audience to actively participate and learn controversial facts about the content being presented to them.
  • The final sentence of each paragraph should sum up the idea brought across by the writer in that particular paragraph. It is always advisable to draft the ideas in a separate place to have a clear outline and structure of the paragraph within the body. This helps the essay writer to organize the paper in such a way where the themes and elements are clearly structured in a logical manner. When doing so, you give your critical lens essay a smooth cursive flow that makes it much more enjoyable for the reader. Your audience can then grasp the concepts much easier from your text as they progress and understand the intended point of view. The body should follow the introductory paragraph to avoid displaying any confusion to the reader. A final analysis of the body should leave no further questions in a reader’s mind on whether or not the writer supports the quote. All the supporting elements should be explored within the body of the in a concise manner.

Analysis Sample

Let us have a look together at a common example in order to try and provide you with a practical understanding of what we are trying to substantiate. A quote from an anonymous speaker once said that, “Life is a journey of ups and downs.” After stating the quote, the essay writer should interpret it in his or her words as explicitly as possible. In essence, the author is trying to prepare us for the motions that we go through in life with its happy moments and sad moments. Generally, when someone is trying to bring this contrast into perspective, they want us to understand the joy we find in these ups and downs. If life were a constant of just good or bad, we would not be able to appreciate and separate the moments, which would leave us without many of the actual joys of being alive.  Simple terms should be used in the interpretation, where the writer passes on an explanatory version of the quote. In this example, the writer could use a simplified interpretation such as this: Life is full of bad moments and good moments. Due to the multitude of linguistic alternatives, it is very similar to creating a painting, meaning that it is up to the painter to choose the correct colors for his or her canvas.

Structure of a Critical Lens Essay

Before you start to worry and ask yourself how to write a critical lens essay outline and what should its structure should look like, remember that most essays follow the same basic format but with minute alterations.


Like in many other types of essays, we will begin our analysis with an introductory paragraph. In this section, the writer states the quote, which can also be referred to as the critical lens statement. This should be stated and copied word for word always including the quotation marks in order to draw the reader's attention to it. The character or author of the quote should also be mentioned in the introduction. In the cases of anonymous authors, it is even more vital for it to be mentioned as well as this might be an indication that the specific quote at that time was considered taboo and perhaps it might still even be to this day.


The essay writer should then proceed to provide their personal analysis and interpretation on the quote. In essence whether or not they agree with it, their reaction to it when they encountered it as well as their understanding of its purpose in that particular era amongst many other things. Then they should explain the reason why they have chosen their particular standpoint towards the quote using well-structured sentences. This section should offer the readers a clear understanding and explanation as to why this viewpoint was logical in this particular critical lens essay format. Finally, the author, title, and genre of the books intended to be used by the writer in the essay should be provided. This includes stating the literary elements that the books offer in connection to the quote, as well as a detailed explanation of their relationship in order to highlight and support the respective chosen sources.

The next stage is the body of the essay, which could contain about four or more paragraphs or be split up into segments depending on the number of literary elements that the writer intends to explore. This section of your critical lens essay should always provide a thesis statement paired with a detailed analysis of the elements in the literary works previously chosen by you stated in the previous paragraph. The writer should always use intricate examples correspondingly, that were extracted from the literary sources and use them in a creative way to display his understanding of the quote. Doing this effectively allows the reader to begin creating the same connections and thought process when analyzing the themes, symbols or perhaps the context of said quote.
Each paragraph within the main body of your critical lens essay should begin with a topic sentence. Always keep in mind that this is the first sentence of the paragraph and is intended to draw the attention of the reader as to what will be the main purpose of this paragraph. It should always offer substantial information on the subject and try to cover all its aspects in the utmost of detail. Using new information about the subject in the conclusion is often looked down upon as it is considered that the essay writer did not cover it adequately in the body of their essay. An example of analysis should be similar to this: Michael, the protagonist of the play, is faced with a common conflict that confronts many people; the reasons behind his existence in this world. As he is the son of King, he must decide not only his future but that of his country. This sentence should be followed by one or more examples that are case specific and derived from the source. The details of the examples should be focused enough to back up your interpretation of the quote highlighted by your thesis.


The conclusion of your critical lens essay comes last but not least. Like in most conclusions the goal is to summarize the main ideas of your analysis and wrap it all up nicely. The essay writer should restate the quote, including the author‘s name and as previously mentioned, if the author is unknown, it should be noted. The quote should still appear in quotation marks as in the introductory paragraph. This part is just as important as the rest of the essay, as it is the game winning touchdown and shows that the writer understood the key aspects of his or her topic. However, remember that it is crucial never to add any new concepts and ideas here. This fact is very often stressed as it sometimes still is an issue due to the vasts amounts of information available nowadays on the internet. But nevertheless, a conclusion’s main objective is to identify whether the writer agrees or disagrees with the quotation. Our last piece of advice is to always sum up the general content of your arguments from the previous paragraphs in concise sentences.

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