Critique Examples

Click below for sample introductions and body paragraphs, which you can use as models when writing your own. Pay special attention to background info and thesis articulation in the intro, as well as quote use and analysis in body paragraphs.

Sample introductions:

Things rarely occupy one extreme or the other. An exception to this rule is society’s typical view of heaven and hell. Usually, hell is described as a fiery place with a red devil with horns and a pitchfork. Heaven is the polar opposite: a lofty place in the clouds with glowing gates of gold and angels in white robes with halos. In Doctor Faustus, Christopher Marlowe blurs this line between heaven and hell, as well as that between good and evil. Mephostophilis, a devil damned to hell who once experienced the beauty of heaven, describes hell as the lack of god, and states, “Why this is hell, nor am I out of it” (Marlowe 1.3.75) when discussing Earth. Marlowe suggests that things are not so cut and dry and that most people are not one extreme or the other; rather, they are somewhere in the middle. Many of the characters in Doctor Faustus contradict stereotypes, and many challenge their role as it has been defined by popular culture.


Throughout Ancient Greece and during the time of Sophocles, there was a movement away from the gods and towards science. At first, philosophers believed that nature and the gods were connected, in that the gods controlled the physical world. As the movement evolved and progressed, “the Greek mind now strove to discover a natural explanation for the cosmos by means of observations and reasoning” (Tarnas 19-20). Great thinkers such as Parmenides and Empedocles began to move the Greek mindset toward empiricism. Sophocles supported this movement and expressed this throughout his play Oedipus Rex. The play is about a man who has his life twisted around by both fate and human actions. The way that Oedipus works to find the truth and handles the accusations against him show a distinctly humanist approach, mirroring the movement toward humanism in Greek society.


Sample body paragraphs:

Doctor Faustus is always torn between both sides. His career goals are contradictory: he wants to be a doctor to “heap up gold” (1.1.13) and “make men live eternally” (1.1.22). Society is likely to scorn Faustus’s first motive, but endorse the second. Faustus yearns to know as much as he can about everything, a quality of which society would approve, but this thirst for more knowledge leads him into dark magic. Faustus sees this exploration of hell and devils as fulfilling his quest to know more, and he does not see evil as evil, even telling Mephostophilis that “That word ‘damnation’ terrifies me not” (1.3.57), and “hell’s a fable” (2.1.132). Before Faustus signs the deal in his blood with Mephostophilis, his conscience appears, and he considers not selling his soul to Lucifer. The blood in Faustus’s arm congeals, and Mephostophilis exits momentarily. While Mephostophilis is gone, Faustus sees this as a sign that he should reconsider his decisions, and he wonders, “What might the staying of my blood portend? / Is it unwilling I would write this bill?” (2.1.65-66). Here, Faustus proves he does have a conscience and that he is not all evil. Nevertheless, when Mephostophilis returns with a way to make Faustus’s arm bleed, Faustus follows through with the bargain without protest.


When Saladin arrives in Bombay, Changez is in “the terminal stages” of “a systemic cancer of the bone marrow” (Rushdie 525).  Since Changez embodies Saladin’s rejected Indian associations, the fact that this cancer invades the very marrow, or the root, of his father’s body communicates that his illness is the factor that weakens his hegemonic presence and enables Chamcha’s return.  It is a disease with no treatment, but there is a “miracle” (536) in that Changez experiences “a freak absence of pain” (537) as he deteriorates.  This suggests that the death of Saladin’s misconceptions, though life-altering, is at its base a positive turn of events.  Saladin observes that “to fall in love with one’s father after the long angry decades was a…renewing, life-giving thing” (537); in this sentiment, it is possible to substitute “country” for “father,” for he views the dying man as a “fallen monarch” (539) and thus a symbol of national identity.  He is able to reconcile with both his father and his country because the debilitating cancer “strip[s] [Changez] of his faults, of all that had been domineering, tyrannical and cruel in him” (538), and this rids Saladin of the facets of his father’s persona he has chosen to so ardently reject by embracing his “Englishness.”





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s