The Critical Lens Essay a review Your Task



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The Critical Lens Essay

  • A Review

Your Task

  • Write a critical essay in which you discuss two literary works from the particular perspective of the statement that is provided for you in the critical lens. In your essay, provide a valid interpretation of the statement, agree or disagree with the statement as you have interpreted it, and support your opinion using specific references to appropriate literary elements from the two works.

The Quote

  • “No one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”
  • –Malcolm X

Brainstorm/Pre-Writing

  • Interpret the quote in your own words
  • Choose two works that support the quote — (This is always easier than disproving the quote)
  • Decide which characters from each work support the quote

Brainstorm/Pre-Writing cont’d

  • Consider what literary elements from each work support your argument
  • There are several elements that can ALWAYS be used:
  • Use your notes to write your essay

Introduction

  • Begin with the quote
  • Malcolm X once said, “No one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.”

Introduction cont’d

  • Paraphrase the quote without repeating any words from the quote
  • This means that…
  • In other words…
  • Malcolm X once said, “No one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” In other words, no one can be truly content without autonomy. Independent thought and free will are essential for people to feel whole and self-possessed.

Introduction cont’d

  • Apply quote to literary works
  • This is proven in Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury and “Freedom’s Fool” by Robert Service. In both works, the characters rebel against an oppressive government.

Introduction cont’d

  • End the introduction with a thesis statement
  • The thesis should state how the characters prove the quote
  • Neither Montag, nor the speaker of the poem can find inner peace while subject to the excessive authority of their respective governments.

Body Paragraph #1

  • In this paragraph, explain how the first literary work mentioned in your introduction proves the quote

Body Paragraph #1 cont’d

  • Begin with a topic sentence which states the main idea
  • In Fahrenheit 451, Montag faces inner turmoil when he realizes the extent to which he and his fellow citizens have been oppressed by government regulations banning books.

Body Paragraph #1 cont’d

  • Incorporate literary elements in your discussion of how the text proves the quote.
  • The setting of the novel, in the near future, provides reasoning for the government’s actions: they wish to protect people from controversy in order to achieve peace. Ironically, in wishing to enact peace, they achieve war. As the novel begins, Montag is virtually unaware of his limited freedom. Still, he is characterized as an unhappy man living a life without meaning.

Body Paragraph #1 cont’d

  • He works as a fireman, burning books, and lives with a wife whose only happiness comes from the television walls. When he meets Clarisse, he begins to understand that his melancholy life is a result of his lack of freedom, and he is motivated to question society’s rules. Montag develops an inner conflict when he steals a book from the scene of a fire, and watches as a woman chooses to die with her books rather than renounce them.

Body Paragraph #1 cont’d

  • He has been taught to believe that books are evil, and he is employed by the government to destroy them, yet he wonders what mysteries they hold. When he finally decides to read his stolen book, and learns of the joy of reading, he develops further conflicts, with his boss, his wife, and finally with society itself. His boss attempts to convince him that banning books is for the greater good, his wife reports him to the authorities, and he becomes a criminal in the eyes of society.

Body Paragraph #1 cont’d

  • Always stay on topic, making reference to the quote.
  • Without the freedom to read, Montag has no peace. He loses his job, his wife, and his home, he kills his boss, and becomes part of a rebellion. In fact, it is not until the end of the book, when he discovers a group of like-minded citizens, that he begins to find the promise of joy in his life.

Body Paragraph #1 cont’d

  • The literary elements you employ must be relevant to the discussion at hand.
  • When he looks around the campfire at his new friends, he realizes the importance of his new-found freedom, and for once, the fire is symbolic of warmth and rebirth, instead of destruction.

Body Paragraph #1 cont’d

  • End in a clincher sentence.
  • This illustrates one of Bradbury’s main themes, that in order to be truly at peace in the world, one must have exposure to nature and the world of books, leisure to think, and freedom to act.

Body Paragraph #2

  • In this paragraph, explain how the second literary work mentioned in your introduction proves the quote

Body Paragraph #2

  • Begins with a transition and topic sentence
  • Like…
  • Just as…
  • Similarly…
  • Like Montag, the speaker of “Freedom’s Fool” resents government rules and vows to defy them. Although these oppressive rules are never clearly defined, the speaker says they are “meddling laws” which he will never obey.

Body Paragraph #2 cont’d

  • Incorporate literary elements in your discussion of how the text proves the quote.
  • Characterized as an angry and proud individualist, the speaker says he would prefer to go to “some lost island of the sea,” than be subject to government authority. He cannot find peace under the rule of others, and thus, is motivated to “fight and die” for his own freedom.

Body Paragraph #2 cont’d

  • The speaker’s strong will is emphasized by his comparison of government to a “bitter pill.” This metaphor suggests that he finds government distasteful, as in the proverb, “a bitter pill is hard to swallow.” He would rather live alone on an island than live by the rules of a controlling government.

Body Paragraph #2 cont’d

  • The literary elements you employ must be relevant to the discussion at hand.
  • The ferocity of his conviction is further emphasized by the alliteration in the line “No force or fear shall forge my fate.” Clearly, the speaker is stubborn and determined to live by his own laws.

Body Paragraph #2 cont’d

  • End in a clincher sentence.
  • As long as he is denied his freedom, the speaker will never find peace.

Conclusion

  • Sums up main ideas
  • Both Montag and the speaker of the poem illustrate the damaging effects of tyrannical societies. Montag becomes depressed, alienated, and eventually, violent, as a result of his loss of autonomy; the speaker appears irate and militant over his lack of sovereignty. Neither character is able to achieve peace without freedom.

Conclusion

  • Ends with a final, culminating thought which applies the quote more generally to the larger world
  • As a result, both works remind readers that the value of a free society is immeasurable.


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