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Writing the

Critical Lens Essay


NEW YORK STATE ENGLISH REGENTS EXAM
PREPARATION

Critical LensYour Guidelines


Provide an accurate explanation of the quotation
Explain what the quotation means in your own words
Explain whether you agree or disagree
Tell whether or not the quotation is true without using I
Choose two texts to support your opinion
Introduce titles, authors, genres and brief connection
AVOID PLOT SUMMARY
Use specific and appropriate literary elements for

analysis

Choose elements you know how to discuss

Organize your ideas clearly


Follow the conventions of English
punctuation, capitalization, etc.

Introduction
Introduction
Introduce the quotation and who said it
Explain the meaning of the quotation in your

own words
Is this quote true? (Do NOT use I!)
List 2 texts (high school level) that prove whether
the quotation is true or untrue (include titles and
authors)

Body Paragraphs
Claim

How does your chosen text prove the quotation true or untrue?

Text Evidence

Evidence from the text that supports the topic sentence of this paragraph.

Prove it!

Explain the evidence in your own words and how the evidence proves your claim.

Text Evidence

Evidence from the text that supports the topic sentence of this paragraph.

Prove it!

Explain the evidence in your own words and how the evidence proves your claim.

Transition sentence

A sentence that connects the topic of the paragraph to the next. Include a topic
sentence to introduce the first text and author

Conclusion
Summary of your argument
Statement on the broader

implications/application of the quotation

Literary Terms to use


Literary Terms to Use

-Characterization

-Narrator

-Foil

-Theme

-Allusion

-Foreshadowing

-Setting

-Parallelism

-Flashback

-Point of View

-Dialogue

-Irony

-Conflict

-Motif

-Plot Structure

-Symbolism

-Antagonist

-Tone

-Protagonist

-Mood

Tips for Writing a Critical Lens Essay


Choose to write about something you know. Dont

take risks on a test.


Make sure you are always clear which text you are
referring to.
Proofread your work when you are finished.

Rubric: Meaning
Quality

6
Responses at
this
level:

Meaning: the -provide an


extent to
interpretation
which the
of the "critical
response
lens" that is
exhibits
faithful to the
sound
complexity of
understandin the statement
g,
and clearly
interpretatio establishes the
n, and
criteria for
analysis of
analysis
the task and
text(s)
-make
insightful
connections
between the
criteria for
analysis and
the chosen
texts

5
Responses at this
level:

4
Responses at
this
level:

3
Responses at
this
level:

-provide an
-provide an
interpretation of interpretation
the "critical lens" of the "critical
that clearly
lens" that
establishes the establishes the
criteria for
criteria for
analysis
analysis

-provide an
interpretation
of the "critical
lens" that
suggests the
criteria for
analysis

-make clear and


explicit
connections
between the
criteria for
analysis and the
chosen texts

-make few or
superficial
connections
between the
criteria and the
chosen text*

-make inplicit
connections
between the
criteria and the
chosen texts

2
Responses at this
level:

1
Responses at
this
level:

-provide a vague -don not refer


or confusing
to the "critical
interpretation of lens"
the "critical
lens"
-reflect
minimal
-may allude to analysis of the
the "critical
chosen texts
lens" but do not
use it to analyze
the chosen texts

Rubric: Development

Quality

6
Responses at
this
level:

Development -develop ideas


: the extent clearly and
to which
fully, making
ideas are
effective use
elaborated
of appropriate
using
literary
specific and elements and
relevant
techniques in
evidence
both texts
from the
text(s)

5
Responses at this
level:

-develop ideas
clearly and
consistently,
using relevant
and specific
references to
appropriate
literary
elements and
techniques in
both texts

4
Responses at
this
level:

3
Responses at
this
level:

-develop ideas
inconsistently,
using relevant
details from
both text

-develop ideas
simply, using
some details
from the texts

1
2
Responses at
Responses at this
this
level:
level:

-are incomplete
or largely
undeveloped,
hinting at ideas
that are
sketchy, vague,
irrelevant, or
unjustified

-are minimal,
with no
evidence of
development

Rubric: Organization

Quality

Organization
: the extent
to which the
response
exhibits
direction,
shape, and
coherence

6
Responses at
this
level:

5
Responses at this
level:

-maintain
-maintain the
focus
focus
established by established by
the critical
the critical lens
lens
-exhibit a logical
-exhibit a
sequence of
logical and
ideas through
coherent
the use of
structure
appropriate
through
devices and
effective use transitions
of appropriate
devices and
transitions

4
Responses at
this
level:

-maintain a
clear and
appropriate
focus
-exhibit a
rudimentary
structure but
may include
some
inconsistencies
or irrelevancies

3
Responses at
this
level:

1
2
Responses at
Responses at this
this
level:
level:

-establish, but -lack an


fail to maintain, appropriate
an appropriate focus, but
focus
suggest some
organization
-exhibit uneven
organization

-show no
focus or
organization

Rubric: Language Use

Quality

6
Responses at
this
level:

Language
-are
Use: the
stylistically
extent to
sophisticated,
which the
using original
response
and precise
reveals an
language with
awareness of a notable
audience and sense of voice
purpose
and awareness
through
of audience
effective use and
of words,
sentence
-vary structure
structure,
and length of
and sentence sentences for
variety
effect

5
Responses at this
level:

4
Responses at
this
level:

3
Responses at
this
level:

use language
-use
-use basic
that is fluent and appropriate
vocabulary
engaging, with language, with
some awareness some
-rely on
sentences that
of audience and awareness of
purpose
audience and are unvaried in
purpose
length and
-show consistent
structure
use of sentences -occasionally
that are varied vary length and
in length and
structure of
structure
sentences

1
2
Responses at
Responses at this
this
level:
level:

-use language -are minimal


that is imprecise
or unsuitable for -use language
the audience or that is
incoherent or
purpose
inappropriate
-rely on
sentences that -violate basic
lack variety and rules of
may be
sentence
constructed
structure
incorrectly

Rubric: Conventions

Quality

6
Responses at
this
level:

Conventions: -demonstrate
the extent to control of the
which the
conventions
response
exhibits
conventional
spelling,
punctuation,
paragraphing
,
capitalization
, grammar,
and usage

5
Responses at this
level:

4
Responses at
this
level:

3
Responses at
this
level:

-demonstrate
-demonstrate -demonstrate
control of the
partial control, partial control,
conventions,
exhibiting some exhibiting
with very few
sentence-level errors that
minor errors that errors that do occasionally
have no effect
not hinder
hinder
on
comprehension comprehension
comprehension

2
Responses at this
level:

1
Responses at
this
level:

-demonstrate a -are minimal


lack of control,
exhibiting many -may be
errors that make illegible or not
comprehension recognizable
difficult
as English

Sample Essay #1
Quality

Commentary
The response:

Meaning

Provides an interpretation of the critical lens that is faithful to the


complexity of the statement and clearly establishes the criteria for
analysis, stating that only in the face of great adversity can true
virtue and hope be displayed and noting that good people shine
the brightest when they are surrounded by a society of malice and
oppression. The response uses the criteria to make insightful
analysis of To Kill a Mockingbird (However, it is in this state of
unrest and hardship that the calm and mild-mannered Atticus is
able to shine brightest and prove his moral superiority) and of
The Grapes of Wrath (John Steinbeck shows the ability of a few
migrants to maintain their humanity and a sense of hope in spite
of the incessant hostility of their society).

Sample Essay #1
Quality

Commentary
The response:

Development

Develops ideas clearly and fully, making effective use of a wide


range of relevant and specific evidence from To Kill a
Mockingbird (When Atticus, a lawyer, is chosen to defend a
black man charged with the rape of a white woman, the true
colors of the townsfolk are shown; The racist townspeople
threaten Atticus, frighten his children, and cause vicious
unrest; Atticus defends the black man to the best of his ability)
and from The Grapes of Wrath (The main characters, the Joad
family, are thrown off their land, By the end of the novel, the
family of thirteen is comprised of only six, Tom Joad begins to
preach ideals of the Bible). The response incorporates
appropriate literary elements, discussing the use of contrasting
perspectives and imagery in the texts.

Sample Essay #1
Quality

Commentary
The response:

Organization Maintains the focus established by the critical lens on how noble
men and women of an ignoble world can shine when necessity
calls on them. The response exhibits a logical and coherent
structure, first interpreting the lens and defining good people,
then discussing the overwhelming obstacles faced by Atticus
Finch and the incessant hostility of their society encountered by
the Joads, and ending with a summary conclusion that emphasizes
the difficulty faced by such noble men and women. The response
makes skillful use of appropriate devices and transitions (Thus,
highlighting; Despite this suffering; Therefore).

Sample Essay #1
Quality

Commentary
The response:

Language Use

Is stylistically sophisticated, using language that is precise


and engaging (virtuous qualities gain prominence, denizens
of his community, the staunchly contrasting perspectives),
with a notable sense of voice and awareness of audience and
purpose. The response varies structure and length of
sentences to enhance meaning (This necessity is most
effective when in the form of hardship or intense suffering).

Sample Essay #1
Quality

Commentary
The response:

Conventions

Demonstrates control of the conventions with essentially no


errors, even with sophisticated language.

Sample #1
Conclusion: Overall, the response best fits the

criteria for Level 6 in all qualities.

Sample Essay #2
Quality

Commentary
The response:

Meaning

Provides a reasonable interpretation of the critical lens that


establishes the criteria for analysis, stating only when times get a
little tough do you notice those who are true heroes stand out. The
response makes implicit connections between the criteria and The
Scarlet Letter (Based on her point of view of this situation was she
in true darkness, yet she still shone so brightly in this dark) and
The Crucible (He needed to be the shining star in this casenario).

Sample Essay #2
Quality

Commentary
The response:

Development

Develops some ideas more fully than others. The response uses
specific and relevant evidence from The Scarlet Letter to discuss
Hesters many hardships (Hester had committed adultery; her
baby, Pearl; A on her chest) and from The Crucible to explain
Johns point of view (Proctor lives in a time of witches,
Abigail accused his wife of being a witch, girls
accusations/lies). The discussion of literary elements is less
developed, generally referencing point of view and theme for
The Scarlet Letter and generally referencing characterization
and providing plot details that border on plot summary for The
Crucible.

Sample Essay #2
Quality

Commentary
The response:

Organization Maintains a clear and appropriate focus on the idea that it really
does take darkness for a star to shine. The response exhibits a
logical sequence of ideas, first interpreting the quote in the
introduction, then presenting information about the
circumstances each character faces and the heroic actions each
takes, ending with a reiteration of the lens in the conclusion.
Internal consistency is weakened through the use of abrupt shifts
in focus from point of view to theme to character traits
(courogeousness).

Sample Essay #2
Quality

Commentary
The response:

Language Use

Uses appropriate language that is sometimes inexact (write


for right and he felt as though that), with some awareness
of audience and purpose (Every person has their own time
of shining, but only when theres a time of true darkness
around them). The response occasionally makes effective
use of sentence structure or length (Because no one knew
who the husband was, she was not executed but rather
wore an A on her chest).

Sample Essay #2
Quality

Commentary
The response:

Conventions

Demonstrates partial control, exhibiting occasional errors in


spelling (courogeous and spceific), punctuation (persons life;
girls accusations; strong, hed), grammar (whom has gone
and There were a group), and usage (era of which and
controlled on) that do not hinder comprehension.

Sample #2
Conclusion: Overall, the response best fits the

criteria for Level 4 in all qualities.

Analyzing a Quotation
The Context (Who? Where? When?):

If you know what who said it and when they said it, you can
add a deeper meaning to the quotation.

The Gist (What?):

What is being said? Put it in your own words.

The Purpose(Why?):

Why is this quotation important?

The Application (Give the quotation a greater context):

How does this quotation apply to other circumstances? What is


its universal meaning?

Analyzing a Quotation
"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

George Orwell
The Context (Who? Where? When?):
The Gist (What?):
The Purpose(Why?):
The Application (Give the quotation a greater context):

Analyzing a Quotation
The purpose of the writer is to keep civilization from

destroying itself. Bernard Malamud


The Context (Who? Where? When?):
The Gist (What?):
The Purpose(Why?):
The Application (Give the quotation a greater context):

Analyzing a Quotation
The real hero is always a hero by mistake ~Umberto Eco
The Context (Who? Where? When?):
The Gist (What?):
The Purpose(Why?):
The Application (Give the quotation a greater context):

Analyzing a Quotation
To gain that which is worth having, it may be necessary to

lose everything else. Bernadette Devlin


The Context (Who? Where? When?):
The Gist (What?):
The Purpose(Why?):
The Application (Give the quotation a greater context):

Analyzing a Quotation
The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of

comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge


and controversy. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Context (Who? Where? When?):


The Gist (What?):
The Purpose(Why?):
The Application (Give the quotation a greater context):