A critical appreciation of a work of literature is an objective evaluation of both the structure of the work and the literary materials employed by the author. Yet, while this is an objective critique, the writer, nevertheless, focuses upon an aspect/aspects of the literary work which he/she especially finds worthy and enjoys. There are a few steps to writing a critical appreciation:
- In the introduction include a general description of the work
- Provide a short summary of the plot
- Evaluate how well the author accomplishes what seems to be the purpose of the work, examining literary techniques and style with supporting details.
- Summarize your opinion of the work.
If, for instance, the writer composes a citical appreciation of Tennessee Williams's play The Glass Menagerie, he/she may focus the evaluation upon the effective use of the techniques of Expressionism in this drama. That is, the writer supports the value of the Expressionistic effects that support the themes of the Power of Memory and the Difficulty of Accepting Reality and how they both intrigue the audience and enhance their understanding of the author's message. For example, the use of music ("the fiddle in the wings") is used to enhance the ambience of the past. In addition, with Tom as both a character and a narrator, he is an undisguised convention that aids in the expression of themes and characterization.
As the key to writing an effective critical appreciation is the maintenance of an objective tone, continuing with the example of Expressionism in The Glass Menagerie, the writer will want to support thoroughly the evaluations with examples from the drama and how they contribute to the other elements of the play.
A critical appreciation of a work of non-fiction is similar, but it evaluates more the validity, logic, and proof of the argument as well as the thoroughness of information that the author puts forth rather than the effectiveness of technique or style.