How do you write a good critical lens essay?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Usually a critical lens essay is a timed-writing that asks the writer to respond to a quote using two works of literature.

Here's an example quote:

"Tragedy is when I cut my finger; Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die."  --Mel Brooks

It looks like you've tagged Romeo and Juliet as one work.  The other might be a Shakespearan comedy, Much Ado About Nothing.

Here's how you would set it up:

1.  Respond to the quote (what you think it means)

2.  Transition into a comparative discussion about literature (Tragedies have comic elements; comedies have tragic elements)

3.  Discuss how the quote applies to the two works (thesis)

4.  Discuss the comic and tragic aspects of Romeo and Juliet (why Shakespeare uses both, but ends it in tragedy).

5.  Discuss the comic and tragic aspects of Much Ado About Nothing (again, why Shakespeare uses both, but ends it in comedy).

6.  Return to the quote as it relates to literature and society (big picture).

As sample thesis might sound like this:

"Shakespeare uses irony to achieve both comic and tragic ends in his plays; in other words, Brooks and Shakespeare believe that comedy and tragedy are but flip sides of the same coin."

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial