An analytical essay is the careful examination of a presented argument. Usually the essay writer also includes some sort of personal response to the arguments present and seeks to point out hidden arguments, shedding light on inconsistencies of the presented arguments. One strategy that many analytical writers employ is to examine the present arguments through questions that the writer will ask. This will help the writer to analyze the evidence in a logical and organized manner. A good analytical essay will spend time discussing the original material through a summary, will set up the author’s claims and opinions, and finally the writer will address assumptions, hidden arguments and contradictions in the presented material.
The first step in writing a good analytical essay is to understand the original material very well and present it to the reader in a cohesive summary that sets up the rest of the essay. Most often it is expected that the writer will treat the material being presented as if the reader knows nothing about the topic. This helps lay the groundwork for a common understand and prevents assumptions. The next step is to present some sort of claim about the presented material. This is the writer’s response and will include evidence from the material as well as some sort of explanation of different opinions that are presented or could be presented based on the given material. Often times this section will flow very well into an explanation of the assumptions of the argument. The writer is usually encouraged to further breakdown and analyze these assumptions. One of the most critical elements of an analytical essay is the breakdown of hidden arguments. This is done by the writer carefully setting up the assumptions and following the thought process through to a logical conclusion. This goes hand in hand with finding the contradictions within the arguments that are presented in the original material. Two other strategies that a writer might want to consider in an analytical essay are breaking down the evidence that is presented for its various appeals (emotional, rational and ethical) or taking into consideration the audience that is being addressed by the original material.
- Present original material
- Provide summary of material and arguments
- Present thesis
- Set up writer’s claim about argument
- Provide evidence for argument
- Explain differing opinions and arguments
- Examine assumptions
- Breakdown hidden arguments
- Restate thesis
- Analyze intended audience and argument appeals