Mercurial Essays

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the call of the wild

Mercy did not exist in the primordial life. It was misunderstood for fear, and such misunderstandings made for death. Kill or be killed, eat or be eaten, was the law; and this mandate, down out of the depths of Time, he obeyed. (6.9)ucturing a Critical Analysis Paper
Most critical analysis papers begin with a short summary of the work and then dive in to the
argument. Since most of these paper assignments are short, it is important to be concise in all parts of your
analysis. Writing an outline (and following it) is crucial to remain focused on your argument and avoid
summary or irrelevant description. Following is a sample outline for a critical analysis paper:

I. Introduction
a. Identify the work being criticized
b. Present thesis – argument about the work
c. Preview your argument – what are the steps you will take to prove your argument
II. Short summary of the work
a. Does not need to be comprehensive – present only what the reader needs to know to
understand your argument
III. Your argument
a. Your argument will likely involve a number of sub-arguments –mini-theses you prove to
prove your larger argument true. For example, if your thesis was that the author’s
presumption that the world will soon face a “clash of civilizations” is flawed because he
inadequately specifies his key concept, civilizations, you might prove this by:
i. Noting competing definitions of civilizations
ii. Identifying how his examples do not meet the example of civilizations
iii. Argue that civilization is so broad and non-specific that it is not useful
b. This should be the bulk of the paper – Your professor/TA wants to read your argument
about the work, not a summary.
IV. Conclusion
a. Reflect on how you have proven your argument.
b. Point out the importance of your argument (beyond it being a requirement for passing the
class O)
c. Note potential avenues for additional research or analysis

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