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Rhetorical Argument

An introduction to the types of rhetorical arguments and related concepts.

Introduction

Critiquing a work simply means examining a book, story, poem, article, movie, painting, etc by analyzing different aspects and then making an evaluative judgment. For example, an essay may examine the credible plot of a story or the weak acting in a movie in order to convey to the reader the successes or failures of the work. A critical analysis essay is an argumentative essay which provides supportive examples.

Cat, dog, gerbilCritiquing and evaluating a work looks at the work on its own merits. For instance, say you read an essay that is intended to convince you that cats are better than dogs. You should not think about whether or not you, personally, prefer cats or dogs, but ask yourself how well the article made that argument. You can ask yourself if the source - the author of the essay - was credible or not (See: Rhetorical Appeals: Ethos). You can ask yourself if the argument was sound and made good points (See: Logical Fallacies). These are all tools to evaluate a work. You are not evaluating whether or not the argument is right, that is whether or not you agree with it personally, but whether or not the argument is sound

Evaluation is the formation of an opinion about the value of something.

Critique is a specific evaluation of something based on the analysis of various parts or aspects.

Evaluation and critique are analytical tools used in tandem to form an opinion on the value of something based on the examination of its various parts or aspects.

For example, one may argue that a particular short story is successful because of the well-developed characters. This evaluation would be made after examining the characters’ interesting dialogue, credible actions, and detailed physical description.​

Being able to critique and evaluate an argument is a valuable skill for readers and writers, as well as for life in general. Being able to evaluate an argument allows you to spot flaws in reasoning, deceptive information, and make your own opinions based on factual, logical evidence. 

If you can critique an argument on its own merits, without letting your personal views color your judgment, then you are more likely to come to a fair evaluation. This also allows you to open your mind to new possibilities. Instead of rejecting something that you do not personally agree with, you should be able to examine it without bias and determine whether or not the argument is sound or not.

Example of Literary Analysis

Sample Outline of Critical Essay

Elements of Literary Analysis

Elements of Research Analysis

Analytical vs. Argumentative Essays