Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide

Essay Lab Glossary

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Response

Definition:

A response essay is a variation of the Analysis Essay and is also called an evaluation or critique.

In this type of essay, you’ll evaluate a text or piece of art or film, explain what you agree or disagree with and why, and also state whether you admired its presentation or had problems with it. Hopefully, you’ve got 99 problems but your response ain’t one.

In an Analysis Essay, you’re often expected to read between the lines (zooming in won’t help) and develop a theory or interpretation of the work that you then support. In contrast, the Response Essay is often about making a judgment on the work’s merit and supporting that evaluation. We were going to show you a pie chart that better illustrates this distinction, but we ate it. Sorry—we skipped breakfast.

Usually, the Response Essay takes this form:

  • Paragraph 1: Introduction to the work, ending with a thesis that is an evaluation of the work. Time to tell us exactly what you think of it. 
  • Paragraph 2: Pick out one of the criteria you used (for instance, the story’s language), and in your topic sentence, state what your evaluation of it is. Then, use examples from the work you’re responding to and analyze each example to support the evaluation you made. If one of your examples doesn’t behave itself, feel free to make an example of it. 
  • Paragraph 3: Pick out another criterion (for instance, the story’s unsympathetic protagonist), and do the same as above.
  • Paragraph 4: Pick another criterion (for instance, the historical time period in which the story was set), and do the same as above.
  • Paragraph 5: Conclude the essay by summarizing your evaluation as well as your supporting points. This is where everything comes together. Depending on how flimsy your arguments are, you may need to use Scotch tape to keep it that way.

See also: Analysis Essay; Review; Summary