The critical commentary is an oral or written presentation on a specific topic, in which the speaker expresses his opinion on it in a reasoned way, with clear and pertinent arguments. Critical commentary example
Critical commentary is present in our daily life, in newspaper or magazine articles, on television news, in academic centers, and even in our daily talk, such as when we reason why we agree with something, or why it lost. the game our favorite team. Critical commentary example
This multiplicity means that there is no fixed structure on how a critical comment is elaborated, although in the academic aspect there are common components, present in any exhibition of this kind.
Critical comment characteristics Critical commentary example
Critical comment is an opinion and not a reinterpretation
Critical commentary does not try to explain or reinterpret a text or speech, but rather to judge it, express an opinion about it.
It has an objective and a subjective part
A critical comment has an objective vision, which presents the idea or thesis to be discussed and the reasoned arguments; and another subjective, when the personal opinion of the commentator is exposed.
That is why in a critical comment the first and third person, opinion and argumentation can alternate.
It is a reasoned and rational comment
Irrational arguments such as “I don’t like it” or “I think it’s bad” have no place in the critical comment. You can agree or disagree with the text or speech, and the reasons must be rationally stated.
Understanding of the author’s idea and summary
The author’s idea or thesis must be clearly understood and presented as briefly as possible, before presenting the opinion and reasoning.
Respectful attitude towards the commented text
A good critical comment, even if it disagrees with the commented text, can challenge it without offending or disqualifying the author or his ideas.
The critical comment must be made with clear and precise language in all its parts: the introduction , the opinion, the arguments and the conclusion.
Structure of a critical commentary
A critical comment can have different structures, however, in almost all the following parts are present:
In the introduction, the general perspective of a problem, an author or a situation is given, and the thesis or topic to be discussed is briefly described, providing the reader with a minimum of information (if it is a book or article , the name of the author, the title of the text and the year of publication).
Opinion or approach
The author of the critical comment presents his point of view on the subject discussed. The critical position does not necessarily imply the rejection of the opinion of the text, it can be favorable with some points of disagreement, or completely favorable.
The opinion is usually raised in the first person, and there are those who prefer to use the first person plural. However, it is also possible to pose a position impersonally. Critical commentary example
Either for or against, the reasons for which a certain position is assumed with respect to the text or speech must be argued. Arguments must be reasonable, relevant, and presented in clear language.
The commented thesis and the opinion or perspective proposed are retaken. In this part you can talk about the consequences, propose an evaluation or make recommendations.
How to make a critical commentary step by step
Here’s how to make a critical comment using as an example a classic of literature , Frankenstein , Mary Shelley.
1. Introduction (data, historical context, and brief summary)
In 1816, the companion of the English poet Percy B. Shelley, Mary Shelley, participated in a challenge proposed by another poet, Lord Byron, while they were spending a season in the Diodati villa (owned by Byron), in Geneva: to compose a history of terror.
The result of this challenge was his novel Frankenstein or the modern Prometheus , published in 1818, where he tells the story of a scientist who, going against all the ethical and moral norms of his society, builds a living being with the remains of corpses, creating a monster that will get out of control.
Although for some authors it is a “gothic” horror novel, I agree with those who consider it the first modern science fiction novel. Critical commentary example
Like any contemporary science fiction author, Mary Shelley drew on the scientific insights of her time to project a fantastic story. At that time electricity was a mysterious phenomenon, and its use to “revive” corpses momentarily caused scandal and unease in Europe.
Like any good science fiction author, Shelley uses a fantastic subject to expose current problems: the limits of the scientific revolution, what to do when ethics and science collide.
The numerous versions, reissues, series and films about the character and the novel show that the author touched on a sensitive topic that continues to interest human beings: the power to create life.
Without a doubt Frankenstein can be considered as the first science fiction novel, and perhaps the first that exposes how science, scientific knowledge, can be a possible threat to human beings.
Recent advances in biology, and especially in genetics, have revived Dr. Frankenstein’s dilemma about how far we can go, and whether it is permissible to use everything we know.
Without a doubt, reading Frankenstein is still recommended , and perhaps we will find out who the monster really is. Critical commentary example
Examples of critical commentary
Critical commentary on a documentary, Seaspiracy
Without a doubt, the pollution of the oceans and seas, as well as the reduction of fish populations, is one of the most serious environmental problems facing the planet.
This is the subject of the documentary by young filmmaker Ali Tabrizi, Seaspiracy: Unsustainable Fishing (2021), where the main problem for marine ecosystems is the overexploitation of fishing.
And he proposes as a radical solution to stop eating fish and other marine products.
Is this completely true? Probably not, and perhaps the proposed solution is not correct either. Critics of the documentary affirm that pollution from the continents and global warming continue to be the main problems facing the oceans, without underestimating the damage that the fishing industry is producing. They argue that Tabrizi focused more on attacking environmental organizations, without targeting large plastic-producing corporations.
In our opinion, they are both right: pollution and warming are as serious as overexploitation, and Seaspiracy’s contribution has been to remind us that it is urgent to change the way we treat marine fauna, if we want our descendants to continue eating fish and that marine fish can recover.
Critical commentary on a chapter of a book, “The greatest fraud in history”
In his book From Animals to Gods (2011), Yuval Noah Harari raises the emergence of agriculture some 10,000 years ago, not only as a technological and cultural revolution but as the “greatest fraud in history”, by promoting the emergence of sickness, slavery and much unhappiness. The author suggests that our life as hunter-gatherers was much fuller.
It is possible that the author is correct. If you have been in contact with the few semi-nomadic cultures that still persist, hunter-gatherers who practice slash-and-burn, itinerant agriculture, you can see that they lead a life with a more varied and balanced diet (even in relatively poor ecosystems), who have a lot of free time, in contrast to those who live in organized societies, and who possibly lead a happier life.
Certainly, as the author also recognizes, agriculture allowed populations to grow and cities and states to emerge, and today we could not give it up or all its benefits. But perhaps that is also why many human beings continue to feel nostalgic for a more natural life. Critical commentary example