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A Critical Response is a short piece of writing, about one page or 250 words, where you explore a theme in a piece of literature. This is not asking for your opinion about the literature or your opinion on the theme. This asks you to think about how the author presents and develops a theme in the literature.
- Step 1: Read the prompt question carefully. Reflect on Beowulf and formulate your answer to the question. This does NOT include your opinion of the book.
- Step 2: Ask yourself, “Why did I come to my answer?” What examples in the book support your answer?
- Step 3: Go find the examples from Step 2 in the book. Find the best quotes from those passages. If you cannot find supporting quotes, return to Step 1 and rethink your answer using evidence you do find.
- Step 4: Write your paragraph.
- Chunk 1 (one sentence): State your answer.
- Chunk 2 (one sentence including a quote and citation): Present your textual evidence.
- Chunk 3 (aim for 1-3 sentences): Explain your evidence. What is it showing, and how does that relate to your answer from Chunk 1?
- Repeat Chunks 2 and 3 until you have presented all evidence. You should have at least two examples.
- Chunk 4 (aim for 1-2 sentences): Come to a conclusion about the theme. Ask yourself, “What does this mean?” and “Why does a reader of Beowulf need to understand this concept to understand the poem?”
- Step 5: Proofread carefully. Check your work for grammar and spelling errors. Take out any opinion statements such as I think or in my opinion. Reread carefully and remove any unnecessary summary. Assume that your reader knows the story well, so you only need half a sentence to orient them in the text before you present a quote (Ex: “When Beowulf is about to face Grendel…”).
- Step 6: Submit your work for grading.
Begin to think about what makes a Hero. What does Beowulf do that is heroic? What kind of man is he – what are his values, morals, and strengths within his character?
Remember that heroism takes many forms and exists specifically within its historical context. Rely on the story itself to explore what the Beowulf poet considered heroic.