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- How to write a literary analysis essay | A step-by-step guide
How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay | A Step-by-Step Guide
Published on January 30, 2020 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on September 2, 2022.
Literary analysis means closely studying a text, interpreting its meanings, and exploring why the author made certain choices. It can be applied to novels, short stories, plays, poems, or any other form of literary writing.
A literary analysis essay is not a rhetorical analysis , nor is it just a summary of the plot or a book review. Instead, it is a type of argumentative essay where you need to analyze elements such as the language, perspective, and structure of the text, and explain how the author uses literary devices to create effects and convey ideas.
Before beginning a literary analysis essay, it’s essential to carefully read the text and c ome up with a thesis statement to keep your essay focused. As you write, follow the standard structure of an academic essay :
- An introduction that tells the reader what your essay will focus on.
- A main body, divided into paragraphs , that builds an argument using evidence from the text.
- A conclusion that clearly states the main point that you have shown with your analysis.
Table of contents
Step 1: reading the text and identifying literary devices, step 2: coming up with a thesis, step 3: writing a title and introduction, step 4: writing the body of the essay, step 5: writing a conclusion.
The first step is to carefully read the text(s) and take initial notes. As you read, pay attention to the things that are most intriguing, surprising, or even confusing in the writing—these are things you can dig into in your analysis.
Your goal in literary analysis is not simply to explain the events described in the text, but to analyze the writing itself and discuss how the text works on a deeper level. Primarily, you’re looking out for literary devices —textual elements that writers use to convey meaning and create effects. If you’re comparing and contrasting multiple texts, you can also look for connections between different texts.
To get started with your analysis, there are several key areas that you can focus on. As you analyze each aspect of the text, try to think about how they all relate to each other. You can use highlights or notes to keep track of important passages and quotes.
Consider what style of language the author uses. Are the sentences short and simple or more complex and poetic?
What word choices stand out as interesting or unusual? Are words used figuratively to mean something other than their literal definition? Figurative language includes things like metaphor (e.g. “her eyes were oceans”) and simile (e.g. “her eyes were like oceans”).
Also keep an eye out for imagery in the text—recurring images that create a certain atmosphere or symbolize something important. Remember that language is used in literary texts to say more than it means on the surface.
- Who is telling the story?
- How are they telling it?
Is it a first-person narrator (“I”) who is personally involved in the story, or a third-person narrator who tells us about the characters from a distance?
Consider the narrator’s perspective . Is the narrator omniscient (where they know everything about all the characters and events), or do they only have partial knowledge? Are they an unreliable narrator who we are not supposed to take at face value? Authors often hint that their narrator might be giving us a distorted or dishonest version of events.
The tone of the text is also worth considering. Is the story intended to be comic, tragic, or something else? Are usually serious topics treated as funny, or vice versa ? Is the story realistic or fantastical (or somewhere in between)?
Consider how the text is structured, and how the structure relates to the story being told.
- Novels are often divided into chapters and parts.
- Poems are divided into lines, stanzas, and sometime cantos.
- Plays are divided into scenes and acts.
Think about why the author chose to divide the different parts of the text in the way they did.
There are also less formal structural elements to take into account. Does the story unfold in chronological order, or does it jump back and forth in time? Does it begin in medias res —in the middle of the action? Does the plot advance towards a clearly defined climax?
With poetry, consider how the rhyme and meter shape your understanding of the text and your impression of the tone. Try reading the poem aloud to get a sense of this.
In a play, you might consider how relationships between characters are built up through different scenes, and how the setting relates to the action. Watch out for dramatic irony , where the audience knows some detail that the characters don’t, creating a double meaning in their words, thoughts, or actions.
Your thesis in a literary analysis essay is the point you want to make about the text. It’s the core argument that gives your essay direction and prevents it from just being a collection of random observations about a text.
If you’re given a prompt for your essay, your thesis must answer or relate to the prompt. For example:
Essay question example
Is Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” a religious parable?
Your thesis statement should be an answer to this question—not a simple yes or no, but a statement of why this is or isn’t the case:
Thesis statement example
Franz Kafka’s “Before the Law” is not a religious parable, but a story about bureaucratic alienation.
Sometimes you’ll be given freedom to choose your own topic; in this case, you’ll have to come up with an original thesis. Consider what stood out to you in the text; ask yourself questions about the elements that interested you, and consider how you might answer them.
Your thesis should be something arguable—that is, something that you think is true about the text, but which is not a simple matter of fact. It must be complex enough to develop through evidence and arguments across the course of your essay.
Say you’re analyzing the novel Frankenstein . You could start by asking yourself:
Your initial answer might be a surface-level description:
The character Frankenstein is portrayed negatively in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein .
However, this statement is too simple to be an interesting thesis. After reading the text and analyzing its narrative voice and structure, you can develop the answer into a more nuanced and arguable thesis statement:
Mary Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.
Remember that you can revise your thesis statement throughout the writing process , so it doesn’t need to be perfectly formulated at this stage. The aim is to keep you focused as you analyze the text.
Finding textual evidence
To support your thesis statement, your essay will build an argument using textual evidence —specific parts of the text that demonstrate your point. This evidence is quoted and analyzed throughout your essay to explain your argument to the reader.
It can be useful to comb through the text in search of relevant quotations before you start writing. You might not end up using everything you find, and you may have to return to the text for more evidence as you write, but collecting textual evidence from the beginning will help you to structure your arguments and assess whether they’re convincing.
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To start your literary analysis paper, you’ll need two things: a good title, and an introduction.
Your title should clearly indicate what your analysis will focus on. It usually contains the name of the author and text(s) you’re analyzing. Keep it as concise and engaging as possible.
A common approach to the title is to use a relevant quote from the text, followed by a colon and then the rest of your title.
If you struggle to come up with a good title at first, don’t worry—this will be easier once you’ve begun writing the essay and have a better sense of your arguments.
“Fearful symmetry” : The violence of creation in William Blake’s “The Tyger”
The essay introduction provides a quick overview of where your argument is going. It should include your thesis statement and a summary of the essay’s structure.
A typical structure for an introduction is to begin with a general statement about the text and author, using this to lead into your thesis statement. You might refer to a commonly held idea about the text and show how your thesis will contradict it, or zoom in on a particular device you intend to focus on.
Then you can end with a brief indication of what’s coming up in the main body of the essay. This is called signposting. It will be more elaborate in longer essays, but in a short five-paragraph essay structure, it shouldn’t be more than one sentence.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a stable representation of the callous ambition of modern science throughout the novel. This essay, however, argues that far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to portray Frankenstein in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as. This essay begins by exploring the positive portrayal of Frankenstein in the first volume, then moves on to the creature’s perception of him, and finally discusses the third volume’s narrative shift toward viewing Frankenstein as the creature views him.
Some students prefer to write the introduction later in the process, and it’s not a bad idea. After all, you’ll have a clearer idea of the overall shape of your arguments once you’ve begun writing them!
If you do write the introduction first, you should still return to it later to make sure it lines up with what you ended up writing, and edit as necessary.
The body of your essay is everything between the introduction and conclusion. It contains your arguments and the textual evidence that supports them.
A typical structure for a high school literary analysis essay consists of five paragraphs : the three paragraphs of the body, plus the introduction and conclusion.
Each paragraph in the main body should focus on one topic. In the five-paragraph model, try to divide your argument into three main areas of analysis, all linked to your thesis. Don’t try to include everything you can think of to say about the text—only analysis that drives your argument.
In longer essays, the same principle applies on a broader scale. For example, you might have two or three sections in your main body, each with multiple paragraphs. Within these sections, you still want to begin new paragraphs at logical moments—a turn in the argument or the introduction of a new idea.
Robert’s first encounter with Gil-Martin suggests something of his sinister power. Robert feels “a sort of invisible power that drew me towards him.” He identifies the moment of their meeting as “the beginning of a series of adventures which has puzzled myself, and will puzzle the world when I am no more in it” (p. 89). Gil-Martin’s “invisible power” seems to be at work even at this distance from the moment described; before continuing the story, Robert feels compelled to anticipate at length what readers will make of his narrative after his approaching death. With this interjection, Hogg emphasizes the fatal influence Gil-Martin exercises from his first appearance.
To keep your points focused, it’s important to use a topic sentence at the beginning of each paragraph.
A good topic sentence allows a reader to see at a glance what the paragraph is about. It can introduce a new line of argument and connect or contrast it with the previous paragraph. Transition words like “however” or “moreover” are useful for creating smooth transitions:
… The story’s focus, therefore, is not upon the divine revelation that may be waiting beyond the door, but upon the mundane process of aging undergone by the man as he waits.
Nevertheless, the “radiance” that appears to stream from the door is typically treated as religious symbolism.
This topic sentence signals that the paragraph will address the question of religious symbolism, while the linking word “nevertheless” points out a contrast with the previous paragraph’s conclusion.
Using textual evidence
A key part of literary analysis is backing up your arguments with relevant evidence from the text. This involves introducing quotes from the text and explaining their significance to your point.
It’s important to contextualize quotes and explain why you’re using them; they should be properly introduced and analyzed, not treated as self-explanatory:
It isn’t always necessary to use a quote. Quoting is useful when you’re discussing the author’s language, but sometimes you’ll have to refer to plot points or structural elements that can’t be captured in a short quote.
In these cases, it’s more appropriate to paraphrase or summarize parts of the text—that is, to describe the relevant part in your own words:
The conclusion of your analysis shouldn’t introduce any new quotations or arguments. Instead, it’s about wrapping up the essay. Here, you summarize your key points and try to emphasize their significance to the reader.
A good way to approach this is to briefly summarize your key arguments, and then stress the conclusion they’ve led you to, highlighting the new perspective your thesis provides on the text as a whole:
By tracing the depiction of Frankenstein through the novel’s three volumes, I have demonstrated how the narrative structure shifts our perception of the character. While the Frankenstein of the first volume is depicted as having innocent intentions, the second and third volumes—first in the creature’s accusatory voice, and then in his own voice—increasingly undermine him, causing him to appear alternately ridiculous and vindictive. Far from the one-dimensional villain he is often taken to be, the character of Frankenstein is compelling because of the dynamic narrative frame in which he is placed. In this frame, Frankenstein’s narrative self-presentation responds to the images of him we see from others’ perspectives. This conclusion sheds new light on the novel, foregrounding Shelley’s unique layering of narrative perspectives and its importance for the depiction of character.
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Academic Writing Resources for Students
Literary analysis: sample essay.
We turn once more to Joanna Wolfe’s and Laura Wilder’s Digging into Literature: Strategies for Reading, Writing, and Analysis (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016) in order to show you their example of a strong student essay that has a strong central claim elucidated by multiple surface/depth arguments supported by patterns of evidence.
Sylvia Plath’s short poem “Morning Song” explores the conflicted emotions of a new mother. On the one hand, the mother recognizes that she is expected to treasure and celebrate her infant, but on the other hand, she feels strangely removed from the child. The poem uses a combination of scientific and natural imagery to illustrate the mother’s feelings of alienation. By the end of the poem, however, we see a shift in this imagery as the mother begins to see the infant in more human terms.
There are several references to scientific imagery in “Morning Song” that suggest that mother is viewing the baby in clinical, scientific terms rather than as a new life. The poem refers to magnification (4) and reflection (8), both of which are scientific methods. The word “distills” (8) refers to a scientific, chemical process for removing impurities from a substance. The baby’s cry is described as taking “its place among the elements” (3), which seems to refer to the periodic table of elements, the primordial matter of the universe. The watch in the first line is similarly a scientific tool and the gold the watch is made of is, of course, an element, like the baby’s cry. Even the balloons in the last line have a scientific connotation since balloons are often used for measurements and experiments in science. These images all serve to show how the speaker feels distanced from the baby, who is like a scientific experiment she is conducting rather than a human being.
Natural imagery also seems to further dehumanize the baby, reducing it to nothing more than its mouth. The baby’s breathing is compared to a moth in line 10, suggesting that the speaker feels the infant is fragile and is as likely to die as a moth dancing around candlelight. A few lines later, the baby’s mouth is compared to another animal—a cat—who greedily opens its mouth for milk. Not only does the speaker seem to feel that the baby is like an animal, but she herself is turned into an animal, as she arises “cow-heavy” (13) to feed the infant. These images show how the speaker sees both the baby and herself as dumb animals who exist only to feed and be fed. Even the morning itself seems to be reduced to another mouth to feed as she describes how the dawn “swallows its dull stars” (16). These lines suggest that just as the sun swallows up the stars, so the baby will swallow up this mother.
However, in the last few lines the poem takes a hopeful turn as the speaker begins to view the baby as a human being. The baby’s mouth, which has previously been greedy and animal-like, now becomes a source of music, producing a “handful of notes” (17) and “clear vowels” (18). Music is a distinctly human sound. No animals and certainly not the cats, cows, or moths mentioned earlier in the poem, make music. This change in how the speaker perceives the baby’s sounds—from animalistic cry to human song—suggest that she is beginning to relate the baby as an individual. Even the word “handful” in the phrase “handful of notes” (17) seems hopeful in this context since this is the first time the mother has referred to the baby as having a distinctly human body part. When the baby’s notes finally “rise like balloons” (18), the speaker seems to have arrived at a place where she can celebrate the infant. For the first time, the infant is giving something to the speaker rather than threatening to take something away. The mother seems to have finally accepted the child as an independent human being whose company she can celebrate.
Literary Analysis Essay
Literary Analysis Essay Writing
Last updated on: Feb 9, 2023
Literary Analysis Essay - Ultimate Guide By Professionals
By: Cordon J.
Reviewed By: Rylee W.
Published on: Dec 3, 2019
A literary analysis essay specifically examines and evaluates a piece of literature or a literary work. It also understands and explains the links between the small parts to their whole information.
It is important for students to understand the meaning and the true essence of literature to write a literary essay.
One of the most difficult assignments for students is writing a literary analysis essay. It can be hard to come up with an original idea or find enough material to write about. You might think you need years of experience in order to create a good paper, but that's not true.
This blog post will show you how easy it can be when you follow the steps given here.Writing such an essay involves the breakdown of a book into small parts and understanding each part separately. It seems easy, right?
Trust us, it is not as hard as good book reports but it may also not be extremely easy. You will have to take into account different approaches and explain them in relation with the chosen literary work.
It is a common high school and college assignment and you can learn everything in this blog.
Continue reading for some useful tips with an example to write a literary analysis essay that will be on point. You can also explore our detailed article on writing an analytical essay .
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What is a Literary Analysis Essay?
A literary analysis essay is an important kind of essay that focuses on the detailed analysis of the work of literature.
The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to explain why the author has used a specific theme for his work. Or examine the characters, themes, literary devices, figurative language, and settings in the story.
This type of essay encourages students to think about how the book or the short story has been written. And why the author has created this work.
The method used in the literary analysis essay differs from other types of essays. It primarily focuses on the type of work and literature that is being analyzed.
Mostly, you will be going to break down the work into various parts. In order to develop a better understanding of the idea being discussed, each part will be discussed separately.
The essay should explain the choices of the author and point of view along with your answers and personal analysis.
How To Write A Literary Analysis Essay
So how to start a literary analysis essay? The answer to this question is quite simple.
The following sections are required to write an effective literary analysis essay. By following the guidelines given in the following sections, you will be able to craft a winning literary analysis essay.
The aim of the introduction is to establish a context for readers. You have to give a brief on the background of the selected topic.
It should contain the name of the author of the literary work along with its title. The introduction should be effective enough to grab the reader’s attention.
In the body section, you have to retell the story that the writer has narrated. It is a good idea to create a summary as it is one of the important tips of literary analysis.
Other than that, you are required to develop ideas and disclose the observed information related to the issue. The ideal length of the body section is around 1000 words.
To write the body section, your observation should be based on evidence and your own style of writing.
It would be great if the body of your essay is divided into three paragraphs. Make a strong argument with facts related to the thesis statement in all of the paragraphs in the body section.
Start writing each paragraph with a topic sentence and use transition words when moving to the next paragraph.
Summarize the important points of your literary analysis essay in this section. It is important to compose a short and strong conclusion to help you make a final impression of your essay.
Pay attention that this section does not contain any new information. It should provide a sense of completion by restating the main idea with a short description of your arguments. End the conclusion with your supporting details.
You have to explain why the book is important. Also, elaborate on the means that the authors used to convey her/his opinion regarding the issue.
For further understanding, here is a downloadable literary analysis essay outline. This outline will help you structure and format your essay properly and earn an A easily.
DOWNLOADABLE LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY OUTLINE (PDF)
Types of Literary Analysis Essay
- Close reading - This method involves attentive reading and detailed analysis. No need for a lot of knowledge and inspiration to write an essay that shows your creative skills.
- Theoretical - In this type, you will rely on theories related to the selected topic.
- Historical - This type of essay concerns the discipline of history. Sometimes historical analysis is required to explain events in detail.
- Applied - This type involves analysis of a specific issue from a practical perspective.
- Comparative - This type of writing is based on when two or more alternatives are compared
Examples of Literary Analysis Essay
Examples are great to understand any concept, especially if it is related to writing. Below are some great literary analysis essay examples that showcase how this type of essay is written.
A ROSE FOR EMILY LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY
TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY
THE GREAT GATSBY LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY
THE YELLOW WALLPAPER LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY
If you do not have experience in writing essays, this will be a very chaotic process for you. In that case, it is very important for you to conduct good research on the topic before writing.
There are two important points that you should keep in mind when writing a literary analysis essay.
First, remember that it is very important to select a topic in which you are interested. Choose something that really inspires you. This will help you to catch the attention of a reader.
The selected topic should reflect the main idea of writing. In addition to that, it should also express your point of view as well.
Another important thing is to draft a good outline for your literary analysis essay. It will help you to define a central point and division of this into parts for further discussion.
Literary Analysis Essay Topics
Literary analysis essays are mostly based on artistic works like books, movies, paintings, and other forms of art. However, generally, students choose novels and books to write their literary essays.
Some cool, fresh, and good topics and ideas are listed below:
- Role of the Three Witches in flaming Macbeth’s ambition.
- Analyze the themes of the Play Antigone,
- Discuss Ajax as a tragic hero.
- The Judgement of Paris: Analyze the Reasons and their Consequences.
- Oedipus Rex: A Doomed Son or a Conqueror?
- Describe the Oedipus complex and Electra complex in relation to their respective myths.
- Betrayal is a common theme of Shakespearean tragedies. Discuss
- Identify and analyze the traits of history in T.S Eliot’s ‘Gerontion’.
- Analyze the theme of identity crisis in The Great Gatsby.
- Analyze the writing style of Emily Dickinson.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What should a literary analysis essay include.
A good literary analysis essay must include a proper and in-depth explanation of your ideas. They must be backed with examples and evidence from the text. Textual evidence includes summaries, paraphrased text, original work details, and direct quotes.
What are the 4 components of literary analysis?
Here are the 4 essential parts of a literary analysis essay;
No literary work is explained properly without discussing and explaining these 4 things.
How do you start a literary analysis essay?
Start your literary analysis essay with the name of the work and the title. Hook your readers by introducing the main ideas that you will discuss in your essay and engage them from the start.
How do you do a literary analysis?
In a literary analysis essay, you study the text closely, understand and interpret its meanings. And try to find out the reasons behind why the author has used certain symbols, themes, and objects in the work.
Why is literary analysis important?
It encourages the students to think beyond their existing knowledge, experiences, and belief and build empathy. This helps in improving the writing skills also.
What is the fundamental characteristic of a literary analysis essay?
Interpretation is the fundamental and important feature of a literary analysis essay. The essay is based on how well the writer explains and interprets the work.
Law, Finance Essay
Cordon. is a published author and writing specialist. He has worked in the publishing industry for many years, providing writing services and digital content. His own writing career began with a focus on literature and linguistics, which he continues to pursue. Cordon is an engaging and professional individual, always looking to help others achieve their goals.
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Example of an Insightful Literary Analysis Essay
- DESCRIPTION Student writing Insightful Literary Analysis Essay
- SOURCE Wavebreakmedia / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Get a sense of what to do right with this literary analysis essay example. A literary analysis is more than a book report ; it goes deeper into the text, examining the themes, literary devices, characters, and more. To write a great literary analysis essay, you need a good thesis and a good grasp of the novel , story, poem, or other literary work you’re discussing. You also need examples for inspiration.
Sample Literary Analysis Essay for Middle School or High School
At the middle school level, a literary analysis essay can be as short as one page. For high schoolers, the essay may become much longer as they progress. Often, this type of essay will focus on a specific area of literary analysis , such as character development or imagery within a text. Students can sometimes choose the story, novel, or book series they wish to write about, and they learn to use quotes from the text to support their thesis statements.
This sample essay focuses on the character development of Laura in the book By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder . The thesis statement for this literary analysis essay is, “When her eldest sister loses her sight, Laura must suddenly take on the role of the oldest child in the family and grow in maturity.”
Literary Analysis of By the Shores of Silver Lake
In By the Shores of Silver Lake , Laura Ingalls Wilder focuses on the theme of coming of age, especially as it relates to her main character, Laura. Although this theme runs throughout the novel, it’s especially apparent as Laura’s role in the family changes. The novel begins with Laura’s older sister, Mary, losing her sight due to scarlet fever. This directly affects Laura, who must go from being a middle child to suddenly assuming the role of the oldest and acting as Mary’s eyes. It’s a role she has had no experience with, and as she learns to accept it and grow to meet her responsibilities, she begins to leave childhood behind.
In previous novels in the “Little House” series, Laura and Mary have a typical sibling relationship. Mary is the oldest and is often placed in charge of Laura, such as when Pa and Ma go to town and leave them alone together in the chapter “Keeping House” in On the Banks of Plum Creek . The two sometimes fight, and Laura plainly resents Mary’s bossiness while at the same time looking up to her sister. This relationship changes at the beginning of By the Shores of Silver Lake , which opens with a simple description of Mary’s rapidly fading eyesight and eventual blindness.
Throughout the first chapters, the reader sees the impact of Mary’s blindness on the family’s daily life. Mary can no longer see to care for herself, and as the family sets out on a journey to their new homestead in South Dakota, Laura’s responsibilities increase. She must guide Mary carefully at the depot as they board the train. In the boarding house, she must cut Mary’s meat for her at dinner and help her find her silverware and food. In the wagon that takes them farther west, she must sit on the uncomfortable end of a board seat to give Mary the safer spot in the middle. At the age of 12, Laura must suddenly make countless small adjustments to show she is responsible for Mary’s safety and well-being.
Even more significantly, Laura must “see out loud” for Mary, as is described in the chapter “Riding the Cars”: “On that dreadful morning when Mary could not see even sunshine full in her eyes, Pa had said that Laura must see for her.” Being Mary’s eyes is perhaps one of the most essential duties Laura takes on. She is not only responsible for Mary’s safety and practical needs, but she must also share her outlook on the world in a way that allows Mary to experience it too. This is no light burden, although Laura carries it well.
By the end of the novel, Laura has taken on the role of eldest. She even takes over Mary’s dream of becoming a school teacher. Laura swears to Mary that she will study hard and become a teacher so she can help finance Mary’s college education. She no longer has the option of sitting back and allowing her sister to lead. Instead, she must literally guide her sister from place to place. She must offer direction with her vision and words, and she must provide a means for her sister to achieve her dreams. Although Laura is only 13 at the end of the novel, she has grown significantly in maturity due to her changing role within the family.
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- DESCRIPTION Literary Analysis Essay Example
- SOURCE Created by Beth Wiggins for LoveToKnow
Why This Essay Is Successful
There are several qualities that make this an insightful literary analysis essay:
- Clear thesis statement - The thesis statement is clear and each point in the essay relates back to it.
- Supporting evidence - The details from the text, including quotes and specific examples, help to prove the thesis.
- Good introduction - The introduction clearly establishes the literary text being discussed and the thesis that will be proven in the essay.
- Strong conclusion - The conclusion restates the thesis and uses parallel structure to give the essay a sense of importance and finality.
- Transitions - Each paragraph in this essay begins or ends with a transition , allowing the words to flow smoothly from one section to the next.
Remember Your Style
As you write your essay don’t forget to document your sources and use the proper style guide. Whether you’re writing an essay in MLA style or a different style, you’ll find that proper formatting will help you get a better grade on any literary essay.
Literary Analysis Essay Example: 20 Insightful Examples
Feb 10, 2022 | 0 comments
Feb 10, 2022 | Blog | 0 comments
What is Literary Analysis Essay
A literary analysis essay example is an academic assignment that examines and evaluates a work of literature or a given aspect of a specific literary piece. It tells about the big idea or theme of a book you’ve read. The literary essay may be about any book or any literary topic imaginable.
The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to give the reader a full perspective on the major idea or theme of the literature work. It just presents the main intention of the writer in constructing the piece.
In a literary analysis essay, the writer shares their opinion about the theme and other literary elements of writing.
These views are supported with textual evidence from relevant work to back up what is being said. It may not have a thesis statement depending on whether it’s an informative or argumentative essay type.
Let me break it up into two stages to start the journey. Your job is to synthesize a claimed or thematic statement about the passage and use your essay to support your ideas.
Your professor always reads the text you’re studying, so you don’t have to talk about what happened in the plot.
You reread most of the books before, and you know about them that if they are simply because you merely recite a book’s major characters as proof that you reread them, but the analysis would need more.
There can be many sections in this style, including but not limited to the introduction, body paragraphs supporting claims for your point-of-view (argument), conclusion where these points converge into one strong consensus called “claim.”
The following are the features that distinguish a literary analysis essay from other types of papers:
- A narrative is included in a literary analysis essay.
- It is interpretative;
- It does not contain an argumentative thesis;
- It is a report.
Writing a literary analysis essay is an essential part of academics.
High school and college students often get assigned this type of paper.
A literary essay is one of the different types of essays that require good analyzing skills, strong analytical abilities, and the ability to write well to be successful as something people want to read.
What is the Purpose of a Literary Analysis Essay?
The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to carefully examine and sometimes evaluate a work of literature or an aspect of a work of literature. As with any analysis, this requires you to break the subject down into its component parts.
Examining the different elements of a piece of literature is not an end in itself but rather a process to help you better appreciate and understand the work of literature as a whole.
For instance, an analysis of a poem might deal with the different types of images in a poem or with the relationship between the form and content of the work. If you were to analyze a play, you might analyze the relationship between a subplot and the main plot, or you might analyze the character flaw of the tragic hero by tracing how it is revealed throughout the play.
You can choose from many approaches when analyzing a piece of literature. Common literary analysis essay focuses include characterization, structure, setting, language, theme, and symbolism.
Elements of Literature
Literature is the ideas or devices that make up a story.
These elements are used to develop literary works, and without them, no essay can be complete.
Some of these elements have more prominence than others, which do not play a significant role when it comes down to choosing literature for analysis purposes like I am doing now with this piece called “The Elements Of Literature.”
True analysis means examining the text as if as an investigator.
Set, characters, and setting each leave details of deeper meaning, and the only thing you do is find these out. Characters are useful to analysis because they act to cause and react to an event in a story.
Conflict is the fight between two opposing forces, usually the main protagonist and antagonists.
You may easily understand the setting because authors usually express opinions through character representation of races, religions, or gender.
The author may express some opinions through their characters can have provocative and revealing thoughts as well. In any analysis, sometimes a character gets started.
The plot is one of the essential elements in a literary essay because it provides insight into how the story unfolds and discusses patterns of events that make up a story.
Sometimes authors use nonlinear plots, such as flashbacks or future events- these can help make your work captivating to readers who want more than just an overview.
Make sure you pay attention to this point when writing an analysis paper.
In most situations, students finish up writing a summary of the plot instead of analyzing and explaining an assertion or developing an argument.
This is one very common mistake, and it fails students since simply retelling stories.
Rather than just using the summary, supporting the claims would be the right approach.
In theory, you should learn to share your impressions in examining literary analysis, which becomes difficult for most students to learn efficiently since instruction and practice are needed. It is typically difficult to know how best to use the plot synoptic because it becomes hard.
2 Point Of View
You can’t get through life without a point of view.
And in the world of literature, your perspective tells us who’s narrating and what their story is all about.
Having a point of view is essential in the work of literature. It communicates to the readers who are narrating the story. This section attempts to explain why the author has selected a particular perspective.
The importance “point-of-view” has on storytelling should not be underestimated because it communicates so much more than just an idea or opinion–it lets readers know which character they are following around as they go about his day (or night).
In other words, you don’t have any control over how someone else sees the world if that person happens to be telling your story from their own experiences.
During a literary analysis – one should have a clear understanding of the point of view and the writer’s ideas.
Assume that links between the ideas and a plot are found between characters’ behavior and character role changes in the text.
Read both if needed. What does the reader think about the characters in this book? What do you know about characters?
The setting of a story is integral to the development and progression, especially when it comes time for Analysis.
The reader can see how characters are affected in certain regions while also understanding their opinion about those areas as well through this technique.
Characters are the backbone of any piece of literature, and no story is complete without them.
While writing a literary essay , you need to concentrate on how these characters develop throughout the work and how different authors portray them.
There are three sorts of characters in most literary works.
- Hero is the protagonist.
- The antagonist is often known as the villain or the evil guy.
- Catalyst: A pivotal figure who is neither the protagonist nor the adversary.
The use of imagery in literature is an essential factor, where the author draws pictures and creates scenes for readers to experience through their imagination.
These images are usually used as symbols throughout literary work that often helps convey deeper emotions or messages, which you cannot do with mere words alone.
Without these essential elements, a story would lose its identity much as it did without sound before movies were invented.
Symbolism is a way to represent ideas through objects.
It’s not explained in words but can be found throughout the text, and it’s decoded by looking at other parts of the work.
One of the most impactful elements that leave an impression on readers’ memories is irony.
It can be just as surprising to a reader, for example, when they find out their favorite character dies in some unexpected way or when something terrible happens despite all their efforts.
One thing about life and storytelling is you never know what will happen next – death comes unexpectedly without warning sometimes, so it’s best not to get too attached.
The authors often try to hint at the future or anticipated events by making references through their descriptions.
This is called foreshadowing, and it provides hints to readers so they can expect what’s coming for characters, stories, plots. Impress your teacher with your perspectives on this incident in an essay format.
Literary Analysis Essay Outline
A well-written literary analysis essay outline should contain the following elements:
- Body paragraphs
The introductory part of your paper gives an overview of your argument in detail. It shall contain your thesis statement and summarize the essay’s structure. Sometimes some students prefer to write an introduction more later. It’s a decent idea to do so.
This section includes information to catch the readers’ attention. Writing a good essay introduction is essential when drafting up an engaging essay.
Ensuring that your introductory part is engaging can make or break what it feels like to read a paper. The first thing an essay should do when writing the opening paragraph, typically in the form of one sentence, establishes relevance and context for their audience by hooking them with interesting information.
A strong beginning sets up the tone for how you want readers to feel throughout reading your work.
The introduction is the best way to hook your reader.
It’s also a place where you can make sure they know what this essay is about! Let me show you how in three steps:
- Introduce my topic and thesis statement (the main point of this paper). I’ll let them see it early, so they don’t get lost later when all those words start getting thrown around like crazy.
- State points from books or other sources proving why my position makes sense – to make arguments strong, we need good textual evidence for our ideas.
- Tell them one thing more before closing off with an ending sentence. This will seal the deal because now readers are totally hooked.
After writing the introductory part, you move to the body section of a literary analysis essay, where you present ideas and statements that support your argument.
You can use quoting or paraphrasing methods depending on your preference.
The main points in every body paragraph should refer back to the general thesis statement for continuity throughout the paper.
Essay writing is a process that requires not only skill but the right mindset. The first step to writing an outstanding paper is creating a topic sentence for it- this will be used as the foundation and main argument of your essay.
Each paragraph should start with a topic sentence.
This is the first sentence of your paragraph that introduces which part of the thesis this paragraph will tackle.
After presenting your argument, provide textual evidence. Textual evidence may be a scene that you recount, a small detail or object, or a quote (you should cite this).
Most importantly, explain how the textual evidence supports the topic sentence or the thesis statement. The commentary is your interpretation, analysis, or insight into the text.
Generally speaking, a topic sentence makes it easy for a reader to know about the content a good sentence is about.
It allows new arguments in the argument line and combines with the earlier points or compares them with the preceding one in the argument line. Transition words such as “however” will give a more smooth transition.
Your subpoints will look at different aspects of your subject matter on their you can discuss them in detail before coming back together again with the theme statement you created earlier.
Without these individual arguments being developed fully before bringing them all back into one cohesive unit, readers might miss out on important details about what’s been discussed.
You might think that in literary analysis essays, a different structure of the text would be applied. However, it is essential to make your arguments as convincing as possible by providing enough textual evidence and making sure all claims refer to the thesis statement .
The body of your paper should contain three major sections: introduction (where you establish an argument), middle section with supporting facts or examples from text/literary critic’s review), conclusion (to summarize what has been said).
Sometimes, the text can be hard to define which parts are definite proof of your points.
So don’t forget that literary devices used in a book have motives and deeper meanings, while they might lead you to understand what the author was trying to say.
You should also pay attention not only to metaphors but other figures as well; there is no shortage on this list – allusions, alliterations (think about The Catcher in Rye), hyperboles (exaggerating people’s emotions or actions), and antithesis (a figure where two differing ideas oppose each other).
Keeping track of stylistic devices when reading through any piece, including these few simple ones mentioned above, will help uncover different aspects.
Writing a conclusion
A conclusion is the last and most crucial section of an essay.
It presents your argument about how a literary work reflects its plotline and ideas from the author’s perspective.
Still, it can only do so effectively if kept within a reasonable length limit.
Many people find the conclusion to be one of the most challenging parts of writing a paper.
But actually, it’s not! Your job is to summarize your key arguments and show how they relate to your thesis statement from earlier in the essay.
To write an effective concise conclusion, you needn’t make any new conclusions as all points have been made already; this means that if somebody were reading through what you’ve written so far, they shouldn’t have any unanswered questions about what has just been said – only answers.
The formula for knowing when you’re done with an excellent concluding paragraph is:
if there are no more points left over, then the reader should still feel satisfied at having read everything even though some things may seem unclear.
When moving on to writing this main part after having finished outlining all aspects of your chosen text, take help where you need it- even experts have limits.
Make sure that when working with such significant detail to make an understandable case for what makes up some piece of literature or art, always seek assistance.
Expert writers could aid in making something complex simple enough for anyone else reading quickly to see through their eyes as well as yours.
Following is an example provided by our experts to help you draft a good outline effectively.
Literary Essay Outline Example (PDF)
Literary analysis topics.
Choosing a topic for your essay can be tough. It’s important to know that topics are the backbone of essays, making it easier when you decide what to write about.
Choosing an interesting, engaging, or creative topic is key if you want your essay to succeed in grabbing readers’ attention. Here are some good example ideas:
- Effect of peer pressure on a child’s personality
- How can education standards be increased?
- The significance and analysis of a particular piece of literature.
- How upbringing and personality are related?
- How single parenting affects the physical and psychological well-being of a child?
- Analyze the main plot of a novel
- Can inequality be avoided?
- Advantages and disadvantages of playing video games for children
- Is addiction a personal choice or disease?
- Analyze the main character of a book
Literary analyses essay Examples
Sample literary analysis essay example for middle school.
This sample essay focuses on the character development of Laura in the book By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The thesis statement for this literary analysis essay is, “When her eldest sister loses her sight, Laura Ingalls Wilder must suddenly take on the role of the oldest child in the family and grow in maturity.”
A Rose For Emily Literary Analysis Essay
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Frequently Asked Questions
How do you write a literary analysis essay.
- An introduction that tells the reader what your essay will focus on.
- The main body, is divided into paragraphs that build an argument using evidence from the text.
- A conclusion that clearly states the main point that you have shown with your analysis.
What is a literary analysis essay?
The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to carefully examine and sometimes evaluate a work of literature or an aspect of a work of literature
How do you start a literary analysis paper?
Writing an Introduction to a Literary Analysis Essay.
Start with the title of your work and its author’s name. One or two sentences will suffice. Stress on the main idea of the analyzed work to make these sentences more hooking. Briefly tell what the work is about or how it influenced the world literature.
What is a literary analysis essay in middle school?
A literary analysis is more than a book report; it goes deeper into the text, examining the themes, literary devices, characters, and more. To write a great literary analysis essay, you need a good thesis and a good grasp of the novel, story, poem, or other literary work you’re discussing.
What are the 5 components of literary analysis?
The elements to be analyzed are plot, setting, characters, point of view, figurative language, and style.
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Step 1: Reading the text and identifying literary devices Step 2: Coming up with a thesis Step 3: Writing a title and introduction Step 4: Writing the body of the essay Step 5: Writing a conclusion Step 1: Reading the text and identifying literary devices The first step is to carefully read the text (s) and take initial notes.
Here are four strategies I used in my own classroom to support literary analysis in grades 9–12: Think Aloud: Model for students in real time how you would approach the analysis of a similar text to the one being discussed by the class. This provides a guide for students to better grasp how to approach a text.
We turn once more to Joanna Wolfe’s and Laura Wilder’s Digging into Literature: Strategies for Reading, Writing, and Analysis (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2016) in order to show you their example of a strong student essay that has a strong central claim elucidated by multiple surface/depth arguments supported by patterns of evidence.
The term regularly used for the development of the central idea of a literary analysis essay is the body. In this section you present the paragraphs (at least 3 paragraphs for a 500-750 word essay) that support your thesis statement. Good literary analysis essays contain an explanation of your ideas and evidence from the text (short story,
A literary analysis essay is an important kind of essay that focuses on the detailed analysis of the work of literature. The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to explain why the author has used a specific theme for his work. Or examine the characters, themes, literary devices, figurative language, and settings in the story.
A literary analysis is more than a book report; it goes deeper into the text, examining the themes, literary devices, characters, and more. To write a great literary analysis essay, you need a good thesis and a good grasp of the novel, story, poem, or other literary work you’re discussing. You also need examples for inspiration.
Common literary analysis essay focuses include characterization, structure, setting, language, theme, and symbolism. Elements of Literature Literature is the ideas or devices that make up a story. These elements are used to develop literary works, and without them, no essay can be complete.
Writing the Essay • Teach the elements of a Literary Analysis Essay as outlined on page 11. • Complete the T-Q-A for the novel. Make sure students use “looping” as described on page 13. After getting some preliminary thoughts on paper, have them write a thesis using the handout on page 14.