How to Write an Analytical Essay in 6 Steps
An analytical essay is an essay that meticulously and methodically examines a single topic to draw conclusions or prove theories. Although they are used in many fields, analytical essays are often used with art and literature to break down works’ creative themes and explore their deeper meanings and symbolism .
Analytical essays are a staple in academics, so if you’re a student, chances are you’ll write one sooner or later. This guide addresses all the major concerns about how to write an analytical essay, such as the preferred structure and what to put in the outline. Let’s start with an in-depth answer to the question, what is an analytical essay? Give your writing extra polish Grammarly helps you communicate confidently Write with Grammarly
What is an analytical essay?
One of the seven main types of essay , analytical essays intricately examine a single topic to explain specific arguments or prove the author’s theories. They commonly deal with creative works like art, literature, film, or music, dissecting the creator’s artistic themes and revealing hidden meanings. However, they can also address other issues in realms like science, politics, and society.
Analytical essays are a type of expository essay , so they’re not supposed to express bias, opinions , or persuasions . Even when the author is trying to prove their own theory (or disprove an opposing theory), their argument should stick solely to facts and logic and keep the author’s personal feelings to a minimum.
An analytical essay example could be a deep dive into the character of Hamlet, but this topic itself could have multiple interpretations. Your essay could focus on whether or not Hamlet truly loved Ophelia, question the motives for his constant hesitation, or even attempt to prove the theory that he was mentally ill—after all, he did see apparitions!
How to structure an analytical essay
Although analytical essays tend to be more detailed, specific, or technical than other essays, they still follow the same loose essay structure as the rest:
The introduction is where you present your thesis statement and prepare your reader for what follows. Because analytical essays focus on a single topic, the introduction should give all the background information and context necessary for the reader to understand the writer’s argument. Save the actual analysis of your topic for the body.
The body is the nucleus of your essay. Here you explain each separate point and offer evidence to support the thesis, breaking up your argument into paragraphs. While the introduction and conclusion are each usually just a single paragraph, the body is composed of many different paragraphs and often stretches out over pages, thereby making up most of the essay.
Every paragraph in the body still relates to your chosen topic and your thesis, but each paragraph should make a different point or focus on a different piece of evidence. For example, if your topic is about how Edgar Allan Poe uses the theme of death in his writing, one paragraph could explore the use of death in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” while a different paragraph could explore death in “The Raven,” and so on.
Finally, the conclusion wraps everything up. Conclusions usually don’t introduce new evidence or supporting details but instead reiterate the previous points and bring them all together to strengthen your original thesis. At this point your reader has sufficient background to understand the topic. With your evidential examples in mind, they’ll be more receptive to your main argument when you present it one last time.
How to write an analytical essay in 6 steps
The process of writing an analytical essay largely follows the same guidelines as all essay writing . Here we break down each individual step from start to finish.
1 Choose your topic
This step may be optional if your topic has been given to you as an assignment. If not, though, you should choose your topic with care.
Your topic should be specific enough that you’re able to discuss it thoroughly. If you choose a broad topic like “love in novels from Victorian England,” it’s unlikely you’ll be able to cover all Victorian novels in a single analytical essay (or even ten analytical essays!). However, narrowing the topic down to something such as “love in Jane Austen novels” makes your task more achievable.
That said, don’t be too specific, or you won’t have enough material to cover. Try to find a good middle ground: specific enough that you can discuss everything but general enough that you’ll be able to find enough research and supporting evidence.
2 Research your topic
Once you know your topic, you can begin collecting data and evidence to discuss it. If your analytical essay is about a creative work, you may want to spend time reviewing or evaluating that work, such as watching a film closely or studying the details of a painting. It’s also useful to review other people’s critiques of that work to inspire new ideas or reveal details you hadn’t noticed before.
Don’t forget to write down where you get your information, including page numbers for books or time codes if you’re watching visual media. You may need to reference these in your essay, so making a quick note about where you find your information while researching saves time later when you’re citing your sources .
It helps to know your thesis from the onset. However, you may realize during your research that your original thesis is not as strong as you thought. If this happens, don’t be afraid to modify it or choose a new one. In any case, by the time your research is finished, you should know what your thesis will be.
3 Create an outline
An essay outline gives you the opportunity to organize all your thoughts and research so you can put them in the optimal order. Ideally, you’ll have finished your research by now and made notes of everything you want to say in your analytical essay. The outline is your chance to decide when to talk about each point.
Outlines are typically broken up by paragraph. Each paragraph should explore an individual point you’re making and include your evidence or statistical data to back up that particular point. Be careful about trying to squeeze too much information into a single paragraph; if it looks excessive, try to break up the information into two or more paragraphs.
Feel free to move around or rearrange the order of paragraphs while outlining—that’s what this step is for! It’s much easier to fix structural problems now in the outline phase than later when writing.
4 Write your first draft
Now is the time you sit down and actually write the rough draft of your analytical essay. This step is by far the longest, so be sure to set aside ample time.
If you wrote your outline thoroughly, all you have to do is follow it paragraph by paragraph. Be sure to include each piece of evidence and data you had planned to include. Don’t worry about details like choosing the perfect wording or fixing every grammar mistake—you can do those later in the revisions phase. For now, focus solely on getting everything down.
Pay particular attention to how you start an essay. The introduction serves different purposes, such as telling the reader what to expect, providing background information, and above all presenting your thesis statement. Make sure your introduction checks all those boxes.
Likewise, be extra careful with your conclusion. There are special techniques for how to write a conclusion, such as using a powerful clincher and avoiding certain cliches like “in summary.” Conclusions usually hold more weight than the other paragraphs because they’re the last thing a person reads and can leave a lasting impression on them.
Finally, don’t forget to include transition sentences in between your body paragraphs when needed. Moving abruptly from one topic to the next can be jarring for the reader; transition sentences improve the essay’s flow and remove distractions.
5 Revise your draft
Your first draft is never meant to be perfect. Once you have all your ideas down on paper, it’s much easier to go back and revise . Now is the perfect time to improve your phrasing and word choice and edit out any unnecessary or tangential parts.
When you revise, pay particular attention to details. Try to find areas that you can remove to make your essay more succinct or passages that aren’t clear that need more explanation. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes: Will someone with no background knowledge still understand your points?
6 Proofread your essay
Last, it’s time to fix any grammar and spelling mistakes by proofreading . While it’s tempting to do this at the same time as your revisions, it’s best to do them separately so you don’t split your attention. This allows you to focus only on word choice, phrasing, and adding/removing content while revising and to concentrate solely on language mistakes during proofreading.
If you’re not confident in your grammar or spelling expertise, you can always use an app like Grammarly . Our app highlights any spelling or grammar mistakes directly in your text and gives proper suggestions on how to fix them. There are even features that help you choose the perfect word or adjust your writing to fit a certain tone. You can also copy and paste your writing to check your grammar and get instant feedback on grammar, spelling, punctuation, and other mistakes you might have missed.
Analytical essay outline example
If you’re having trouble, here’s an analytical essay example that shows how a proper outline or structure should look. The format here uses a five-paragraph essay structure, but for more complicated topics, you can add as many body paragraphs as you need.
Topic: Who is the real villain: Macbeth or Lady Macbeth?
- Briefly describe the plot of Macbeth for those who aren’t familiar with it
- Thesis statement : Lady Macbeth is the real villain of Macbeth because she manipulates her husband into committing an atrocious crime
Body Paragraph 1
- Murdering the king is all Lady Macbeth’s idea
- Macbeth is initially against it until Lady Macbeth convinces him
Body Paragraph 2
- Lady Macbeth has her own individual character arc where she is driven mad by her guilt
- Her guilt insinuates she knows her actions are villainous, with appropriate consequences
- Cite quotations from her “Out, damned spot!” speech
Body Paragraph 3
- Macbeth decides to listen to Lady Macbeth, so he is still guilty
- Speculate that he still would not have murdered the king if not for Lady Macbeth
- Macbeth remains the main character because most scenes revolve around him, but the person acting against him most is Lady Macbeth
- Remind reader that Macbeth didn’t want to murder the king until Lady Macbeth convinced him
- Clincher : Macbeth is still the hero albeit a tragic one. But his main antagonist is not Macduff or the king or even the prophecy itself; it’s his wife.
Analytical essay FAQs
An analytical essay is an essay that deeply examines a single topic, often a creative work, to reveal certain conclusions or prove theories held by the essay’s author.
How is an analytical essay structured?
Analytical essays are structured like most other essays: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. However, the body paragraphs have a stricter emphasis on facts, logic, and empirical evidence compared to other essays.
What are the steps to writing an analytical essay?
As with all essays, you first research and then organize all your points into a working outline. Next, you write the rough draft with all the data and evidence collected during your research. Revise the rough draft when it’s finished to improve the phrasing and add/remove certain parts. Last, proofread the essay for any grammar or spelling mistakes.
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How to Write a Response Paper
Last Updated: January 31, 2023 References
wikiHow is a “wiki,” similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, volunteer authors worked to edit and improve it over time. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been viewed 73,519 times. Learn more...
For a response paper, you must read a text, understand the point of the text, and determine what your own response to that point is. The response paper is more analytical than argumentative. Moreover, even though you need to write about your personal response, that response must be credible and not emotional. Keep reading to learn more about how to go about writing a response paper.
Understanding the Text
- Highlighting draws your attention to words and passages you found significant in the text you read, but it does not allow you to record your initial thoughts regarding those passages.
- Take notes on a separate piece of paper. Include paraphrases and quotes taken from the passage as well as your own thoughts about the information you write down.
- What is the main issue that the author or creator is attempting to address?
- What stance does the author take on this issue? What is the author's main claim or point?
- Are there any assumptions the author makes in forming his or her claim? Are these assumptions valid or biased?
- What sort of evidence does the author offer in support of his or her point?
- What points of the argument are strong?
- What points of the argument are weak?
- What are some possible counterarguments to the claims or arguments made by the author?
- What, if anything, makes the main issue or author's main claim important?
- How does this work relate to others within a collection of works on the same topic, or with regards to another work on a similar topic written by a different author?
- Do the authors of comparable works agree or disagree?
- Do the authors of comparable works address the same part of the same issue or different aspects of it? Do they view the matter being discussed in a similar or different way?
- Does the author who wrote the piece you're responding to have past works that address the same topic? How has that author's views become stronger or weaker in comparison to past works?
- Does the information from one text strengthen or weaken the text you're responding to, and if so, how?
- Even if you think your ideas would benefit from simmering for a little while before performing a thorough analysis, you should still take the time to write down your initial reaction while it is fresh. In many ways, your initial reaction is the most honest. You can talk yourself into another reaction as time passes, and that other reaction may seem more “intellectual,” but your initial response was your true reaction to the text and should be kept in mind.
- How does the text relate to you personally, whether in the past, present, or future? How does the text relate to the human experience as a whole?
- Does the text agree or disagree with your worldview and sense of ethics?
- Did the text help you to learn about the topic or understand an opposing view? Were your opinions or previous assumptions challenged or confirmed?
- Does the text directly address topics that you care about or consider important?
- Was the text enjoyable or admirable for its genre? In other words, if the text was fictional, was it enjoyable as entertainment or art? If it was historical, was it admirable from the perspective of a historian? If it was philosophical, was it adequately logical?
- What is your overall reaction? Would you recommend the work to another person?
- As you progress through these questions, write your answers down. In addition to writing down your answers and reactions, also provide evidence from the text to support these answers. Evidence can be in the form of direct quotations and paraphrasing.
- Re-examining your notes
- Recording new ideas as they come
- Using pro/con analysis
- Raising questions about your reactions and using your notes from the text to answer them
- Comparing your reactions directly to your notes and determining which topics have the most overlap
- Depending on the requirements of the assignment, you may need to come up with one organizing argument or multiple arguments to discuss. Even when you have multiple points to bring up, however, they should still be somewhat connected to each other.
- A key difference between a traditional thesis and an organizing argument is that a thesis usually exists to prove a point, fact, or thought. An organizing argument demands that the writer analyze the reading in an ongoing manner.  X Research source
Block Response Format
- For a four to five page paper, your introduction can extend to one or two paragraphs. For a shorter paper, though, restrict it to a short paragraph made up of three to five sentences.
- Introduce the work by describing how the work to which you are responding fits in within the broader topic it addresses.
- You could also introduce the work by explaining your own beliefs or assumptions about the topic the work agrees with before explaining how the work challenges or supports your beliefs.
- For a four to five page paper, this section should only take up about two to three paragraphs.
- Describe the content of the work and present the author's main arguments, especially as they affect your response.
- The summary should be somewhat analytical in nature instead of a strict retelling. As you present the details of the author's work and argument, you should use an analytical tone and discuss how well the author managed to get those points across.
- Note that this response format is best to use when you are focusing on a single major theme or argument in a work. It does not work as well if you are discussing multiple ideas presented by a work.
- Back up your analysis with quotes and paraphrases. Make sure that each example is properly cited.
- If you took the time to find textual evidence to support your responses during the prewriting stage, this portion of your paper should be fairly easy. All you really need to do is arrange your argument in a coherent manner and write in the details of the support you have already gathered.
- Even for a four to five page paper, you only need one standard paragraph to accomplish this. For a shorter paper, make this paragraph only three to five sentences long.
- State how this work has a broader effect on you and to the genre or community in which it is a part.
Mixed Response Format
- Your introduction can span one to two paragraphs for a four to five page paper, but for a short one to two page paper, keep the introduction down to a single short paragraph.
- You can either introduce the work by describing how it fits into the topic it addresses as a whole or by explaining how it impacts your own beliefs on the topic.
- By the end of the introduction, you should have mentioned your "thesis" or organizing argument.
- Note that this mixed response format is a better option when you have many loosely connected themes or ideas you want to react to instead of a single overarching one.
- This method allows you to weave your summary and analysis together more naturally and more cohesively. As you bring up a point or example from the text, address your own interpretation of that point directly following your mention of it.
- Continue on as you did with your first point. As you summarize a point or argument from the original text, immediately follow it with your own intellectual response to the argument.
- For a four to five page paper, your conclusion should be a standard size paragraph. For a shorter paper, keep this paragraph down to about three sentences.
- When appropriate, explain how the work has a widespread effect on the genre or community it fits into.
- ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-write-a-response-paper
- ↑ https://www.hunter.cuny.edu/rwc/handouts/the-writing-process-1/invention/Writing-a-Response-or-Reaction-Paper
- ↑ https://twp.duke.edu/sites/twp.duke.edu/files/file-attachments/response-paper.original.pdf
- ↑ https://www.awelu.lu.se/genres/student-writing-genres/response-paper/
- ↑ http://faculty.washington.edu/momara/Reader%20Response.pdf
- ↑ https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/writing/how-to-write-a-strong-response-essay.html
- ↑ https://writing.colostate.edu/comparchive/rst/resource9.cfm
- ↑ https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/how-to-write-a-reaction-paper
- ↑ http://writing.colostate.edu/comparchive/rst/resource9.cfm
- ↑ http://www.hunter.cuny.edu/rwc/handouts/the-writing-process-1/invention/Writing-a-Response-or-Reaction-Paper
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About This Article
If you need to write a response paper, read through the original texts, and take thorough notes, including paraphrases and quotes as well as your own thoughts. As soon as you finish reading the text, start drafting your ideas, since the thoughts will still be fresh in your mind. Open the paper with an introduction stating the major theme in the work you’re responding to, along with an overview of your reaction to it. Include a section briefly summarizing the original text, then go into detail about whether you agree or disagree with the work. Conclude by restating and defending the significance of your stance. For tips on writing a response to a work with multiple themes, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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Sat / act prep online guides and tips, 5 steps to write a great analytical essay.
Do you need to write an analytical essay for school? What sets this kind of essay apart from other types, and what must you include when you write your own analytical essay? In this guide, we break down the process of writing an analytical essay by explaining the key factors your essay needs to have, providing you with an outline to help you structure your essay, and analyzing a complete analytical essay example so you can see what a finished essay looks like.
What Is an Analytical Essay?
Before you begin writing an analytical essay, you must know what this type of essay is and what it includes. Analytical essays analyze something, often (but not always) a piece of writing or a film.
An analytical essay is more than just a synopsis of the issue though; in this type of essay you need to go beyond surface-level analysis and look at what the key arguments/points of this issue are and why. If you’re writing an analytical essay about a piece of writing, you’ll look into how the text was written and why the author chose to write it that way. Instead of summarizing, an analytical essay typically takes a narrower focus and looks at areas such as major themes in the work, how the author constructed and supported their argument, how the essay used literary devices to enhance its messages, etc.
While you certainly want people to agree with what you’ve written, unlike with persuasive and argumentative essays, your main purpose when writing an analytical essay isn’t to try to convert readers to your side of the issue. Therefore, you won’t be using strong persuasive language like you would in those essay types. Rather, your goal is to have enough analysis and examples that the strength of your argument is clear to readers.
Besides typical essay components like an introduction and conclusion, a good analytical essay will include:
- A thesis that states your main argument
- Analysis that relates back to your thesis and supports it
- Examples to support your analysis and allow a more in-depth look at the issue
In the rest of this article, we’ll explain how to include each of these in your analytical essay.
How to Structure Your Analytical Essay
Analytical essays are structured similarly to many other essays you’ve written, with an introduction (including a thesis), several body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Below is an outline you can follow when structuring your essay, and in the next section we go into more detail on how to write an analytical essay.
Your introduction will begin with some sort of attention-grabbing sentence to get your audience interested, then you’ll give a few sentences setting up the topic so that readers have some context, and you’ll end with your thesis statement. Your introduction will include:
- Brief background information explaining the issue/text
- Your thesis
Your analytical essay will typically have three or four body paragraphs, each covering a different point of analysis. Begin each body paragraph with a sentence that sets up the main point you’ll be discussing. Then you’ll give some analysis on that point, backing it up with evidence to support your claim. Continue analyzing and giving evidence for your analysis until you’re out of strong points for the topic. At the end of each body paragraph, you may choose to have a transition sentence that sets up what the next paragraph will be about, but this isn’t required. Body paragraphs will include:
- Introductory sentence explaining what you’ll cover in the paragraph (sort of like a mini-thesis)
- Analysis point
- Evidence (either passages from the text or data/facts) that supports the analysis
- (Repeat analysis and evidence until you run out of examples)
You won’t be making any new points in your conclusion; at this point you’re just reiterating key points you’ve already made and wrapping things up. Begin by rephrasing your thesis and summarizing the main points you made in the essay. Someone who reads just your conclusion should be able to come away with a basic idea of what your essay was about and how it was structured. After this, you may choose to make some final concluding thoughts, potentially by connecting your essay topic to larger issues to show why it’s important. A conclusion will include:
- Paraphrase of thesis
- Summary of key points of analysis
- Final concluding thought(s)
5 Steps for Writing an Analytical Essay
Follow these five tips to break down writing an analytical essay into manageable steps. By the end, you’ll have a fully-crafted analytical essay with both in-depth analysis and enough evidence to support your argument. All of these steps use the completed analytical essay in the next section as an example.
#1: Pick a Topic
You may have already had a topic assigned to you, and if that’s the case, you can skip this step. However, if you haven’t, or if the topic you’ve been assigned is broad enough that you still need to narrow it down, then you’ll need to decide on a topic for yourself. Choosing the right topic can mean the difference between an analytical essay that’s easy to research (and gets you a good grade) and one that takes hours just to find a few decent points to analyze
Before you decide on an analytical essay topic, do a bit of research to make sure you have enough examples to support your analysis. If you choose a topic that’s too narrow, you’ll struggle to find enough to write about.
For example, say your teacher assigns you to write an analytical essay about the theme in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath of exposing injustices against migrants. For it to be an analytical essay, you can’t just recount the injustices characters in the book faced; that’s only a summary and doesn’t include analysis. You need to choose a topic that allows you to analyze the theme. One of the best ways to explore a theme is to analyze how the author made his/her argument. One example here is that Steinbeck used literary devices in the intercalary chapters (short chapters that didn’t relate to the plot or contain the main characters of the book) to show what life was like for migrants as a whole during the Dust Bowl.
You could write about how Steinbeck used literary devices throughout the whole book, but, in the essay below, I chose to just focus on the intercalary chapters since they gave me enough examples. Having a narrower focus will nearly always result in a tighter and more convincing essay (and can make compiling examples less overwhelming).
#2: Write a Thesis Statement
Your thesis statement is the most important sentence of your essay; a reader should be able to read just your thesis and understand what the entire essay is about and what you’ll be analyzing. When you begin writing, remember that each sentence in your analytical essay should relate back to your thesis
In the analytical essay example below, the thesis is the final sentence of the first paragraph (the traditional spot for it). The thesis is: “In The Grapes of Wrath’s intercalary chapters, John Steinbeck employs a variety of literary devices and stylistic choices to better expose the injustices committed against migrants in the 1930s.” So what will this essay analyze? How Steinbeck used literary devices in the intercalary chapters to show how rough migrants could have it. Crystal clear.
#3: Do Research to Find Your Main Points
This is where you determine the bulk of your analysis--the information that makes your essay an analytical essay. My preferred method is to list every idea that I can think of, then research each of those and use the three or four strongest ones for your essay. Weaker points may be those that don’t relate back to the thesis, that you don’t have much analysis to discuss, or that you can’t find good examples for. A good rule of thumb is to have one body paragraph per main point
This essay has four main points, each of which analyzes a different literary device Steinbeck uses to better illustrate how difficult life was for migrants during the Dust Bowl. The four literary devices and their impact on the book are:
- Lack of individual names in intercalary chapters to illustrate the scope of the problem
- Parallels to the Bible to induce sympathy for the migrants
- Non-showy, often grammatically-incorrect language so the migrants are more realistic and relatable to readers
- Nature-related metaphors to affect the mood of the writing and reflect the plight of the migrants
#4: Find Excerpts or Evidence to Support Your Analysis
Now that you have your main points, you need to back them up. If you’re writing a paper about a text or film, use passages/clips from it as your main source of evidence. If you’re writing about something else, your evidence can come from a variety of sources, such as surveys, experiments, quotes from knowledgeable sources etc. Any evidence that would work for a regular research paper works here.
In this example, I quoted multiple passages from The Grapes of Wrath in each paragraph to support my argument. You should be able to back up every claim you make with evidence in order to have a strong essay.
#5: Put It All Together
Now it's time to begin writing your essay, if you haven’t already. Create an introductory paragraph that ends with the thesis, make a body paragraph for each of your main points, including both analysis and evidence to back up your claims, and wrap it all up with a conclusion that recaps your thesis and main points and potentially explains the big picture importance of the topic.
Analytical Essay Example + Analysis
So that you can see for yourself what a completed analytical essay looks like, here’s an essay I wrote back in my high school days. It’s followed by analysis of how I structured my essay, what its strengths are, and how it could be improved.
One way Steinbeck illustrates the connections all migrant people possessed and the struggles they faced is by refraining from using specific titles and names in his intercalary chapters. While The Grapes of Wrath focuses on the Joad family, the intercalary chapters show that all migrants share the same struggles and triumphs as the Joads. No individual names are used in these chapters; instead the people are referred to as part of a group. Steinbeck writes, “Frantic men pounded on the doors of the doctors; and the doctors were busy. And sad men left word at country stores for the coroner to send a car,” (555). By using generic terms, Steinbeck shows how the migrants are all linked because they have gone through the same experiences. The grievances committed against one family were committed against thousands of other families; the abuse extends far beyond what the Joads experienced. The Grapes of Wrath frequently refers to the importance of coming together; how, when people connect with others their power and influence multiplies immensely. Throughout the novel, the goal of the migrants, the key to their triumph, has been to unite. While their plans are repeatedly frustrated by the government and police, Steinbeck’s intercalary chapters provide a way for the migrants to relate to one another because they have encountered the same experiences. Hundreds of thousands of migrants fled to the promised land of California, but Steinbeck was aware that numbers alone were impersonal and lacked the passion he desired to spread. Steinbeck created the intercalary chapters to show the massive numbers of people suffering, and he created the Joad family to evoke compassion from readers. Because readers come to sympathize with the Joads, they become more sensitive to the struggles of migrants in general. However, John Steinbeck frequently made clear that the Joads were not an isolated incident; they were not unique. Their struggles and triumphs were part of something greater. Refraining from specific names in his intercalary chapters allows Steinbeck to show the vastness of the atrocities committed against migrants.
Steinbeck also creates significant parallels to the Bible in his intercalary chapters in order to enhance his writing and characters. By using simple sentences and stylized writing, Steinbeck evokes Biblical passages. The migrants despair, “No work till spring. No work,” (556). Short, direct sentences help to better convey the desperateness of the migrants’ situation. Throughout his novel, John Steinbeck makes connections to the Bible through his characters and storyline. Jim Casy’s allusions to Christ and the cycle of drought and flooding are clear biblical references. By choosing to relate The Grapes of Wrath to the Bible, Steinbeck’s characters become greater than themselves. Starving migrants become more than destitute vagrants; they are now the chosen people escaping to the promised land. When a forgotten man dies alone and unnoticed, it becomes a tragedy. Steinbeck writes, “If [the migrants] were shot at, they did not run, but splashed sullenly away; and if they were hit, they sank tiredly in the mud,” (556). Injustices committed against the migrants become greater because they are seen as children of God through Steinbeck’s choice of language. Referencing the Bible strengthens Steinbeck’s novel and purpose: to create understanding for the dispossessed. It is easy for people to feel disdain for shabby vagabonds, but connecting them to such a fundamental aspect of Christianity induces sympathy from readers who might have otherwise disregarded the migrants as so many other people did.
The simple, uneducated dialogue Steinbeck employs also helps to create a more honest and meaningful representation of the migrants, and it makes the migrants more relatable to readers. Steinbeck chooses to accurately represent the language of the migrants in order to more clearly illustrate their lives and make them seem more like real paper than just characters in a book. The migrants lament, “They ain’t gonna be no kinda work for three months,” (555). There are multiple grammatical errors in that single sentence, but it vividly conveys the despair the migrants felt better than a technically perfect sentence would. The Grapes of Wrath is intended to show the severe difficulties facing the migrants so Steinbeck employs a clear, pragmatic style of writing. Steinbeck shows the harsh, truthful realities of the migrants’ lives and he would be hypocritical if he chose to give the migrants a more refined voice and not portray them with all their shortcomings. The depiction of the migrants as imperfect through their language also makes them easier to relate to. Steinbeck’s primary audience was the middle class, the less affluent of society. Repeatedly in The Grapes of Wrath , the wealthy make it obvious that they scorn the plight of the migrants. The wealthy, not bad luck or natural disasters, were the prominent cause of the suffering of migrant families such as the Joads. Thus, Steinbeck turns to the less prosperous for support in his novel. When referring to the superior living conditions barnyard animals have, the migrants remark, “Them’s horses-we’re men,” (556). The perfect simplicity of this quote expresses the absurdness of the migrants’ situation better than any flowery expression could.
In The Grapes of Wrath , John Steinbeck uses metaphors, particularly about nature, in order to illustrate the mood and the overall plight of migrants. Throughout most of the book, the land is described as dusty, barren, and dead. Towards the end, however; floods come and the landscape begins to change. At the end of chapter twenty-nine, Steinbeck describes a hill after the floods saying, “Tiny points of grass came through the earth, and in a few days the hills were pale green with the beginning year,” (556). This description offers a stark contrast from the earlier passages which were filled with despair and destruction. Steinbeck’s tone from the beginning of the chapter changes drastically. Early in the chapter, Steinbeck had used heavy imagery in order to convey the destruction caused by the rain, “The streams and the little rivers edged up to the bank sides and worked at willows and tree roots, bent the willows deep in the current, cut out the roots of cottonwoods and brought down the trees,” (553). However, at the end of the chapter the rain has caused new life to grow in California. The new grass becomes a metaphor representing hope. When the migrants are at a loss over how they will survive the winter, the grass offers reassurance. The story of the migrants in the intercalary chapters parallels that of the Joads. At the end of the novel, the family is breaking apart and has been forced to flee their home. However, both the book and final intercalary chapter end on a hopeful note after so much suffering has occurred. The grass metaphor strengthens Steinbeck’s message because it offers a tangible example of hope. Through his language Steinbeck’s themes become apparent at the end of the novel. Steinbeck affirms that persistence, even when problems appear insurmountable, leads to success. These metaphors help to strengthen Steinbeck’s themes in The Grapes of Wrath because they provide a more memorable way to recall important messages.
John Steinbeck’s language choices help to intensify his writing in his intercalary chapters and allow him to more clearly show how difficult life for migrants could be. Refraining from using specific names and terms allows Steinbeck to show that many thousands of migrants suffered through the same wrongs. Imitating the style of the Bible strengthens Steinbeck’s characters and connects them to the Bible, perhaps the most famous book in history. When Steinbeck writes in the imperfect dialogue of the migrants, he creates a more accurate portrayal and makes the migrants easier to relate to for a less affluent audience. Metaphors, particularly relating to nature, strengthen the themes in The Grapes of Wrath by enhancing the mood Steinbeck wants readers to feel at different points in the book. Overall, the intercalary chapters that Steinbeck includes improve his novel by making it more memorable and reinforcing the themes Steinbeck embraces throughout the novel. Exemplary stylistic devices further persuade readers of John Steinbeck’s personal beliefs. Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath to bring to light cruelties against migrants, and by using literary devices effectively, he continuously reminds readers of his purpose. Steinbeck’s impressive language choices in his intercalary chapters advance the entire novel and help to create a classic work of literature that people still are able to relate to today.
This essay sticks pretty closely to the standard analytical essay outline. It starts with an introduction, where I chose to use a quote to start off the essay. (This became my favorite way to start essays in high school because, if I wasn’t sure what to say, I could outsource the work and find a quote that related to what I’d be writing about.) The quote in this essay doesn’t relate to the themes I’m discussing quite as much as it could, but it’s still a slightly different way to start an essay and can intrigue readers. I then give a bit of background on The Grapes of Wrath and its themes before ending the intro paragraph with my thesis: that Steinbeck used literary devices in intercalary chapters to show how rough migrants had it.
Each of my four body paragraphs is formatted in roughly the same way: an intro sentence that explains what I’ll be discussing, analysis of that main point, and at least two quotes from the book as evidence.
My conclusion restates my thesis, summarizes each of four points I discussed in my body paragraphs, and ends the essay by briefly discussing how Steinbeck’s writing helped introduce a world of readers to the injustices migrants experienced during the dust bowl.
What does this analytical essay example do well? For starters, it contains everything that a strong analytical essay should, and it makes that easy to find. The thesis clearly lays out what the essay will be about, the first sentence of each of the body paragraph introduces the topic it’ll cover, and the conclusion neatly recaps all the main points. Within each of the body paragraphs, there’s analysis along with multiple excerpts from the book in order to add legitimacy to my points.
Additionally, the essay does a good job of taking an in-depth look at the issue introduced in the thesis. Four ways Steinbeck used literary devices are discussed, and for each of the examples are given and analysis is provided so readers can understand why Steinbeck included those devices and how they helped shaped how readers viewed migrants and their plight.
Where could this essay be improved? I believe the weakest body paragraph is the third one, the one that discusses how Steinbeck used plain, grammatically incorrect language to both accurately depict the migrants and make them more relatable to readers. The paragraph tries to touch on both of those reasons and ends up being somewhat unfocused as a result. It would have been better for it to focus on just one of those reasons (likely how it made the migrants more relatable) in order to be clearer and more effective. It’s a good example of how adding more ideas to an essay often doesn’t make it better if they don’t work with the rest of what you’re writing. This essay also could explain the excerpts that are included more and how they relate to the points being made. Sometimes they’re just dropped in the essay with the expectation that the readers will make the connection between the example and the analysis. This is perhaps especially true in the second body paragraph, the one that discusses similarities to Biblical passages. Additional analysis of the quotes would have strengthened it.
Summary: How to Write an Analytical Essay
What is an analytical essay? A critical analytical essay analyzes a topic, often a text or film. The analysis paper uses evidence to support the argument, such as excerpts from the piece of writing. All analytical papers include a thesis, analysis of the topic, and evidence to support that analysis.
When developing an analytical essay outline and writing your essay, follow these five steps:
Reading analytical essay examples can also give you a better sense of how to structure your essay and what to include in it.
Learning about different writing styles in school? There are four main writing styles, and it's important to understand each of them. Learn about them in our guide to writing styles , complete with examples.
Writing a research paper for school but not sure what to write about? Our guide to research paper topics has over 100 topics in ten categories so you can be sure to find the perfect topic for you.
Literary devices can both be used to enhance your writing and communication. Check out this list of 31 literary devices to learn more !
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Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.
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How to Write an Analytical Response Paper
An analytical response paper, also called a critical response or a reader response, depending on the teacher and the context, is a paper written to tell your opinion about some topic or idea based on a written work, question or study of some kind. It requires critical thinking to form your ideas and find support for the ideas based on the question.
Read the response directions from your instructor. The directions tell you what you are responding to and might even include a question to guide your answer. For example, it might ask you to respond to part of a text rather than a full text.
Write some short notes on your thoughts. An analytical response paper is not only your opinion about whether you agree with or like the material, but it also should include why you feel the way you do. For example, if a short story you are responding to makes you angry, write the reasons for that. Try to find at least two or three reasons to support your findings.
Analyze the material and your thoughts on it. If you feel the information in the text is false, find points that support the falsities in the text or that make it seem false to you as a reader. Write the quotes with appropriate citation to use in your essay.
Write an outline. Depending on the length requirements in the directions, you might need only two supporting paragraphs, or you might need more. The outline should point out your main ideas and provide at least two to three supporting ideas from the material. For example, if your essay's theme has two main supporting points, you must have two to three foundations for the supporting points.
Write an essay rough draft. The format of an analytical essay is the same as a basic essay: introduction, two or three supporting paragraphs and a conclusion. Write as if the reader has not read or seen the material making up the topic of the essay and provide a little background into the topic. State your opinion clearly in the introduction, and use the body paragraphs to show how your opinion is justified. Conclude with a reminder of the support and any final thoughts before showing that you are, indeed, correct in your thinking. Include at least one paragraph that looks at the other side of the argument, and break down any hidden points that fit your topic, such as hidden hints of bias from the author.
Read through the essay and ensure that it is well written and logical. Make any necessary changes. Have a friend or family member read the essay as well to get a second opinion on how it came out.
Rewrite the essay, making any necessary changes. Check that all the citations are correct and follow the proper format, which will vary depending on your class.
- University of Houston: Response Paper
- University of Texas at Al Paso: Reader Response
Although analytical essays tend to be more detailed, specific, or technical than other essays, they still follow the same loose essay structure as the rest: 1 Introduction. 2 Body. 3 Conclusion. The introduction is where you present your thesis statement and prepare your reader for what follows.
Here is a step-by-step guide for writing an analytical essay. 1. Choose a point of view. No matter what you choose as your central point of view, prepare to anchor your entire analytical essay around a singular thesis statement. 2. Write an introductory paragraph ending in a thesis statement.
For a four to five page paper, this section should only take up about two to three paragraphs. Describe the content of the work and present the author's main arguments, especially as they affect your response. The summary should be somewhat analytical in nature instead of a strict retelling.
Your analytical essay will typically have three or four body paragraphs, each covering a different point of analysis. Begin each body paragraph with a sentence that sets up the main point you’ll be discussing. Then you’ll give some analysis on that point, backing it up with evidence to support your claim.
Step 1 Read the response directions from your instructor. The directions tell you what you are responding to and might even include a question to guide your answer. For example, it might ask you to respond to part of a text rather than a full text. Step 2 Write some short notes on your thoughts.
How to Write a Response Generally, your response will be the end of your essay, but you may include your response throughout the paper as you select what to summarize and analyze. Your response will also be evident to the reader by the tone that you use and the words you select to talk about the article and writer.