8 Steps to Write a Great Literary Analysis Essay
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A literary analysis is not merely a book report or a summary of events. To craft a good literary analysis, the writer should develop a clear thesis regarding the work they’re analyzing. Instead of a simple recounting of what happened in the novel, poem, or short story, this type of essay requires you to consider the choices the author made, why they made those choices, and how those choices worked together (or didn’t work) to some effect.
How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay
Writing a good literary analysis comes with challenges. It’s easy to fall into the habit of offering your own personal opinion, rather than a critical analysis of the work you’ve studied. And it’s not uncommon for students to offer a mere summary of the piece, rather than their own interpretation of it. In this article, we’ll go over the eight critical steps you need to take in order to write a great literary analysis essay.
1. Read the text carefully.
Before you even begin crafting your essay, you need to read the poem, short story, novel, play, or other piece of writing you’re studying carefully. If the piece is short (like a poem), you’ll want to read it several times until you have a clear understanding of the message and purpose. For longer works, highlight passages as you read along that stand out to you. This will make it easier for you to pinpoint a clear direction for your essay later on.
Skipping this step can have catastrophic results. Give yourself ample time to read and re-read the text to lay the foundation for an excellent literary analysis paper.
2. Brainstorm a topic.
Once you’ve done your reading, the next step is to brainstorm a potential topic. This is often the hardest part for students, as it requires a critical eye and some creativity. It’s possible that your teacher provided you with some response questions to work with. If not, here are some questions you can ask to help nail down a topic for your literary analysis:
- What connections can you draw between this literature and society?
- What stood out to you as interesting or confusing? Dive deeper into why you were struck by something.
- Consider the characters. What were their motivations? Can any characters be compared or contrasted? Was there any symbolism represented in the characters?
- Think about the setting. If the work was set in an alternate time or place, how would it be different? What conclusions can you draw about why the author chose this setting for the piece?
- Was there any imagery that stuck out to you?
- What about themes? Which themes were recurring, and what did those themes help you to infer about the message of the piece overall?
- What do you think the author was trying to say in this piece? Were they successful or unsuccessful, and why?
3. Collect and interpret the evidence.
While brainstorming your idea, consider what kind of evidence there is to support each potential topic. Creativity is important, and you should strive to choose an idea that isn’t totally obvious. Still, be careful with choosing something so obscure that you’ll have a hard time supporting your argument.
Start collecting evidence to support your thesis. This is where early highlighting and close, attentive reading will be helpful. If you feel that there is enough evidence to support your argument, move on to the thesis stage. Don’t ignore contradictory evidence, either. You may be able to find a way to interpret points that immediately appear contradictory in a way that actually supports your thesis.
4. Write a thesis.
The thesis is the central argument you’re presenting in your paper. It’s arguably the most important aspect of your paper. Successfully defending your thesis is probably even more important than choosing a unique topic.
When writing your thesis, make sure it’s a point that is debatable. Your thesis shouldn’t be a statement of fact. Here’s an example of a poor thesis:
The Great Gatsby is a novel about the 1920s and the idea of the American Dream.
This is a bad thesis because it’s obvious and it’s not up for debate. Remember, a literary analysis isn’t a book report. Here’s an example of a better thesis:
The Great Gatsby redefines the American Dream, and despite leading the reader to believe that the American Dream is dead, on closer reading, F. Scott Fitzgerald actually portrays that the American Dream is alive and well in ways we didn’t expect.
Of course, the student presenting this thesis would need to find sufficient evidence to support their claim. As long as they can, this thesis is better because it is debatable, specific, not immediately obvious in the text, and surprising.
5. Develop and organize your arguments.
You’ve collected the evidence and formulated a thesis statement. Now it’s time to dig in and start organizing it all in a cohesive paper. Create an outline and decide where each piece of evidence fits within your overarching argument. You may find that you need more supporting points at this stage.
As you review the text more closely and start to pull out passages that support your thesis, you may find that your original thesis needs to be refined or altered. It’s okay to change your thesis to fit the evidence as you go. Just remember the elements a good thesis statement needs, and ensure your new one has those.
6. Write a rough draft.
Finally, it’s time for the culmination of all your hard prep work. Start writing your literary analysis with a rough draft. Remember, this version of your essay doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t get too caught up in making sure you’re using the right grammar or that your sentences are interesting and sound smart. The cosmetic work of writing comes later.
For now, focus on making your argument and clearly laying out all the points you’ve found. Identify spots where you could use a little more explanation and find points in the text that provide that. Organize your essay in a way that makes sense to you. Perfection comes later.
7. Refine your arguments and review.
Once your thoughts are on the page, it’s time to refine and review. Are any of the passages you’ve written repetitive? Is there a more concise way to make your point? Are you realizing after closer inspection that some of the evidence you gathered doesn’t fit into your paper like you thought it would?
Be ruthless as you edit your rough draft. This is the stage where you should start paying closer attention to grammar, sentence structure, and the specific argument you’re making. Keep checking back to your thesis to ensure that your essay isn’t veering off track. Does each paragraph bring you closer to proving the point you made in your thesis?
8. Get another opinion and finalize.
Before you turn in your paper, ask someone you trust to review it. Fresh eyes can catch small mistakes in spelling and grammar, or larger errors in structure or content. Make sure your reviewer knows that you’re looking for honest feedback and won’t take offense to their constructive criticism.
If you feel like you need more hands-on help with your literary analysis essay, consider taking a course like Knovva Academy’s ‘ How to Conduct Literary Analysis Like a Scholar .’ Working with a professor and your peers can prove invaluable when it comes to constructing a solid thesis, backing it up with rich, textual evidence, and expressing your argument like a pro.
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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 August 14, 2023.
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, other interesting articles.
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.
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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.
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:
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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:
If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
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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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Close your eyes for a second and imagine unpacking a bag. As you take out each item, you see the inside of the bag more clearly. Eventually, when you have taken out and examined each item, the bag is crystal clear. Readers can unpack literature in a similar manner. Analyzing…
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- Description Rhetorical mode
- Direct Discourse
- Extended Metaphor
- False Connections
- False Dichotomy
- False Equivalence
- Faulty Analogy
- Faulty Causality
- Fear Arousing
- Gustatory Description
- Hasty Generalization
- Induction Rhetoric
- Levels of Coherence
- Line of Reasoning
- Missing the Point
- Modifiers that Qualify
- Modifiers that Specify
- Narration Rhetorical Mode
- Non-Testable Hypothesis
- Objective Description
- Olfactory Description
- Parenthetical Element
- Participial Phrase
- Personal Narrative
- Placement of Modifiers
- Post-Hoc Argument
- Process Analysis Rhetorical Mode
- Red Herring
- Reverse Causation
- Rhetorical Fallacy
- Rhetorical Modes
- Rhetorical Question
- Rhetorical Situation
- Scare Tactics
- Sentimental Appeals
- Situational Irony
- Slippery Slope
- Spatial Description
- Straw Man Argument
- Subject Consistency
- Subjective Description
- Tactile Description
- Tense Consistency
- Tone and Word Choice
- Twisting the Language Around
- Unstated Assumption
- Verbal Irony
- Visual Description
- Authorial Intent
- Authors Technique
- Language Choice
- Prompt Audience
- Prompt Purpose
- Rhetorical Strategies
- Understanding Your Audience
- Auditory Imagery
- Gustatory Imagery
- Olfactory Imagery
- Tactile Imagery
- Main Idea and Supporting Detail
- Statistical Evidence
- Communities of Practice
- Cultural Competence
- Gender Politics
- Intercultural Communication
- Research Methodology
- Object Subject Verb
- Subject Verb Object
- Syntactic Structures
- Universal Grammar
- Verb Subject Object
- Author Authority
- Direct Quote
- First Paragraph
- Historical Context
- Intended Audience
- Primary Source
- Second Paragraph
- Secondary Source
- Source Material
- Third Paragraph
- Character Analysis
- Citation Analysis
- Text Structure Analysis
- Vocabulary Assessment
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Close your eyes for a second and imagine unpacking a bag. As you take out each item, you see the inside of the bag more clearly. Eventually, when you have taken out and examined each item, the bag is crystal clear. Readers can unpack literature in a similar manner. Analyzing literature is the process of examining the text in detail to interpret it thoroughly. When readers examine various literary elements in a story, they reveal deep meaning in the text.
Literary Analysis Definition
Literary analysis is the examination and evaluation of a literary work. When people analyze literature, they consider how the author used literary techniques to create meaning. Readers first critically read the text and examine elements like figurative language, syntax, diction, and structure. When looking at these elements, readers consider how the author used them to create meaning. They then make analytical claims about the text they can support by discussing specific evidence from the work.
- Literary analysis is the examination and evaluation of a literary work.
Analyzing literature allows readers to articulate their interpretation of a text. To interpret literature, readers should consider elements like the following:
Analyzing literature is a key task of l iterary criticism , which is the study and interpretation of literature. Literary critics conduct literary analyses that consider historical and sociocultural contexts and apply theoretical lenses to literary works. For example, critics in the field of feminist literary criticism analyze literary works through a feminist lens, meaning they investigate notions like gender inequality and the social construction of gender as they appear and operate in literature. Other famous types of literary criticism include Marxist criticism, postcolonial criticism, and deconstructionism.
Literary Analysis Essay
Students often have to write literary analysis essays. These are essays in which a writer evaluates a literary text. For example, the following prompt asks the writer to craft a literary analysis essay:
In the second chapter of Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937), the protagonist Janie has a meaningful experience under a pear tree. Write an essay analyzing how Hurston uses literary elements and techniques in this scene to convey Janie's dreams for her future.
The above prompt evaluates the writer's knowledge of literary devices and how authors use them. It also tests the writer's ability to analyze the passage from Their Eyes Were Watching God, so it partly depends on the writer's interpretation of the book.
Writing a Literary Analysis Essay
To write a literary analysis essay, readers should follow the following steps.
Read and Understand the Prompt
First, writers should read the prompt several times and ask themselves the following questions:
What is this prompt asking writers to write about?
Does the prompt specify any literary elements that should be considered?
Does the prompt articulate more than one task for writers?
Is this prompt asking about the text as a whole or a specific part of the text?
Use a pen or pencil to highlight keywords in the prompt. This will help you remember the main objective of the literary analysis essay.
Critically Read the Text
Once writers understand the task they must complete for the literary analysis essay, they should carefully read the text they must write about. If the prompt is on an exam, they might have to consult a short passage of text. If the prompt is for an English class, they might have to turn to a book they have already read and review relevant parts.
While reading a text, make notes of essential literary elements. For instance, if you notice that an author consistently uses the same symbol, note all the places in the text where you see that symbol. This will make writing an analysis of the text easier because you will easily find evidence of how the author uses literary elements to create meaning.
Craft a Thesis Statement
Next, writers should construct a thesis statement that addresses all aspects of the prompt. A thesis statement is a defensible claim about the topic that can be supported with evidence. When writing a literary analysis essay, the thesis statement should be about the author's use of literary techniques in the text. You can find an example of a quality thesis statement related to the above prompt on Their Eyes Were Watching God further down.
A strong thesis stands alone as a summary of the whole argument. Readers should be able to read the thesis statement by itself and understand the main point of the essay. The above thesis statement is effective because the writer mentions the title and author of the text, the literary elements they will analyze in the essay, and a claim about the impact of those literary elements on the author's message.
Outline the Essay
Once writers establish their main claim, they can begin outlining how they will support their argument. If they are writing a five-paragraph essay, they should strive to find three distinct supporting points for their thesis and devote body paragraphs to each point. They should then try to find at least two pieces of evidence from the text to support each point.
Choosing short, significant pieces of evidence allows for more in-depth analysis than including long quotes. If you are running low on time when writing a literary analysis essay for an exam, skip the second piece of evidence in a body paragraph and move on to the next paragraph. That way, you at least have at least three supporting points.
Write the Essay
Writers can then begin writing their analytical essays. They should use a formal academic tone and avoid slang, conjunctions, and colloquialisms. The focus should be on their unique analysis of the evidence they include.
If you are writing a literary analysis essay for a timed exam, you likely won't have time to create a detailed outline. Instead, once you have your thesis, quickly identify three supporting points. Jot them down on scratch paper, followed by page numbers or some keywords from relevant evidence. This will give you a loose idea of the flow of the essay without wasting too much time.
Literary Analysis Example
Imagine you are writing a literary analysis essay on the prompt about Their Eyes Were Watching God .
First, you should identify what this prompt is asking. The prompt asks writers to focus on a specific scene in the second chapter. You should underline that part of the prompt to remember the focus. The prompt also asks the writer to focus on the use of literary elements to comment on the protagonist's dreams. This tells you that your thesis should make a statement about specific literary elements and make a claim about Janie's dreams.
Next, you should turn to the text and identify the scene the prompt is referring to. You should closely read the text to unpack the meaning of individual literary elements. To do this, annotate the text, underlining key terms and literary techniques. Also, jot down notes about what you think the literary elements mean and how the scene connects to larger ideas in the text, such as Janie's character development or the themes of love and identity.
Consult your notes from the previous step to construct your thesis. What literary elements stuck out to you when you read the text? What do they seem to be suggesting about Janie's dreams? For instance, a strong thesis statement that addresses this prompt would look something like this:
In Chapter 2 of Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston uses vivid imagery, symbolism, and personification to portray Janie's idealistic dreams of a loving marriage.
Why is this a strong thesis? What does the writer do to make it stand alone as a summary of the argument and outline distinct supporting points?
Once you have your thesis statement, you can quickly arrange an outline to follow when writing. For instance, an outline based on the above would include a body paragraph for imagery, one for symbolism, and one for personification.
Finally, you can start writing. Select small pieces of relevant evidence and extract as much meaning as possible from each piece. For example, an excerpt would look like this:
In Chapter 2, the narrator explains that Janie spends all her time under the pear tree. She felt "called" to watch it turn "from barren brown stems to glistening leaf buds; from lead-buds to snowy virginity of bloom. It stirred her tremendously" (42). The imagery of the tree turning from barren to in bloom connects the pear tree to Janie's emerging sexuality. Hurston's choice to use words associated with sex in her description, like "virginity" and "stirred," reinforces that the tree symbolizes Janie's womanhood and reminds the reader of Janie's naivete and inexperience at this point in the novel. The way the tree and the intimate bees under it captivate Janie also suggests that at this point in her life, she has an optimistic viewpoint that marriage guarantees a tender, genuine connection.
Note how the above writer used short quotes and focused on the meaning surrounding specific words. This allows them to connect various literary elements and unpack how these literary choices create a specific meaning.
Literary Analysis - Key Takeaways
- When analyzing literature, readers should note how different literary elements create meaning.
- Writers should consider elements like theme, structure, tone, and figurative language when analyzing literature.
- When writing a literary analysis essay, writers should read the prompt, critically read the text, craft a thesis, draft an outline, and then write the essay.
- Readers should extract meaning from short but significant pieces of evidence when analyzing literature.
Frequently Asked Questions about Literary Analysis
--> what does a literary analysis look like.
Literary analysis involves critically reading and annotating a text and reflecting on how authors used literary elements to create meaning.
--> What is good literary analysis?
Good literary analysis involves interpreting the meaning of short, significant pieces of evidence from a literary text.
--> How do you write a literary analysis example?
To write a literary analysis, critically read the text and examine the meaning of literary elements setting, structure, and figurative language.
--> How do you start a literary analysis essay?
To start a literary analysis essay, critically read the text and note the potential meaning of literary elements. Then construct a defensible claim that addresses the prompt.
--> How do you start an analysis?
To start an analysis, identify literary elements like setting, text structure, and imagery.
Final Literary Analysis Quiz
Literary analysis quiz - teste dein wissen.
True or False? When a reader analyzes literature it means they explain the plot.
False. While reflection on the plot can be an aspect of literary analysis, analyzing literature involves a thorough examination of literary elements like theme and structure.
Deconstructionism is an example of what?
A literary element
What is tone in writing?
The attitude the author expresses through writing
Rachel is analyzing her favorite book and asks herself: “Is the narrative linear or non-linear?” What literary element is she analyzing?
What is the first step when writing a literary analysis essay for an exam?
Read and understand the prompt
What is a thesis statement?
The first sentence of a paragraph that states the topic of the paragraph
What type of language should writers use when writing a literary analysis essay?
Formal academic language
Simile, metaphor, and personification are all examples of what?
What is theme in literature?
The universal idea
Strong literary analysis involves interpreting the meaning of _, significant pieces of evidence from a text.
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