How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay: Definition, Outline, Topics, Thesis, and Example

Do you know how to write a literary analysis essay? When reading for pleasure, your primary goal is relaxation and enjoyment. You might even read with the desire to obtain more information about a certain place, or merely to pass the time.

While doing so, you might be interested in undertaking further analysis on the piece of literature as the thirst for knowledge grows deeply in you.

However, if you are reading for guidance, inspiration, or reflection of your life, you can do so using numerous valid ways.

When reading an English book that involves work of literature, you uniquely perform literary criticism.

What is a Literary Analysis Essay?

A literary analysis essay is the evaluation and interpretation of a piece of literature such as a novel, a short story, a poem, or play with the intention of understanding the author’s message.

Although some people argue of the validity of literary reviews, understanding to write it does not only sharpen your thinking skills but also familiarizes you with scientific writing.

Whether you intend to write an entire analysis essay or merely a single paragraph, the trick is to view the essay in the same way the author did when initially writing it.

When writing a literary analysis, your primary objective is to uncover the symbolism displayed and make it clear for the readers.

Therefore, you must understand the characters well, their roles, and the message they convey in the essay.

When your instructor gives you a literature piece and asks you to pin down a critical analysis, explore these:

  • What is the intention of the author? Is there any intentional or underlying message he/she wants to deliver?
  • Who are the main characters? The external factors can guide you. For instance, look at the plot, the tone, the environment, and the literary devices used by the author.
  • Why did the author select the specific literary devices? Try to understand the author’s intention in his/her piece of writing.

Literary analysis is different from the typical summary since it provides a better investigation and description of how an event happened.

What Is Literary Analysis?

As earlier mentioned, literary analysis paper delves into different plots, events, characters and all work of literature to get a better insight of the message delivered by the author.

Mostly, the method is helpful in the formation of textual analysis.

Although literary analysis for college or high school can be formed using different ways, the most critical part is to break the literary work into small segments for better understanding.

For instance, an analysis paper based on poetry might need you to understand the different types of imagery used in the entire poem.

It may also require you to understand the relationship between the piece used and the content.

If you are analyzing a play, you will have to understand the connection between the different plots and subplots used by the author.

It also makes more sense if you delve into the specific character traits and understand their strengths and flaws.

At write my essay, we find that analyzing a short story or a novel is interesting.

For instance, your instructor may need you to explore a specific theme of a character, which had a tragic childhood.

It is quite easy since the character may have suffered from the situation and finds it hard to interact with other people even in the future.

Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  1. Literary analysis of “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” by Richard Wright in which you prove your idea of the story’s theme by examining one or more fictional elements that seem prominent to that story
  2. Write a paper, analyzing two or more literary works by different authors. You should choose from among the texts we read in class – either stories, poems or a mixture of both.
  3. Write a comparative literary analysis, which examines the similar threads, which run through the two short stories, “Knotted” and “An Inch off the Ground.”
  4. Write a literary analysis paper of the book ‘World War Z by Max Brooks’, looking at any issue within SIGNIFICANT thematic, cultural, philosophical, or intellectual importance.
  5. Assert and explore a thesis statement by comparing and contrasting examples from Brave New World and 1984 with support from professional critics: How do both of the societies function on the concept of the manipulation of fear? Compare and contrast the effectiveness of this technique in establishing a totalitarian society.
  6. For this assignment, you will offer a critical reading of “The Story of an Hour” by Kate Chopin, choosing something from the short story that interests you and presenting an analysis of the importance of that aspect.

Literary Analysis Essay outline

Analyzing literature is a skill that you can only, master after constant attempts. Reading more allows you to get the crafts the methods that work bests for you.

The strategy works well in how to write an abstract for a lab reporthow to write a reflective essay for universitycause and effect essay topics, and how to start a research paper

Before then, the following are the fundamental steps of writing a perfect literary essay.

  1. Ask questions
  2. Gather evidence
  3. Construct a suitable thesis
  4. Create and develop your arguments
  5. Write the introduction
  6. Write the paragraphs
  7. Conclusion

1. Ask Questions Regarding Your Literary Analysis

For the best term paper approach, your teacher or instructor will give a list of several prompts. You will be required to choose the best that you are familiar with, and the one that interests you.

You will also have adequate time to think about the techniques that you can use to write an enjoyable analysis.

As you will see with a literary analysis essay example, the first step is to choose a good topic.

Do not panic although it might be hard to select, relax, breathe deeply, and ask yourself the following questions:

  1. What struck you– is there a specific line, a scene that has been lingering in your mind for a long time? It interests you; the chances are high that you will also write a compelling essay.
  2. What confused you? Did a particular character confuse you with his/her trait? A confusing part can make you lack interests in the entire thing. To avoid this, repeat the scene/part that confuses you severally until you understand it.
  3. Did you understand the patterns– if there is a particular phrase or image used by the main character, figure it repetitively to understand the reason for the same? Some of them may be symbolic.
  4. Did you find any ironies or contradictions-great literature works can sometimes she complicated? However, great literary analyses explain those complexities in details.

For instance, maybe the book’s title “happy days” is different from the content of the book, which talks about hungry children dying on the roads.

Or, perhaps the main character acts in a completely different way than the one expected of him/her by friends and relatives.

You will be in a better position if you go through the essay and understand some of these things.

Just like rhetorical analysis essay outline, expository essay examples, and persuasive essay format, you will not need to think about what you will talk about on the topic. You will be your exploration directly.

You can frame your main argument as a question and answer it using an appropriate thesis statement in your essay.

The best question should leave room for the critical discussions and debates as well.

 Keep in mind that you need something that will be informative and fascinating as well, so understand the scope well and choose your wording keenly.

2. Collect Evidence

Once you have collected enough information about the type of questions you will answer in the literary analysis, scour the book for possible answers to your questions.

Do not be worried if you cannot figure out what to use in the replies. Continue collecting all possible materials and allow all to percolate.

Also, keep track of all the symbols, images, and scenes that relate to your main topic.

The connections between your materials and the main topic will automatically come out with time just like how to write a reaction paper to an article

Here is a summary of the parts that make up the work of literature.

They will analyze your essay thoroughly and provide supporting evidence for your arguments.

The Story Elements      

What happens? When does it happen? To whom does it happen? Why does it happen?

  1. Plot-all actions and events on in your work
  2. Character– the characters that have significant roles including the main character- the protagonist.
  3. Conflict– this is the cause of tension in the story. In many occasions, the main character will propose an idea or an action while the antagonists will be opposing the primary plan.
  4. Setting– where and when did the work take place? The common elements include the period, weather, social atmosphere, economic conditions, and the location.
  5. Narrator– the storyteller may report the events of the story in a straightforward manner and convey the character ideas. The narrator also displays the commentary in his/her voice.
  6. Themes– these are the messages or the main ideas displayed in the entire work. The items may be about the society, people, or life.

Elements of Style

These include the various questions in the story such as the language, its use, and the stylistic devices among others.

  1. Structure and organization– the structure shows how the various parts of the story have been assembled. The novel may be narrated chronologically or linearly. Make sure you understand the specific structure used by the author.
  2. Point of view– the narrator may use the first person, second person, or even third person perspective. Ensure that you are conversant with the one used.
  3. Diction-whether a character uses clinical language, or a dry style with many explanations, you should be in a position to interpret it.
  4. Imagery represents the things that can be smelled, seen, or heard

 3. Construct Thesis Statement for Your Literary Analysis Essay

Once you have examined your evidence, write the thesis statement. It is the central part of the essay; hence, you should spend adequate time on it.

Do you know how to write a literary analysis thesis? A good thesis should be:

  • Arguably
  • Provable by textual evidence
  • Specific
  • Surprising

For example, “In the short stories, “Lust” and “How to date a brown girl,” women are portrayed as provocative, tempting, and seductive vessels meant for sex while men are free to act upon their sexual desires and still be seen as men; this goes to show that women are over-sexualized, and there is a double standard for men and women when it comes to sex.

4. Develop And Organize Your Essay Arguments

The primary examples and reasons that support your thesis argument should be in the middle part of your essay.

Since it is hard to write a thesis before understanding how to structure the debate, repeat the process for three or four times.

These are the main types of literary essays:

  • Compare and contrast
  • Trace
  • Debate

5. Write The Introduction

Your entire piece merely depends on its debut. You should present it in an articulate manner that addresses the possible questions arising from the story.

It is also the central point where the writer introduces himself to the readers. As a good writer, make your introduction as persuasive as possible.

While structuring your paper, your introductory paragraph should depend on depends on what you want to write about and the length of the original essay.

However, conventionally, if the original piece is made of five paragraphs, the introduction should be only one paragraph long.

Your introduction should:

  • Provide the required context- it should inform your readers of what you want to talk about, your characters and the main topic that you will address,
  • Provide an answer to the “so what’ question– why did you choose this topic over the others? It should also pique the interests of your audience by giving counterintuitive suggestions.
  • Present your thesis– this should only happen towards the end of your introduction.
  • Indicate the desired shape of your essay– your introduction should also give readers a great sense of the scope. You cannot spell out all the steps, but provide a simple idea of how your work will look like.

6. Write the Paragraphs of Your Body

After writing your introduction, convert the ideas of your work into paragraphs. The body entirely depends on the type of argumentative essay strategy adopted. To make it more presentable:

  • Start with a substantial sentence- the topic sentences can be compared to the highway; they both direct the users in the right direction. A proper start sentence should, therefore, introduce readers to the essay and give them a guideline of what to expect in work.
  • Develop a single thought completely- do not stuff your paragraphs with unnecessary information. Include the proven points only. The points should also be sturdy enough to prevent the entire section from collapsing.
  • Use transitions- your work should have a good flow and establish some close relationships between the To achieve this, make use of the transition phrases and words like similarly, on the contrary, however, among others

7. Write a Conclusion for your Literary Analysis

Just like the introduction, your end should be fascinating because readers with time constraints will merely look at the opening and the conclusion.

It should sum up all the points you have discussed in the essay. A good end should:

  • Synthesize the arguments but don’t summarize them- don’t repeat what you already talked about in the paragraphs section
  • Revisit your “so what” question-you should end your essay in a similar way to how you started it. Include a type of gesture about what your readers have learned, and how that information will help them in carrying out various activities.
  • Stay relevant– although your conclusion should provide possible suggestions of useful ideas, focus on the elements connected to the question and thesis statement. Brainstorm on what will fit well and leave the unwanted stuff.
  • Be general– since the conclusion paragraphs sum-ups all the details of the literary essay, you should shift from being particular to the general. Do not talk about explicit scenes, characters, or message.

Above all, do not forget to follow the specific instructions of your supervisor. Master the particular traits of the characters as well.

Be sure to check our Capstone Project, College App Essay, and Critical Thinking Essay.

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