Writing a Literary Analysis Essay

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How to Write a Literary Analysis

At first, a literary analysis essay assignment might seem a bit daunting. However, it can be a great opportunity in disguise. The more good literature you read the better. In fact, exposure to great written works can help you to become a more intelligent, well-rounded person. It’s also a great way to improve your own writing skills.

Once you understand what is the purpose of a literary analysis essay, and how to write one, you’ll be able to analyze any written work. This guide will include a literary analysis essay definition, a link to a literary analysis example, and important writing tips.

Literary Analysis Definition

Literary analysis involves delving into the parts of the work to see how they contribute to or detract from the entirety of the written work. This starts with considering the author’s motivation and approach. You must also consider the intended messaging. Next, you look at the different techniques they use to communicate. These are the ‘parts’. As part of your research, you will look into the author’s use of characters, literary devices, subplots, structure, scenery, and other elements to communicate a deeper message. By delving into a written work through literary analysis, you will gain a better appreciation of works of literature. In fact, this can help you to appreciate works that you may not particularly care for otherwise.

Literary Analysis Essay: The First Steps

When you write a literary analysis, you have some choices to make. You can analyze the various components of a single piece of literature work together. You can compare and contrast two separate literary works. You can also analyze a literary work in a sociopolitical context. You can even choose to focus on a single theme.

For example, you could analyze two plays by Neil Simon. You could also analyze a young adult novel of today compared to one that was written 20 years ago. Another option would be to focus on the ways in which a piece of writing furthers a social issue. Once you choose the path you are going to take, it’s time for critical reading.

Literary Analysis Critical Reading

Reading a written work in order to analyze it isn’t the same as simply reading it for enjoyment. You’ll need to take notes. Ask yourself what literary devices the writer is using? How are the characters growing, and how are they being used to further the plot? Are there moral or political messages the author is trying to communicate?

Next, do some research outside of the work itself. Sometimes, you can gain important understanding if you know the context. What era was work created in? What are the viewpoints of the author on various social or political issues? What historical events were happening that might have impacted the writer’s motivations.

Forming Your Thesis Statement

Ultimately, you need to identify what the author was trying to accomplish, who they were communicating with, and whether or not they were successful. Articulate this in one or two sentences, and your thesis statement is done.

Sample Literary Analysis Essay on Hamlet

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The Literary Analysis Outline

Think of your literary analysis essay outline as something of a blueprint. By writing one, you will be able to organize your thoughts, clarify your thesis, and ensure that your points are well supported.

Your Outline Introduction

The introduction to your literary essay can be divided into three parts. This can be shown in your outline. These include the hook is the first sentence or two of your introduction. It will say something compelling that is related to the work you are analyzing. The second part provides context and introduces the material, especially the elements that your essay will explore. Finally, you will provide your thesis.

Your Outline Body Paragraphs

Your essay outline should provide the framework for at least three body paragraphs. At the top should be your main idea. Below should be the main points that support that idea. Your supporting points should come from the written work. Alternatively, they can also come from other academic sources. For example, if an author explored the theme of poverty in their work, you could use research showing the writer’s own experience with poverty as a supporting point.

Your Outline Conclusion

The final portion of your outline is the conclusion. Here, you need to restate the thesis. Then, construct a series of statements indicating just how the evidence you have presented combines to prove that thesis.

Best literary analysis paper topics 

  1. The Brontë sisters who broke the mold
  2. The history of feminist literature: what if there was no gender
  3. The development of the notion of masculinity from the medieval to modern literature
  4. Charles Dickens's Idea of Religion
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Literary Analysis Rough and Final Drafts

If your essay was a building, you have ‘framed in’ that building by completing your outline. Now, it’s time to turn the outline into a rough draft. Essentially, you are taking that frame and turning it into something that actually resembles a building. Each section of your outline represents a paragraph. Take the thoughts and ideas you have detailed in your outline, and use them to create paragraphs with all of the necessary elements.

Next, turn your rough draft into a final draft. Here are some things to consider:

  • Writing transitions so you move smoothly from one idea to the next.
  • Editing and proofreading.
  • Ensuring that all of your sources are cited.
  • Verifying that you meet the word count requirements.
  • Double-checking your examples to be certain they make the right impact.

Literary Analysis Writing Tips

It can be a real challenge to write a literary analysis. It requires taking a different approach to reading and writing. The following tips can help you navigate this process successfully.

  • Read other papers that have been written about the author and their work.
  • Frame your thoughts about the work in the context of the writer’s time and experiences.
  • Draw parallels between statements made in the work and experiences that may resonate with your audience.
  • Consider referencing a literary analysis example. We have writing samples available for you to examine.

Still in Need of More Help?

Our professional staff members are happy to assist you with your literary analysis. We are able to help students with topic selection, providing sample work, writing, editing, and proofreading. Bookmark this page to use as a guide, but don’t hesitate to contact us if you need further help.

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