Literature Review


A literary analysis essay isn't a rhetorical analysis, neither is it just a summary of the plot or a review. Instead, it's a sort of argumentative essay where you would like to research elements like the language, perspective, and structure of the text, and explain how the author uses literary devices to form effects and convey ideas.


Before beginning a literary analysis essay, it’s essential to carefully read the text and are available up with a thesis statement to stay your essay focused. As you write, follow the quality structure of a tutorial essay:


An introduction that tells the reader what your essay will target.

A main body, divided into paragraphs, that builds an argument using evidence from the text.

A conclusion that clearly states the most point that you simply have shown together with your analysis.

Table of contents

Step 1: Reading the text and identifying literary devices

The first step is to carefully read the text(s) and take initial notes. As you read, listen to the items that are most intriguing, surprising, or perhaps confusing within the writing—these are belongings you can probe in your analysis.


Your goal in literary analysis isn't simply to clarify the events described within the text, but to research the writing itself and discuss how the text works on a deeper level. Primarily, you’re looking for literary devices—textual elements that writers use to convey meaning and build effects. If you’re comparing and contrasting multiple texts, you'll also rummage around for connections between different texts.


To get started along with your analysis, there are several key areas that you just can specialize in. As you analyze each aspect of the text, try and consider how all of them relate to every other. you'll be able to use highlights or notes to stay track of important passages and quotes.


Language choices

Consider what kind of language the author uses. Are the sentences short and straightforward or more complex and poetic?


What word do choices stand out as interesting or unusual? Are words used figuratively to mean something apart from their literal definition? Figurative language includes things like the metaphor (e.g. “her eyes were oceans”) and simile (e.g. “her eyes were like oceans”).


Also, keep a watch out for imagery within the text—recurring images that make a particular atmosphere or symbolize something important. Remember that language is employed in literary texts to mention quite what it means on the surface.


Narrative voice

Ask yourself:


Who is telling the story?

How are they telling it?

Is it a first-person narrator (“I”) who is personally involved within the story, or a third-person narrator who tells us about the characters from a distance?


Consider the narrator’s perspective. is that 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 don't seem to be purported to take at face value? Authors often hint that their narrator may be giving us a distorted or dishonest version of events.


The tone of the text is additionally worth considering. is that the story intended to be comic, tragic, or something else? Are usually serious topics treated as funny, or vice versa? is that the story realistic or fantastical (or somewhere in between)?



Consider how the text is structured, and the way the structure relates to the story being told.


Novels are often divided into chapters and parts.

Poems are divided into lines, stanzas, and sometimes cantos.

Plays are divided into scenes and acts.

Think about why the author chose to divide the various parts of the text within the way they did.


There are less formal structural elements to require under consideration. Does the story unfold in chronological order, or does it jump back and forth in time? Does it begin in medias res—in the center 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 induce a way of this.


In a play, you may consider how relationships between characters are built up through different scenes, and the way the setting relates to the action. be careful for irony, where the audience knows some detail that the characters don’t, creating a double meaning in their words, thoughts, or actions.


Step 2: turning out with a thesis

Your thesis in an exceedingly literary analysis essay is that the point you would like to form about the text. It’s the core argument that provides your essay direction and prevents it from just being a set of random observations a couple of text.


If you’re given a prompt for your essay, your thesis must answer or relate to the prompt

Your thesis statement should be a solution to the present question—not a straightforward yes or no, but an announcement of why this can be


Sometimes you’ll learn the freedom to settle on your own topic; during this case, you’ll come up with an inspired thesis. Consider what stood resolute you within the text; ask yourself questions on the weather that interested you, and consider how you may answer them.


Your thesis should be something arguable—that is, something that you simply think is true about the text, but which isn't an easy matter of fact. It must be complex enough to develop through evidence and arguments across the course of your essay


However, this statement is simply too simple to be a motivating thesis. After reading the text and analyzing its narrative voice and structure, you'll develop the solution into a more nuanced and arguable thesis statement:



Remember that you simply can revise your thesis statement throughout the writing process, so it doesn’t must be perfectly formulated at this stage. The aim is to stay 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 clarify your argument to the reader.


It is useful to comb through the text in search of relevant quotations before you begin writing. you would possibly not find yourself using everything you discover, and you'll must return to the text for more evidence as you write, but collecting textual evidence from the start will facilitate your to structure your arguments and assess whether they’re convincing.



Step 3: Writing a title and introduction

To start your literary analysis paper, you’ll need two things: an honest title, and an introduction.


The title

Your title should clearly indicate what your analysis will specialize in. it always contains the name of the author and text(s) you’re analyzing. Keep it as concise and fascinating as possible.


A common approach to the title is to use a relevant quote from the text, followed by a colon and so the remainder of your title.


If you struggle to return up with an honest title initially, don’t worry—this is going to be easier once you’ve begun writing the essay and have an improved sense of your arguments.


The introduction

The essay introduction provides a fast overview of where your argument goes. It should include your thesis statement and a summary of the essay’s structure.


A typical structure for an introduction is to start with a general statement about the text and author, using this to steer into your thesis statement. you would possibly consult with a commonly held idea about the text and show how your thesis will contradict it, or pore on a selected device you plan to specialize in.


Then you'll end with a short indication of what’s developing within the main body of the essay. this is often called signposting. it'll be more elaborate in longer essays, but in an exceedingly short five-paragraph essay structure, it shouldn’t be quite one sentence.


Some students value more highly to write the introduction later within the process, and it’s not a foul idea. After all, you’ll have a clearer idea of the general shape of your arguments once you’ve begun writing them!


If you are doing write the introduction first, you must still return thereto later to form sure it lines up with what you ended up writing, and edit as necessary.


Step 4: Writing the body of the essay

The body of your essay is everything between the introduction and conclusion. It contains your arguments and also the textual evidence that supports them.


Paragraph structure

A typical structure for a highschool literary analysis essay consists of 5 paragraphs: the three paragraphs of the body, plus the introduction and conclusion.


Each paragraph within the main body should specialize in one topic. within the five-paragraph model, attempt to divide your argument into three main areas of study, all linked to your thesis. Don’t attempt to include everything you'll consider to mention about the text-only analysis that drives your argument.


In longer essays, the identical principle applies on a broader scale. For example, you would possibly have two or three sections in your main body, each with multiple paragraphs. Within these sections, you continue to want to start new paragraphs at logical moments—a turn within the argument or the introduction of a brand new idea.


Topic sentences

To keep your points focused, it’s important to use a subject sentence at the start of every paragraph.


A good sentence allows a reader to determine at a look what the paragraph is about. It can introduce a replacement 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, isn't upon the divine revelation which will be waiting beyond the door, but upon the mundane process of aging undergone by the person as he waits.


Nevertheless, the “radiance” that appears to stream from the door is often treated as religious symbolism.


This topic sentence signals that the paragraph will address the question of non secular symbolism, while the linking word “nevertheless” points out a contrast with the previous paragraph’s conclusion.


Using textual evidence

A key a 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 ought to be properly introduced and analyzed, not treated as self-explanatory:


It isn’t always necessary to use a quote. Quoting is helpful when you’re discussing the author’s language, but sometimes you’ll must talk over with plot points or structural elements that can’t be captured in an exceedingly short quote.


In these cases, it’s more appropriate to paraphrase or summarize parts of the text—that is, to explain the relevant part in your own words:


Step 5: Writing a conclusion

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 check out to stress their significance to the reader.


A good thanks to approach this is often to briefly summarize your key arguments, then stress the conclusion they’ve led you to, highlighting the new perspective your thesis provides on the text as a whole.




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