How to write a literary analysis essay

How to write a literary analysis

What is literary analysis essay?

College and university students write a literary analysis. No one goes through any of these tertiary education levels without writing this essay at one point. It is not a paper that you research and write within a few hours it requires a lot of reading, analyzing the understanding of a given topic and text. 

In simple words, a literary analysis essay refers to an assignment where a student is required to examine and evaluate a literary piece or some literature work. The essay talks about the main idea or theme of a book. You may be asked to write a literary essay about a specific book or a fictional topic. 

Related: 79+ Unique narrative essay topic ideas in 2020

What is the purpose of a literary analysis essay?

Learning how to write this essay helps sharpen your thinking skills and develop critical writing skills. Whether you want to write a single analytical paragraph or a whole essay, the secret to an excellent literary analysis essay is trying to see things like the original author did. The main aim of the essay should be to uncover symbolism and help readers understand how different functions in the content. This includes explaining why they did certain things and the real meaning of the entire content. 

How to write a literary analysis essay?

Just like any other academic assignment, a literary analysis paper requires you to get ready and be prepared to provide meticulous work. Knowing the plan and steps to follow when writing the task eases the whole process. Here are some five steps you should not skip for an excellent paper. 

Focus on the given topic for the literary analysis essay

Read the assigned work and analyze it until you understand it completely. The most important things are the writer’s plot, idea and characters. You can read the work as many times as you may need to. It will give you a clear understanding of the writer’s ideas, views and the whole content. Also, try to answer these questions:

  • Which are the most remarkable parts of the document or book?
  • Why did the writer use those specific literary devices?
  • Can you see how the characters have been developed?

Look for connections between the plot and ideas along with the behavior of the characters and how their role changes in the article. 

Collect evidence

You should collect expressions, facts and all reasonable evidence to help you write a solid essay and end it with an excellent conclusion. To make a persuasive conclusion, you need to collect enough evidence. Also, get to know the writer behind the text; it will help you understand his thoughts and intentions.

Create an outline

An outline for literary analysis comes in handy when you write the essay. It helps you know what should be in the introduction part, body paragraphs and the conclusion. Make sure every part of your outline has important ideas without repetition. 

Develop a thesis statement

A thesis should explain the significance of your arguments and their connections with the author’s thoughts and ideas. A thesis statement is a single sentence, which explains a lot in a few words. Choose the words carefully and keep changing it as you write the essay until its perfect for the essay.

Writing the essay and revision

At this point, you are ready to start writing a literary analysis. Each point should be discussed in the paragraph, along with supportive points. Once you are done writing, revise the paper and keep changing areas to perfect the essay. You can get some rest and read the essay with a fresh mind. 

Elements of literary analysis essay

You must have heard your, teacher, talking about the literary elements. This means you not only enjoy reading the text but also understand what the author is saying. The elements that must be in a literary analysis essay are:

  • Setting
  • Plot
  • Theme
  • Characterization
  • Viewpoint
  • Conflict

The setting is the time and place of the story. Besides, the author might come right out and state the exact time and place. Or he might give the reader clues. For example, he may describe how people dress or what kind of transportation they used to tell the period of the story. He might describe a city or country setting and tell about the weather to give clues about the place. It is essential to know the setting to understand the story.

The plot is the events in the story. Authors give the plot. They may provide events in sequential order. Or they may use flashbacks to go backwards and forwards in time. Like a good crime scene show, there may be different plot lines going on at the same time.

Literary analysis essay introduction 

The introduction part is significant. Your reader will continue reading or stop depending on what you include here. If it captures the interest and attention of a reader, you are likely to get a good grade. To do this, you must introduce the main thing that you will focus on in the essay. Let the reader who is your lecturer know the aspect of the poem or book you intend to analyze. You can focus on a particular character, the format or the plot. 

An excellent way to make your introduction catchy, include a quote analyzing one of the book’s characters. It helps you grab the attention of the reader, especially if you choose an interesting scene. Other things to include:

  • Relevant background information about this literary genre should be in the essay. Besides, you can also write something relevant about the author of the text you are analyzing. 
  • Before you conclude the introduction, write the thesis statement. Make sure it’s a single sentence meaning clarity is essential but has to express in a few words. 

After writing the introduction, along with a thesis statement, you can now get ready to write the body paragraphs. You should have at least three paragraphs depending on the length of the essay. A paragraph can be between 500 and 700 words. However, you are allowed to divide the essay in several paragraphs. Just make sure it’s easy to read. Less than three paragraphs can put off your readers; the bulky look is overwhelming. Include a topic sentence at the beginning of every paragraph and must be closely related to your thesis statement. 

Literary analysis essay outline

A literary analysis essay is not different from other essays. It must have an introduction, thesis statement, body paragraphs and a conclusionHere is how your literary analysis essay outline should look like: 

Introduction

This is where you form the context of the essay’s critique. However, you also must include the following:

  • Include your name, the title of the text you are analyzing and anything else to strengthen the thesis of your essay. 
  • Deliver the thematic statement. This is the general concept or idea that relates to life, which the author attempted to deliver, (you answer the why question).
  • Conclude the essay with thethesis statement. In the statement include why, what, who and the part of the question that you intend to address in your essay. 

Here is a simple way to help you understand the question that you must in the introduction part. 

  • Who- This refers to the author of the text.
  • What- This is the response you have as the answer to the question asked. 
  • How- The way you bring the meaning
  • Why- This refers to how the text’s meaning relates to life and real message that the author intends to deliver. 

Body

The body part of a literary essay should have less than three paragraphs. Here are tips for writing the body of your essay:

  • Each paragraph should address a single point. 
  • Include some relevant quotes, which should validate every argument. It should focus on answering the “how” question. 
  • Quotes with dialogue and narrative.
  • Explain why you use a particular technique to address the specific question you’re answering. 
  • Conclude every paragraph with a solid statement to echo its primary focus.
  • Mention the theme of the text in the paragraphs, but remain relevant to the question you are addressing. 

Literary analysis essay example

Examples of literary analysis essays are many online. You choose one, depending on the type of analysis essay you are writing. But you need to check a few to get an idea on how the essay should look or sound. 

How to write literary analysis essay conclusion

Naturally, a literary essay must be persuasive and convincing. In the conclusion part, you have to be well-rounded and let the writer see how you have discussed every point. It allows them to choose whether to take your side or disagree with you. How do you write the conclusion?

  • Avoid introducing any new points. You are concluding and should not start any discussion. 
  • It should be a summary of the points made in the essay
  • Restate your thesis and show that your arguments in the essay proved it

Related: Article critique writing

Bottom line

A literary analysis essay is not the most straightforward essay to write. However, you can learn how to write a literary analysis essay or better still; hire online writing services to help you out. 

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