Excellent Literary Analysis in 5 Steps

Literary analysis is a classic type of assignment in high school and college. The one who is tasked with this work has to reveal not only the obvious, central idea of the text, but also the hidden meaning. Thus, it gives a student an opportunity to show their analytical and critical thinking skills. The text under scrutiny may be a novel, science fiction, drama, poem or short story. Readers’ opinions about the meaning of the same text usually differ. This is natural because the author aims to cause discussions and make people interested in the problem.

Still, not every reader can recognize the hidden meaning or even several meanings of the text. One needs to have solid background knowledge on the topic under analysis, social context and the author’s biography. For example, The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco is a detective story meant to entertain the reader. But, the author raises several themes: the theme of signs and their meanings, the topic of nominalism, and the overall issue of “empty” names. These ideas become obvious only through careful analysis of the text.

 

Literary Analysis Definition

A literary analysis is a critical/evaluative discussion of a fiction book/poem/any other literary work. It should contain a concise summary of the content; but its main part is the interpretation of the text. It is a subjective piece of writing that requires taking a stance regarding the interpretation and supporting it with evidence. Depending on the type of literary analysis, the elements under scrutiny may be the setting, sequence of events and plot twists, characters and their development. These aspects are analyzed to reveal the explicit and implicit messages of the text and the quality of writing.

So, what is the literary analysis and what is not?

As is evident from the literary analysis definition, this should not be a summary of the text. Instead, this should be an analysis of its specific elements (word-choice, structure, etc.) and the perspective on the issues discussed in the manuscript. The choices the author made throughout the work should say a lot about their attitude towards the problems raised. Thus, one should have a clear understanding of the analyzed text and the elements to be considered in order to present a good paper.

See Also: Comparative Essays

Five Types of Literary Analysis:

  • Close reading: The type of analysis that requires one to thoroughly read the text to discover the details which seem to be minor at the first glance. This profound analysis will allow the reader to better understand the author's choices in terms of language, details of the circumstances in which the characters find themselves, certain elements of specific scenes, etc.
  • Applied: This is a highly subjective type of analysis that reveals how specific elements of the analyzed work of literature relating to the life experiences of the one who analyzes it.
  • Synergistic or comparative: An approach that requires one to compare the work under discussion to analogous writings (possibly, the other works of the same author), putting it in a broader context.
  • Contextual or historical: The type of analysis that revolves around external contextual elements related to the work of literature. These can be the moral norms specific to the then society, historical framework or some other peculiarities of the time described in the story.
  • Theoretical: This type is divided into separate subtypes depending on the theory or theories to be used in the analysis. The student analyzes the writer's arguments using the assigned theories as a basis. Frequently assigned theories include practical criticism, feminist criticism, critical race theory, cultural studies, psychoanalytic criticism or deconstruction theory.

What is the Purpose Of Literary Analysis?

Before you start preparing for the analysis and making the appropriate notes, you need to answer an important question. What is the purpose of literary analysis? The aim of this assignment is to check students’ ability to analyze the assigned text and think critically. Also, this task helps to reveal one’s knowledge of the author’s background, literary theories and even the historical context of the literary work. Thus, the students should use the opportunity to prove that they know how to analyze such pieces of literature like Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare or War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

This task is not similar to a book report. In a report you are to summarize the assigned reading while in a book review you are also to recommend the work to others or explain why you would not do this. Now that you know what a literary analysis is and what it is not, you need to clearly understand how your paper’s outline should look like.

If you have already composed an outline or/and a rough draft but do not know what to do next, you can contact our professional writer for further advice.

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Elements of Literary Analysis

A literary analysis outline consists of 4 main parts, typical of a traditional essay. The content of each part is what sets the analysis apart from the rest of the papers.

  1. A title. It should be bright and engaging.
  2. An introduction that usually has only one paragraph consisting of such components as: a hook to engage the reader;
  • title and the author of the literary piece under analysis;
  • an interesting fact about this literary work;
  • one citation from the book (format it correctly);
  • a general description;
  • your thesis statement about what the author is trying to say with this literary work.

Your introductory paragraph sets the stage for further analysis. In this section you should shortly highlight the meaning, value and significance of the assigned reading. Also, make sure your reader is intrigued and interested in continuing to read the paper.

  1. Body: build your discussion around your thesis statement, explaining it and supporting the claims with evidence.

Each paragraph in the body of your paper should start with a topic sentence that contains a claim, supporting your thesis statement. As a rule, a thesis statement consists of several separate claims each of which is used to create a separate topic sentence. Follow the steps presented below to structure your paragraph correctly:

  • the second sentence of your paragraph that explains the topic sentence;
  • evidence (a citation) that supports your topic sentence;
  • your comments and explanation of the citation. Explain the circumstances under which it was said. Who said that? Explain the meaning of the cited words. What was the author's intention/idea behind these words? Make sure to choose an appropriate citation that supports your stance. Be attentive to details and describe them carefully;
  • one more citation accompanied by your comments and explanations. There are usually two quotes in each paragraph to support the topic sentence;
  • a transitional statement to ensure a smooth flow of ideas between the paragraphs. There should be a smooth transition from one idea to another, resulting in a well-developed, informative discussion.

Depending on the type of analysis that is assigned, the list of elements of literary analysis to be presented in the body of your paper will vary. Still, some aspects are common to all kinds of literary analysis. Here they are:

  • Genre and type of a given literary work;
  • The main plot and ideas of the manuscript;
  • Review of the general theme of the work;
  • Careful analysis of the main characters, imagery, tone, mood and language;
  • Analysis of the meaning of symbols and ideas the author tried to convey to their audience;
  • Analysis of the writing style used by the author and the choice of structure used in the work.
  1. Conclusion: the last section of your paper. Usually, it has one paragraph. You need to restate your thesis statement in the opening sentence of this paragraph. Do not copy-paste your thesis statement. Paraphrase it. Summarize the main findings and results of your analysis. Make sure that your reader understands your point of view and considers the time spent reading your paper to be meaningful.

Keep this literary analysis outline in mind when crafting your paper. Note, however, that these are the basic steps on how to write a literary analysis essay.

 
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How to Create a Literary Analysis in 5 Steps

To present a top-notch literary analysis, one needs to do the following:

  1. Carefully examine the piece of literature you are to analyze.
    At this point, you need to read the work several times. You should consider such major aspects of work as its genre, main idea, characters, plot and the writing style used to convey ideas. Your aim is to detect the major, the most memorable parts of the work, the writer’s intentions and literary style, to note how the characters develop throughout the story.
  2. Formulate arguments to be presented in your thesis statement.
    Once you have carefully read the piece of literature under analysis, coin your arguments. You should collect evidence to support your main arguments. To shape a persuasive thesis statement you need to find evidence in the text to support your point of view. Make sure to check the author’s biography, cultural peculiarities and specifics of time and society described in the story. This information will help you to understand the implicit meaning of the text.
  3. Compose an outline.
    At this stage, all parts of your literary analysis should be put in their places. Thus, you will have a solid framework for your further work. This way your paper will be logically built, concise and accurate.
  4. Shape your thesis statement.
    Your thesis statement is the core of your paper. It should be strong and clear. In case you have several arguments to be presented in your thesis, you may use two sentences instead of one. Remember: a thesis statement is the last sentence or sentences in your introductory paragraph.
  5. Write your paper.
    Once your outline and the thesis statement are ready, start writing the paper. Do not deviate from your outline. Make sure there is only one central claim in each paragraph. Ensure smooth transitions between the paragraphs. Use transitional sentences. Read the final version of your paper to eliminate grammar and formatting mistakes.

With our concise and clear tips you will not wonder how to create a literary analysis anymore. Still, writing a literary analysis is a challenging task. Especially for those students who have no experience in writing such works. In case you feel helpless and lacking guidance, ask our professionals for help! We offer literary analysis essay help for students of high quality. Our expert will cater to all your writing needs. Your paper will have a logically constructed outline, a strong thesis statement based on a thorough analysis of the text, proper arguments and evidence in the body of the paper and an appropriate conclusion. The work will be formatted according to the style you indicate in the order form.

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