How to Write an Introduction for a Literary Analysis Essay

Erica sweeney.

The introduction to a literary analysis essay has to hook the reader.

A literary analysis essay explains the significance of a specific aspect of a literary work. Literary analyses are scholarly essays and should be written more conservatively than other types of essays. An introduction for a literary analysis should provide relevant information about the work of literature, include a thesis statement and orientate the reader to what will follow.

Start out with a clear topic. The topic should be an interpretation of a specific aspect of a work of literature, such as racism in "To Kill a Mockingbird" or foreshadowing in "Lord of the Flies." Understanding what you are writing about is vital to writing a good introduction and essay.

State the title and author of the literary work in the first sentence. This is essential so that the reader knows which poem, short story or novel you are discussing. Do not start out discussing characters before telling the reader in which work of literature they appear.

Hook the reader in the first sentence, just as you would in any other essay. What is something interesting about the work that you can tell the reader in the first line? The piece of interesting information must also be relevant to the topic and to the literary element being discussed.

Assume that the reader has read and is familiar with the work of literature that you are writing about. Keeping this in mind will stop you from including too much plot summary in the introduction and the rest of the essay.

Make clear what it is you are analyzing in the essay. Explain a bit about this aspect in the introduction so that the reader is clear about what is being analyzed.

Do not start analyzing the work. Acquaint the reader with what will be analyzed, but save the actual analyzing for the body.

State the thesis in the last sentence of the introduction. The thesis should clearly state what the essay will analyze and should be very specific. It also must argue something. For example: "Although Harper Lee has been criticized for being too sympathetic of white racists in 'To Kill a Mockingbird,' her honest portrayal of the setting has aided anti-racism efforts."

Use transitions throughout the introduction. Because there are so many things that have to be included, the introduction can end up a clump of sentences stuck together. Make sure that it makes sense on its own as a paragraph.

About the Author

Erica Sweeney is a freelance writer and editor based in Little Rock, Ark. She has a master's in journalism from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Her work has been published at SaidIt.org, Arkansas Times, Aging Arkansas and Arkansas Business.

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beginner's guide to literary analysis

Understanding literature & how to write literary analysis.

Literary analysis is the foundation of every college and high school English class. Once you can comprehend written work and respond to it, the next step is to learn how to think critically and complexly about a work of literature in order to analyze its elements and establish ideas about its meaning.

If that sounds daunting, it shouldn’t. Literary analysis is really just a way of thinking creatively about what you read. The practice takes you beyond the storyline and into the motives behind it. 

While an author might have had a specific intention when they wrote their book, there’s still no right or wrong way to analyze a literary text—just your way. You can use literary theories, which act as “lenses” through which you can view a text. Or you can use your own creativity and critical thinking to identify a literary device or pattern in a text and weave that insight into your own argument about the text’s underlying meaning. 

Now, if that sounds fun, it should , because it is. Here, we’ll lay the groundwork for performing literary analysis, including when writing analytical essays, to help you read books like a critic. 

What Is Literary Analysis?

As the name suggests, literary analysis is an analysis of a work, whether that’s a novel, play, short story, or poem. Any analysis requires breaking the content into its component parts and then examining how those parts operate independently and as a whole. In literary analysis, those parts can be different devices and elements—such as plot, setting, themes, symbols, etcetera—as well as elements of style, like point of view or tone. 

When performing analysis, you consider some of these different elements of the text and then form an argument for why the author chose to use them. You can do so while reading and during class discussion, but it’s particularly important when writing essays. 

Literary analysis is notably distinct from summary. When you write a summary , you efficiently describe the work’s main ideas or plot points in order to establish an overview of the work. While you might use elements of summary when writing analysis, you should do so minimally. You can reference a plot line to make a point, but it should be done so quickly so you can focus on why that plot line matters . In summary (see what we did there?), a summary focuses on the “ what ” of a text, while analysis turns attention to the “ how ” and “ why .”

While literary analysis can be broad, covering themes across an entire work, it can also be very specific, and sometimes the best analysis is just that. Literary critics have written thousands of words about the meaning of an author’s single word choice; while you might not want to be quite that particular, there’s a lot to be said for digging deep in literary analysis, rather than wide. 

Although you’re forming your own argument about the work, it’s not your opinion . You should avoid passing judgment on the piece and instead objectively consider what the author intended, how they went about executing it, and whether or not they were successful in doing so. Literary criticism is similar to literary analysis, but it is different in that it does pass judgement on the work. Criticism can also consider literature more broadly, without focusing on a singular work. 

Once you understand what constitutes (and doesn’t constitute) literary analysis, it’s easy to identify it. Here are some examples of literary analysis and its oft-confused counterparts: 

Summary: In “The Fall of the House of Usher,” the narrator visits his friend Roderick Usher and witnesses his sister escape a horrible fate.  

Opinion: In “The Fall of the House of Usher,” Poe uses his great Gothic writing to establish a sense of spookiness that is enjoyable to read. 

Literary Analysis: “Throughout ‘The Fall of the House of Usher,’ Poe foreshadows the fate of Madeline by creating a sense of claustrophobia for the reader through symbols, such as in the narrator’s inability to leave and the labyrinthine nature of the house. 

In summary, literary analysis is:

  • Breaking a work into its components
  • Identifying what those components are and how they work in the text
  • Developing an understanding of how they work together to achieve a goal 
  • Not an opinion, but subjective 
  • Not a summary, though summary can be used in passing 
  • Best when it deeply, rather than broadly, analyzes a literary element

Literary Analysis and Other Works

As discussed above, literary analysis is often performed upon a single work—but it doesn’t have to be. It can also be performed across works to consider the interplay of two or more texts. Regardless of whether or not the works were written about the same thing, or even within the same time period, they can have an influence on one another or a connection that’s worth exploring. And reading two or more texts side by side can help you to develop insights through comparison and contrast.

For example, Paradise Lost is an epic poem written in the 17th century, based largely on biblical narratives written some 700 years before and which later influenced 19th century poet John Keats. The interplay of works can be obvious, as here, or entirely the inspiration of the analyst. As an example of the latter, you could compare and contrast the writing styles of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Edgar Allan Poe who, while contemporaries in terms of time, were vastly different in their content. 

Additionally, literary analysis can be performed between a work and its context. Authors are often speaking to the larger context of their times, be that social, political, religious, economic, or artistic. A valid and interesting form is to compare the author’s context to the work, which is done by identifying and analyzing elements that are used to make an argument about the writer’s time or experience. 

For example, you could write an essay about how Hemingway’s struggles with mental health and paranoia influenced his later work, or how his involvement in the Spanish Civil War influenced his early work. One approach focuses more on his personal experience, while the other turns to the context of his times—both are valid. 

Why Does Literary Analysis Matter? 

Sometimes an author wrote a work of literature strictly for entertainment’s sake, but more often than not, they meant something more. Whether that was a missive on world peace, commentary about femininity, or an allusion to their experience as an only child, the author probably wrote their work for a reason, and understanding that reason—or the many reasons—can actually make reading a lot more meaningful. 

Performing literary analysis as a form of study unquestionably makes you a better reader. It’s also likely that it will improve other skills, too, like critical thinking, creativity, debate, and reasoning. 

At its grandest and most idealistic, literary analysis even has the ability to make the world a better place. By reading and analyzing works of literature, you are able to more fully comprehend the perspectives of others. Cumulatively, you’ll broaden your own perspectives and contribute more effectively to the things that matter to you. 

Literary Terms to Know for Literary Analysis 

There are hundreds of literary devices you could consider during your literary analysis, but there are some key tools most writers utilize to achieve their purpose—and therefore you need to know in order to understand that purpose. These common devices include: 

  • Characters: The people (or entities) who play roles in the work. The protagonist is the main character in the work. 
  • Conflict: The conflict is the driving force behind the plot, the event that causes action in the narrative, usually on the part of the protagonist
  • Context : The broader circumstances surrounding the work political and social climate in which it was written or the experience of the author. It can also refer to internal context, and the details presented by the narrator 
  • Diction : The word choice used by the narrator or characters 
  • Genre: A category of literature characterized by agreed upon similarities in the works, such as subject matter and tone
  • Imagery : The descriptive or figurative language used to paint a picture in the reader’s mind so they can picture the story’s plot, characters, and setting 
  • Metaphor: A figure of speech that uses comparison between two unlike objects for dramatic or poetic effect
  • Narrator: The person who tells the story. Sometimes they are a character within the story, but sometimes they are omniscient and removed from the plot. 
  • Plot : The storyline of the work
  • Point of view: The perspective taken by the narrator, which skews the perspective of the reader 
  • Setting : The time and place in which the story takes place. This can include elements like the time period, weather, time of year or day, and social or economic conditions 
  • Symbol : An object, person, or place that represents an abstract idea that is greater than its literal meaning 
  • Syntax : The structure of a sentence, either narration or dialogue, and the tone it implies
  • Theme : A recurring subject or message within the work, often commentary on larger societal or cultural ideas
  • Tone : The feeling, attitude, or mood the text presents

How to Perform Literary Analysis

Step 1: read the text thoroughly.

Literary analysis begins with the literature itself, which means performing a close reading of the text. As you read, you should focus on the work. That means putting away distractions (sorry, smartphone) and dedicating a period of time to the task at hand. 

It’s also important that you don’t skim or speed read. While those are helpful skills, they don’t apply to literary analysis—or at least not this stage. 

Step 2: Take Notes as You Read  

As you read the work, take notes about different literary elements and devices that stand out to you. Whether you highlight or underline in text, use sticky note tabs to mark pages and passages, or handwrite your thoughts in a notebook, you should capture your thoughts and the parts of the text to which they correspond. This—the act of noticing things about a literary work—is literary analysis. 

Step 3: Notice Patterns 

As you read the work, you’ll begin to notice patterns in the way the author deploys language, themes, and symbols to build their plot and characters. As you read and these patterns take shape, begin to consider what they could mean and how they might fit together. 

As you identify these patterns, as well as other elements that catch your interest, be sure to record them in your notes or text. Some examples include: 

  • Circle or underline words or terms that you notice the author uses frequently, whether those are nouns (like “eyes” or “road”) or adjectives (like “yellow” or “lush”).
  • Highlight phrases that give you the same kind of feeling. For example, if the narrator describes an “overcast sky,” a “dreary morning,” and a “dark, quiet room,” the words aren’t the same, but the feeling they impart and setting they develop are similar. 
  • Underline quotes or prose that define a character’s personality or their role in the text.
  • Use sticky tabs to color code different elements of the text, such as specific settings or a shift in the point of view. 

By noting these patterns, comprehensive symbols, metaphors, and ideas will begin to come into focus.  

Step 4: Consider the Work as a Whole, and Ask Questions

This is a step that you can do either as you read, or after you finish the text. The point is to begin to identify the aspects of the work that most interest you, and you could therefore analyze in writing or discussion. 

Questions you could ask yourself include: 

  • What aspects of the text do I not understand?
  • What parts of the narrative or writing struck me most?
  • What patterns did I notice?
  • What did the author accomplish really well?
  • What did I find lacking?
  • Did I notice any contradictions or anything that felt out of place?  
  • What was the purpose of the minor characters?
  • What tone did the author choose, and why? 

The answers to these and more questions will lead you to your arguments about the text. 

Step 5: Return to Your Notes and the Text for Evidence

As you identify the argument you want to make (especially if you’re preparing for an essay), return to your notes to see if you already have supporting evidence for your argument. That’s why it’s so important to take notes or mark passages as you read—you’ll thank yourself later!

If you’re preparing to write an essay, you’ll use these passages and ideas to bolster your argument—aka, your thesis. There will likely be multiple different passages you can use to strengthen multiple different aspects of your argument. Just be sure to cite the text correctly! 

If you’re preparing for class, your notes will also be invaluable. When your teacher or professor leads the conversation in the direction of your ideas or arguments, you’ll be able to not only proffer that idea but back it up with textual evidence. That’s an A+ in class participation. 

Step 6: Connect These Ideas Across the Narrative

Whether you’re in class or writing an essay, literary analysis isn’t complete until you’ve considered the way these ideas interact and contribute to the work as a whole. You can find and present evidence, but you still have to explain how those elements work together and make up your argument. 

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

When conducting literary analysis while reading a text or discussing it in class, you can pivot easily from one argument to another (or even switch sides if a classmate or teacher makes a compelling enough argument). 

But when writing literary analysis, your objective is to propose a specific, arguable thesis and convincingly defend it. In order to do so, you need to fortify your argument with evidence from the text (and perhaps secondary sources) and an authoritative tone. 

A successful literary analysis essay depends equally on a thoughtful thesis, supportive analysis, and presenting these elements masterfully. We’ll review how to accomplish these objectives below. 

Step 1: Read the Text. Maybe Read It Again. 

Constructing an astute analytical essay requires a thorough knowledge of the text. As you read, be sure to note any passages, quotes, or ideas that stand out. These could serve as the future foundation of your thesis statement. Noting these sections now will help you when you need to gather evidence. 

The more familiar you become with the text, the better (and easier!) your essay will be. Familiarity with the text allows you to speak (or in this case, write) to it confidently. If you only skim the book, your lack of rich understanding will be evident in your essay. Alternatively, if you read the text closely—especially if you read it more than once, or at least carefully revisit important passages—your own writing will be filled with insight that goes beyond a basic understanding of the storyline. 

Step 2: Brainstorm Potential Topics 

Because you took detailed notes while reading the text, you should have a list of potential topics at the ready. Take time to review your notes, highlighting any ideas or questions you had that feel interesting. You should also return to the text and look for any passages that stand out to you. 

When considering potential topics, you should prioritize ideas that you find interesting. It won’t only make the whole process of writing an essay more fun, your enthusiasm for the topic will probably improve the quality of your argument, and maybe even your writing. Just like it’s obvious when a topic interests you in a conversation, it’s obvious when a topic interests the writer of an essay (and even more obvious when it doesn’t). 

Your topic ideas should also be specific, unique, and arguable. A good way to think of topics is that they’re the answer to fairly specific questions. As you begin to brainstorm, first think of questions you have about the text. Questions might focus on the plot, such as: Why did the author choose to deviate from the projected storyline? Or why did a character’s role in the narrative shift? Questions might also consider the use of a literary device, such as: Why does the narrator frequently repeat a phrase or comment on a symbol? Or why did the author choose to switch points of view each chapter? 

Once you have a thesis question , you can begin brainstorming answers—aka, potential thesis statements . At this point, your answers can be fairly broad. Once you land on a question-statement combination that feels right, you’ll then look for evidence in the text that supports your answer (and helps you define and narrow your thesis statement). 

For example, after reading “ The Fall of the House of Usher ,” you might be wondering, Why are Roderick and Madeline twins?, Or even: Why does their relationship feel so creepy?” Maybe you noticed (and noted) that the narrator was surprised to find out they were twins, or perhaps you found that the narrator’s tone tended to shift and become more anxious when discussing the interactions of the twins.

Once you come up with your thesis question, you can identify a broad answer, which will become the basis for your thesis statement. In response to the questions above, your answer might be, “Poe emphasizes the close relationship of Roderick and Madeline to foreshadow that their deaths will be close, too.” 

Step 3: Gather Evidence 

Once you have your topic (or you’ve narrowed it down to two or three), return to the text (yes, again) to see what evidence you can find to support it. If you’re thinking of writing about the relationship between Roderick and Madeline in “The Fall of the House of Usher,” look for instances where they engaged in the text. 

This is when your knowledge of literary devices comes in clutch. Carefully study the language around each event in the text that might be relevant to your topic. How does Poe’s diction or syntax change during the interactions of the siblings? How does the setting reflect or contribute to their relationship? What imagery or symbols appear when Roderick and Madeline are together? 

By finding and studying evidence within the text, you’ll strengthen your topic argument—or, just as valuably, discount the topics that aren’t strong enough for analysis. 

how to start a literary essay introduction

Step 4: Consider Secondary Sources 

In addition to returning to the literary work you’re studying for evidence, you can also consider secondary sources that reference or speak to the work. These can be articles from journals you find on JSTOR, books that consider the work or its context, or articles your teacher shared in class. 

While you can use these secondary sources to further support your idea, you should not overuse them. Make sure your topic remains entirely differentiated from that presented in the source. 

Step 5: Write a Working Thesis Statement

Once you’ve gathered evidence and narrowed down your topic, you’re ready to refine that topic into a thesis statement. As you continue to outline and write your paper, this thesis statement will likely change slightly, but this initial draft will serve as the foundation of your essay. It’s like your north star: Everything you write in your essay is leading you back to your thesis. 

Writing a great thesis statement requires some real finesse. A successful thesis statement is: 

  • Debatable : You shouldn’t simply summarize or make an obvious statement about the work. Instead, your thesis statement should take a stand on an issue or make a claim that is open to argument. You’ll spend your essay debating—and proving—your argument. 
  • Demonstrable : You need to be able to prove, through evidence, that your thesis statement is true. That means you have to have passages from the text and correlative analysis ready to convince the reader that you’re right. 
  • Specific : In most cases, successfully addressing a theme that encompasses a work in its entirety would require a book-length essay. Instead, identify a thesis statement that addresses specific elements of the work, such as a relationship between characters, a repeating symbol, a key setting, or even something really specific like the speaking style of a character. 

Example: By depicting the relationship between Roderick and Madeline to be stifling and almost otherworldly in its closeness, Poe foreshadows both Madeline’s fate and Roderick’s inability to choose a different fate for himself. 

Step 6: Write an Outline 

You have your thesis, you have your evidence—but how do you put them together? A great thesis statement (and therefore a great essay) will have multiple arguments supporting it, presenting different kinds of evidence that all contribute to the singular, main idea presented in your thesis. 

Review your evidence and identify these different arguments, then organize the evidence into categories based on the argument they support. These ideas and evidence will become the body paragraphs of your essay. 

For example, if you were writing about Roderick and Madeline as in the example above, you would pull evidence from the text, such as the narrator’s realization of their relationship as twins; examples where the narrator’s tone of voice shifts when discussing their relationship; imagery, like the sounds Roderick hears as Madeline tries to escape; and Poe’s tendency to use doubles and twins in his other writings to create the same spooky effect. All of these are separate strains of the same argument, and can be clearly organized into sections of an outline. 

Step 7: Write Your Introduction

Your introduction serves a few very important purposes that essentially set the scene for the reader: 

  • Establish context. Sure, your reader has probably read the work. But you still want to remind them of the scene, characters, or elements you’ll be discussing. 
  • Present your thesis statement. Your thesis statement is the backbone of your analytical paper. You need to present it clearly at the outset so that the reader understands what every argument you make is aimed at. 
  • Offer a mini-outline. While you don’t want to show all your cards just yet, you do want to preview some of the evidence you’ll be using to support your thesis so that the reader has a roadmap of where they’re going. 

Step 8: Write Your Body Paragraphs

Thanks to steps one through seven, you’ve already set yourself up for success. You have clearly outlined arguments and evidence to support them. Now it’s time to translate those into authoritative and confident prose. 

When presenting each idea, begin with a topic sentence that encapsulates the argument you’re about to make (sort of like a mini-thesis statement). Then present your evidence and explanations of that evidence that contribute to that argument. Present enough material to prove your point, but don’t feel like you necessarily have to point out every single instance in the text where this element takes place. For example, if you’re highlighting a symbol that repeats throughout the narrative, choose two or three passages where it is used most effectively, rather than trying to squeeze in all ten times it appears. 

While you should have clearly defined arguments, the essay should still move logically and fluidly from one argument to the next. Try to avoid choppy paragraphs that feel disjointed; every idea and argument should feel connected to the last, and, as a group, connected to your thesis. A great way to connect the ideas from one paragraph to the next is with transition words and phrases, such as: 

  • Furthermore 
  • In addition
  • On the other hand
  • Conversely 

how to start a literary essay introduction

Step 9: Write Your Conclusion 

Your conclusion is more than a summary of your essay's parts, but it’s also not a place to present brand new ideas not already discussed in your essay. Instead, your conclusion should return to your thesis (without repeating it verbatim) and point to why this all matters. If writing about the siblings in “The Fall of the House of Usher,” for example, you could point out that the utilization of twins and doubles is a common literary element of Poe’s work that contributes to the definitive eeriness of Gothic literature. 

While you might speak to larger ideas in your conclusion, be wary of getting too macro. Your conclusion should still be supported by all of the ideas that preceded it. 

Step 10: Revise, Revise, Revise

Of course you should proofread your literary analysis essay before you turn it in. But you should also edit the content to make sure every piece of evidence and every explanation directly supports your thesis as effectively and efficiently as possible. 

Sometimes, this might mean actually adapting your thesis a bit to the rest of your essay. At other times, it means removing redundant examples or paraphrasing quotations. Make sure every sentence is valuable, and remove those that aren’t. 

Other Resources for Literary Analysis 

With these skills and suggestions, you’re well on your way to practicing and writing literary analysis. But if you don’t have a firm grasp on the concepts discussed above—such as literary devices or even the content of the text you’re analyzing—it will still feel difficult to produce insightful analysis. 

If you’d like to sharpen the tools in your literature toolbox, there are plenty of other resources to help you do so: 

  • Check out our expansive library of Literary Devices . These could provide you with a deeper understanding of the basic devices discussed above or introduce you to new concepts sure to impress your professors ( anagnorisis , anyone?). 
  • This Academic Citation Resource Guide ensures you properly cite any work you reference in your analytical essay. 
  • Our English Homework Help Guide will point you to dozens of resources that can help you perform analysis, from critical reading strategies to poetry helpers. 
  • This Grammar Education Resource Guide will direct you to plenty of resources to refine your grammar and writing (definitely important for getting an A+ on that paper). 

Of course, you should know the text inside and out before you begin writing your analysis. In order to develop a true understanding of the work, read through its corresponding SuperSummary study guide . Doing so will help you truly comprehend the plot, as well as provide some inspirational ideas for your analysis.

how to start a literary essay introduction

Literary Analysis Essay

Literary Analysis Essay Writing

Last updated on: May 21, 2023

Literary Analysis Essay - Ultimate Guide By Professionals

By: Cordon J.

Reviewed By: Rylee W.

Published on: Dec 3, 2019

Literary Analysis Essay

A literary analysis essay specifically examines and evaluates a piece of literature or a literary work. It also understands and explains the links between the small parts to their whole information.

It is important for students to understand the meaning and the true essence of literature to write a literary essay.

One of the most difficult assignments for students is writing a literary analysis essay. It can be hard to come up with an original idea or find enough material to write about. You might think you need years of experience in order to create a good paper, but that's not true.

This blog post will show you how easy it can be when you follow the steps given here.Writing such an essay involves the breakdown of a book into small parts and understanding each part separately. It seems easy, right?

Trust us, it is not as hard as good book reports but it may also not be extremely easy. You will have to take into account different approaches and explain them in relation with the chosen literary work.

It is a common high school and college assignment and you can learn everything in this blog.

Continue reading for some useful tips with an example to write a literary analysis essay that will be on point. You can also explore our detailed article on writing an analytical essay .

Literary Analysis Essay

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What is a Literary Analysis Essay?

A literary analysis essay is an important kind of essay that focuses on the detailed analysis of the work of literature.

The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to explain why the author has used a specific theme for his work. Or examine the characters, themes, literary devices , figurative language, and settings in the story.

This type of essay encourages students to think about how the book or the short story has been written. And why the author has created this work.

The method used in the literary analysis essay differs from other types of essays. It primarily focuses on the type of work and literature that is being analyzed.

Mostly, you will be going to break down the work into various parts. In order to develop a better understanding of the idea being discussed, each part will be discussed separately.

The essay should explain the choices of the author and point of view along with your answers and personal analysis.

How To Write A Literary Analysis Essay

So how to start a literary analysis essay? The answer to this question is quite simple.

The following sections are required to write an effective literary analysis essay. By following the guidelines given in the following sections, you will be able to craft a winning literary analysis essay.

Introduction

The aim of the introduction is to establish a context for readers. You have to give a brief on the background of the selected topic.

It should contain the name of the author of the literary work along with its title. The introduction should be effective enough to grab the reader’s attention.

In the body section, you have to retell the story that the writer has narrated. It is a good idea to create a summary as it is one of the important tips of literary analysis.

Other than that, you are required to develop ideas and disclose the observed information related to the issue. The ideal length of the body section is around 1000 words.

To write the body section, your observation should be based on evidence and your own style of writing.

It would be great if the body of your essay is divided into three paragraphs. Make a strong argument with facts related to the thesis statement in all of the paragraphs in the body section.

Start writing each paragraph with a topic sentence and use transition words when moving to the next paragraph.

Summarize the important points of your literary analysis essay in this section. It is important to compose a short and strong conclusion to help you make a final impression of your essay.

Pay attention that this section does not contain any new information. It should provide a sense of completion by restating the main idea with a short description of your arguments. End the conclusion with your supporting details.

You have to explain why the book is important. Also, elaborate on the means that the authors used to convey her/his opinion regarding the issue.

For further understanding, here is a downloadable literary analysis essay outline. This outline will help you structure and format your essay properly and earn an A easily.

DOWNLOADABLE LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY OUTLINE (PDF)

Types of Literary Analysis Essay

  • Close reading - This method involves attentive reading and detailed analysis. No need for a lot of knowledge and inspiration to write an essay that shows your creative skills.
  • Theoretical - In this type, you will rely on theories related to the selected topic.
  • Historical - This type of essay concerns the discipline of history. Sometimes historical analysis is required to explain events in detail.
  • Applied - This type involves analysis of a specific issue from a practical perspective.
  • Comparative - This type of writing is based on when two or more alternatives are compared

Examples of Literary Analysis Essay

Examples are great to understand any concept, especially if it is related to writing. Below are some great literary analysis essay examples that showcase how this type of essay is written.

A ROSE FOR EMILY LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY

THE GREAT GATSBY LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY

THE YELLOW WALLPAPER LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY

If you do not have experience in writing essays, this will be a very chaotic process for you. In that case, it is very important for you to conduct good research on the topic before writing.

There are two important points that you should keep in mind when writing a literary analysis essay.

First, remember that it is very important to select a topic in which you are interested. Choose something that really inspires you. This will help you to catch the attention of a reader.

The selected topic should reflect the main idea of writing. In addition to that, it should also express your point of view as well.

Another important thing is to draft a good outline for your literary analysis essay. It will help you to define a central point and division of this into parts for further discussion.

Literary Analysis Essay Topics

Literary analysis essays are mostly based on artistic works like books, movies, paintings, and other forms of art. However, generally, students choose novels and books to write their literary essays.

Some cool, fresh, and good topics and ideas are listed below:

  • Role of the Three Witches in flaming Macbeth’s ambition.
  • Analyze the themes of the Play Antigone,
  • Discuss Ajax as a tragic hero.
  • The Judgement of Paris: Analyze the Reasons and their Consequences.
  • Oedipus Rex: A Doomed Son or a Conqueror?
  • Describe the Oedipus complex and Electra complex in relation to their respective myths.
  • Betrayal is a common theme of Shakespearean tragedies. Discuss
  • Identify and analyze the traits of history in T.S Eliot’s ‘Gerontion’.
  • Analyze the theme of identity crisis in The Great Gatsby.
  • Analyze the writing style of Emily Dickinson.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What should a literary analysis essay include.

A good literary analysis essay must include a proper and in-depth explanation of your ideas. They must be backed with examples and evidence from the text. Textual evidence includes summaries, paraphrased text, original work details, and direct quotes.

What are the 4 components of literary analysis?

Here are the 4 essential parts of a literary analysis essay;

No literary work is explained properly without discussing and explaining these 4 things.

How do you start a literary analysis essay?

Start your literary analysis essay with the name of the work and the title. Hook your readers by introducing the main ideas that you will discuss in your essay and engage them from the start.

How do you do a literary analysis?

In a literary analysis essay, you study the text closely, understand and interpret its meanings. And try to find out the reasons behind why the author has used certain symbols, themes, and objects in the work.

Why is literary analysis important?

It encourages the students to think beyond their existing knowledge, experiences, and belief and build empathy. This helps in improving the writing skills also.

What is the fundamental characteristic of a literary analysis essay?

Interpretation is the fundamental and important feature of a literary analysis essay. The essay is based on how well the writer explains and interprets the work.

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Cordon. is a published author and writing specialist. He has worked in the publishing industry for many years, providing writing services and digital content. His own writing career began with a focus on literature and linguistics, which he continues to pursue. Cordon is an engaging and professional individual, always looking to help others achieve their goals.

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A Comprehensive Guide on How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

Have you ever been tasked with writing a literary analysis essay and wondered how to approach it effectively? Fear not, for you’ve come to the right place.

In this article on how to write a literary analysis essay, we will walk you through the entire process of crafting an insightful and compelling piece, from understanding the basics to polishing your final draft. So, let’s embark on this journey together and unlock the secrets of analyzing literature like a pro.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • A literary analysis essay is an impartial evaluation of a text to gain understanding of the author’s intentions and implications.
  • It involves breaking down and examining elements, structure, language, timeline & other techniques employed by the author.
  • Crafting a compelling thesis statement with textual evidence & polishing your essay through reviewing/refining arguments & proofreading are essential steps for successful writing.

Understanding the Basics of a Literary Analysis Essay

To begin with, a literary analysis essay is an academic paper that involves examining a text closely, deciphering its implications, and investigating why the author made specific decisions. The main objective of such an essay is to facilitate comprehension of the literary work by providing a summary of literary research and incorporating examples, review components, literary analysis essay topics, and more.

In this context, literary analysis essays serve as a valuable tool for students and scholars alike to delve deeper into the meaning and significance of a literary work.

The process of analyzing literature entails examining the author’s choices in order to elucidate their intentions, as well as analyzing the use of language throughout the work. It is essential to avoid employing ambiguous language, such as using the words “interesting” and “important,” when following a literary analysis essay step.

Purpose of a Literary Analysis Essay

The primary intent of a literary analysis essay is to analyze and assess a literary work or its aspect. This type of essay delves into the evaluation of both technical and emotional components of the text, necessitating an impartial consideration of both the advantages and disadvantages, similar to a critical analysis. A literary analysis essay investigates literary devices, language selection, point of view, imagery, and the composition of the text, which are all essential aspects to consider in each literary analysis step. It is crucial for student writers to avoid excessively praising the work or the author, as this can detract from a good literary analysis.

When embarking on the journey of writing a literary analysis essay, remember that the ultimate goal is to provide a deeper understanding of the author’s intentions and the impact of the various elements within the literary work. By examining and evaluating the text thoughtfully, you will be able to discern patterns, themes, and techniques that may have been overlooked by others, enriching your own appreciation of the work and showcasing your analytical prowess.

Analyzing Literature

In order to write an insightful literary analysis, it is crucial to break down and examine various literary elements and their effects on the overall work. When analyzing the structure of a literary work, consider the impact of the structure on the flow of the story, novel, or poem, the structural elements employed by the author (chapters, stanzas, lines, acts), and rhyme pattern, punctuation, pauses, and meter. Language analysis is also vital; pay attention to the length of sentences, complexity of grammatical structures, presence of poetic or high-flown language, recurrence of vulgar words, and other literary elements that contribute to the overall meaning and impact of the text.

In addition, consider the timeline of the story and ask yourself questions such as: Do the events unfold in chronological order? Does the author use a time machine to transport readers back and forth? How easy is it to transition between different time layers, and what effect does this have? By asking these questions and examining the various literary techniques used by the author, you will be better equipped to write an astute and well-rounded analysis of the work in question.

Preparing for Your Literary Analysis

Before diving into the nitty-gritty of writing your literary analysis essay, it is crucial to prepare by reading the text thoroughly and choosing a suitable topic. Creating an outline and considering any distinctive characteristics of the literary text to be evaluated is an effective starting point. To analyze literature effectively, it’s essential to have a deep understanding of the work and its context.

In this stage of the process, pay close attention to the details and nuances of the text, as these will become the foundation of your analysis.

Reading the Text Thoroughly

Reading the text in its entirety is of great importance, as it can enhance reading comprehension, critical thinking abilities, memory, and analytical skills. Furthermore, it can aid readers in understanding the author’s message and intent, and creating connections to their coursework. To get the most out of your reading experience, it is advisable to read slowly, take notes, and focus on your thoughts rather than emotions.

When reading the text, make sure to highlight important passages, make note of recurring themes or motifs, and consider the author’s intentions behind certain narrative choices. This careful and attentive reading will not only enrich your understanding of the literary work, but also provide you with a strong foundation for crafting a compelling analysis later on.

Choosing a Topic

Choosing a topic for your literary analysis essay is an essential step in the process. To select a subject that interests you and is relevant to the text, begin by asking yourself questions about the work. Consider the themes, characters, setting, and literary techniques employed by the author, and select a topic that you find engaging and worth exploring in depth.

Once you have chosen a topic, craft a succinct and unambiguous topic sentence that will guide your analysis. This sentence should encapsulate the main idea you will be exploring in your essay and serve as a roadmap for your reader. By selecting a compelling topic and crafting a clear topic sentence, you will set the stage for a successful and insightful literary analysis essay.

Crafting a Compelling Thesis Statement

Crafting a compelling thesis statement is a crucial aspect of writing a literary analysis essay. The thesis statement is the central argument of your essay, serving as the foundation upon which your entire analysis will be built.

A close reading of the text is essential for the development of a strong and arguable thesis statement. Attention to subtle details of narrative voice and structure allows one to make meaningful interpretations that go beyond summary. In this section, we will discuss the characteristics of a good thesis statement and how to support it with textual evidence.

Characteristics of a Good Thesis Statement

A good thesis statement should be unambiguous, precise, and open to debate. It should be novel, succinct, and provide a guide for the remainder of the essay. When crafting your thesis statement, avoid including statements of fact, as they do not invite debate or further analysis.

Instead, aim to create a thesis statement that is intriguing, thought-provoking, and ultimately debatable. This will not only capture the attention of your reader, but also provide a solid foundation for your analysis, ensuring that your essay is both engaging and insightful.

Supporting Your Thesis with Textual Evidence

To support your thesis statement, it is important to present relevant textual evidence from the literary work in question. This includes specific parts of the text that demonstrate your point, such as quotations and examples. When using quotations, they should not exceed 30 words; otherwise, they should be paraphrased to communicate the essence of lengthy passages.

Gathering textual evidence from the start will facilitate the construction of your arguments and help determine if they are persuasive. Be sure to consider contradictory evidence as well, as this can strengthen your analysis by demonstrating your ability to engage with multiple perspectives.

Ultimately, supporting your thesis with strong textual evidence will make your literary analysis essay more convincing and impactful.

Structuring Your Literary Analysis Essay

Now that you have crafted a compelling thesis statement and gathered your textual evidence, it’s time to structure your literary analysis essay. A well-structured essay is crucial for ensuring that your ideas are clearly presented and easily understood by your reader.

In this section, we will discuss the components of a literary analysis essay, including the introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion, and provide guidance on how to organize and present your analysis effectively.

Introduction

The introduction of your literary analysis essay should provide background information about the work being discussed, the characters, and the topic being addressed. It should also be succinct, allowing you to quickly arrive at the main point of your analysis. The purpose of the introduction is to furnish a comprehension of the magnitude of the essay and the trajectory towards substantiating the thesis.

In addition to providing background information, your introduction should also present your thesis statement. This statement should be presented at or close to the conclusion of the introduction, serving as a roadmap for your reader and guiding the direction of your analysis.

Body Paragraphs

The body of your literary analysis essay should consist of at least three to four paragraphs or more, with each paragraph focusing on one primary point associated with the overall theme of the analysis. Each body paragraph should focus on one topic or aspect and emphasize one primary point pertinent to the general theme of the analysis.

When including quotations in your analysis, remember that they should not exceed one sentence and should not be longer than 30 words. To ensure that your body paragraphs are well-structured and coherent, begin each paragraph with a clear topic sentence. This sentence should encapsulate the main idea you will be exploring in the paragraph and serve as a roadmap for your reader.

Conclude each paragraph with a one-sentence summary of the discussed idea, using transition words to make it easy for your reader to follow the progression of your analysis.

The conclusion of your literary analysis essay should summarize your main points, restate your thesis, and highlight the significance of your analysis. In doing so, you will provide your reader with a sense of closure and reinforce the importance of your analysis.

When writing your conclusion, be sure to avoid introducing any new ideas or concepts that were not discussed in the body of your essay. Instead, focus on reiterating the key points of your analysis and demonstrating how they support your thesis statement.

By summarizing your main points and restating your thesis in the conclusion, you will leave your reader with a clear understanding of your analysis and its significance, making your literary analysis essay both impactful and memorable.

Enhancing Your Essay with Literary Devices and Techniques

To elevate your literary analysis essay even further, consider incorporating the use of literary devices and techniques. These elements can provide a deeper understanding of the text and contribute to a more insightful and engaging analysis.

In this section, we will explore various literary devices and techniques, such as figurative language, narrative voice, and structure and organization, and discuss how they can be used to enhance your essay.

Figurative Language

Figurative language, such as metaphors and similes, can be used to analyze the author’s use of imagery and symbolism in a literary work. By examining the author’s use of figurative language, you can gain a deeper understanding of the underlying themes and motifs present in the text. This can provide a richer and more nuanced analysis, allowing you to engage more deeply with the work and demonstrate your analytical skills.

When discussing figurative language in your analysis, be sure to provide specific examples from the text, explaining how they contribute to the overall meaning and impact of the work. By incorporating figurative language into your analysis, you will not only enhance your understanding of the text, but also showcase your ability to recognize and interpret the various literary devices used by the author.

Narrative Voice

Examining the narrative voice of a literary work can provide valuable insights into the author’s intentions and the overall effect of the text on the reader. Consider the narrator’s viewpoint (first-person or third-person), their level of omniscience or limited knowledge, and their reliability or unreliability when analyzing the narrative voice in a literary work. Additionally, reflect on the tone of the text and whether it is intended to be humorous, sorrowful, or something else.

By analyzing the narrative voice, perspective, and tone of the text, you will be able to gain a deeper understanding of the author’s intentions and the impact of the work on the reader. This can contribute to a more insightful and engaging analysis, demonstrating your ability to recognize and interpret the various narrative techniques used by the author.

Structure and Organization

The structure and organization of a literary work can also provide valuable insights into the author’s intentions and the overall effect of the text on the reader. When analyzing the structure and organization of a text, consider its divisions (chapters, stanzas, lines, acts), chronological order, and use of dramatic irony. By examining these elements, you can gain a deeper understanding of how the author’s choices contribute to the overall meaning and impact of the work.

Incorporating an analysis of the structure and organization of a literary work into your essay can provide a more comprehensive and insightful understanding of the text. By examining these elements, you will be able to recognize and interpret the various techniques used by the author to convey their message and engage the reader, ultimately contributing to a more engaging and impactful analysis.

Polishing Your Literary Analysis Essay

Once you have completed your literary analysis essay, it is important to take the time to review and refine your arguments and proofread for errors. This process will ensure that your essay is coherent, logical, and free of mistakes, making it more effective in communicating your analysis to the reader.

In this section, we will discuss the importance of reviewing and refining your arguments and proofreading for errors, as well as provide tips for ensuring that your essay is polished and well-presented.

Reviewing and Refining Arguments

Reviewing and refining your arguments is a crucial step in the process of crafting a successful literary analysis essay. By revisiting your arguments and considering potential counterarguments, you can refine your thesis statement and make your essay more effective in communicating your message to the reader.

To review and refine your arguments, begin by examining the coherence and logic of your analysis. Ensure that your ideas are clearly presented and well supported by textual evidence. Additionally, consider any points of contradiction or alternative interpretations, and address them in your essay. By thoroughly reviewing and refining your arguments, you will create a more persuasive and impactful literary analysis essay.

Proofreading and Editing

Proofreading and editing your essay are essential steps in ensuring that your literary analysis is polished and professional. This process involves checking for grammar and spelling errors, verifying that your essay is structured and organized appropriately, and confirming that your essay is consistent with your thesis statement.

To proofread and edit your essay effectively, read it aloud and listen for awkward phrasing or unclear ideas. Additionally, consider having a friend or classmate review your work, as they may be able to offer a fresh perspective and catch any errors you may have missed.

By taking the time to proofread and edit your essay, you will ensure that it is free of errors and effectively communicates your analysis to the reader.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you start a literary analysis essay.

To start a literary analysis essay, begin by identifying the title and author of the work you are examining, then briefly present the issue that will be discussed in the essay. Provide some background information on the text and its author, and then introduce the thesis statement which will guide the rest of the essay.

Finally, offer a general idea about the points to be covered in the essay.

What are the 5 components of a literary analysis?

A literary analysis consists of analyzing a text’s plot, theme, characters, point of view and setting in order to better understand it.

Each of these elements can be broken down further to gain a deeper understanding of the text. For example, the plot can be examined for its structure, the characters can be analyzed for their motivations and the setting can be explored.

What is the basic structure of a literary analysis essay?

A literary analysis essay typically consists of an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction should provide general information about the author and the text itself, while the body paragraphs should focus on specific points from the text that support your overall thesis statement.

Evidence from the text may include summary, paraphrase, specific details, and direct quotations.

What is a literary analysis essay?

A literary analysis essay is an argumentative evaluation of a literary work, making a personal perspective and judgment based on its aesthetics, political messages or beliefs.

This type of essay requires the writer to analyze the text, breaking it down into its component parts and examining how they work together to create meaning. The writer must also consider the author’s intent and purpose in writing the work, as well.

What is the main objective of writing a literary analysis essay?

The main objective of writing a literary analysis essay is to facilitate comprehension of the literary work by providing a summary, incorporating examples, and reviewing components.

In conclusion, writing a literary analysis essay is a rewarding and enriching process that allows you to delve deeper into the world of literature and develop your critical thinking skills. By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you will be well on your way to crafting a compelling and insightful literary analysis essay.

From understanding the basics of literary analysis to incorporating literary devices and techniques, and finally polishing your essay, each step in the process will bring you closer to achieving a deeper understanding of the literary work you are analyzing. So take the plunge and embark on this exciting journey toward literary analysis mastery.

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How to Make a Strong Introduction for a Literary Analysis Essay

The introduction is the first thing your reader will encounter in your literary analysis essay, so it's essential that you write clearly and concisely. Literary analysis requires the writer to carefully follow a theme, motif, character development or stylistic element and examine its importance within the context of the book. Because literary analysis depends on the writer's interpretation of the text, it's often necessary to convince the reader of your point of view. Writing a strong introduction to your essay will help launch your reader into your main points.

Begin writing the introduction after you have completed your literary analysis essay. This may seem counter-intuitive, but once you have finished enumerating and explaining your main points, you'll be better able to identify what they share in common, which you can introduce in the first paragraph of your essay. You can also begin writing the introduction after completing your in-depth outline of the essay, where you lay out your main points and organize your paper before you begin writing.

Start your introduction with a grabber. In a literary analysis essay, an effective grabber can be a short quote from the text you're analyzing that encapsulates some aspect of your interpretation. Other good grabbers are quotes from the book's author regarding your paper's topic or another aspect relevant to the text and how you interpreted it. Place the quote in quotation marks as the first sentence of the introductory paragraph. Your next sentence should identify the speaker and context of the quotation, as well as briefly describing how the quote relates to your literary analysis.

Keep the body of your introduction relatively short. A paragraph in a literary analysis essay should be between eight and 12 sentences long. In the introduction, write three to four sentences generally describing the topic of your paper and explaining why it is interesting and important to the book you read. These three or four sentences will make up the bulk of your introductory paragraph. Use these sentences to sketch the main points that you describe in greater detail in the body of your essay.

Finish your introductory paragraph with your thesis statement. The thesis statement clearly states the main point of your paper as a whole. It can be one sentence long or span two sentences, but it should always be the very last part of the introductory paragraph. For a five-paragraph essay with three body paragraphs, write one sentence identifying your paper's main point. In the second sentence, called the blueprint, identify the three main topics of each body paragraph and how they support your thesis. For more advanced literary analysis essays, it's not always necessary to enumerate explicitly the main point of each body paragraph as part of your thesis statement. Focus instead on clearly and concisely stating the driving force behind your paper's organization and development.

  • It can be useful to finish writing your paper, including your concluding paragraph, before you tackle the introduction. The conclusion and the introduction should contain the same content, stated differently. In the conclusion, you can sum up the main points of your essay and explain how and why they are important to the book and to your interpretation of the text. Your introduction can then be a reworked paraphrasing of your conclusion, and you can rest assured that you haven't left anything out.

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Goody Clairenstein has been a writer since 2004. She has sat on the editorial board of several non-academic journals and writes about creative writing, editing and languages. She has worked in professional publishing and news reporting in print and broadcast journalism. Her poems have appeared in "Small Craft Warnings." Clairenstein earned her Bachelor of Arts in European languages from Skidmore College.

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3.12: Writing an Introduction to a Literary Analysis Essay

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This video discusses the steps to take when writing an introduction to a literary analysis paper.

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  • How to write an Introduction to a Literary Analysis Paper. Authored by : MrBarberteaches. Located at : https://youtu.be/_p9FVfJ6urA . License : All Rights Reserved . License Terms : Standard YouTube License

Literary Analysis Essay

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Literary Analysis Essay - Step by Step Guide

15 min read

Published on: Aug 16, 2020

Last updated on: Jan 29, 2024

Literary Analysis Essay

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Literature is an art that can inspire, challenge, and transform us. But how do we analyze literature in a way that truly captures its essence? 

That's where a literary analysis essay comes in. 

Writing a literary analysis essay allows you to delve into the themes, characters, and symbols of a literary work. It's a chance to engage with literature on a deeper level and to discover new insights. 

In this comprehensive guide, we will take you through the process of writing a literary analysis essay, step by step. Plus, you’ll get to read some great examples to help you out!

So let’s dive in!

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What is a Literary Analysis Essay?

Literary analysis is a process of examining a literary work in detail to uncover its meaning and significance. 

It involves breaking down the various elements of a work, such as plot, character, setting, and theme. And then analyzing how they work together to create a specific effect on the reader.

In other words, literary analysis is an exercise in interpretation. The reader of a work asks questions about what the author means to say, how they are saying it, and why. 

A literary analysis essay is an essay where you explore such questions in depth and offer your own insights.

What is the Purpose of a Literary Analysis Essay?

In general, the purpose of a literary analysis essay is as follows: 

  • To gain a greater understanding and appreciation of the work.
  • To be able to think critically and analytically about a text. 

Content of a Literary Analysis 

A literary analysis essay delves deep into the various aspects of a literary work to examine its meaning, symbolism, themes, and more. Here are the key elements to include in your literary analysis essay:

Plot Analysis 

Plot refers to the sequence of events that make up the storyline of a literary work. It encompasses the main events, conflicts, and resolutions that drive the narrative forward. 

Elements of Plot Analysis 

The elements of a plot typically include:

  • Exposition: The introduction of the story that establishes the setting, characters, and initial circumstances.
  • Rising action: A set of events or actions that sets the main conflict into motion, often occurring early in the story.
  • Conflict: The series of events that build tension and develop the conflict, leading to the story's climax.
  • Climax: The turning point of the story, where the conflict reaches its peak and the outcome hangs in the balance.
  • Falling Action: The events that occur after the climax, leading towards the resolution of the conflict.
  • Resolution: The point in the story where the conflict is resolved, providing closure to the narrative.

Character Analysis 

Character analysis involves studying the role, development, and motivations of the characters in a literary work. It explores how characters contribute to the overall narrative and themes of the story.

Elements of Character Analysis 

  • Identification of major and minor characters.
  • Examination of their traits, behaviors, and relationships.
  • Analysis of character development and changes throughout the story.
  • Evaluation of the character's role in advancing the plot or conveying themes.

Symbolism and Imagery Analysis 

Symbolism and imagery analysis focuses on the use of symbols, objects, or images in a work. It analyzes and explores the use of literary devices to convey deeper meanings and evoke emotions. 

Elements of Symbolism and Imagery Analysis 

  • Identification of key symbols or recurring motifs.
  • Interpretation of their symbolic significance.
  • Analysis of how imagery is used to create vivid mental pictures and enhance the reader's understanding and emotional experience.

Theme Analysis 

Analyzing the theme involves exploring the central ideas or messages conveyed in a literary work. It examines the underlying concepts, or messages that the author wants to convey through the story.

Elements of Theme Analysis 

  • Identification of the main themes or central ideas explored in the text.
  • Analysis of how the themes are developed and reinforced throughout the story.
  • Exploration of the author's perspective and the intended message behind the themes.

Setting Analysis 

The Setting of a story includes the time, place, and social context in which the story takes place. Analyzing the setting involves how the setting influences the characters, plot, and overall atmosphere of the work.

Elements of Setting Analysis 

  • Description and analysis of the physical, cultural, and historical aspects of the setting.
  • Examination of how the setting contributes to the mood, atmosphere, and themes of the work.
  • Evaluation of how the setting shapes the characters' actions and motivations.

Structure and Style Analysis 

Structure and style analysis involves studying the organization, narrative techniques, and literary devices employed by the author. It explores how the structure and style contribute to the overall impact and effectiveness of the work.

Elements of Structure and Style Analysis 

  • Analysis of the narrative structure, such as the use of flashbacks, nonlinear timelines, or multiple perspectives.
  • Examination of the author's writing style, including the use of language, tone, and figurative language.
  • Evaluation of literary devices, such as foreshadowing, irony, or allusion, and their impact on the reader's interpretation.

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How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay?  

Writing a great literary analysis piece requires you to follow certain steps. Here’s what you need to do to write a literary essay:

Preparing for Your Essay 

The pre-writing process for writing a literary analysis essay includes the following:

  • Choosing a literary work to analyze
  • Reading and analyzing the work
  • Taking notes and organizing your thoughts
  • Creating an outline for your essay

Choosing a Work to Analyze 

As a student, you would most probably be assigned a literary piece to analyze. It could be a short story, a novel, or a poem.  However, sometimes you get to choose it yourself.

In such a case, you should choose a work that you find interesting and engaging. This will make it easier to stay motivated as you analyze the work and write your essay.

Moreover, you should choose a work that has some depth and complexity. This will give you plenty of material to analyze and discuss in your essay. Finally, make sure that your choice fits within the scope of the assignment and meets the expectations of your instructor.

Reading and Analyzing 

Once you’ve chosen a literary work, it's time to read the work with careful attention. There are several key elements to consider when reading and analyzing a literary work:

  • Plot - The sequence of events that make up the story. Analyzing the plot involves examining the structure of the story, including its exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution.
  • Characters - The people or entities that populate the story. Analyzing characters involves examining their motivations, personalities, relationships, and development over the course of the story.

Want to learn more about character analysis? Head to our blog about how to conduct character analysis and learn easy steps with examples.

  • Setting - The time, place, and environment in which the story takes place. Analyzing the setting involves examining how the atmosphere contributes to the story's overall meaning.
  • Theme - The underlying message or meaning of the story. Analyzing themes involves examining the work's central ideas and how they are expressed through the various elements of the story.

Moreover, it's important to consider the following questions while analyzing:

  • What is the central theme or main point the author is trying to make?
  • What literary devices and techniques has the author used?
  • Why did the author choose to write this particular work?
  • What themes and ideas are present in the work?

These questions will help you dive deeper into the work you are writing about.

Take Notes and Gather Material 

As you read and analyze the literary work, it's important to take notes so you don’t forget important details and ideas. This also helps you identify patterns and connections between different elements of the piece.

One effective way to take notes is to list important elements of the work, such as characters, setting, and theme. You can also use sticky notes, highlighters, or annotations to mark important passages and write down your ideas.

Writing Your Literary Analysis Essay 

Once you have read a piece of literature and taken notes, you have all the material you need to write an essay. Follow the simple steps below to write an effective literary analysis essay.

Create an Outline for Your Essay 

Firstly, creating an outline is necessary. This will help you to organize your thoughts and ideas and ensure that your essay flows logically and coherently.

This is what your literary essay outline would look like: 

Writing the Introduction 

Writing your essay introduction involves the three following parts:

  • Begin the introductory paragraph with an engaging hook statement that captures the readers' attention. An effective hook statement can take many different forms, such as a provocative quote, an intriguing question, or a surprising fact. 

Make sure that your hook statement is relevant to the literary work you are writing about. Here are a few examples of effective hooks:

  • Afterward, present the necessary background information and context about the literary work. For instance, 
  • Talk about the author of the work or when and where it was written. 
  • Give an overview of the work or why it is significant. 
  • Provide readers with sufficient context so they can know what the work is generally about.
  • Finally, end the introduction with a clear thesis statement . Your thesis statement should be a concise statement that clearly states the argument you will be making in your essay. It should be specific and debatable, and it should provide a roadmap for the rest of your essay.

For example, a thesis statement for an essay on "Hamlet" might be: 

Watch this video to learn more about writing an introduction for a literary analysis essay:

Writing the Body 

Here are the steps to follow when writing a body paragraph for a literary analysis essay:

  • Start with a topic sentence: 

The topic sentence should introduce the main point or argument you will be making in the paragraph. It should be clear and concise and should indicate what the paragraph is about.

  • Provide evidence: 

After you have introduced your main point, provide evidence from the text to support your analysis. This could include quotes, paraphrases, or summaries of the text.

  • Explain and discuss the evidence:

Explain how the evidence supports your main point or argument or how it connects back to your thesis statement.

  • Conclude the paragraph: 

End the paragraph by relating your main point to the thesis and discussing its significance. You should also use transitions to connect the paragraph to your next point or argument.

Writing the Conclusion 

The conclusion of a literary analysis essay provides closure to your analysis and reinforces your thesis statement. Here’s what a conclusion includes:

  • Restate your thesis statement: 

Start by restating your thesis statement in a slightly different way than in your introduction. This will remind the reader of the argument you made and the evidence you provided to support it.

  • Summarize your main points: 

Briefly summarize the main points you made in your essay's body paragraphs. This will help tie everything together and provide closure to your analysis.

  • Personal reflections:

The conclusion is the best place to provide some personal reflections on the literary piece. You can also explain connections between your analysis and the larger context. This could include connections to other literary works, your personal life, historical events, or contemporary issues.

  • End with a strong statement: 

End your conclusion with a strong statement that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. This could be a thought-provoking question, a call to action, or a final insight into the significance of your analysis.

Finalizing your Essay

You’ve completed the first draft of your literary analysis essay. Congratulations!

However, it’s not over just yet. You need some time to polish and improve the essay before it can be submitted. Here’s what you need to do:

Proofread and Revise your Essay 

After completing your draft, you should proofread your essay. You should look out for the following aspects:

  • Check for clarity: 

Make sure that your ideas are expressed clearly and logically. You should also take a look at your structure and organization. Rearrange your arguments if necessary to make them clearer.

  • Check for grammar and spelling errors: 

Use spelling and grammar check tools online to identify and correct any basic errors in your essay. 

  • Verify factual information:

You must have included information about the work or from within the work in your essay. Recheck and verify that it is correct and verifiable. 

  • Check your formatting: 

Make sure that your essay is properly formatted according to the guidelines provided by your instructor. This includes requirements for font size, margins, spacing, and citation style.

Helpful Tips for Revising a Literary Essay 

Here are some tips below that can help you proofread and revise your essay better:

  • Read your essay out loud:

Reading your essay out loud makes it easier to identify awkward phrasing, repetitive language, and other issues.

  • Take a break: 

It can be helpful to step away from your essay for a little while before starting the editing process. This can help you approach your essay with fresh eyes and a clearer perspective.

  • Be concise:

Remove any unnecessary words or phrases that do not add to your argument. This can help to make your essay more focused and effective.

  • Let someone else proofread and get feedback: 

You could ask a friend or a teacher to read your essay and provide feedback. This way, you can get some valuable insights on what you could include or catch mistakes that you might have missed.

Literary Analysis Essay Examples 

Reading a few good examples helps to understand literary analysis essays better. So check out these examples below and read them to see what a well-written essay looks like. 

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

Literary Analysis Essay Example

Sample Literary Analysis Essay

Lord of the Rings Literary Analysis

The Great Gatsby Literary Analysis

Literary Analysis Example for 8th Grade

Literary Analysis Essay Topics 

Need a topic for your literary analysis essay? You can pick any aspect of any work of literature you like. Here are some example topics that will help you get inspired:

  • The use of symbolism in "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • The theme of isolation in "The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger.
  • The portrayal of social class in "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen.
  • The use of magical realism in "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
  • The role of women in "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood.
  • The use of foreshadowing in "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding.
  • The portrayal of race and identity in "Invisible Man" by Ralph Ellison.
  • The use of imagery in "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy.
  • The theme of forgiveness in "The Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini.
  • The use of allegory in "Animal Farm" by George Orwell.

To conclude,

Writing a literary analysis essay can be a rewarding experience for any student or writer, But it’s not easy. However, by following the steps you learned in this guide, you can successfully produce a well-written literary analysis essay. 

Also, you have got some examples of essays to read and topic ideas to get creative inspiration. With these resources, you have all you need to craft an engaging piece. So don’t hesitate to start writing your essay and come back to this blog whenever you need.

The deadline is approaching, but you don’t have time to write your essay? No worries! Our analytical essay writing service is here to help you out!

At CollegeEssay.org, we have a team of professional and experienced literature writers who can help you craft a compelling literary essay. Our affordable and reliable essay writing website focuses on providing high-quality essays and deliver them timely.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 4 components of literary analysis.

The four main components of literary analysis are: 

  • Conflict 
  • Characters 
  • Setting 

What is the fundamental characteristic of a literary analysis essay?

Interpretive is the fundamental characteristic of a literary analysis essay. 

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How to Write a Literary Analysis

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Literary analysis is a type of essay that explores and interprets various elements of a literary work. Your literary analysis may focus on major themes, characters, plot, setting, symbolism, and writing style.  Your main task is to uncover the literary devices and explain how they convety the main idea of literary work.

Wondering how to write a literary analysis essay? Indeed, it's one tricky assignment that can leave lots of students stunned. When you read something non-academical, you do it for pleasure. But sometimes, especially in English class, teachers can give a task to read some story and conduct its analysis. And getting any amusement while writing such an assignment can be pretty questionable. But don't worry. We are here to give a helping hand. Keep reading this guide, and you will understand the literary paper basics. You will learn how to write such an essay and make it striking. Pull up your socks as we are ready to roll!  

What Is a Literary Essay?

First of all, let's think of what a literary essay definition is and its specific purpose. It is an assignment that requires  argumentative analysis of a particular work of literature . One cannot write such an essay on something not actually written by an author, like a film or series. Literary analysis implies doing close study of a piece of literature to decipher its intention and figure out the author's choices. As for  rhetorical analysis essay – first of all, it's disclose the publication author's main ideas. We cannot consider this paper as a simple summary. Instead, it requires more precision in analyzing the language used and how the text is arranged. It also appeals to reviewing literary devices that the author used to express their thoughts. Your goal is to  discover which effects the author's writing has created . Also, analyze the way how ideas of that written piece are uncovered.  

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay?

As you start writing your first literary analysis essay, keep in mind its common structure which consists of:

  • Introduction It should inform your reader about your essay's point of focus.
  • Body paragraphs They let your reader know more details with corresponding evidence from your source of analysis.
  • Conclusion It outlines the main idea you've brought throughout your paper.

In case you lack time or motivation, our  college essay writers are eager to help right now.

Analyze the Source

The first step of literary analysis is a thorough text breakdown. While going through a written piece, take notes of curious, puzzling, and other exciting words and word combinations. Also,  pay attention to different conflicts or twists . You will later use them when you start delving into your analysis. Bear in mind that you shouldn't simply retell the content. Truth is way deeper under the surface. Try recognizing literary elements the author uses throughout their text. Those are special techniques they operate with to create specific consequences and show particular implications. Additionally,  keep an eye on plot analysis and characters . Try noticing and describing any symbolism hidden between the lines. To ease the process, think of what questions appear while you read. Those can be something like:  

  • What confused me?
  • How does the word choice that illustrates the subject differ from what I've heard before?
  • Are there any specific sequences worth attention?
  • How is the author telling their story?
  • What is the author's approach in expressing tragic or comic events?
  • What main characters' actions are weird or worth attention?

Find Evidence

Once you review the text and find out points to work around, it's necessary to find supporting evidence for your literary analysis paper. It's not just some random fact or data from another source. In our case, use format quotations from the work of literature you are analyzing. They will help back up arguments you are introducing later. You might not use every quote or phrase you collected, but overall process will assist you in taking out the most convincing ones. It's also helpful to learn more about the author. Being acquainted with their biography may shed more light on their intentions about the literary piece. This way, you won't make assumptions or blind guesses regarding their thoughts.  

Form a Literary Analysis Essay Thesis

Now it's time to develop a literary analysis essay thesis. It is the main argument that you are making in your paper. You can consider it as a point that grants your essay one specific direction. Working around the thesis statement will ensure that you do not simply throw some random remarks in your work. You will be trying to prove your claim throughout your entire literary analysis essay. Therefore, make sure that your thesis statement is:

  • Topic-specific
  • Confirmed by textual evidence.

Don't try to make your thesis simple. After all, you need to  make an impression on your readers  and not bore them right from the beginning. That's why you've conducted careful source analysis before and found exciting refinements for your main argument. Here is an excellent thesis statement example in an essay analyzing Ray Bradbury's "The Happiness Machine":  

Example of thesis statement in an essay analyzing Ray Bradbury's "The Happiness Machine"

Develop a Literary Analysis Essay Outline

The literary essay outline will help you structure your thoughts to make writing process much more manageable. Think of what you will include in each paragraph. Arrange quotations that you will use as evidence in order of importance. Make notes accordingly. Write the literary analysis paper outline carefully, bearing in mind all milestones of the analyzed work of literature. At this stage, you can also think of  good essay titles . An excellent example contains a quote from the text, a direct reference to your chosen topic, and the author's name and work being analyzed. In case you have troubles with titling your literary essay, have no worries. You will be able to do that as soon as you finish writing the entire piece. It will be much easier to do as you will have more awareness of the arguments used.  

Write the Literary Essay Introduction

The literary analysis essay introduction should present an overview of your intentions about the paper. Show where your main point is going. The first paragraph should also specify a brief recap of the essay's structure. These are the standard features of a good opening:

  • Provides background context.
  • Introduces the thesis statement.
  • Clarifies the "So what?" question.
  • Grants knowledge and expectations about your essay.

Typically an introduction begins with a general comment about work of literature. It can be used to bring your audience closer to the thesis and get its immediate attention. You can start with a provocative question or a shocking statement. Also, make sure you include author's name and work title here. Lastly, specify the thesis and end the whole opening with a transition that shows what readers should expect later in the paper's main body. There is no specific requirement for introduction length. But if you work with a standard 5-paragraph essay structure, it should be no longer than a single paragraph. Check how to start an essay example below – it includes the thesis statement we've mentioned before:  

Example of literary essay introduction

Work on Body Paragraphs

The next to come in a literary essay structure are body paragraphs. This part usually includes all your arguments and supporting evidence. Let's say you have 3 good ideas to demonstrate. In this case, you should write 3 paragraphs – 1 for each issue. Each section should start with a clear and coherent topic sentence. Make sure to  establish connection with your thesis statement  every time. Then, explain your findings. Outstanding literary analysis essays should always include textual evidence. Such evidence consists of a thought summary, relevant details, and a direct quote. However, if you discuss the story plot, it's not obligatory to use quotations unless you can find a narrow one that fits the context. You can also paraphrase a quote to make it shorter. Once you've written the body paragraphs, reread them once again and make sure they:  

  • Directly relate to your thesis.
  • Have smooth transitions between each other.

Make a Literary Analysis Essay Conclusion

Now this question appears: "How to write a conclusion for a literary essay?" Your closing paragraph should give your readers some sense of fulfillment. They should realize that your paper has ended and gave them something new and exciting they can think about. The best option to achieve this is to make a summary of all arguments you presented. After that, show to which thoughts your ideas have brought you. And illustrate why your points matter in understanding the significance of a literary piece. Here is how we are going to conclude an essay on Ray Bradbury's "The Happiness Machine":  

Example of literary analysis essay conclusion

Things just got more manageable now, right? Learning how to write a literary analysis essay might be a thorny way, but we managed to deal with it together. Hopefully, from now on, you will be able to see this task without even blinking. Follow our recommendations, and you'll write an essay that will deserve the highest grade. BTW, besides providing helpful tips for free, we're the best place to buy college essays if you want to save time this evening. 

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Have you ever felt stuck, looking at a blank page, wondering what a literary analysis essay is? You are not sure how to analyze a complicated book or story? 

Writing a literary analysis essay can be tough, even for people who really love books. The hard part is not only understanding the deeper meaning of the story but also organizing your thoughts and arguments in a clear way.

But don't worry!

In this easy-to-follow guide, we will talk about a key tool: The Literary Analysis Essay Outline. 

We'll provide you with the knowledge and tricks you need to structure your analysis the right way. In the end, you'll have the essential skills to understand and structure your literature analysis better.   So, let’s dive in!

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  • 1. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay Outline?
  • 2. Literary Analysis Essay Format 
  • 3. Literary Analysis Essay Outline Example
  • 4. Literary Analysis Essay Topics 

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay Outline?

An outline is a structure that you decide to give to your writing to make the audience understand your viewpoint clearly. When a writer gathers information on a topic, it needs to be organized to make sense.

When writing a literary analysis essay, its outline is as important as any part of it. For the text’s clarity and readability, an outline is drafted in the essay’s planning phase.

According to the basic essay outline, the following are the elements included in drafting an outline for the essay:

  • Introduction
  • Thesis statement
  • Body paragraphs

A detailed description of the literary analysis outline is provided in the following section.

Literary Analysis Essay Introduction

An introduction section is the first part of the essay. The introductory paragraph or paragraphs provide an insight into the topic and prepares the readers about the literary work.

A literary analysis essay introduction is based on three major elements:

Hook Statement: A hook statement is the opening sentence of the introduction. This statement is used to grab people’s attention. A catchy hook will make the introductory paragraph interesting for the readers, encouraging them to read the entire essay.

For example, in a literary analysis essay, “ Island Of Fear,” the writer used the following hook statement:

“As humans, we all fear something, and we deal with those fears in ways that match our personalities.”

Background Information: Providing background information about the chosen literature work in the introduction is essential. Present information related to the author, title, and theme discussed in the original text.

Moreover, include other elements to discuss, such as characters, setting, and the plot. For example:

“ In Lord of the Flies, William Golding shows the fears of Jack, Ralph, and Piggy and chooses specific ways for each to deal with his fears.”

Thesis Statement: A thesis statement is the writer’s main claim over the chosen piece of literature. 

A thesis statement allows your reader to expect the purpose of your writing. The main objective of writing a thesis statement is to provide your subject and opinion on the essay.

For example, the thesis statement in the “Island of Fear” is:

“...Therefore, each of the three boys reacts to fear in his own unique way.”

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Literary Analysis Essay Body Paragraphs

In body paragraphs, you dig deep into the text, show your insights, and build your argument.

 In this section, we'll break down how to structure and write these paragraphs effectively:

Topic sentence: A topic sentence is an opening sentence of the paragraph. The points that will support the main thesis statement are individually presented in each section.

For example:

“The first boy, Jack, believes that a beast truly does exist…”

Evidence: To support the claim made in the topic sentence, evidence is provided. The evidence is taken from the selected piece of work to make the reasoning strong and logical.

“...He is afraid and admits it; however, he deals with his fear of aggressive violence. He chooses to hunt for the beast, arms himself with a spear, and practice killing it: “We’re strong—we hunt! If there’s a beast, we’ll hunt it down! We’ll close in and beat and beat and beat—!”(91).”

Analysis: A literary essay is a kind of essay that requires a writer to provide his analysis as well.

The purpose of providing the writer’s analysis is to tell the readers about the meaning of the evidence.

“...He also uses the fear of the beast to control and manipulate the other children. Because they fear the beast, they are more likely to listen to Jack and follow his orders...”

Transition words: Transition or connecting words are used to link ideas and points together to maintain a logical flow.  Transition words  that are often used in a literary analysis essay are:

  • Furthermore
  • Later in the story
  • In contrast, etc.

“...Furthermore, Jack fears Ralph’s power over the group and Piggy’s rational thought. This is because he knows that both directly conflict with his thirst for absolute power...”

Concluding sentence: The last sentence of the body that gives a final statement on the topic sentence is the concluding sentence. It sums up the entire discussion held in that specific paragraph.

Here is a literary analysis paragraph example for you: 

Literary Essay Example Pdf

Literary Analysis Essay Conclusion

The last section of the essay is the conclusion part where the writer ties all loose ends of the essay together. To write appropriate and correct concluding paragraphs, add the following information:

  • State how your topic is related to the theme of the chosen work
  • State how successfully the author delivered the message
  • According to your perspective, provide a statement on the topic
  • If required, present predictions
  • Connect your conclusion to your introduction by restating the thesis statement.
  • In the end, provide an opinion about the significance of the work.

For example,

“ In conclusion, William Golding’s novel Lord of the Flies exposes the reader to three characters with different personalities and fears: Jack, Ralph, and Piggy. Each of the boys tries to conquer his fear in a different way. Fear is a natural emotion encountered by everyone, but each person deals with it in a way that best fits his/her individual personality.”

Literary Analysis Essay Outline (PDF)

Literary Analysis Essay Format 

A literary analysis essay delves into the examination and interpretation of a literary work, exploring themes, characters, and literary devices. 

Below is a guide outlining the format for a structured and effective literary analysis essay.

Formatting Guidelines 

  • Use a legible font (e.g., Times New Roman or Arial) and set the font size to 12 points.
  • Double-space your essay, including the title, headings, and quotations.
  • Set one-inch margins on all sides of the page.
  • Indent paragraphs by 1/2 inch or use the tab key.
  • Page numbers, if required, should be in the header or footer and follow the specified formatting style.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline Example

To fully understand a concept in a writing world, literary analysis outline examples are important. This is to learn how a perfectly structured writing piece is drafted and how ideas are shaped to convey a message. 

The following are the best literary analysis essay examples to help you draft a perfect essay. 

Literary Analysis Essay Rubric (PDF)

High School Literary Analysis Essay Outline

Literary Analysis Essay Outline College (PDF)

Literary Analysis Essay Example Romeo & Juliet (PDF)

AP Literary Analysis Essay Outline

Literary Analysis Essay Outline Middle School

Literary Analysis Essay Topics 

Are you seeking inspiration for your next literary analysis essay? Here is a list of literary analysis essay topics for you:

  • The Theme of Alienation in "The Catcher in the Rye"
  • The Motif of Darkness in Shakespeare's Tragedies
  • The Psychological Complexity of Hamlet's Character
  • Analyzing the Narrator's Unreliable Perspective in "The Tell-Tale Heart"
  • The Role of Nature in William Wordsworth's Romantic Poetry
  • The Representation of Social Class in "To Kill a Mockingbird"
  • The Use of Irony in Mark Twain's "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"
  • The Impact of Holden's Red Hunting Hat in the Novel
  • The Power of Setting in Gabriel García Márquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude"
  • The Symbolism of the Conch Shell in William Golding's "Lord of the Flies"

Need more topics? Read our literary analysis essay topics blog!

All in all, writing a literary analysis essay can be tricky if it is your first attempt. Apart from analyzing the work, other elements like a topic and an accurate interpretation must draft this type of essay.

If you are in doubt to draft a perfect essay, get professional essay writing assistance from expert writers at MyPerfectWords.com. 

We are a professional essay writing company that provides guidance and helps students to achieve their academic goals. Our qualified writers assist students by providing assistance at an affordable price. 

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How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay Step by Step

Some students find writing literary analysis papers rather daunting. Yet, an English class cannot go without this kind of work. By the way, writing literary analysis essays is not that complicated as it seems at a glance. On the contrary, this work may be fascinating, and you have a chance to study your favorite works of literature more in-depth.

Our specialists will write a custom essay specially for you!

Making a Literary Anaysis Includes Three Main Steps: Critical Reading, Making a Thesis, and Writing the Essay.

Literary analysis implies that you read a certain piece of literature in a particular way. You need to break it into parts and see how each of these parts work . How to do this exactly? How to start a literary analysis essay? Continue reading this article by Custom-writing experts, and soon you’ll become an expert too!

❔ What Is a Literary Analysis Essay?

📑 literary analysis outline.

  • 👣 Step-by-Step Writing Guide

🔗 References

It is one of the types of an argumentative essay in which you carry out an in-depth investigation of a novel, story, poem, play, or any other literary creation. The purpose is to explore the reasons for certain technical and artistic choices of the author and interpret their meaning.

What Is the Purpose of a Literary Analysis Essay?

This academic assignment aims to examine and evaluate a literary work or its aspect. The definition of a literary analysis essay presupposes the study of literary devices, choice of language, perspective, imagery, and structure of the text. These techniques are examined to understand the ideas the author intended to convey.

Feel free to use the following literary analysis outline . It will make your work much easier!

Writing an Introduction to a Literary Analysis Essay

Writing body paragraphs for a literary analysis essay, writing a conclusion for a literary analysis essay.

Find more details and a step-by-step guide on writing your literary analysis in the next section.

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👣 How to Write a Literary Analysis Step by Step

Step 1. read critically.

If you wonder how to start the literary analysis, the answer is careful reading. At this stage, you need to find out the main themes of the novel. Make a list of them and note the pages where you can find evidence of the main ideas later. This method can be applied for all the references, as an academic paper requires you to indicate pages in the text for any quotations and paraphrases.

At this stage, the text’s events are important since they convey the main theme or the principal idea. You should rather focus on literary devices, choice of language, structure, and narrative voice. These are the elements of the text that create visual and emotional effects and convey the meaning.

  • Literary techniques (allusion, allegory, exposition, anthropomorphism, foil, foreshadowing, repetition, and parallelism)
  • Figurative language (metaphor, onomatopoeia, understatement, symbolism, personification, simile, pun, cliche, analogy, proverb, hyperbole, alliteration, idiom, assonance, irony, and oxymoron)
  • Literary elements (plot, theme, setting, imagery, mood, tone, point of view, protagonists, antagonists, conflict, climax, characterization, diction, motifs, and narrator)
  • Language . Here you should analyze the length of sentences, the complexity of grammatical structures, use of poetic or high-flown language, recurring to vulgar words, etc.
  • Structure . Does the structure impact the flow of the story, novel, or poem? What are the structural elements used by the author (chapters, stanzas, lines, acts)? This aspect is essential in the analysis of poetry. Rhyme pattern, punctuation, pauses, and meter shape the reader’s perception of verses and convey the author’s thoughts and feelings, just as the words do. Some of the items mentioned in the literary devices can be discussed as well in terms of structure. Foreshadowing and repetition can create suspense or generate dramatic irony. Climax can be located in the middle or at the end of the narration. The plot timeline influences action development, accelerating, and slowing down the in-text time. You don’t need to discuss all these factors, but if something strikes your eye while reading, note it.
  • Person vs. person
  • Person vs. nature
  • Person vs. self
  • Person vs. supernatural forces, fate, or God
  • Person vs. society
  • Person vs. technology
  • Narrative voice . In the course of reading, the narrator becomes the reader’s friend. What kind of person are they? Are they omnipresent and omniscient as a supernatural force, or are they in the same situation as the other protagonists? The narration can be first-person (fully involved in the plot and subjective) or third-person (distanced and objective). The tone of the narrator’s voice defines your perception of the text. Is it comic, realistic, or tragic? Is the narrator’s figure reliable, and do their words sound plausible?

Step 2. Formulate the Thesis

World classics and modern professional literature are valuable because of their multifaceted conflicts, well-thought structure, and abundant literary devices. Even the long research thesis cannot comprise all of them. Choose an aspect that stroke you the most in the course of critical reading. Formulate the intention of your analysis in one sentence. Make it succinct and to the point. The thesis tells your readers what you will tell them, but it also implies what you are not going to discuss.

A thesis statement should clearly describe the topic scope and the writer’s approach to it. It is a claim about the text that will be proved in the essay. A thesis can be argumentative, analytical, or explanatory. The samples given below will make the difference clear.

Your thesis statement requires sufficient textual evidence. In the previous step, you gathered much information, so now, it will be easier to find passages and quotations that refer to the subject. You may not use everything you have discovered in your writing, but having enough material at hand will help to structure the arguments.

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Step 3. Write Your Essay

  • Write the title. It should be an abridged version of the thesis. This is the best place to be creative, witty, and brief. If you don’t know how to start the title, begin with a short quote followed by a colon, and then explain how it relates to your thesis. For example, “He’s more myself than I am”: the Destructive Nature of an Ego Blurred by Love in Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. This is the easiest and the most compelling way to entitle an essay.
  • Write the literary analysis introduction . In brief, it consists of background information about the author and the book, leading to the thesis. You can refer to popular opinion on the subject and state your thesis as a contradiction to it. Alternatively, you can limit out the literary devices or a theme you are going to analyze. The introduction paragraph can be concluded with an indication of what is going to be discussed in the essay. However, in a five-paragraph essay, this summary should be condensed into a single sentence.
  • Start with a topic sentence stating what the paragraph is about. Avoid long phrases with complex grammar in the first sentence. It gives the reader a glance at the section and helps to orient in your text. Transition words can smooth the transition from one idea to another.
  • Continue with evidence and substantiation . Using quotes is reasonable when the quote is one sentence long, not more than 30 words. Otherwise, paraphrase or summarize the quote, leaving only the essential information. Never use quotes or paraphrases without providing a proper explanation.
  • Finish each paragraph with a one-sentence conclusion of the discussed idea.

Step 5. Prepare the Conclusion

Wrap up the essay without introducing any new ideas and avoiding direct quotations. Summarize everything you have mentioned above in different words. Then stress the thesis once again, highlighting the new perspective the essay has opened.

Literary Analysis Essay Topics

  • Thematic analysis of The Black Cat by Edgar Alan Poe.
  • Analyze the literature techniques used by W. Shakespeare in his tragedy Hamlet, Prince of Denmark .
  • Discuss the central theme of the play Beautiful Thing by Jonathan Harvey .
  • Describe the conflict of Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire .
  • The topic of illegal immigration in Just Like Us by Helen Thorpe .
  • Explore how Steven E Ambrose describes the building of transcontinental railroad in Nothing Like It in the World .
  • Analyze the literary devices in The Red Convertible by Louise Erdrich .
  • Analyze the plot of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman .
  • Examine the symbols used by William Wymark Jacobs in his horror story The Monkey’s Paw .
  • The importance of integral human sentiments in The Road by Cormac McCarthy .
  • Discuss how McDonald described the conditions that lead to degradation and loss of humanity in his autobiography All Souls .
  • Analyze Kafka’s short story A Hunger Artist .
  • Interpret the use of stylistic devices in The Minister’s Black Veil by Nathaniel Hawthorne .
  • Explore Hemingway’s ideas about life in his story A Clean, Well-Lighted Place .
  • The symbolism in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness .
  • Study the core motif of the Sophocles’ Oedipus the King .
  • Analyse the topics of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson.
  • Examine the literary elements used by Lisa Ko in The Leavers .
  • Allegory in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been by Joyce Carol Oates.
  • Interpret the idea behind Herman Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener .
  • Discuss how Alice Munro describes issues in marriage and relationships in How I Met My Husband .
  • Analyze the main themes of Jack London’s To Build a Fire .
  • The central topic of Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki.
  • The connection between past and future in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway .
  • Describe the rhetoric means used by August Wilson in the play Fences .
  • Discuss the idea behind Jon Krakauer’s novel Into the Wild .
  • Interpretation of Why I Live at the P.O. Eudora Welty .
  • Compare the topic of women’s rebellion in Ibsen’s A Dollhouse and Glaspell’s Trifles .
  • Analyze the rhetoric used by Chinua Achebe in Things Fall Apart .
  • Gender biases and marginalization in Girl by Jamaica Kincaid.
  • Analyze the main character in A Rose for Emily by William Faulkner .
  • Examine the theme of tragic fate in Homer’s Iliad .
  • Discuss the message to society in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale .
  • Analyze the stylistic devices used by Tennessee Williams in The Glass Menagerie .
  • Interpret the theme of George Orwell’s The Hanging .
  • Jealousy and lasting love in Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe .
  • Analyzing the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelly .
  • Describe the rhetoric techniques used by Jesmyn Ward in Sing, Unburied, Sing .
  • Examine the symbolism of John Updike’s A&P .
  • Literary elements used by James Joyce in Ulysses .
  • Discuss the themes of appearance and reality in Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare .
  • Examine the characters of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice .
  • Literary analysis of the poem The Man He Killed by T. Hardy .
  • Analyze the central theme of Matsuo Basho’s The Narrow Road to the Interior .
  • The role of an individual in the protection of the environment in The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono.
  • Describe Hemingway’s rhetoric in Hills Like White Elephants .
  • Discuss the role of allegory in Beloved by Toni Morrison .
  • Analyze the elements of Charles Brockden Brown’s gothic novel Wieland .
  • The significant features of Summer by David Updike .
  • Examine the depiction of the contemporary society’s issues in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis .

Good luck with your assignment! Note that the information that you will find in articles about a literary criticism essay and Lady Macbeth essay can also also be useful.

✏️ Literary Analysis FAQ

Here is a possible definition: a description of some peculiarities of a literary text in a structured and cohesive way. It should include some elements of a research report. There are countless examples of such essays available online and in books.

It is always a good idea to create an essay outline first. Write a minimum of 3-4 key ideas for the body part. Then, exemplify those points (you may cite the text). Then, add an appropriate introduction and a corresponding conclusion.

If you need to write a literary analysis, begin with an outline. It will help you proceed step by step without losing the structure. Think about the peculiar features of the literary text you analyze. Brush up the principles of analytical writing, too.

A book analysis essay summarizes literary research and includes examples, review elements, etc. The purpose of such a paper is to help readers understand the book better. Just like any other essay, it should be appropriately structured: an appropriate introduction, several body paragraphs, a logical conclusion.

  • A Short Guide to Close Reading for Literary Analysis – UW Madison Writing Center
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  • Suggested Structure of Your Literary Analysis Essay (Hawaii.edu)
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  • Stanford Literary Lab
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This handout provides examples and description about writing papers in literature. It discusses research topics, how to begin to research, how to use information, and formatting.

What Makes a Good Literature Paper?

An argument.

When you write an extended literary essay, often one requiring research, you are essentially making an argument. You are arguing that your perspective-an interpretation, an evaluative judgment, or a critical evaluation-is a valid one.

A debatable thesis statement

Like any argument paper you have ever written for a first-year composition course, you must have a specific, detailed thesis statement that reveals your perspective, and, like any good argument, your perspective must be one which is debatable.

You would not want to make an argument of this sort:

Shakespeare's Hamlet is a play about a young man who seeks revenge. That doesn't say anything-it's basically just a summary and is hardly debatable.

A better thesis would be this:

Hamlet experiences internal conflict because he is in love with his mother. That is debatable, controversial even. The rest of a paper with this argument as its thesis will be an attempt to show, using specific examples from the text and evidence from scholars, (1) how Hamlet is in love with his mother, (2) why he's in love with her, and (3) what implications there are for reading the play in this manner.

You also want to avoid a thesis statement like this:

Spirituality means different things to different people. King Lear , The Book of Romans , and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance each view the spirit differently. Again, that says nothing that's not already self-evident. Why bother writing a paper about that? You're not writing an essay to list works that have nothing in common other than a general topic like "spirituality." You want to find certain works or authors that, while they may have several differences, do have some specific, unifying point. That point is your thesis.
Lear , Romans , and Zen each view the soul as the center of human personality. Then you prove it, using examples from the texts that show that the soul is the center of personality.

Writing About Literature

Writing an introduction to a literary analysis essay.

This video discusses the steps to take when writing an introduction to a literary analysis paper.

  • How to write an Introduction to a Literary Analysis Paper. Authored by : MrBarberteaches. Located at : https://youtu.be/_p9FVfJ6urA . License : All Rights Reserved . License Terms : Standard YouTube License
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How to Craft an Introduction for Literature Essay

Table of Contents

Since the introduction is the first thing the reader sees, it must be simple and concise. Analyzing a literary work’s theme, motif, character development, or style necessitates tracking its evolution.

A well-constructed introduction will encourage a reader to take what you say seriously. In contrast, a meaningless opening that detracts from the essay’s thesis will leave an unfavorable impression on the reader.

Let’s start with the concept of literature essays before we dig into how to craft a proper introduction.

pen on white lined paper selective focus photography

What is a Literature Essay?

A literature essay is a written piece that focuses on an individual piece of literature or literary character. It usually takes an in-depth perspective on original texts and analyzes how literature has affected the individual.

Most often, the focus is on an author who will serve as an essay example. An example of a literature essay focus would be analyzing the dystopian novella: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

A literature essay can focus on a single literary piece or can be concerned with a theme. It can also be based on a book review or alternate thesis essay.

Now we know what Literature essays are. Let’s look at how to write a brilliant introduction !

Literature Essay: How to Craft an Appealing Intro

1. introduce your theme.

Introduce your essay’s unifying theme after you’ve listed and developed your key arguments. Doing so will assist you in grasping what those points have in common.

If you like to outline your essay thoroughly before starting to write, you can do so and then go right into writing the introduction.

2. Hook the reader

The second step is to hook the reader with an attention-getting opening immediately . A short quote highlighting the central theme is a good grabber for a literary analysis essay.

In addition, author quotations that are directly pertinent to your paper’s topic or your interpretation of the text are surefire attention-getters.

This quotation should be the first sentence of the introduction paragraph and should be enclosed in quotation marks.

In the next statement, you should state who said the quote, where it was said, and how it pertains to your literary study.

3. Main body of your introduction

You should have a brief main body of your introduction. There should be between eight and twelve sentences in a paragraph while writing a literary analysis essay.

Write three to four sentences outlining your paper’s topic and explaining why it’s relevant to the book you read. These few sentences will serve as the meat of your first paragraph. These lines should summarize the main points you’ll explore in the essay’s body.

4. Thesis statement

Put your thesis statement at the end of your introductory paragraph. The thesis statement expresses the overall argument of your paper. It should be the last sentence of the opening paragraph and can be one or two lines.

When writing an advanced literary analysis essay, it’s not required to list each body paragraph’s essential points in your thesis statement. Instead, focus on describing, in a single sentence, the paper’s fundamental objective.

Wrapping Up

Writing the rest of the paper, including the conclusion, before writing the introduction can be helpful. However, you may not always have time to plan everything out.

Sometimes, it can be helpful to break this process down into smaller steps. Doing so will make it easier for you to think about what exactly the introduction needs to say and what the paper is about.

How to Craft an Introduction for Literature Essay

Abir Ghenaiet

Abir is a data analyst and researcher. Among her interests are artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing. As a humanitarian and educator, she actively supports women in tech and promotes diversity.

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COMMENTS

  1. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

    Table of contents. Step 1: Reading the text and identifying literary devices. Step 2: Coming up with a thesis. Step 3: Writing a title and introduction. Step 4: Writing the body of the essay. Step 5: Writing a conclusion. Other interesting articles.

  2. PDF HOW TO WRITE A LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY

    The term regularly used for the development of the central idea of a literary analysis essay is the body. In this section you present the paragraphs (at least 3 paragraphs for a 500-750 word essay) that support your thesis statement. Good literary analysis essays contain an explanation of your ideas and evidence from the text (short story,

  3. How to Write Literary Analysis

    Literary analysis involves examining all the parts of a novel, play, short story, or poem—elements such as character, setting, tone, and imagery—and thinking about how the author uses those elements to create certain effects. A literary essay isn't a book review: you're not being asked whether or not you liked a book or whether you'd ...

  4. How to Write an Introduction for a Literary Analysis Essay

    A literary analysis essay explains the significance of a specific aspect of a literary work. Literary analyses are scholarly essays and should be written more conservatively than other types of essays. An introduction for a literary analysis should provide relevant information about the work of literature, include a ...

  5. Beginner's Guide to Literary Analysis

    Step 1: Read the Text Thoroughly. Literary analysis begins with the literature itself, which means performing a close reading of the text. As you read, you should focus on the work. That means putting away distractions (sorry, smartphone) and dedicating a period of time to the task at hand.

  6. How to Write a Literary Analysis: 6 Tips for the Perfect Essay

    These 4 steps will help prepare you to write an in-depth literary analysis that offers new insight to both old and modern classics. 1. Read the text and identify literary devices. As you conduct your literary analysis, you should first read through the text, keeping an eye on key elements that could serve as clues to larger, underlying themes.

  7. Literary Analysis Essay

    A literary analysis essay is an important kind of essay that focuses on the detailed analysis of the work of literature. The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to explain why the author has used a specific theme for his work. Or examine the characters, themes, literary devices, figurative language, and settings in the story.

  8. A Comprehensive Guide on How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

    A literary analysis essay typically consists of an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The introduction should provide general information about the author and the text itself, while the body paragraphs should focus on specific points from the text that support your overall thesis statement.

  9. PDF HOW TO WRITE A LITERARY ANALYSIS ESSAY

    Microsoft Word - Literary analysis.rtf. The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to carefully examine and sometimes evaluate a work of literature or an aspect of a work of literature. As with any analysis, this requires you to break the subject down into its component parts. Examining the different elements of a piece of literature is not an ...

  10. Write an Introduction for a Literary Analysis Essay

    Welcome to this third back-to-school video! Learn how to write an effective introduction paragraph for a literary analysis in this step-by-step tutorial. The...

  11. How to Make a Strong Introduction for a Literary Analysis Essay

    Step 3. Keep the body of your introduction relatively short. A paragraph in a literary analysis essay should be between eight and 12 sentences long. In the introduction, write three to four sentences generally describing the topic of your paper and explaining why it is interesting and important to the book you read.

  12. Tips and Tricks on Writing Literary Analysis Essay

    A literary analysis essay involves studying the text, evaluating the plot, analyzing characters, and determining devices used by the author to engage and influence readers. A novel, tale, poem, play, or another piece of literature can become the object of your research. When composing a literary analysis essay, a writer explores the text form ...

  13. 3.12: Writing an Introduction to a Literary Analysis Essay

    Book: Introduction to Literature (Lumen) 3: Module 3- Writing About Literature 3.12: Writing an Introduction to a Literary Analysis Essay

  14. A Comprehensive Guide to Writing a Literary Analysis Essay

    Writing the Body. Here are the steps to follow when writing a body paragraph for a literary analysis essay: Start with a topic sentence: The topic sentence should introduce the main point or argument you will be making in the paragraph. It should be clear and concise and should indicate what the paragraph is about.

  15. Literary Analysis Essay

    Check for free. Literary analysis is a type of essay that explores and interprets various elements of a literary work. Your literary analysis may focus on major themes, characters, plot, setting, symbolism, and writing style. Your main task is to uncover the literary devices and explain how they convety the main idea of literary work.

  16. How To Write A Literary Analysis Essay Outline With Examples

    Paragraph 1: Introduction to the literary work and its context. Paragraph 2: Analysis of the work's major themes and motifs. Paragraph 3: Examination of the author's writing style and literary techniques. Paragraph 4: In-depth analysis of specific literary devices used in the work.

  17. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay Step by Step

    Writing an Introduction to a Literary Analysis Essay. ️. Start with the title of your work and its author's name. One or two sentences will suffice. Stress on the main idea of the analyzed work to make these sentences more hooking. ️. Briefly tell what the work is about or how it influenced the world literature.

  18. Introduction

    Shakespeare's Hamlet is a play about a young man who seeks revenge. That doesn't say anything-it's basically just a summary and is hardly debatable. A better thesis would be this: Hamlet experiences internal conflict because he is in love with his mother. That is debatable, controversial even. The rest of a paper with this argument as its ...

  19. How to Write a Captivating Literary Essay Introduction: Tips and Examples

    Establishing the Essay's Focus. One common way to introduce the topic is by providing a brief overview or summary of the text you will be discussing. This can be done in a few sentences and should give the reader a general idea of what the text is about. For example, if you are writing an essay about the book "To Kill a Mockingbird," you ...

  20. Writing an Introduction to a Literary Analysis Essay

    Introduction to Literature. Writing About Literature. Search for: Writing an Introduction to a Literary Analysis Essay. This video discusses the steps to take when writing an introduction to a literary analysis paper. Licenses and Attributions : . : . Previous ...

  21. How to Craft an Introduction for Literature Essay

    If you like to outline your essay thoroughly before starting to write, you can do so and then go right into writing the introduction. 2. Hook the reader. The second step is to hook the reader with an attention-getting opening immediately. A short quote highlighting the central theme is a good grabber for a literary analysis essay.