If you are a student, you probably have to deal with analysis, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. The fact is that your task is to acquire several skills. This is why you will often write literary analysis essays. Do not worry, because such a paper has some standard requirements. However, let's understand the basic terminology first. Then you will no longer have difficulties with any assignments. Here's what you need to know.
What Is a Literary Analysis Essay?
This paper is a piece of writing that aims to analyze plays, novels, poems, or even articles. Unlike a review, you do not need to retell certain chapters or paragraphs. Your task is to analyze some author's statements, plot twists, or style, arguing your point of view. So how to start a literary analysis essay? Let's break this process down into five easy steps. Then it will be easier for you to remember all aspects.
How to Write a Literary Essay Step by Step?
Read the entire text from beginning to end. You can take important notes during this process. Take short bookmarks so you don't forget about certain literary tricks. Plus, at this stage, you can analyze the author's style. How does he or she reveal characters or convey information to readers? How many short or long word constructs do you see? Are there metaphors, analogies, or references to religion and other authors in the text? These are all important for your paper.
Create a Thesis
Your thesis is like a red thread that runs throughout your paper. This key argument is important to shape all paragraphs into a coherent whole. Plus, you need your thesis to be arguable. Let's say you disagree with the author's position or think that the story arc is devoid of key elements.
Next, you should find evidence of your judgment. Most likely, you will have to look for reliable sources and other reviews and make a list of points to express your point of view. That's how to start a literary analysis paper.
Start With a Title and Introduction
You should spend a lot of time on your title. The point is that you should be laconic and find a kind of "trigger" or "hook" that will help your paper look more interesting. Feel free to use direct quotes or mention the author. Here are some examples:
- "The eternal fight against prejudice": The violence of creation in William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet."
- "Symphony of friendship": Unity of ideas and purpose in Mark Twain's "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn."
- "Immortal willpower": The endless pursuit of life in Jack London's "The Sea-Wolf."
You can experiment with your title and finalize it as soon as you have completed all the body paragraphs. Now let's discuss the introduction. Typically, you should add the aspect that your analysis will focus on. Indicate your goals and methods of achieving them.
Good Body Matters
So it's time for real action. Now you know how to write an introduction to a literary analysis paper. Let's take a look at how you should start your body paragraphs. It's very simple. Typically, you will need to write three paragraphs, each of which will focus on a different aspect. In addition, you need to give reasons for your judgments and give specific examples. It's worth noting that you must find good supporting evidence to be convincing.
Make a Strong Conclusion
The final part of your paper should be simple and concise. You should not add new quotes or arguments. You have already said everything you wanted in the previous paragraphs. Now your task is to summarize all your statements to emphasize the significance of your thoughts. Indicate what conclusions you came to during the analysis of the article, short story, or poem.
Useful Tips for Students
Make Clear Topic Sentences
Since your assignment is related to analysis, then you should clearly state your thoughts. You are probably better off starting with short sentences. This is important for body paragraphs. Thanks to brevity and conciseness, you can compensate for the lack of long logical chains. The most important requirement is meaning. You should clearly state your thoughts in each paragraph.
Pick Good Evidence
If you think that the author is wrong or if you want to emphasize the importance of a statement, then you should think about clear evidence. If you have aces up your sleeve, then your paper will be more convincing. Thanks to this, you can comment on any part of a poem or novel and not be afraid to be unfounded.
Contrasting Opinions Matters
Many students are afraid to use opposing points of view, but this is fundamentally wrong. The point is that you can greatly strengthen your argument by using someone's expert opinion as an example. Alternatively, you can achieve contrast by providing multiple arguments and explaining why the opposite position is wrong.
Do Not Abuse Plot Summaries
Don't forget that your main goal is analysis. You don't need to retell the entire story arc, side events, or other details. Try to explain the key aspects of the book you read briefly. Focus only on those parts of the text that resonate with your assignment. For example, you can check the main character's motivation or the author's attention to detail. This approach will show that you have done a great job and that your analysis is of value.
Avoid Generalizations and Oversimplifications
Many students tend to generalize and simplify. There is nothing wrong with this as long as your actions do not conflict with the goals of your assignment. Try to pay attention to crucial facts and quotes if important to your analysis. Here are a few generalizations that will get you in the way of good grades:
- "All men believe that…."
- "It's no secret that…."
- "Love is the answer to all questions…."
Don't forget about such writing techniques. In general, you should learn to express all your judgments and thoughts in a clear and structured manner. Then you don't need to simplify anything. Consequently, you will learn to write correctly with constant practice.