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How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

To discover the most effective method of writing, you first have to answer this question, “What is a literary essay?” It is a type of academic assignment in which a student has to make an appraisal of a literary piece. Although the paper presents the analysis of the whole text, it should be focused on a particular topic, such as the main idea of the work, its themes, characters, and so on.

Top-5 Tips to Help You Cope with Your Literary Analysis Assignment

To find out how to write a literary analysis essay, start by examining the requirements to the format. Similar to other papers, literary analysis essay has its specific structure and should adhere to certain writing standards. Begin reading the assigned piece with this information in mind. For better or worse, you cannot simply copy Goodreads or Amazon reviews, so be prepared to invest some efforts in this task.

Have no idea where to start? Check out these simple guidelines. If you want to impress your professor with your writing, do not skip any of the steps outlined below:

  • Keep in mind the purpose of a literary analysis;
  • Follow the requirements to the format, i.e. its structural components;
  • Create a plan;
  • Begin writing;
  • Edit your paper when it is finished.

Now, let us study each of the steps in detail.

The Purpose of a Literary Analysis Essay

We could discuss some ambitious goals a literary analysis essay should achieve but let us be honest, the main purpose of this paper is to prove to your professor that you actually read the assigned text and analyzed it from various perspectives. At this point, you have to make sure you understand the word ‘analyze’ correctly. It might be convenient to mistake ‘analyze’ for ‘summarize’ but analysis is more complicated and requires students to break down the text into components and examine how each of them contributes to the author’s meaning.

Another thing students who want to learn how to write a literary analysis essay should understand is that reading for analysis and reading for pleasure differ. As you read a book with an intention to conduct literary analysis, consider the following:

  • Topic and the main themes
  • The connection between form and content
  • Style
  • Merits and demerits of the plot
  • Strong and weak features of the leading characters

What Are the Literary Analysis Elements?

There is one common mistake all students make when they do not know how to write a literary analysis essay – they begin free writing. However, sitting and writing whatever comes to your mind is not the best approach for this assignment. On the contrary, a literary analysis essay must be structured and organized according to the standards, namely:

  • It must have a clearly defined topic, which is based on the core idea you would like to communicate to the readers.
  • There must be a succinct thesis statement, which serves as a roadmap for the readers. A thesis statement is a sentence or two in which you present the main points of your paper. Further, as you write the rest of the essay, you should make sure that each sentence is connected to the thesis statement.
  • A literary analysis essay is, first of all, an essay, which means that it must have an introduction, main body, and conclusion. However, in most cases, professors do not require students to stick to the five-paragraph essay structure, so if you want to include additional paragraphs, feel free to do this.

Writing a Strong Introduction for Your Literary Analysis Essay

Once you familiarize yourself with the structure of a literary analysis essay, you will be less likely to have fear of the blank page. Experts also recommend drawing an outline, in which you can note down the main ideas you would like to cover in each paragraph. Yet, for some, getting started with their paper writing is still a great challenge.

The fear might also be caused by realization that introduction plays a decisive role in the success of your piece because it either grabs the readers’ attention and convinces them to read on or makes them feel as if your essay is not worth one more minute of their time. To keep your readers interested, bring the immediate focus to the topic you are going to explore. To be more precise, explain to them which aspect of the reading is going to be analyzed and from which perspective. For example, are you interested in the plot, particular characters or stylistic devices?

  • To grab the attention of the readers, begin the introduction with a hook, such as a quote or interesting fact.
  • You might want to include some background information that aids in understanding of the particular genre.
  • The introduction should end with your thesis statement. Professors prefer it to be in a single sentence because it adds to the clarity and conciseness.

Having created a good thesis statement, you will manage to write a focused and well-organized essay faster. In addition, you will not have to waste time on revisions because your paper will be easy to read and comprehend. The minimum number of words you essay should have is 500-600 but this requirement might differ depending on your instructor’s preferences.

How to End a Literary Analysis Essay

The concluding paragraph has to be strong and convincing so that the readers could understand your point and be ready to agree or disagree with it.

To write such a conclusion, do not:

  • Bring up new ideas.
  • Repeat the thesis statement and ideas form the main body word for words. Summarize the same information but paraphrase it.

Some Final Thoughts

Many people say that to be a great critic, you have to be genius. Whether this is true or not, writing a literary analysis is definitely not easy.

Of course, no one expects that college students will achieve that level of critical writing at once. What is expected, though, is that you will try, and with these tips, the process will surely be more enjoyable.