how to make literary analysis essay

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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.


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 Write a Literary Analysis Essay Step by Step

So, you’ve been assigned a literary analysis essay. Don’t panic! It’s not a big deal, for sure. Here’s a simple step-by-step guide to help you ace it:

1. Understand the Prompt

Recognizing that identifying the main topic and simply reading through the given instructions is the essential first step to writing an outstanding essay. You should first carefully read the given sentences which include verbs like “analyze,” “discuss,” or “explore.”

It points out that your professor is specifically interested in a particular element of the text, maybe a theme, character or some kind of literary device. Thus, this approach will spare any misinterpretation through highlighting the most critical points of the job and how it is to be executed.

If you struggle with understanding the prompt, ask for help today at the quick essay writing service FastEssay . You may ask academic writers to explain to you how to write such papers quickly and easily.

2. Select the Literary Work

Everything begins with the right story, absolutely! Pick a work that is not just a part of your arsenal of knowledge but also something that you like. The second essay is a genre(e.g., novel, short story, poetry or drama) that can be focused on. The fact that you will apply the ingredients: it will not only increase the interest in the students but also create curiosity and will turn this process into a more interesting and challenging one.

3. Read and Re-read

Decision having been made, you must plunge yourself into the text. Close your eyes, and imagine the reality of the novel, where you are one of the characters yourself, or the place they are in, or the events that have happened, or the language they use. Consider doing things slowly instead of in fast mode.Study the text carefully. The probability is, you are going to get the deeper meaning and the linkages that you might have missed in the first reading when you read the text several times.

4. Identify the Thesis

Your thesis is the heart of your literary analysis essay—it is the core argument you will advance based on the text. Spend some time to come up with a thesis statement, after which you can begin your brainstorming. It should be relevant, concise, and specific either by defining the purpose of the whole analysis or stating the central idea to be examined. Your thesis will be the guiding principle of the essay and it should be obvious to the reader from the time of the first sentence.

5. Gather Evidence

Having the thesis sub-part done, you will now need to present the text evidence from which you will be able to support your argument. Seek out quotations, sections, or instances that validate the stated argument. These instances can be a symbol, an image, a speech by a character, or plot developments. Evidence the things that support your argument and are factual for your analysis in order to reduce the impact of the interfering factors.

6. Analyze the Text

Hence, now you will have to make use of your evidence to do the analysis. Now, separate the text into smaller parts and analyze how literary devices used in the text make it more meaningful. Take into account why the craftsman takes certain decisions and what effect these decisions have on the audience. Examine how devices like symbolism, imagery, irony, and foreshadowing strengthen the message and main ideas of the text.

7. Outline Your Essay

To start your work, you might want to outline your thinking and evidence to be able to organize them. Structure your literary analysis essay by dividing it into sections: Introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion. Every paragraph will be devoted to a single sub-topic of your analysis and should begin with a clear sentence that indicates its purpose followed by appropriate evidence to back it up.

8. Write the Introduction

The opening part of the literary analysis essay is a place where you demonstrate your approach to your writing and where the reader should feel interested from the beginning. The best way to start is with a hook—an interesting one liner, a question, or an incident—that will make the reader want to read on and at the same time establish the importance of your analysis. Starting off, give the readers some information about the text, its author and the point your essay will drive home, which should be a clear statement of your thesis.

9. Develop Body Paragraphs

Body paragraphs is a place where you analyze in depth your viewpoint using supporting evidence. Ensure that each of your paragraphs starts with a topic sentence which identifies the main point or argument that you are going to explain in that paragraph. Next, you are required to provide support from a text that is giving a basis to a claim, being sure that you have analyzed each sentence and explained its meaning in relation to the thesis. Include examples, quotes, and citations to bolster your argument and have the reader accept the deconstruction you made.

10. Transition Smoothly

As you shift to the next paragraph in your literary analysis essay, be sure that the logical flow is not disrupted. Make use of transition words and phrases like “nevertheless”, “additionally”, “furthermore” and “beyond this” to link up your ideas together in a coherent manner. This assists the reader to follow your thought and make the logical flow of your thinking more obvious.

11. Write the Conclusion

A conclusion is like a period to an essay where you re-echo your points and state your thesis using different words. Try not to make a conclusion that is different from the one you have made or that is not related to the topic of analysis—the conclusion you make should be aimed at leaving the reader with a lasting impression. Finish by making a thought-provoking remark or an invitation to action that would leave a mark on your readers’ minds when they are thinking about the text.

12. Revise and Edit

The first draft is over, so sit down and respire for a while to reevaluate what you’ve written. Be careful about grammar, punctuation, and sentence architecture and check if your piece is not confusing and full of grammatical errors. First, see whether possible weakening or clarification of your analysis would be needed and edit the text accordingly.

13. Seek Feedback

So, don’t be afraid to ask your peers, mates or instructor for assessment when needed. Seeing the world through a different lens brings a lot of fresh perspectives that you haven’t thought of yet. Balance their feedback in your essay to adjust and revise the text with care in order to make it smarter.

So, don’t forget that in the beginning it may seem a bit difficult but with time and practice you will be a real pro in writing a literary analysis essay . The more you read literature and refine your analytical skills, you will recognize that the dissecting and interpreting of the text will get easier. Thus, my message to you is: do not be afraid to fully engage yourself in literary criticism and discover what lies at the core of your favorite novels. Happy writing!

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how to make literary analysis essay

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay: An Insightful Guide

how to make literary analysis essay

Welcome to the fascinating world of writing a literary analysis essay – where words come alive, stories unravel, and your insights take center stage. Have you ever wondered how to decode the deeper meanings of your favorite books or express your thoughts in a way that captivates your reader? Well, you're in the right place. In this article, we're diving headfirst into essays writing, breaking down the complexities, and showing you how to craft an essay that not only impresses your teacher but also makes you appreciate literature in a whole new light.

What Is Literary Analysis Essay

According to a literary analysis essay definition, it is a written examination and interpretation of a literary work, typically dissecting its elements such as plot, characters, themes, and symbolism. Going beyond summarization, this type of essay delves into the intricacies of a text, aiming to uncover deeper meanings, explore the author's intentions, and critically evaluate the literary techniques employed. It requires the writer to engage in thoughtful analysis, supported by evidence from the text, to unveil the layers of significance within the work. Through this process, the essay not only offers a nuanced understanding of the literature but also encourages readers to appreciate the artistry and complexity inherent in written narratives. Those students who are not ready to work on such an assignment can simply say, ‘ write my papers ,’ and our experts will handle the task shortly. 

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What Is the Purpose of a Literary Analysis Essay

The purpose of a literary analysis essay is to delve deeply into a literary work, examining its various elements and uncovering layers of meaning beyond the surface narrative. Through critical analysis and interpretation, this type of essay aims to illuminate the themes, characters, settings, and literary devices employed by the author, offering insights into their intentions and the broader significance of the text. By dissecting the nuances of the work, a literary analysis encourages readers to engage with literature on a deeper level, fostering a richer understanding of the human experience, societal issues, and the complexities of language and storytelling. Ultimately, the essay serves as a platform for readers to explore and appreciate the artistry and impact of literature while honing their analytical and critical thinking skills. When you have time, study our guide regarding how to write an analytical essay , which will shed light on more important academic writing aspects.

literary analysis vs summary

Literary Analysis Outline

Here's a basic outline for this type of essay:


  • Hook: Engage the reader with a compelling quote, question, or anecdote related to the literary work.
  • Background Information: Provide relevant information about the author, the title, and the context of the work.
  • Thesis Statement: Clearly state the main point or argument of your analysis.

Body Paragraph 1: Analysis of the Plot

  • Provide a brief summary of the plot.
  • Analyze key events, plot twists, and their significance.
  • Discuss the structure of the narrative and how it contributes to the overall theme.

Body Paragraph 2: Character Analysis

  • Introduce and describe the main characters.
  • Analyze their traits, motivations, and relationships.
  • Discuss how the characters contribute to the development of the story.

Body Paragraph 3: Theme Exploration

  • Identify and discuss the major themes in the literary work.
  • Provide examples and evidence from the text to support your analysis.
  • Explore the deeper meanings and messages conveyed through the themes.

Body Paragraph 4: Literary Devices and Techniques

  • Identify and analyze literary devices such as symbolism, imagery, metaphors, and foreshadowing.
  • Discuss how these elements enhance the overall impact of the work.
  • Summarize the main points discussed in the body paragraphs.
  • Restate the thesis in a fresh way.
  • Offer final insights or reflections on the literary work's significance and enduring relevance.

Optional: Additional Considerations

  • Discuss the cultural or historical context that may influence the interpretation of the work.
  • Address any alternative perspectives or counterarguments.
  • Offer recommendations for further reading or exploration related to the literary work.

We recommend analyzing this article about how to start a reflection paper to gain extra competence in the domain of school and college writing.

Literary Analysis Essay Topics

Before you commence the assignment, it’s important to find a great topic. For your inspiration, our writers shared 20 literary analysis essay ideas that you can develop in a written form within the framework of your current task.

  • Symbolism in "The Great Gatsby."
  • Character development in "Hamlet."
  • Themes in "To Kill a Mockingbird."
  • The significance of the southern setting in "The Sound and the Fury."
  • Foreshadowing in "Of Mice and Men."
  • Point of view in "The Catcher in the Rye."
  • Irony in "Othello."
  • Social class in "Pride and Prejudice."
  • The motif of light and dark in "Romeo and Juliet."
  • Archetypes in "The Hero’s Journey" in "The Hobbit."
  • The tragic flaw of Macbeth in "Macbeth."
  • The use of nature imagery in "Wuthering Heights."
  • The symbolism of the green light in "The Great Gatsby."
  • The role of technology in "Fahrenheit 451."
  • Character motivations in "The Scarlet Letter."
  • The exploration of identity in "The Invisible Man."
  • The impact of war on characters in "All Quiet on the Western Front."
  • The role of dreams in "A Raisin in the Sun."
  • The representation of women in "Jane Eyre."
  • The symbolism of the mockingbird in "To Kill a Mockingbird."

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay Step by Step

In this section, we're ditching the jargon and breaking down the process into simple, actionable steps. Whether you're a wordsmith in the making or someone feeling a bit lost in the world of dissecting literature, we've got your back. Think of this as your roadmap, helping you navigate through characters, themes, and all the juicy stuff that makes a story tick. So, grab your metaphorical magnifying glass and let's dive into the art of making sense of written words without the unnecessary fuss!

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay Step by Step

Step 1: Choose Your Text and Topic

Before actually writing a literary analysis essay, select a literary work that piques your interest or aligns with your academic requirements. Whether it's a novel, play, or poem, opt for a piece that offers rich content for analysis. Once you've chosen your text, narrow down a specific topic or theme within it that you find compelling. This initial step sets the stage for a focused and meaningful exploration. Use our analytical essay writing service to gain the upper hand when tackling this assignment.

Step 2: Create a Strong Thesis Statement

Write a clear and concise literary analysis essay introduction with a thesis statement that outlines the main argument or interpretation you'll be presenting in your essay. This statement should encapsulate your perspective on the chosen topic, providing a roadmap for both you and your readers. A well-defined thesis serves as the backbone of your literary analysis, guiding your analysis and ensuring a cohesive and purposeful essay. In this guide on how to write an essay introduction , you will find more information on this matter.

Step 3: Conduct Textual Analysis

Delve into the chosen literary work and conduct a thorough textual analysis. Pay attention to key elements such as characters, plot, setting, and literary devices employed by the author. Extract relevant quotes and passages that support your thesis, and consider how each element contributes to the overall meaning of the work. By the way, are you working on your capstone or dissertation at the moment? If yes, see our thesis writing service , which is especially helpful for students dealing with long-format scholarly documents.

Step 4: Set the Stage with Context

Establish the context of your literary analysis essay by providing relevant background information on the chosen work. Briefly introduce the author, the time period, and any significant historical or cultural factors that may impact the interpretation of the text. Creating this contextual framework helps orient your readers and prepares them for the nuanced exploration that follows. By offering a snapshot of the broader landscape in which the literary work exists, you set the stage for a more informed and insightful analysis.

Step 5: Construct Analytical Body Paragraphs

Organize your analysis into well-structured body paragraphs. Each paragraph should focus on a specific aspect of your thesis, supported by evidence from the text. Analyze characters, themes, and literary devices individually, connecting each point back to your overarching argument. Use clear and concise language to convey your insights and interpretations effectively.

Step 6: Craft a Thoughtful Conclusion

Summarize your main points, restate your thesis in a new light, and offer final insights in a thoughtful conclusion. Avoid introducing new information in this section but rather emphasize the significance of your analysis and its broader implications. A well-written conclusion leaves a lasting impression and reinforces the value of your literary interpretation. At this point, you have everything you need to become a student who knows how to write a literary analysis essay from A to Z.

Literary Analysis Essay Do’s and Don’ts

  • Develop a clear thesis statement.
  • Use evidence from the text to support your analysis.
  • Organize your essay logically with coherent paragraphs.
  • Focus on specific elements like characters, themes, and literary devices.
  • Engage with the text critically, questioning and probing meanings.
  • Don't summarize the plot extensively; focus on analysis.
  • Avoid vague or generic statements without supporting evidence.
  • Don't introduce new ideas in the conclusion. Stick to summarizing.
  • Avoid excessive quoting; provide brief, relevant excerpts.
  • Don't rush; take the time to revise and edit for clarity.

Our college essay service can help you put the finger on any time-consuming or mind-boggling written assignment right now, so use it if you’re in writer’s block or desperately trying to fit into a schedule.

Literary Analysis Essay Writing Tips

Get ready to up your academic writing game! This section is packed with straightforward tips to help you sharpen your skills. Whether you're a senior year student or just a freshman, we've got you covered. From digging into themes to writing insightful interpretations, our tips are here to make your literary analyses shine. Let's dive in and boost your writing skills!

Maintain Consistent Tone and Style

  • Keep a consistent tone throughout your essay, aligning with the formality or informality required. Ensure that your writing style complements the nature of your analysis, creating a cohesive and engaging reading experience for your audience.

Focus on Analysis, Not Summary

  • Avoid lengthy plot summaries. Instead, delve into the 'why' and 'how' aspects of the text – analyzing characters, themes, and literary devices to uncover deeper meanings.

Provide Textual Evidence

  • Support your analysis with concrete examples from the text. This strengthens your argument and demonstrates a close engagement with the literary work.

Organize Coherently

  • Structure your essay logically with well-organized paragraphs. Each paragraph should explore a specific aspect of your analysis, contributing to the overall understanding of your thesis.

Critical Engagement

  • Approach the text with a critical mindset. Question the author's choices, explore alternative interpretations, and analyze the implications of various literary elements.

Concise and Clear Language

  • Express your ideas using clear and concise language. Avoid unnecessary jargon, and ensure that your analysis is easily understandable by a broader audience.

Revise and Edit

  • Take the time to revise your essay for clarity and coherence. Check for grammar and spelling errors, and ensure that each paragraph contributes meaningfully to your overall analysis.

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Literary Analysis Essay Example

Students might find a literary analysis essay example invaluable for several reasons. Firstly, it provides a practical demonstration of the theoretical concepts they learn in class, offering a tangible model of how to analyze and interpret literary elements effectively. Additionally, examples serve as templates, offering insights into the proper structure and organization of an essay. They help students grasp the application of critical thinking skills, showcasing how to dissect a text, identify themes, and support arguments with textual evidence.

Example 1: The Symbolism of Light and Darkness in Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"

This literary analysis of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" explores the pervasive symbolism of light and darkness throughout the novel. Examining the journey of the protagonist, Marlow, and the character of Kurtz, the essay delves into the metaphorical implications of light and darkness as they represent moral ambiguity, the corrupting influence of power, and the ironic consequences of European imperialism.

Example 2: The Complex Portrait of Identity in Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Namesake"

This literary analysis of Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Namesake" explores the intricate layers of identity depicted in the novel, focusing on the protagonist Gogol Ganguli's navigation through the complexities of cultural assimilation and the immigrant experience. The essay delves into the symbolic significance of Gogol's name as a representation of the clash between his Bengali heritage and the American environment, examining the tension between tradition and modernity. 

Final Thought

To sum it up, getting the hang of how to write a literary analysis essay is an experience that benefits both new and experienced writers. Throughout this guide, we've tried to simplify the process, offering practical insights and tips. Analyzing literature isn't just an academic exercise – it's a way to dive deeper into the richness of written expression. Now armed with these tools, you're not only prepared to analyze literature effectively but also to bring your unique perspectives to the ongoing discussion about the stories we encounter. Happy writing!

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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 make literary analysis essay

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 make literary analysis essay

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 make literary analysis essay

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.


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.


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.





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.

Cordon J.

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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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You’ve been assigned a literary analysis paper—what does that even mean? Is it like a book report that you used to write in high school? Well, not really.

A literary analysis essay asks you to make an original argument about a poem, play, or work of fiction and support that argument with research and evidence from your careful reading of the text.

It can take many forms, such as a close reading of a text, critiquing the text through a particular literary theory, comparing one text to another, or criticizing another critic’s interpretation of the text. While there are many ways to structure a literary essay, writing this kind of essay follows generally follows a similar process for everyone

Crafting a good literary analysis essay begins with good close reading of the text, in which you have kept notes and observations as you read. This will help you with the first step, which is selecting a topic to write about—what jumped out as you read, what are you genuinely interested in? The next step is to focus your topic, developing it into an argument—why is this subject or observation important? Why should your reader care about it as much as you do? The third step is to gather evidence to support your argument, for literary analysis, support comes in the form of evidence from the text and from your research on what other literary critics have said about your topic. Only after you have performed these steps, are you ready to begin actually writing your essay.

Writing a Literary Analysis Essay

How to create a topic and conduct research:.

Writing an Analysis of a Poem, Story, or Play

If you are taking a literature course, it is important that you know how to write an analysis—sometimes called an interpretation or a literary analysis or a critical reading or a critical analysis—of a story, a poem, and a play. Your instructor will probably assign such an analysis as part of the course assessment. On your mid-term or final exam, you might have to write an analysis of one or more of the poems and/or stories on your reading list. Or the dreaded “sight poem or story” might appear on an exam, a work that is not on the reading list, that you have not read before, but one your instructor includes on the exam to examine your ability to apply the active reading skills you have learned in class to produce, independently, an effective literary analysis.You might be asked to write instead or, or in addition to an analysis of a literary work, a more sophisticated essay in which you compare and contrast the protagonists of two stories, or the use of form and metaphor in two poems, or the tragic heroes in two plays.

You might learn some literary theory in your course and be asked to apply theory—feminist, Marxist, reader-response, psychoanalytic, new historicist, for example—to one or more of the works on your reading list. But the seminal assignment in a literature course is the analysis of the single poem, story, novel, or play, and, even if you do not have to complete this assignment specifically, it will form the basis of most of the other writing assignments you will be required to undertake in your literature class. There are several ways of structuring a literary analysis, and your instructor might issue specific instructions on how he or she wants this assignment done. The method presented here might not be identical to the one your instructor wants you to follow, but it will be easy enough to modify, if your instructor expects something a bit different, and it is a good default method, if your instructor does not issue more specific guidelines.You want to begin your analysis with a paragraph that provides the context of the work you are analyzing and a brief account of what you believe to be the poem or story or play’s main theme. At a minimum, your account of the work’s context will include the name of the author, the title of the work, its genre, and the date and place of publication. If there is an important biographical or historical context to the work, you should include that, as well.Try to express the work’s theme in one or two sentences. Theme, you will recall, is that insight into human experience the author offers to readers, usually revealed as the content, the drama, the plot of the poem, story, or play unfolds and the characters interact. Assessing theme can be a complex task. Authors usually show the theme; they don’t tell it. They rarely say, at the end of the story, words to this effect: “and the moral of my story is…” They tell their story, develop their characters, provide some kind of conflict—and from all of this theme emerges. Because identifying theme can be challenging and subjective, it is often a good idea to work through the rest of the analysis, then return to the beginning and assess theme in light of your analysis of the work’s other literary elements.Here is a good example of an introductory paragraph from Ben’s analysis of William Butler Yeats’ poem, “Among School Children.”

“Among School Children” was published in Yeats’ 1928 collection of poems The Tower. It was inspired by a visit Yeats made in 1926 to school in Waterford, an official visit in his capacity as a senator of the Irish Free State. In the course of the tour, Yeats reflects upon his own youth and the experiences that shaped the “sixty-year old, smiling public man” (line 8) he has become. Through his reflection, the theme of the poem emerges: a life has meaning when connections among apparently disparate experiences are forged into a unified whole.

In the body of your literature analysis, you want to guide your readers through a tour of the poem, story, or play, pausing along the way to comment on, analyze, interpret, and explain key incidents, descriptions, dialogue, symbols, the writer’s use of figurative language—any of the elements of literature that are relevant to a sound analysis of this particular work. Your main goal is to explain how the elements of literature work to elucidate, augment, and develop the theme. The elements of literature are common across genres: a story, a narrative poem, and a play all have a plot and characters. But certain genres privilege certain literary elements. In a poem, for example, form, imagery and metaphor might be especially important; in a story, setting and point-of-view might be more important than they are in a poem; in a play, dialogue, stage directions, lighting serve functions rarely relevant in the analysis of a story or poem.

The length of the body of an analysis of a literary work will usually depend upon the length of work being analyzed—the longer the work, the longer the analysis—though your instructor will likely establish a word limit for this assignment. Make certain that you do not simply paraphrase the plot of the story or play or the content of the poem. This is a common weakness in student literary analyses, especially when the analysis is of a poem or a play.

Here is a good example of two body paragraphs from Amelia’s analysis of “Araby” by James Joyce.

Within the story’s first few paragraphs occur several religious references which will accumulate as the story progresses. The narrator is a student at the Christian Brothers’ School; the former tenant of his house was a priest; he left behind books called The Abbot and The Devout Communicant. Near the end of the story’s second paragraph the narrator describes a “central apple tree” in the garden, under which is “the late tenant’s rusty bicycle pump.” We may begin to suspect the tree symbolizes the apple tree in the Garden of Eden and the bicycle pump, the snake which corrupted Eve, a stretch, perhaps, until Joyce’s fall-of-innocence theme becomes more apparent.

The narrator must continue to help his aunt with her errands, but, even when he is so occupied, his mind is on Mangan’s sister, as he tries to sort out his feelings for her. Here Joyce provides vivid insight into the mind of an adolescent boy at once elated and bewildered by his first crush. He wants to tell her of his “confused adoration,” but he does not know if he will ever have the chance. Joyce’s description of the pleasant tension consuming the narrator is conveyed in a striking simile, which continues to develop the narrator’s character, while echoing the religious imagery, so important to the story’s theme: “But my body was like a harp, and her words and gestures were like fingers, running along the wires.”

The concluding paragraph of your analysis should realize two goals. First, it should present your own opinion on the quality of the poem or story or play about which you have been writing. And, second, it should comment on the current relevance of the work. You should certainly comment on the enduring social relevance of the work you are explicating. You may comment, though you should never be obliged to do so, on the personal relevance of the work. Here is the concluding paragraph from Dao-Ming’s analysis of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.

First performed in 1895, The Importance of Being Earnest has been made into a film, as recently as 2002 and is regularly revived by professional and amateur theatre companies. It endures not only because of the comic brilliance of its characters and their dialogue, but also because its satire still resonates with contemporary audiences. I am still amazed that I see in my own Asian mother a shadow of Lady Bracknell, with her obsession with finding for her daughter a husband who will maintain, if not, ideally, increase the family’s social status. We might like to think we are more liberated and socially sophisticated than our Victorian ancestors, but the starlets and eligible bachelors who star in current reality television programs illustrate the extent to which superficial concerns still influence decisions about love and even marriage. Even now, we can turn to Oscar Wilde to help us understand and laugh at those who are earnest in name only.

Dao-Ming’s conclusion is brief, but she does manage to praise the play, reaffirm its main theme, and explain its enduring appeal. And note how her last sentence cleverly establishes that sense of closure that is also a feature of an effective analysis.

You may, of course, modify the template that is presented here. Your instructor might favour a somewhat different approach to literary analysis. Its essence, though, will be your understanding and interpretation of the theme of the poem, story, or play and the skill with which the author shapes the elements of literature—plot, character, form, diction, setting, point of view—to support the theme.

Academic Writing Tips : How to Write a Literary Analysis Paper. Authored by: eHow. Located at: License: All Rights Reserved. License Terms: Standard YouTube license

BC Open Textbooks: English Literature Victorians and Moderns:

Literary Analysis

The challenges of writing about english literature.

Writing begins with the act of reading . While this statement is true for most college papers, strong English papers tend to be the product of highly attentive reading (and rereading). When your instructors ask you to do a “close reading,” they are asking you to read not only for content, but also for structures and patterns. When you perform a close reading, then, you observe how form and content interact. In some cases, form reinforces content: for example, in John Donne’s Holy Sonnet 14, where the speaker invites God’s “force” “to break, blow, burn and make [him] new.” Here, the stressed monosyllables of the verbs “break,” “blow” and “burn” evoke aurally the force that the speaker invites from God. In other cases, form raises questions about content: for example, a repeated denial of guilt will likely raise questions about the speaker’s professed innocence. When you close read, take an inductive approach. Start by observing particular details in the text, such as a repeated image or word, an unexpected development, or even a contradiction. Often, a detail–such as a repeated image–can help you to identify a question about the text that warrants further examination. So annotate details that strike you as you read. Some of those details will eventually help you to work towards a thesis. And don’t worry if a detail seems trivial. If you can make a case about how an apparently trivial detail reveals something significant about the text, then your paper will have a thought-provoking thesis to argue.

Common Types of English Papers Many assignments will ask you to analyze a single text. Others, however, will ask you to read two or more texts in relation to each other, or to consider a text in light of claims made by other scholars and critics. For most assignments, close reading will be central to your paper. While some assignment guidelines will suggest topics and spell out expectations in detail, others will offer little more than a page limit. Approaching the writing process in the absence of assigned topics can be daunting, but remember that you have resources: in section, you will probably have encountered some examples of close reading; in lecture, you will have encountered some of the course’s central questions and claims. The paper is a chance for you to extend a claim offered in lecture, or to analyze a passage neglected in lecture. In either case, your analysis should do more than recapitulate claims aired in lecture and section. Because different instructors have different goals for an assignment, you should always ask your professor or TF if you have questions. These general guidelines should apply in most cases:

  • A close reading of a single text: Depending on the length of the text, you will need to be more or less selective about what you choose to consider. In the case of a sonnet, you will probably have enough room to analyze the text more thoroughly than you would in the case of a novel, for example, though even here you will probably not analyze every single detail. By contrast, in the case of a novel, you might analyze a repeated scene, image, or object (for example, scenes of train travel, images of decay, or objects such as or typewriters). Alternately, you might analyze a perplexing scene (such as a novel’s ending, albeit probably in relation to an earlier moment in the novel). But even when analyzing shorter works, you will need to be selective. Although you might notice numerous interesting details as you read, not all of those details will help you to organize a focused argument about the text. For example, if you are focusing on depictions of sensory experience in Keats’ “Ode to a Nightingale,” you probably do not need to analyze the image of a homeless Ruth in stanza 7, unless this image helps you to develop your case about sensory experience in the poem.
  • A theoretically-informed close reading. In some courses, you will be asked to analyze a poem, a play, or a novel by using a critical theory (psychoanalytic, postcolonial, gender, etc). For example, you might use Kristeva’s theory of abjection to analyze mother-daughter relations in Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved. Critical theories provide focus for your analysis; if “abjection” is the guiding concept for your paper, you should focus on the scenes in the novel that are most relevant to the concept.
  • A historically-informed close reading. In courses with a historicist orientation, you might use less self-consciously literary documents, such as newspapers or devotional manuals, to develop your analysis of a literary work. For example, to analyze how Robinson Crusoe makes sense of his island experiences, you might use Puritan tracts that narrate events in terms of how God organizes them. The tracts could help you to show not only how Robinson Crusoe draws on Puritan narrative conventions, but also—more significantly—how the novel revises those conventions.
  • A comparison of two texts When analyzing two texts, you might look for unexpected contrasts between apparently similar texts, or unexpected similarities between apparently dissimilar texts, or for how one text revises or transforms the other. Keep in mind that not all of the similarities, differences, and transformations you identify will be relevant to an argument about the relationship between the two texts. As you work towards a thesis, you will need to decide which of those similarities, differences, or transformations to focus on. Moreover, unless instructed otherwise, you do not need to allot equal space to each text (unless this 50/50 allocation serves your thesis well, of course). Often you will find that one text helps to develop your analysis of another text. For example, you might analyze the transformation of Ariel’s song from The Tempest in T. S. Eliot’s poem, The Waste Land. Insofar as this analysis is interested in the afterlife of Ariel’s song in a later poem, you would likely allot more space to analyzing allusions to Ariel’s song in The Waste Land (after initially establishing the song’s significance in Shakespeare’s play, of course).
  • A response paper A response paper is a great opportunity to practice your close reading skills without having to develop an entire argument. In most cases, a solid approach is to select a rich passage that rewards analysis (for example, one that depicts an important scene or a recurring image) and close read it. While response papers are a flexible genre, they are not invitations for impressionistic accounts of whether you liked the work or a particular character. Instead, you might use your close reading to raise a question about the text—to open up further investigation, rather than to supply a solution.
  • A research paper. In most cases, you will receive guidance from the professor on the scope of the research paper. It is likely that you will be expected to consult sources other than the assigned readings. Hollis is your best bet for book titles, and the MLA bibliography (available through e-resources) for articles. When reading articles, make sure that they have been peer reviewed; you might also ask your TF to recommend reputable journals in the field.

Harvard College Writing Program:

In the same way that we talk with our friends about the latest episode of Game of Thrones or newest Marvel movie, scholars communicate their ideas and interpretations of literature through written literary analysis essays. Literary analysis essays make us better readers of literature.

Only through careful reading and well-argued analysis can we reach new understandings and interpretations of texts that are sometimes hundreds of years old. Literary analysis brings new meaning and can shed new light on texts. Building from careful reading and selecting a topic that you are genuinely interested in, your argument supports how you read and understand a text. Using examples from the text you are discussing in the form of textual evidence further supports your reading. Well-researched literary analysis also includes information about what other scholars have written about a specific text or topic.

Literary analysis helps us to refine our ideas, question what we think we know, and often generates new knowledge about literature. Literary analysis essays allow you to discuss your own interpretation of a given text through careful examination of the choices the original author made in the text.

ENG134 – Literary Genres Copyright © by The American Women's College and Jessica Egan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay: Purposes, Outline, Samples

literary analysis

Firstly to understand what a literary analysis essay means, it’s a way to determine and understand the work of an author, even if it is a single work or an entire body of work. Literary criticism is a description, analysis, evaluation, or interpretation of a particular literary work or an author’s writings as a whole.

Many students, writers, and english scholars are told to write essays on different literary analysis essay topics because this type of assignment helps and makes writers to think about the reason why a poem, short story, novel, or play was written. To analyze literature, writers will need to remember that authors have specific decisions for particular reasons. Your essay should point out the author’s decision and try to explain their intentions.

how to make literary analysis essay

Learn how to write a book review and check out related guides: poem analysis essay , poetry analysis essay or critical lens essay at EssayHub blog.

What Is A Literary Analysis Essay?

The most comprehensive literary analysis definition goes as follows. It is a text that objectively analyzes the weak and strong points of another text. One author shares their opinion on what another author wrote. The most common literary analysis format is an essay.

The writer examines a novel, short story, or another type of fiction created by someone else. They praise or criticize the plot, style, characters, and other aspects of the text. After reading a piece of literary analysis, people should understand whether the book is worthy or not. 

What Is The Purpose Of A Literary Analysis Essay?

When a newbie checks literary analysis examples, they will see that they are very personal. Different people might perceive the same text very differently. It depends on their character, life experience, and cultural background. The aim of writing a literary analysis is to express one’s individual understanding of the text and back it up with facts.

It is not sufficient to say, "I enjoyed every minute of reading this book!" or "It is too dull." All types of literary analysis involve the assessment of both technical and emotional aspects of the text. It implies an impartial balancing of pros and cons.

Imagine that someone is looking for a good book. Their time and finances are limited, so they can afford just one text. They want to avoid hit-or-miss decisions. They prefer an expert to recommend to them what to read.

They do not want this expert to be a high-brow professional critic. They are interested in the opinions of people whose lifestyle and worldview are close to theirs. They read book blogs and unbiased reviews on profile sites. When they finally buy a piece of fiction, they know what to expect of it.

After a reader gains experience, they become ready to share viewpoints with others. They read articles on how to analyze literature and start writing their own reviews. They can post their works in their private blogs or share them on social networks. Plus, literary analysis is an essential part of the educational process in schools and colleges.

Content Of A Literary Analysis Essay

There are many topics for literary analysis, but it all depends on the kind of work that a writer analyzes. For instance, the approach is not the same in poems as it is in the case with a play. Before writing it is important to know what you want to analyze in the literature that you have read. That brings us to types of literature analysis. How can a writer analyze the literature? This is done by:

  • Character Analysis
  • Symbolism Analysis
  • Theme Analysis
  • Setting Analysis
  • Structure and Style Analysis
  • Diction, Imagery, and Denotation Analysis. etc.

How To Write A Literary Analysis Essay?

Read the text critically.

When carrying out literature analysis, a person should read slowly. They should start a notebook where they would put down their thoughts. They should take notes when they find themselves in one of the following situations:

  • disagree with the author;
  • want to praise the author’s skills;
  • come across a plot twist that resembles their own lives;
  • have anything to say on the matter.

When people read an interesting text, they have controversial desires. On the one hand, they want to finish it to get to know what happens in the end. On the other hand, they want to enjoy it for as long as possible. When compiling a literary analysis sample, people should focus on their thoughts and not emotions.

Literary Devices

When newbies ask about how to write a good literary analysis, literary devices become the most challenging aspect for them. These devices involve the following terms and notions:

  • literary elements, such as plot, mood, and protagonists;
  • figurative language, including symbolism and metaphors;
  • literary techniques, such as foreshadowing and repetition.

To be able to analyze these aspects, newbies should read theory in textbooks. Also, they should examine enough sample literary analysis essays. They need to see how other writers handle the overview of literary devices without making their texts too formal.

In a literary analysis paper, it is not enough to say that the author has a masterful command of the word. The writer should concentrate on the following important aspects.

  • Is the language modern, archaic, or full of slang?
  • Does the author use poetic phrases?
  • Are the sentences predominantly long or short? How does the rhythm of the text impact its mood?

It would be wise to answer the following question in a literary analysis essay example. Do all characters speak the same language, or does each one have their particular style? Individual speech manners are significant merits of fiction.

Narrative Voice

A text can be written either from a first-person or third-person perspective. In a literary analysis example, the author should explain the position of the narrator. Are they omnipresent, or does the reader hardly notice them? Are they reliable, or do they share a distorted version of events?

Writers with little experience might ask how to do literary analysis when the narrator is absent. In this case, speak about the tone. Is it neutral, comic, or tragic? What emotions does it evoke in the readers from the first passage? How often does the reader come across exaggerations, irony, or incongruities?

In a novel, the key elements of literary analysis are chapters. In a play, these constituents are acts and scenes. In a poem, these are lines and stanzas. The author of the essay should think of how skilfully the writer divided their text into parts.

Chapters, scenes, and stanzas should be interconnected logically and emotionally. The last line of the previous part should motivate the reader to glance through the next one. The structure of the text helps emphasize its conflicts and build up the tension. The pauses between every two parts might speak louder than a thousand words.

Most examples of literary analysis essay include comments on the timeline of the story. Do the events unfold in chronological order? Does the author make the readers travel back and forth in a time machine? How easy is it to switch between different time layers, and which effect does it produce?

The following types of conflicts are most likely to be present in a literary analysis:

  • one person versus another;
  • person versus society;
  • person versus technology;
  • person versus supernatural forces;
  • an inner conflict within a person (good versus bad intentions).

Instead of one person, there might be a group of people.

Newbies should not get confused about how to write a thesis for a literary analysis. The term "thesis" denotes the main point that they are planning to focus on. Modern books are multifaceted: they feature numerous problems and give readers a lot of food for thought. Yet, the writer should concentrate only on a handful of aspects in their work.

There are three approaches to thesis writing:

  • analytical;
  • argumentative;
  • explanatory.

The literary analysis thesis of the first type strives to answer the questions "why?" and "how?" The writer tries to explain why the author created that book. Why is their perception of the world so unique and innovative? Why do they draw certain parallels and use specific devices?

This sentence might serve as a good example of an analytical thesis: "Outraged by gender inequality in this Eastern country, the author ridicules the problem instead of trying to undermine the traditions."

An argumentative thesis for literary analysis implies that the writer explains their own perception of the text. They take a certain position that might differ from the opinion of the majority. They further prove their point by quoting the book. For instance: "While most critics perceive this novel as an educational one, I believe that the main conflict lies in the lack of tolerance in society."

Literary analysis thesis examples of the explanatory type do not include the author’s opinion at all. They just help other readers understand the message of the book: "The author depicts their ideal political system."

Write A Literary Analysis Essay

Write a title.

After reading the title, the person should understand what the literary analysis paper example is about. The title should contain the digest of the paper. It should reveal the writer’s attitude to the piece of fiction that they criticize. 

Those who do not know how to start a literary analysis can use a popular trick that works for any book genre. They can include a short quote from the book in the name of their essay. Then, they should put a colon and accompany the quote with their own comment.

Write An Introduction

The instruction on how to write literary analysis starts with a clear statement of one’s goals. The author should tell their readers what the book they are going to criticize is about and why they chose it. They should share the title of the text and the name of its writer. They might briefly outline the plot and problems of the manuscript. They might focus the readers’ attention on the main points of their essay — language, characters, or conflicts.

Write A Body

All the best examples of literary analysis essay have an identical structure. Each paragraph is focused on one aspect or topic. In the first sentence, the author briefly outlines this topic. That initial phrase should be concise and unambiguous. 

The last sentence of each paragraph should summarize its essence. It should not contradict the first phrase and overall logic of the passage.

The writer should avoid lengthy and complicated structures. Even if the author of the book prefers compound sentences, a literary analysis sample should be easier to read. One phrase should contain only one thought. To link sentences, the writer should use transition words.

"The book dissects the impact of virtual reality technologies on the life of single people in cosmopolitan cities" — this is an example of a topic sentence that opens a paragraph. "Nevertheless, its target audience is not geeks or die-hard gamers" — here, the word "nevertheless" serves as a transition.

In any literary analysis template, the writer should back up their opinion with textual evidence. They should quote parts of the original texts only if they contain no more than 30 words. Otherwise, they should reword the quotes to deliver the essence of large passages.\

Write A Conclusion

The answer to the question "How to conclude a literary analysis?" is very simple. The writer needs to reword and sum up everything that they have said above. They should share no original quotes and introduce no new thoughts. It is enough to summarize their main ideas logically and concisely.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline


Introduction should be sophisticated and creative, and it should catch the reader’s attention, so they can read the rest of the essay. A literary analysis should not sound boring. It should create some enthralling and fascinating quotes, reflection or motives. The main sentences of the introduction should give backdrop facts so that the analysis will make sense; facts such as Title of the Book, Name of Author and little information about the book. Don’t write bulky details of the book the reader would have read this book and they just want to read the analysis. Make sure that your backdrop information and your thesis statement are short and transitional. To make the reader understand and connect to the literature and what exactly is been analyzed. The analysis or thesis statement is what you will prove in your essay, and it should come at the end of your introductory paragraph. The Intro could be more than one paragraph but about 5 important sentences.

The body must be very convincing. Here start rendering evidences of the argument. A convincing body will have at least three to four paragraphs or more. Also, do not go out of context the question has to be related. How does it relate to the overall theme of what the analysis? Make emphasis on the ways in which these elements bestow to the entire quality of the book. Emphasize one major point per paragraph in this section. No need to rush all of your evidence into one idea. Do more reading and analyze different factors in your literary analysis. Argue on a character's development, for example how the individual changes from the beginning to the end of the book. Center core on a character's fatal flaw and query or question the person's mistakes.

The conclusion should end dynamically and energetically. Start rounding up the literary essay paper in the last paragraph. It should include all the major points that have been made in the aforementioned statements of your literary analysis. Also, make emphasis on the on the implications of your argument.

Write A Literary Analysis Essay

Literary Analysis Essay Example

Symbolism Manifestation in Little Prince By Antoine De Saint-Exupery

The storyline arose from the author's personal experience. He survived an airplane accident in a desert. It happened when the writer served as a pilot during World War II.

A seemingly simple-hearted fairy tale has two main plotlines that uncover deeper problems. The leading one is the pilot-narrator line, lined up with the metaphor of adult reality. The second line dwells on the adventures of the Little Prince. Two protagonists travel to different planets, get acquainted with various characters, both positive and negative. 

Each planet introduces the readers to a different philosophical conundrum. Each item and being in the book bear unique symbolic meaning. 

The Pilot impersonates the author in his adult years. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was, in fact, a pilot and survived a plane crash in the desert.

The sudden encounter of an adult and a child (both are metaphors for inner psychological states) occurs in the desert, symbolizing the disastrous inner state of the narrator. The story unravels during the repair of the plane. The maintenance itself is a metaphor for mending the inner traumas through direct dialogue with the inner child.

The Little Prince

The description of the Little Prince gives the readers a hint of its relation to the author in his childhood years. Antoine de Saint-Exupery came from an impoverished aristocratic family. Through the Little Prince, the author shows himself. He reveals his struggle to survive within the boring world of adults. 

His visit to our planet is a symbol of birth. The return to the home planet occurs through physical death from the poison of a snake. Here, we can observe the impact of Christian religious thinking on the plotline. The physical death of the protagonist is a reference to the religious idea of an immortal soul. Thus, after receiving knowledge about life from the Fox and Pilot, Little Prince has to die to be reborn into a new state.

The line telling about the love of the Little Prince and Rose shows an allegorical depiction of love. It reveals the ironic unsimilarity of how men and women see and express this feeling. 

Rose gets introduced to the readers as a proud and beautiful character who has power over the Little Prince and his feelings. Gentle, timid, dewy-eyed Little Prince suffers from the frivolity of Rose. Because of his naïve perception, the protagonist struggled to see that it was necessary to love her for her essence – for the aroma and the joy she brought him.

When the protagonist sees that roses are abundant in the gardens on Earth, he feels disappointed. Later, he meets the Fox who serves as the guide to the little lost being. Fox explains to the protagonist some basic philosophical truths. He teaches the Little Prince to look with his heart, not his eyes, and be responsible for those we have tamed.

When Little Prince absorbs the knowledge imparted by his new friend, he becomes mortal. This transition symbolizes him growing up and shaking off idealistic world perception.

Planets And Their Inhabitants

The author shows his readers two sorts of evil. The first kind of evil reveals itself in the negative sides of separate people. 

The inhabitants of different planets, visited by the protagonist, reveal the most dangerous human vices. It seems relevant to note that all of them are adults. Drunkards, politicians, and selfish people seem quite morally bankrupt.

The author exposes life devoid of meaning as a common vice. The only relatable person to the protagonist is a lamplighter. He differs because his craft is good for others.

Baobab Trees

Another element of evil in the book is macro-evil. Baobabs represent evil in general. This image is a metaphor for fascism. Saint-Exupery gently leads the readers to the idea that such evil endangers the world. It should be extinguished like undesirable plants.

The main idea of the used allegories is the presentation of true values. The author contrasts naive and rational ways of world perception, the individual, and the crowd. In the tale, the unraveling of the main themes is connected with compositional structure, metaphors, and similes used by the author. 

The author dwells on deep philosophical issues through similes and symbols. He emphasizes such topics as true love, friendship, and loneliness.

Romantic traditions play a keynote role in the plot formation. Unraveling the deep problems of humanity in a form of the fairytale is the main sign of that. It comprises all typical elements of this genre: child protagonist, fairy-tale characters, and a fantastic journey. These symbolic characters and items introduce the depth to the plot. They make readers see deeper into the book and reconsider their perception of reality.

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Literary Analysis Essay Writing

Cathy A.

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay - A Step-by-Step Guide

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Literary Analysis Essay Outline - A Step By Step Guide

Students often struggle when asked to write a literary analysis essay. It's challenging to know where to begin and how to navigate the complexities of dissecting a text.

The world of literary analysis can seem confusing, with symbolism, tone, and perspective to consider. Without guidance, it's easy to feel lost.

In this guide, we'll provide a clear roadmap, practical tips, and examples to simplify the process. You'll gain the skills to confidently analyze any text. By the end of this read, you will have the skills to develop a good literary analysis essay. 

So let’s dive right in!

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  • 1. What is a Literary Analysis Essay?
  • 2. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay?
  • 3. Types of Literary Analysis Essay
  • 4. Literary Analysis Essay Example
  • 5. Literary Analysis Essay Topics

What is a Literary Analysis Essay?

A literary analysis essay is a detailed examination of a literary work's components, including its themes, characters, setting, and the author's creative choices.

This analytical approach can be applied to various forms of literary writing, such as novels, short stories, plays, poems, etc. It's a method for diving deeper into the layers of meaning within a literary work.

Literary Essay, Rhetorical Analysis, and Argumentative Essay

A Literary Analysis Essay is distinct from a rhetorical analysis or argumentative essay. While all three types of essays involve a critical examination, they have different purposes and focuses. 

  • In a literary analysis essay , the focus is on exploring elements of a literary work, like themes, characters, and symbolism, to understand the author's choices.
  • Conversely, a rhetorical analysis essay assesses how an author uses persuasive techniques in non-literary contexts. 
  • An argumentative essay aims to present a clear viewpoint on a specific topic supported by evidence and reasoning.

These essays demand critical thinking, but they serve different communication and expression purposes.

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How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay?

Writing a strong literary analysis essay can be tricky. Many students often fall into the trap of sharing their own thoughts or simply summarizing the text. 

To avoid this and write a more effective literary analysis essay, follow the steps below:

Step 1: Select a Text

To begin your literary analysis essay, pick a piece of writing that you like and is suitable for analysis. This could be a poem, a short story, a novel, a play, or any similar written work.

Tips for Choosing Your Text

  • Take it slow. Read them more than once.
  • Pay attention to the words used and their meanings.
  • Think about the emotions or ideas the author is trying to convey.
  • Look at the way it's structured, like how a poem is divided into lines and stanzas.
  • Give yourself enough time to read the whole thing.
  • Take notes on important events, characters, and themes.
  • Think about the author's choices in writing and how they affect the story.
  • Consider the overall structure and how the parts fit together.

Explore Language Choices: 

  • Look for words or phrases that stand out. They might have special meanings or create certain feelings.
  • Consider how the author uses language to describe things, characters, or emotions.

Understand Narrative Voice:

  • Think about who is telling the story. Is it one of the characters (first-person) or someone outside the story (third-person)?
  • The narrative voice can shape how you perceive the events and characters.

Analyzing Structure: 

  • Examine how the text is organized. For example, poems have lines and stanzas, while novels have chapters.
  • Structure can affect the flow of the story and the reader's experience. Pay attention to how it's used in the text you've chosen.

Step 2: Brainstorm a Topic

Once you've chosen your text, the next step is to come up with a topic for your literary analysis essay. Think about what aspect of the text you find most interesting or want to explore. 

It could be a theme, a character's development, the use of symbolism, or anything else that stands out to you.

Tips for Brainstorming a Topic:

  • Consider what questions you have about the text. What do you want to understand better?
  • Look for patterns or recurring elements in the text. Is there something that keeps coming up, like a symbol or a particular theme?
  • Think about the author's choices. Why did they write the text this way? What message are they trying to convey?
  • Don't rush this step. Take your time to explore different ideas, and choose a topic that genuinely interests you. It will make the writing process more engaging and enjoyable.

Step 3: Collect the Evidence and Write a Thesis

Now that you have your topic, it's time to gather evidence from the text to support your analysis. Look for quotes, passages, or examples that relate to your chosen topic. Once you have your evidence, use it to craft your thesis statement . 

This statement should be a concise summary of the main point or argument you'll explore in your literary essay.

Tips for Collecting Evidence and Writing a Thesis:

  • Your thesis should be a single sentence that presents your analysis or interpretation of the text. It's your main argument.
  • Your evidence should directly support your thesis. It's the proof that your analysis is based on.

Step 4: Develop the Outline

Creating an outline is like making a roadmap for your literary analysis essay. It helps you organize your thoughts and decide how to structure your essay. Here's how to develop a literary analysis essay outline :

Tips for Developing the Outline:

  • Start with your introduction: Write down the main points you want to cover in the introduction, such as introducing the text, the author, and your thesis statement.
  • Plan your body paragraphs: Decide how many body paragraphs you'll have and what each one will focus on. Will you analyze characters, themes, symbols, or something else?
  • List your supporting points: Under each body paragraph, jot down the key ideas or arguments you'll discuss.
  • Consider your conclusion: Think about how you'll sum up your analysis and restate your thesis in the conclusion.

Step 5: Craft Your Introduction

Your introduction sets the stage for your literary analysis essay. It should grab the reader's attention and provide essential information about the text you're analyzing. 

Tips for Crafting Your Introduction:

  • Begin with a hook : Start with an intriguing question, a captivating quote, or an interesting fact related to your text.
  • Introduce the text and the author: Provide some background information about the literary work and its creator. Mention the title, author's name, and any relevant context.
  • Present your thesis statement: Clearly state the main point or argument you'll explore in your essay.
  • Give a brief overview: Provide a snapshot of what your analysis will cover, mentioning the key elements or aspects of the text you'll discuss.

Step 6: Write Body Paragraphs and Analysis

Now that you've laid the groundwork with your outline, it's time to dive into writing the body of your literary analysis essay. Each paragraph should focus on one of the main points or arguments you outlined in the previous step.

Here is how to write body paragraphs: 

  • Topic Sentence: Start each body paragraph with a clear topic sentence that relates to your thesis. This sentence should introduce the main point you'll discuss in the paragraph.
  • Provide Evidence: Use quotes or specific examples from the text to support your topic sentence. Make sure the evidence directly relates to your argument.
  • Analysis: After presenting evidence, analyze it. Explain how the evidence supports your argument and contributes to your overall thesis. What does it reveal about the text and its meaning?
  • Transition: Use transition words and sentences to smoothly connect your ideas and guide the reader through your analysis. These sentences help create a logical flow between paragraphs.

Step 7: Literary Devices and Techniques

In this step, you'll explore the literary devices and techniques used by the author in the text. These devices, such as symbolism, imagery, foreshadowing, and irony, play a crucial role in conveying the author's message and creating a deeper layer of meaning.

You can dedicate specific paragraphs or sections of your essay to discuss these literary devices.

How to Analyze Literary Devices and Techniques:

  • Identify Devices: Begin by identifying the literary devices used in the text. Look for symbols, metaphors, similes, imagery, alliteration, personification, and more. Note where and how they appear.
  • Examine Their Purpose: Consider why the author used these devices. What do they add to the story or poem? How do they contribute to the overall message or theme?
  • Impact on the Reader: Explain how these literary devices enhance the narrative and reinforce the themes or messages within the work.
  • Provide Examples: Use specific examples from the text to illustrate and reinforce your analysis.

Step 8: Conclude your Essay

Concluding your literary analysis essay is the final step in wrapping up your analysis and leaving a lasting impression on the reader. Here's how to craft a strong conclusion:

Key Elements of a Strong Conclusion:

  • Key Findings Recap: Summarize your key findings and restate your thesis statement in a rephrased manner.
  • Significance Emphasis: Emphasize the significance of your analysis and highlight its broader implications for understanding the literary work as a whole.
  • Thought-Provoking Closing: Leave the reader with a thought-provoking or insightful concluding statement that ties together your analysis.
  • Avoid Introducing New Ideas: Your conclusion should not introduce new topics or evidence that wasn't discussed in the body of your essay.

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Types of Literary Analysis Essay

When it comes to literary analysis essays, there isn't just one approach to fit all. The type of literary analysis essay you write depends on your specific goals and the literary work you're analyzing. 

Here are some common types:

Theoretical Literary Analysis (Aesthetic or Formalist Analysis) 

This type of analysis focuses on the text's form, structure, and aesthetics. It explores how literary elements like symbolism, imagery, and narrative style contribute to the overall meaning.

Close Reading Literary Analysis (Textual Analysis)

Close reading involves a detailed examination of a specific passage or section within the text. It dissects the language, syntax, and word choice to uncover deeper meanings.

Applied Literary Analysis (Practical or Real-World Analysis)

This analysis applies the lessons or insights gained from literature to real-life situations, social issues, or practical concerns. It explores how literature can inform or influence the world.

Comparative or Synergistic Literary Analysis

This type of analysis explores connections and contrasts between different texts, genres, or forms of art. It considers how literature interacts with other disciplines, such as history, psychology, or visual arts.

Contextual or Historical Literary Analysis

This analysis examines a text within its historical, cultural, or social context. It considers how the time period and societal influences shape the themes, characters, and narrative.

Literary Analysis Essay Example

In this section, we provide literary analysis examples that help students better understand and apply literary analysis. These examples cover various aspects, including examining text, exploring themes, and using literary devices. 

Let’s check out some literary analysis essay examples pdf below

Literary Analysis Essay Example PDF

Sample Literary Analysis Essay

Literary Analysis Essay Format

Literary Analysis Essay Topics

Choosing a strong topic is important to draft a good literary essay. Following are some topic examples that you can use for your literary essays:

  • The Symbolism of the Green Light in 'The Great Gatsby.'
  • The Role of Gender and Identity in Shakespeare's Sonnets.
  • Exploring the Themes of Love and Fate in 'Romeo and Juliet.'
  • The Use of Magical Realism in Gabriel García Márquez's 'One Hundred Years of Solitude.'
  • Analyzing the Motif of War in Hemingway's 'A Farewell to Arms.'
  • The Metaphorical Layers of George Orwell's 'Animal Farm.'
  • The Complexity of Morality in J.D. Salinger's 'The Catcher in the Rye.'
  • The Historical Context of Haruki Murakami's 'Kafka on the Shore.'
  • The Portrayal of Race and Identity in Zora Neale Hurston's 'Their Eyes Were Watching God.'
  • The Significance of Nature in the Poetry of Emily Dickinson.

Looking for more topic ideas? Our literary analysis essay topics blog has plenty of ideas for you!

Wrapping Up!

We hope this guide has provided you with the insights, and clarity you need to start on your literary essay with confidence.

However, if you find yourself short on time remember that professional help is just a click away. At , we offer reliable essay writing service at the best price. 

Our team of expert writers is well-equipped to handle a diverse range of literary analysis topics. So, if you're ready to take your literary analysis to the next level, get our paper writing help today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should a literary analysis essay include.

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A good essay will have an explanation of the author's ideas and evidence from their text (short story, poem) to support those thoughts. Textual information includes a summary, paraphrase as well specific details like direct quotations in summaries or extracts where they are relevant for clarification on certain points.

Why literary analysis is important?

By analyzing literary work, students can see that successful art is more than just self-expression. It may serve a purpose beyond the creator's intent whether it be to inform or evoke empathy in its audience and even inspire them at times.

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literary analysis essay topics

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.

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.

👣 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.

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
  • Writing a Literary Analysis Presentation // Purdue Writing Lab
  • Types of Literary Analysis – UVM Writing Center
  • Literary Analysis | Writing Center – Leeward Community College
  • Suggested Structure of Your Literary Analysis Essay (
  • Writing Critical Analysis Papers – Washington University
  • Literature – The Writing Center • University of North Carolina
  • Stanford Literary Lab
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How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay: Definition, Types, Structure, Format, and Examples

how to make literary analysis essay

A literary analysis essay acts as a compass, helping readers navigate the intricate landscapes of stories, poems, and plays. Think of it as a decoder for the language of books, unraveling the symbols, characters, and structures that make a story tick. These essays aren't just academic exercises – they're like a roadmap, guiding us to uncover the deeper truths and insights tucked away in the narratives we love. When you buy literary analysis essay assistance, get ready to peel back the layers as we unravel the intricacies of literary essays.

What Is a Literary Analysis Essay?

A literary analysis essay definition is a written examination of a literary work, such as a novel, poem, or play, aimed at dissecting its elements to uncover deeper meanings and themes. Unlike a summary or a review, which simply recount the plot or express personal opinions, a literary essay delves into the nuances of the text, scrutinizing its characters, symbols, motifs, and narrative techniques. Through close reading and critical thinking, the essay seeks to elucidate the author's intentions, explore the cultural and historical contexts, and offer interpretations that shed light on the work's significance.

At its core, a literary analysis essay is an exercise in interpretation and argumentation, where the writer presents a thesis or main argument supported by evidence from the text itself. This evidence may include direct quotations, paraphrases, or references to specific scenes or passages that illustrate the writer's analysis. Furthermore, the essay often uses secondary sources, such as literary criticism or scholarly articles, to enrich the discussion and provide additional perspectives. To enrich your knowledge of analysis essay writing, you can also check out our poem analysis essay guide.

Types of Literary Analysis Essay

Literary analysis essays can take various forms, each with unique approaches and objectives. Three common types are argumentative, explanatory, and analytical essays.

Argumentative Literary Analysis Essay

In an argumentative literary analysis essay, the writer formulates a clear and debatable thesis statement regarding the literary work under scrutiny. The essay then seeks to persuade the reader of the validity of this argument by presenting evidence from the text, often in the form of direct quotations or paraphrased passages. The focus is on building a coherent and compelling case to support the interpretation or perspective advanced in the thesis. This type of essay invites discussion and disagreement, encouraging readers to critically assess the writer's stance in light of the evidence presented.


An explanatory literary analysis paper aims to elucidate and clarify specific aspects of a literary work without necessarily advocating a particular argument. The focus here is on providing a comprehensive understanding of the chosen elements, be it characters, themes, or literary devices. Writers of explanatory essays use evidence from the text to illuminate nuances, offering insights and explanations that enhance the reader's appreciation of the work. While not devoid of analysis, the essay’s primary goal is to inform and make the text more accessible rather than to persuade or argue a specific interpretation.

The analytical literary analysis essay combines elements of both argumentative and explanatory approaches. It involves a meticulous examination of the text's components, such as characters, symbols, or themes, while also presenting a cohesive essay that contributes to a broader understanding of the work. Analytical essays delve into the "how" and "why" of a literary piece, exploring the author's choices and their impact on the narrative. The focus is on uncovering patterns, exploring motivations, and discerning the significance of various literary elements. While it may not be as explicitly argument-driven as the argumentative essay, an analytical essay still offers a perspective that emerges organically from carefully examining the text. Are you interested to learn more? Explore our guide about a causal analysis essay for more information about academic writing assignments.

Types of Literary Analysis Essay

Literary Elements Analysis Essay Writings Should Have

A comprehensive literary analysis essay should encompass various elements to provide a thorough examination of the chosen literary work. By expanding your analysis in these directions, your literary analysis will offer a more nuanced understanding of the complexities inherent in the chosen literary work. This depth allows readers to appreciate the intricate interplay of thematic, structural, and narrative elements within the text. Here are key components to include in your essay:

Theme Literary Analysis Essay

Investigate the evolution of themes throughout the narrative, identifying their subtle variations and exploring how they intersect with one another. Examine the cultural, historical, or philosophical contexts that may influence the author's treatment of these themes in your literary analysis thesis. Consider the potential for ambiguity or multiple interpretations within the thematic elements, adding layers of complexity to the literary work.

Structural Elements

Extend your subject matter to consider the psychological impact of the chosen literary analysis essay structure on readers. Explore how shifts in time or perspective contribute to the narrative's emotional resonance or intellectual engagement. Discuss whether the structural choices serve a thematic purpose, emphasizing certain elements or challenging conventional storytelling norms.

Scrutinize the narrative's causality, scrutinizing the cause-and-effect relationships between events in the story. Discuss the significance of pivotal moments and turning points, exploring how they shape the characters and contribute to the overall narrative momentum. Evaluate whether the author uses narrative devices to manipulate the reader's expectations.

Unpack the complexities of conflicts by considering their broader implications for the characters and the narrative world. Examine how conflicts may serve as allegories or metaphors, representing larger societal issues. Discuss the consequences and resolutions of conflicts, evaluating their impact on character development and the overall thematic resonance.


As stated in our character analysis essay guide, it extends beyond surface traits by considering the characters' roles as symbols or archetypes. Explore the dynamic relationships between characters, investigating how they mirror or subvert societal norms. Discuss any moral or ethical dilemmas characters face and their implications for the overarching themes of the work. Consult our literary character analysis essay example below for more information.

Literary Tropes

Elaborate on the symbolic significance of literary devices, investigating how they contribute to the overall texture of the narrative. Examine the use of allegory or allusion and discuss how these devices enrich the reader's experience, as shown in the literary device analysis essay example below. Explore how the author's choices in employing literary devices align with or challenge literary conventions of the time.

Language Use

Extend the analysis of language choices to consider cultural or historical contexts that may influence the author's linguistic decisions. Discuss the impact of tone shifts and the author's use of regional or specialized language. Evaluate how is the language of the literary analysis essay different from how you speak everyday? Examine how linguistic choices contribute to the creation of atmosphere and the portrayal of characters' perspectives.

Narration Style

Explore the subtleties of narrative voice by considering its reliability or unreliability. Discuss the author's use of point of view as a tool for engaging the reader emotionally or intellectually. Evaluate the narrative voice's role in creating empathy for characters, establishing narrative distance, or fostering a sense of immediacy within the storytelling.

Literary Analysis Essay Outline

The literary analysis essay format typically adheres to the conventional structure of academic essays. It begins with an introduction that provides essential background information, introduces the literary work and author, and presents a clear thesis statement that encapsulates the main argument or interpretation. Following the introduction, the body paragraphs serve as the essay's core, each dedicated to a specific aspect or element of the analysis essay. These paragraphs should begin with topic sentences that convey the main point, followed by supporting evidence from the text and analysis that connects the evidence to the thesis. Transitions between paragraphs ensure a smooth flow of ideas. The conclusion, situated at the essay's end, summarizes the key points, reiterates the thesis, and offers a broader reflection on the literary work's significance. A thoughtful literary analysis essay structure not only showcases analytical prowess but also adheres to the conventions of academic writing.

Literary Analysis Essay Introduction

As you brainstorm a literary analysis essay title, the introduction will serve as a crucial foundation, setting the stage for the entire document. It typically begins with a hook—a compelling statement, question, or quote—to capture the reader's attention and establish the essay's relevance. Following the hook, the introduction provides essential contextual information about the literary work, including details about the author, publication date, and any historical or cultural background that may be pertinent. How do you start a literary analysis essay has to culminate in a thesis statement, which succinctly outlines the main argument or interpretation the essay will explore. This thesis acts as a roadmap, guiding the reader on the analytical journey ahead. A well-crafted introduction not only entices the reader but also provides a clear direction for the subsequent essay analysis.

Let’s learn how to write a body paragraph for a literary analysis essay next. It comprises multiple paragraphs, each dedicated to a specific facet of the analysis. These paragraphs should follow a cohesive and logical structure. Typically, each paragraph begins with a topic sentence that introduces the main point of the paragraph, followed by evidence from the literary work—direct quotations, paraphrased passages, or examples. After presenting the evidence, the writer engages in thorough analysis, connecting the essay’s evidence back to the thesis statement. This process is repeated for each distinct element or aspect being analyzed, with the body paragraphs contributing to the overall argument. Effective transitions between paragraphs ensure a smooth flow of ideas, guiding the reader through the nuanced exploration of the literary work.

Concluding Paragraph

The conclusion of a literary analysis serves to synthesize the key points and provide a sense of closure. It begins by summarizing the main arguments and findings presented in the body paragraphs, reminding the reader of the critical aspects explored. However, a conclusion goes beyond mere repetition; it offers a broader reflection on the significance of the essay’s analysis. This could involve connecting the literary work to broader themes, drawing implications for the reader, or suggesting avenues for further exploration. The conclusion should reinforce the thesis statement, leaving a lasting impression on the reader and emphasizing the enduring impact and relevance of the analyzed literary work. A well-crafted conclusion ensures that the reader departs with a comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the nuanced interpretations provided in the essay. Below, you will find a literary analysis essay conclusion example offering a practical understanding of this subject.

What Are the Best First Steps When Writing a Literary Analysis Essay?

When initiating a literary analysis essay, it's essential to establish a strong foundation. By expanding your approach to include these additional considerations, your literary analysis piece will not only delve into the surface-level aspects of the text. Still, it will also provide a more comprehensive exploration of the work's nuances, context, and potential impact on readers. Here are five key first steps regarding how to write a literary analysis essay:

how to write  a literary analysis essay

Contextualize the Source Material

Explore the historical, cultural, and societal context in which the literary work was written. Consider the author's background, the time period, and any relevant events that might have influenced the creation of the text. Understanding the broader context of a text analysis essay provides valuable insights into the motivations behind the author's choices and enhances the depth of your analysis. To find out more, please consult our critical analysis essay writing guide.

Examine Critical Perspectives

Before finalizing your analysis essay, survey existing literary criticism and interpretations of the work. Familiarize yourself with different perspectives and scholarly discussions related to the text. This step not only enriches your understanding but also allows you to position your analysis essay within the broader academic discourse, showcasing a nuanced engagement with the text. To understand this topic better, explore our example of literary analysis essay below.

Analyze Character Development and Relationships

Delve into the intricacies of character development and relationships that have to be listed in your literary analysis essay outline. Consider how characters evolve, the motivations driving their actions, and the dynamics between them. Analyzing characters beyond surface traits contributes to a more profound exploration of the author's intentions and the thematic elements embedded in the narrative.

Evaluate Symbolism and Literary Devices

When writing a literary analysis paper, pay special attention to the symbolism and literary devices the author employs. Uncover the deeper meanings behind symbols, metaphors, allegories, or any stylistic choices. Discuss how these elements contribute to the overall texture of the narrative, reinforcing themes or adding layers of meaning that may not be immediately apparent.

Consider Reader Response

Reflect on how your essay might resonate with potential readers. Anticipate possible reactions and interpretations to your book analysis essay, acknowledging that literary works often invite diverse perspectives. Consider how your insights contribute to the ongoing conversation about the text and how readers might engage with or challenge your interpretations, which can be studied in our rhetorical analysis essay guide.

how to make literary analysis essay

Literary Analysis Examples

Consulting an example of a literary analysis essay provides students with a tangible model, offering a practical illustration of how to structure and approach their own writing. It serves as a valuable learning tool by showcasing effective techniques for analyzing literature, constructing arguments, and incorporating evidence from the text. Additionally, exposure to well-executed examples helps students grasp the nuances of a critical essay, enhancing their ability to convey insights and interpretations in their own essays.

Literary Analysis Essay Example #1

The Transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens's "A Christmas Carol"

Ebenezer Scrooge, the central character in Charles Dickens's novella "A Christmas Carol," undergoes a profound transformation that serves as the heart of the narrative. At the outset, Scrooge is introduced as a miserly and callous old man, characterized by his relentless pursuit of wealth and disdain for the holiday spirit. However, through a series of supernatural encounters with the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come, Scrooge experiences a powerful metamorphosis, evolving from a symbol of greed to a beacon of generosity and compassion.

In the opening scenes, Dickens paints Scrooge as a solitary figure, isolated by his obsession with money and indifferent to the suffering of others. The author employs vivid descriptions of Scrooge's frugal habits and curt interactions to establish his cold and unyielding demeanor. This sets the stage for the transformative journey that unfolds as the narrative progresses.

The Ghost of Christmas Past catalyzes Scrooge's evolution, taking him on a nostalgic expedition through his own life. As the audience witnesses Scrooge's younger self and glimpses into the moments that shaped his worldview, a deeper understanding of his guarded nature emerges. The portrayal of Scrooge's lost love, Belle, and the dissolution of their engagement unveils the emotional wounds that contribute to his present state of bitterness.

The Ghost of Christmas Present further exposes Scrooge to the lives of those around him, revealing the joy and camaraderie he has denied himself. The contrasting scenes of warmth and festivity in the Cratchit household highlight Scrooge's own emotional impoverishment. The character's transformation begins as he becomes increasingly empathetic to the struggles of the Cratchit family, particularly Tiny Tim's vulnerability, which serves as a poignant reminder of the consequences of his own choices.

The culmination of Scrooge's redemption occurs during the harrowing visit from the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Confronted with his own mortality and the bleak future that awaits if he does not change, Scrooge is propelled into a moment of profound self-reflection. The symbolism of his own gravestone becomes a powerful metaphor for the legacy he is currently constructing.

In the final scenes, Dickens masterfully portrays Scrooge's newfound benevolence. The character's spontaneous generosity towards the Cratchits and his embrace of the holiday spirit radically departs from his earlier persona. Scrooge's transformation symbolizes the capacity for human redemption, illustrating Dickens's timeless message about the transformative power of empathy and generosity.

In conclusion, Charles Dickens uses Ebenezer Scrooge as a vehicle for exploring the potential for change and redemption within the human spirit. Through the character's encounters with the supernatural, Dickens crafts a narrative that emphasizes the importance of compassion, self-reflection, and the pursuit of a more meaningful existence. Scrooge's journey from a miserly recluse to a symbol of benevolence serves as a timeless reminder of the enduring power of personal transformation.

Literary Analysis Essay Example #2

Symbolism in William Golding's "Lord of the Flies"

William Golding's novel "Lord of the Flies" is a rich tapestry of literary devices, with symbolism standing out as a powerful element that shapes the narrative. Throughout the story, various symbols serve as potent metaphors, shedding light on the innate human capacity for savagery and the fragility of societal order. Golding masterfully employs symbols such as the conch shell, the beast, and the signal fire to convey profound insights into the darker aspects of human nature.

One of the most prominent symbols in the novel is the conch shell, which initially serves as a tool for order and democracy. When the boys first discover the conch, it becomes a unifying force, representing establishing rules and the desire for civilization. However, as the story unfolds, the conch's significance deteriorates, paralleling the disintegration of societal order on the island. The eventual shattering of the conch during a chaotic assembly symbolizes the complete collapse of the boys' attempts to maintain a civilized society, highlighting the fragility of human-created structures in the face of primal instincts.

The recurring image of the "beast" serves as another compelling symbol, embodying the primal, instinctual nature within each individual. Initially perceived as an external threat, the realization that the true beast resides within the boys becomes a central theme. Golding uses the beast as a metaphor for the darkness within the human psyche, exploring how fear and desperation can unleash destructive tendencies. The shifting nature of the beast—from a perceived external force to an internal, inherent aspect of humanity—serves as a chilling commentary on the potential for moral decay when societal constraints are removed.

The signal fire, initially lit as a means of rescue, undergoes a transformation that mirrors the descent into savagery. At first, the fire symbolizes hope and the boys' connection to the outside world. However, as the boys succumb to their primal instincts, the fire becomes a tool for destruction, leading to unintended consequences. The burning of the island's entire landscape underscores the destructive power that lies within the boys and the consequences of losing touch with the values of civilization.

In conclusion, William Golding's skillful use of symbolism in "Lord of the Flies" adds depth and layers of meaning to the narrative. Golding crafts a nuanced exploration of human nature and societal dynamics through the conch shell, the beast, and the signal fire. The symbols serve as vehicles for profound commentary on the fragility of civilization, the inherent darkness within individuals, and the consequences of abandoning societal norms. Golding's use of symbolism elevates "Lord of the Flies" beyond a mere adventure story, transforming it into a thought-provoking exploration of the complexities of human behavior.

Summing Up 

Knowing how to write a literary essay is crucial for students as it cultivates essential skills that extend beyond the realm of literature. Firstly, literary essays foster critical thinking by requiring students to analyze and interpret complex texts. This skill is transferable to various academic disciplines and real-world situations, enabling individuals to approach challenges with a nuanced and analytical mindset. Additionally, literary essays enhance communication skills, honing students' ability to articulate ideas coherently and persuasively. This proficiency is invaluable in academic and professional settings where effective communication is paramount.

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6.1: Introduction to Analysis Writing

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by Amy Minervini

Analysis is the process of digging deeper into what we read, see, and hear. This skill is used both in academic writing and in everyday life. In-depth exploration helps us to more effectively understand issues in society and our daily lives, including but not limited to the articles and books we read, the videos we watch, the brands and ads that influence our buying habits, and the songs we listen to. We can analyze authors, subjects, issues, images, and texts of all kinds using various methods of analysis. This chapter will introduce you to rhetorical and visual analysis, text and literary analysis, and cause and effect (another form of analysis).

Key Characteristics

Analysis writing generally exhibits the following:

  • Scrutinizing the details of a subject or text and then interpreting those details to show a particular point of view or theme is being conveyed
  • Using a subjective point of view, backed up by evidence
  • Determining the use of and quality of rhetorical strategies (pathos, ethos, logos, and kairos) used by others, see the Reading and Writing Rhetorically chapter for more information
  • An incorporation of ethos, pathos, and logos to help support claims
  • Awareness of and critique of bias that seeps in–for more information on this aspect, see the Addressing Bias and Stakeholder Concerns chapter for more information

Essay Types within this Chapter

  • Rhetorical Analysis
  • Textual (Article) Analysis
  • Literary Analysis
  • Image Analysis
  • Film Analysis
  • Cause and Effect

“Overview” by Amy Minervini is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License

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Literary Analysis Maker

The literary analysis maker is an AI-powered online tool that can generate literary analysis in just a few seconds! It can help college and high school students with literary criticism assignments, saving time and effort. In addition, our generator can help students improve their literary analysis skills and serve as a source of inspiration!

Try our literary analysis maker right now to see how it works!

  • ✒️ What Is Literary Analysis?
  • 💫 Tool Benefits
  • 💡 Ideas for Literary Analysis
  • ✍️ Literary Analysis Prompts
  • 📋 Literary Analysis Structure

🔗 References

✒️ what does literary analysis mean.

Literary analysis is a written evaluation of the elements of a literary work, for example, a poem, short story, novel, etc. It aims to deepen one's understanding of the work's ideas and impact on the readers.

Literary analysis is not just about summarizing what you read . It involves deconstructing the artwork to evaluate its parts, including plot, character, setting, theme, style, and symbolism. This assignment provides an opportunity to learn more about the underlying meanings of a literary work and see how its elements help the author convey the intended message.

💫 Literary Analysis Maker: Benefits

The literary analysis essay writer has a lot of benefits for its users. Check the table below to learn more!

💡 What to Write a Literary Analysis on?

If you are wondering what to write a literary analysis on, do not panic! Below, we've listed all the important elements of literary analysis with brief instructions on how to evaluate them.

✍️ Literary Analysis Essay Prompts

Looking for some inspiration? You are on the right page! Check our writing prompts on literary analysis to find a lot of fresh ideas!

To Kill a Mockingbird Literary Criticism Essay

In your essay on To Kill a Mockingbird , you can discover and analyze autobiographical elements. Note how Harper Lee uses characters like Atticus Finch and Scout in her novel to reflect experiences from her own life, particularly surrounding discrimination, racism, and rape. Discuss how the novel's setting, historical context, symbolism, and imagery reinforce Lee's core message.

Hamlet Literary Analysis Essay

To write a good analysis of Shakespeare's Hamlet , investigate dialogues, soliloquies, and the play's vivid and rich language filled with rhetorical devices . You can devote particular attention to such literary devices as allusion and metaphors and add your point of view on the impact of Hamlet on the audience.

The Great Gatsby Literary Criticism Essay

Analyze the significance of the clock in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby as a symbol of time, focusing on its multi-faceted meaning and its impact on the characters and themes. Discuss how the clock represents Gatsby's attempt to control time and its connection to his ultimate fate.

A Raisin in the Sun Literary Analysis Essay

In a literary analysis essay on A Raisin in the Sun , you can analyze the theme of dreams in this novel. Discuss the characters of Ruth, Lena, Travis, Beneatha, and Walter, focusing on the personal dreams they yearn to achieve. Evaluate how the Younger family's dreams are affected by social, economic, and emotional circumstances.

Lord of the Flies Literary Analysis Essay

In your essay, analyze William Golding's portrayal of human nature in Lord of the Flies , focusing on the influence of the environment on people's behavior. Examine the character developments of Ralph, Jack, Simon, and others, revealing their experiences on an island that show both good and evil potential within each individual.

📋 How to Structure a Literary Analysis

The structure of literary criticism consists of 3 key parts: the introduction, main body, and conclusion. Check the table below to see what to include in each part.

❓ Literary Analysis Free: FAQ

Updated: Mar 28th, 2024

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Our literary analysis maker will help you break down any piece of literature! Get a detailed review of the plot, narrative techniques, and other text elements in a few clicks. Additionally, read the guide to discover excellent literary analysis prompts and examples.


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  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. 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.


    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,

  4. 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.

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

    Evidence the things that support your argument and are factual for your analysis in order to reduce the impact of the interfering factors. 6. Analyze the Text. Hence, now you will have to make use of your evidence to do the analysis. Now, separate the text into smaller parts and analyze how literary devices used in the text make it more meaningful.


    2. Lengthy quotations should be separated from the text of your paper. More than four lines of proseshould be double spaced and indented ten spacesfrom the left margin, with the right margin the same as the rest of your paper. More than three lines of poetryshould be double spaced and centeredon the page.

  7. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay: An Insightful Guide

    Literary Analysis Outline. Here's a basic outline for this type of essay: Introduction. Hook: Engage the reader with a compelling quote, question, or anecdote related to the literary work. Background Information: Provide relevant information about the author, the title, and the context of the work. Thesis Statement: Clearly state the main point or argument of your analysis.

  8. Beginner's Guide to Literary Analysis

    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 ...

  9. Literary Analysis Essay

    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.

  10. 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.

  11. Writing a Literary Analysis Essay

    Well, not really. A literary analysis essay asks you to make an original argument about a poem, play, or work of fiction and support that argument with research and evidence from your careful reading of the text. It can take many forms, such as a close reading of a text, critiquing the text through a particular literary theory, comparing one ...

  12. How to Write a Literary Analysis

    There are seven steps to writing a literary analysis. First, choose a text. Second, decide on a focus (or lens). Third, design the thesis. Fourth, complete research and collect evidence. Fifth ...

  13. 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.

  14. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay: Definition, Formats, Examples

    One author shares their opinion on what another author wrote. The most common literary analysis format is an essay. The writer examines a novel, short story, or another type of fiction created by someone else. They praise or criticize the plot, style, characters, and other aspects of the text.

  15. 12.14: Sample Student Literary Analysis Essays

    Heather Ringo & Athena Kashyap. City College of San Francisco via ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative. Table of contents. Example 1: Poetry. Example 2: Fiction. Example 3: Poetry. Attribution. The following examples are essays where student writers focused on close-reading a literary work.

  16. How To Write a Literary Analysis Step by Step

    Create a rough outline. The first part of the actual process of how to write a literary analysis is to create a synopsis of the entire examination of the work. This will act as a framework for your analysis and help make it more coherent and keep it focused on the point you're trying to make. 4. Formulate a thesis.

  17. 8 Steps to Write a Perfect Literary Analysis Essay

    Step 3: Collect the Evidence and Write a Thesis. Now that you have your topic, it's time to gather evidence from the text to support your analysis. Look for quotes, passages, or examples that relate to your chosen topic. Once you have your evidence, use it to craft your thesis statement .

  18. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay 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.

  19. Literary Analysis Essay: 5 Steps to a Perfect Assignment

    1. Read and analyze the text. In order to understand how to start a literary analysis essay, you need to realize the importance of strong research. Before you begin writing your essay, make sure to thoroughly go through your text and take detailed notes. Observe and note the words used by the author, the structure and tone of the piece, the ...

  20. How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay?

    A literary analysis essay definition is a written examination of a literary work, such as a novel, poem, or play, aimed at dissecting its elements to uncover deeper meanings and themes. Unlike a summary or a review, which simply recount the plot or express personal opinions, a literary essay delves into the nuances of the text, scrutinizing its ...

  21. 6.1: Introduction to Analysis Writing

    Analysis is the process of digging deeper into what we read, see, and hear. This skill is used both in academic writing and in everyday life. In-depth exploration helps us to more effectively understand issues in society and our daily lives, including but not limited to the articles and books we read, the videos we watch, the brands and ads ...

  22. Writing a Literary Analysis Presentation

    Welcome to the Purdue OWL. This page is brought to you by the OWL at Purdue University. When printing this page, you must include the entire legal notice.

  23. Literary Analysis Maker: Free & Online Essay Examples

    Literary analysis is a written evaluation of the elements of a literary work, for example, a poem, short story, novel, etc. It aims to deepen one's understanding of the work's ideas and impact on the readers. Literary analysis is not just about summarizing what you read . It involves deconstructing the artwork to evaluate its parts, including ...