Literary analysis essay composition purpose
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POINT OF VIEW
COMMENTARY: SO WHAT
WHILE YOU READ
broadens understanding and appreciation of a piece of literature.
Think as you read:
What theme is the author attempting to convey? In other words, what is the author saying about life and/or people?
What techniques are employed to convey theme, mood, etc.?
A thesis for a literary analysis must be persuasive in nature.
A formula for the most basic analysis thesis could look something like this:
(title), (author's name)
(1st literary device)
(2nd literary device)
(3rd literary device)
(analyze/criticize/explain/etc.) (some aspect of human nature)
"If you Were Coming in the Fall," Emily Dickinson
describe how people wait,
hoping to fall in love
A literary analysis should focus on one or a
of the following major literary elements:
but never alone! Only how it is brought out through use of other techniques.
What message about life and/or people is the author trying to convey?
internal? external? Who’s involved?
Person vs. person
Person vs. him/herself
Person vs. society
Person vs. nature
What does the conflict(s) reveal about the theme?
Direct characterization: the author tells the reader directly about a character.
Indirect characterization: revealed through dialogue, character’s
, actions, thoughts of others, physical description.
Consider why that character is important in the story. How is s/he used to develop the theme?
Define the setting (time and place of story).
What does the setting reveal about the theme? Is the author commenting upon the time period in which the story is set?
objects, actions, descriptions, characters can all represent deeper ideas
Analyze the choice of symbols and what they are meant to symbolize or reveal.
How does the symbolism develop the theme?
POINT OF VIEW
Point of view
1st person: told from character’s
perspective and voice
3rd person omniscient – narrator knows all characters’ thoughts and feelings
3rd person limited – narrator knows one character’s thoughts and feelings; told from author’s voice
How does it affect character development?
Would it matter if the narration was different? Why?
How does the point of view develop the theme?
COMMENTARY: SO WHAT?
Always go one step further in your commentary and be sure to answer the question “So what?”
Always explain your point.
The story is set in the South.
The main character is a hypochondriac.
The road symbolizes choice.
An effective literary analysis essay relies upon quotes to strengthen the analysis.
A quote should not be more than a few words. Generally, there is no need to quote an entire sentence.
Choose only the most important word(s) to quote.
Explain the quote without referencing it directly by saying “This quote shows…” or “This proves…”
Cite all quotes: “Quoted” words (Page #).
Quotes must be smoothly
into a sentence of your own. Without quotations marks, the reader should not be able to tell where your words end and the quoted words begin.
quotes by providing the context and speaker (if quoting dialogue):
When he hears her answer, Jessup “flies off the handle” and tells her to “Get lost!” (94).
If you need
to change words within a quote
, use brackets [new word] around the new word.
After the trial, Scout tells Jem that she “heard [Miss Gates] say it’s time somebody taught [the black people of Maycomb] a lesson” (247).
WHILE YOU READ
While you read the story,
passages regarding the following:
Characters (personality traits, descriptions, telling statements)
Fairy tale techniques
Tragic hero qualities
you think may be important
This essay will be a 4-paragraph essay:
2 body paragraphs, each exploring one literary element
No Works Cited necessary
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